Here are the most outstanding mentionables from tonight’s meeting of Asheville City Council:
- An item to consider the purchase of body cameras for Asheville police officers was withdrawn. The reason was more time was needed to develop policies governing storage and retrieval policies for the department’s video footage. What was funny was it sounded as if the city was turning the anti-police interests’ demands against themselves.
- Councilman Gordon Smith pushed for a fare-free month for Asheville’s bus system. He said the last time the city ran the buses free for three months, it was a “wild success.” That is probably because Mr. Smith was not listening to the moanings and groaning of city staff – those who are not allowed to speak publicly against council but do things like jump out of a store to thank a reporter passing by for calling attention to the havoc. The head of the transportation department at the time described the situation with political correctness as, “You can endure anything for ninety days.” I made that one of my mottoes.
- Councilman Marc Hunt made another economic argument about supply and demand. His point was adding any housing to the market will put downward pressure on pricing. He didn’t want council to interfere with the construction of any more housing proposals if it didn’t have to. Then, as often happens in politics, Smith hit him with an unsound argument spiked with emotion that cried, “This is the last word.” Smith said council had not interfered with any affordable housing construction, and that rent controls are working because people are building them. Sorry, Gordon, but Marc’s right.
- Members of council discussed what they wanted to do with short-term rentals. All spoke in favor of regulating. Although a couple mentioned the concept of renting out rooms helping people have some more income for the mortgage, thus supporting council’s goal of increasing, by not negating, affordable housing stock; nobody addressed the issue of job creation. All these people wanted to go into business as short-term renters, and council had to lay down some funky rules to stop that.
- Lauren Noto, an economics major at UNC-Asheville, informed council about a study she did that showed the policy changes made to the bus routes all favor choice riders over low-income riders.