Interview with Patricia Furnish on AshevilleFM

I had a long-form interview with AshevilleFM’s Patricia Furnish via Zoom on September 30th. It subsequently aired in two parts on AshevilleFM News Hour on October 12 & 19. LOGOPatricia has kindly provided a single, hour-long mix-down file of my responses to the program’s substantive and challenging questions on their Google drive. (There are about 15 seconds of silence at the beginning of the file, and then the questions begin.)

 AshevilleFM News Interview Furnish/Tovish

I hope you’ll find it worth your time.

City Council Comments 10/25/22

Tuesday’s City Council Meeting addressed a wide variety of important City initiatives. My first comment was to support the designation of the Walton St. Pool & Park as a historical landmark. I see this as a first step toward acknowledging the history and celebrating the legacy of Asheville’s Black community.

Manufactured housing (also known as mobile homes or, pejoratively, as trailer park homes) represents an essential affordable segment of Asheville’s housing market. We need to ensure the habitability of this housing stock, and this adjustment to the zoning code will allow old units to be replaced by new ones, now built to a much higher standard.

Ultimately, manufactured housing needs to be destigmatized, and much more widely integrated into our city neighborhoods.

In which I make a modest proposal for the use of Housing Trust Funds to upgrade substandard rental properties to Section 8 code, with the proviso that landlords subsequently accept Housing Opportunity Vouchers to these renovated rentals. This is yet another way to increase the supply of affordable housing to those who need it the most.

Days 3 & 4 of Early Voting

A line of voters at EAVL Library

Impressive turnout at East Asheville Library on Monday. I had a few challenging conversations… that ended well! I was also at South Buncombe Library again. When the parking lot clogged up with parents picking up students, I headed to West Asheville Library to finish out the day. Many thanks to the stalwart Buncombe Dems who were helping inform voters, and to my friend and zealous poll-greeter Rob Heskitt who was at North Asheville Library!

I visited the Fellowship Community Center this morning, where things were quiet. Spent several hours at North Asheville Library, which was non-stop, cars coming and going and vying for nowhere enough parking spaces. And then it was on to West Asheville Library, which was also (as seen in this picture!) a lively scene.

The voters I’ve encountered so far during early voting have overwhelmingly been curious and cordial. Some come thoroughly informed and prepared, others are still asking questions and are eager to have conversations. I am grateful to each and every one of them for participating and keeping our democracy strong!

City Council meeting this evening was a rich mix of important decisions: Walton St. Pool & Park was approved for a historical landmark designation; Housing Bond money was moved to the Housing Trust Fund, the Close the Gap greenway master plan was approved. And I made a proposal for using Housing Trust Fund moneys to upgrade rental properties to Section 8 standards for landlords who would commit to accepting housing vouchers. (I’ll post the video when it’s available—probably tomorrow.) Altogether another a full and meaningful day!

A lively scene at WAVL Library

Building Carbon-Negative Housing for a Sustainable Future

According to the presenter of this TED talk—Vishaan Chakrabarti—we currently have the technology we need to build carbon-negative housing reasonably affordably and at scale.

The keys is building 3-story multi-family dwellings with their own renewable, sustainable systems as well as walkable neighborhoods with resources and amenities, linked by robust public transportation.

I believe Asheville can do this.

Nina Tovish Speaking at City Council

What the what???

I was baffled by item K in this week’s consent agenda at City Council. It read:

“Resolution approving in principle the issuance by the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville of up to $20,000,000 of multifamily housing revenue bonds for the acquisition and rehabilitation of Battery Park Apartments.”

How, I wondered, could $20M in bonds be passed with no fanfare, via a consent agenda, without extensive public discussion? The HACA was going to buy Battery Park? And renovations?

So, when the consent agenda came up for public comment, I asked.

The answer was reassuring, as far as I could understand it: some arcane process involving the actual owner (Nation Church Residences) raising funds for renovation through issuing bonds, under authority of HACA but imputing no liability to HACA or the City of Asheville.

I was surprised that I was the only person who actually sought clarification on this, especially since it was the only thing of its kind I’ve ever seen in a consent agenda. Anyway, the moral of the story is: ask. Always ask.