The Asheville City Council will address three issues on Tuesday 7/27 with racial justice implications: a noise regulation ordinance that could unfairly target people of color, a property tax relief program that is likely to help too few of those in need of relief, and a work session involving multiple millions of dollars of federal aid that is not open for public comment.
We also encourage you to attend the meeting and sign up to make a public comment about these issues. The meeting starts at 5 pm and will take place at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville, located at 87 Haywood Street.
New Business Item C: The first issue is an amendment to a noise regulation ordinance calling for the identification and mitigation of noise sources as well as “aggressive management of repeat offenders.” The City of Asheville’s Public Safety Committee has made recommendations regarding this noise regulation ordinance. They have recommended that the council use an unbiased noise measurement process that will not unfairly target music with higher levels of bass. In addition, the public safety committee has asked that the allowance for late night music be applied city-wide, instead of only permitting venues downtown to play music later. Even with these improvements, there is a real danger that the noise ordinance will be enforced inequitably, so a review of this policy to assess potential inequitable outcomes is necessary after 6 months.
Consent Agenda Item T: The second issue to be addressed in tomorrow’s meeting is a vote on the homeowner assistance program, which provides assistance with homeowner costs for city households whose income is below 80% of the area median income. We’re glad the City is moving forward on this as it pledged to do, but in order to receive the assistance, eligible homeowners must apply for the program. Requiring homeowners to go through a cumbersome process to get property tax relief is going to result in very low participation. That’s why we continue to advocate for the City and County to use an auto-enrollment program, which will ensure that many more homeowners get this needed relief.
Consent Agenda Item V: Finally, City Council will conduct a work session on the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which is designed to facilitate the United States’ recovery from the devastating economic and health effects of COVID-19. As a part of ARPA, the City of Asheville will receive $26.2 million. City staff has begun discussion with Council to develop a plan for the utilization of Asheville’s $26.2 million, but the community has not been invited to comment on the allocation of these funds. The community should have the opportunity to voice its opinion on where and how the ARPA funds should be used while the plan is being made, rather than only after the City already has a plan that it is attached to.
Dear City Council Members,
I am concerned that a number of items on your agenda this week may negatively impact folks who are disadvantaged in our City. I am asking you to consider taking the following steps in support of equity, access, and engagement:
- Follow the Public Safety Committee’s recommendations of unbiased noise measurements and loud music curfew extensions beyond downtown, as well as a review of the noise ordinance policy to assess potential inequitable outcomes after 6 months.
- Pass the homeowner assistance program, but do so with an auto-enrollment mechanism that will ensure support comes to those who need it.
- Allow public comment at all future work sessions around ARPA fund allocation.