Tell City Officials: Support a Moratorium on Selling City Land Seized During Urban Renewal
As the process of reparations unfolds, Asheville City Manager Debra Campbell and the City Council can show their commitment to meaningful change in two ways:
- A moratorium on the sale of city land taken from the Black community needs to be on the September 8th City Council agenda.
- City Council needs to vote for an extension of the hotel moratorium.
Will you contact city officials today? Here are instructions for reaching out to the City Manager and City Council. Some suggested talking points are below.
- Call and email City Manager Debra Campbell – 828-259-5604 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Email all of City Council at AshevilleNCCouncil@ashevillenc.gov
- Call and email Mayor Esther Mannheimer – 828-259-5604 email@example.com
- Call and email Vice Mayor Gwen Wisler – 828-333-1767 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call and email Councilman Brian Haynes – 828-619-1776 email@example.com
- Call and email Councilwoman Julie Mayfield – 828-271-4544 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call and email Councilwoman Sheneika Smith – 704-401-9104 email@example.com
- Call and email Councilman Keith Young – 828-407-1181 firstname.lastname@example.org
Some things to say in your own words in your communication with Council:
In July, Asheville became one of the first cities in the US to pass a reparations resolution. While this resolution carries hope for change, it will mean little without real action that puts resources and ownership back in the hands of the Black Asheville community.
In adopting the Reparation Resolution, you pledged to “[make] amends for carrying out an urban renewal program that destroyed multiple, successful black communities.” You can begin to honor this promise right now by supporting a moratorium on the sale of any more land that was obtained through urban renewal, so that the still-forming Reparations Commission can consider various proposals for how this land can be included in the reparations plan.
The moratorium on new hotel construction is set to expire in September. Our city continues to cope with the global pandemic and is just beginning to address its history of racial harm. The proposed guidelines do not reflect current public sentiment and are not bold enough. More time is needed for community input to at least dramatically slow the continued expansion of hotels. Therefore, I urge you to support an extension of the hotel moratorium.
Show the citizens of Asheville that future city planning and development will prioritize racial equity rather than the pockets of builders and developers, and demonstrate your commitment to return resources taken from our Black community during urban renewal. Make sure the September 8th agenda includes a moratorium on the sale of city-owned land obtained through urban renewal and an extension of the hotel moratorium.
Why this is important:
Between 1957 and 1979, the City of Asheville seized vast swaths of land from the Black community with the promise that it would be returned – a promise that was almost universally broken. The City has sold much of this land over the years, but still retains ownership of some of it. Even now, city planners and designers are trying to build a tax base for city-owned property by making it simple, easy, and enticing for builders and developers to come to Asheville. The Central Business District continues to be earmarked for renewal purposes that place a priority on hotel development and urban city centers while displacing residents, small businesses, and churches. Many of the meetings where these topics are discussed minimize community engagement.
Right now, you can be one of those community voices urging City Manager Debra Campbell and City Council to put this issue on the September 8th agenda. Let the City Council know that we want development in the City Business District to reflect racial equity rather than prioritizing out-of-town developers with little vested interest in our community. Asheville community voices have already expressed that a homogenized city of hotels catering mostly to tourists is not what we want for our city. Let City Manager Campbell and the City Council know that we want future planning to prioritize racial equity, concerns about the effects of tourism on Asheville, and the balancing of resources back to the Black community.
For more information about urban renewal, redlining, and the effects of uprooting communities:
“Uprooted” by Thomas Calder. Mountain Xpress, March 8,2020.
“Twilight of a Neighborhood” by Sarah M Judson. Crossroads, Summer/Fall 2010.
“Red Lines” by David Forbes. The Asheville Blade, July 2014.
“Asheville’s hotel moratorium expires in September. What’s next?” by Taylor Young WLOS, February 25th 2020