City Council approves business improvement district for downtown Asheville

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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From the Citizen-Times on Tuesday night:

City Council voted 5-2 TONIGHT to establish a special tax district downtown to raise money to keep the area cleaner.

The business improvement district, or BID, would go into effect next year and would first tackle tasks such as cleaning sidewalks, picking up trash and removing graffiti.

Its tasks could expand to include an “ambassador” program in which uniformed workers would provide information to tourists and deter crime. An initial tax rate of 5 to 7 cents per $100 property valuation is proposed.

Voting in favor of the idea were councilmen Jan Davis, Marc Hunt, Esther Manheimer, Chris Pelly and Gordon Smith. Mayor Terry Bellamy and Councilman Cecil Bothwell voted no.

From Mountain Xpress:

BID proponents, including many active on city boards and in downtown’s power structure, asserted that services in downtown are insufficient, and that the BID will improve the area while ensuring its careful management.

Opponents, also including some business owners and downtown residents, contended that the tax will hurt small business and residents while placing power over tax money in the hands of an undemocratic board.

Some on Council shared the opponents’ concerns. Council member Cecil Bothwell was ardently against the BID, saying it was unnecessary and that many in downtown are not supportive. “We’re elected to make the hard decisions, and if you don’t like it, you can throw us out,” he said.

Full Xpress article here.

Roundup: The BID on Twitter

Storified by · Tue, Oct 09 2012 19:57:24

Honestly, having seen the fervor brought to the #avlbid debate, I doubt that will go away, whatever Council’s vote tonight. #avlgovDavid Forbes
Vassallo: Sidewalks in disrepair, city can’t fix, #avlbid a solution. "Can’t attract more biz with downtown decaying." #avlgovDavid Forbes
McKibbon: Tourists are finicky, if it’s not clean, green, safe scared away. Can’t until we get bad rep. Favor #avlbid #avlgovDavid Forbes
Pam Winkler, secretary of DARN: #avlbid is like a suburban neighborhood assessing fee to improve area. #avlgovDavid Forbes
Leslee Kulba: Keep hearing Asheville a unique city. #avlbid to put more tax on people already double-taxed. #avlgovDavid Forbes
Y’all, I don’t like this #AVLBID. Why raise taxes on downtown biz to write a blank check to a random committee to spend as they want?Tyler J. McCall
Why don’t we just properly fund existing service infrastructure for a "cleaner/safer" downtown? Anyone? Bueller? #avlgov #avlbid #86BIDChantal Saunders
Repurcussions of #avlbid passage will be interesting, both in terms of downtown gov and as potential election issue next year #avlgovDavid Forbes
I have seen dwtwn Avl grow over the last 25+yrs and I believe #avlbid is BS. #avlgov We are clean and safe. Why else would we be so popular?Chantal Saunders
Bellamy: Don’t see need for #avlbid for just clean, green services. Need to make city priority. Shouldn’t abdicate responsibility #avlgovDavid Forbes

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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  1. Selene October 10, 2012

    It’s very sad to see the gentrification of a town that doesn’t need it. When I first visited 2 years ago, it was the down-to-earth, real parts of downtown Asheville that impressed me. I had no need for ‘ambassadors’ on the street, and I found the place clean and pleasant. It seems like both downtown and the River Arts District are about to be come more expensive, less comfortable, and less interesting, all because of a few greedy control freaks. What a shame for both tourists and locals.

    1. hauntedheadnc October 10, 2012

      I have no dog in the fight, but “clean” isn’t really one of the first words to come to mind when I think of downtown. Not that I mind downtown being a little grungy, mind you, because I think dirt just comes with being urban.

      However, downtown does have a problem with — what I hope is only — dog crap on the sidewalks, trash and cigarette butts, and a pervasive smell of urine in the parking deck stairwells.

      1. indie October 10, 2012

        The people who see it otherwise must be sight/sense of smell impaired. The City acknowledges that it abandoned ever power washing the sidewalks and garages 4 years ago. They don’t even have equipment for it anymore. Their trash removal policy is to pick up trash/garbage in the city bins. They don’t pick up trash even next to the (often overflowing) bin, much less elsewhere on the streets.

        Don’t know why some insist that cleanliness can’t be associated with uniqueness/funkiness/etc. Anybody ever been to Paris and see the legions of sanitation workers hit the streets and sidewalks downtown just after the evening rush. Misguided gentrified snobs, I guess.

    2. indie October 10, 2012

      1. Ambassadors are not part of the initial program
      2. How did cleanliness become a synonym for gentrification?
      3. I don’t find streets and sidewalks that are never power washed (city stopped 4 years ago) and trash that is only picked up if in a container is a city that is “clean and pleasant”.

  2. Scott October 9, 2012

    They are supposed to be providing these services already. It’s part of running a downtown area. These people have never met a tax increase they didn’t like. Can’t believe I’m saying this, but hats off to Bellamy and Bothwell.

    1. indie October 10, 2012

      Actually, the city has standards for the services it provides and those are being delivered. Many people find those inadequate and have been looking for a process to enhance cleanliness/etc.


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