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