The Buncombe County Commission meets this Tuesday (3/15/22) at 12 pm for a Special Meeting to interview candidates for the Community Reparations Commission (see below) and then at 5 pm for their regular meeting. You can access the full agenda for the latter meeting here.
Here are the items that the GAP Strategy Team identified as relevant to racial justice this week.
Things that seem problematic
Buncombe County Commissioners Special Meeting Tuesday, March 15, at 12 pm
The Commission will be interviewing candidates for the Community Reparations Commission.
The County has not shared a list of candidates, and has scheduled their vote for the Reparations Commission for the same day that these interviews will take place. We are concerned that this almost entirely precludes community input on this process. We wonder why the County Commission is not interested in feedback from their constituents on who they select for this historically important Commission.
Things to do
We encourage you to attend or tune into the County Commission special meeting 12 pm on Tuesday, March 15. You can attend in person at 200 College Street, Room 326, in downtown Asheville or watch the livestream on the County’s Facebook page.
We encourage you to reach out to the County Commissioners via their contact page, and tell them that they should publicly share a list of the people they are interviewing, and allow space between the interviews and their vote on who to place on this Commission, so that they can get community feedback.
Things of concern, more information needed
Buncombe County Commissioners Meeting Tuesday, March 15, at 5 pm – Asheville’s Community Reparations Commission Board Appointments
As described in the item above, the County Commissioners will be voting for their appointees to the Community Reparations Commission during their regular meeting.
As noted above, we don’t know all of the candidates under consideration. However, we do know that one of the candidates is Ms. Tiffany Flunory-De’Bellott. We strongly encourage the County Commissioners to select her for this important role. Ms. Flunory-De’Bellott is well-connected to many overlapping communities through her leadership at the Center for Participatory Change and Hood Huggers International. She is very close to marginalized and disenfranchised community members and works to inspire connection and healing.
Things to do
We encourage you to reach out to the County Commissioners via their contact page, and encourage them to make Ms. Tiffany Flunory-De’Bellott a member of the Community Reparations Commission.
City Council Retreat, March 17, 10 am – 5 pm and March 18, 9 am – 5 pm
City Council will be holding their annual retreat later this week. The meetings will take place in the Banquet Hall at Harrah’s Cherokee Center at 87 Haywood Street in Asheville. You can see the agenda here.
We encourage everyone who is able to attend or watch online.
Things to do
We encourage community members who are able to attend both of these events to do so.
You can attend in person at the Banquet Hall at Harrah’s Cherokee Center at 87 Haywood Street in Asheville or online via the City’s YouTube Channel.
Things that sound like a step in the right direction
Asheville Planning and Zoning Commission Annual Retreat, March 3, 2022
This year’s retreat focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion issues related to planning and zoning. You can read the retreat action minutes here.
Under the leadership of Chair Joe Archibald, the committee spent time unpacking the impact of city policies including restrictive covenants, redlining, and urban “renewal,” as well as the impact of some newer, “colorblind” policies like the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). The implications of these newer policies are complex, but very important, as they affect the ability of folks with less wealth to build wealth via homeownership. Possible changes considered included advocating to change the UDO to allow manufactured and mobile homes within the city limits, requiring more equity analysis in staff reports, and collaborating with the Office of Equity and Inclusion and the African-American Heritage Commission. Portland, Seattle and Minneapolis were highlighted as cities that take racial equity in zoning seriously and have made some strides.
We want to affirm the Planning and Zoning Commission’s focus on equity issues and the important questions they raised during their retreat. We encourage them to continue working with staff to move the process of planning and zoning toward racial justice.
Things to do
Reach out to the members of Planning and Zoning (PZCommissioners@ashevillenc.gov) and thank them for centering racial equity in their retreat. Encourage them to connect with the newly formed Community Reparations Commission to explore ways that planning and zoning decisions of the future can be in line with the City’s commitment to racial equity and to offering reparations to Black community members.