Name: Jeremy Goldstein
Profession: Commercial Real Estate Brokerage
In up to two words, describe your political affiliation: Unaffiliated
In one brief sentence, describe yourself and why you’re running: I am a 19-year resident, small business owner, downtown stakeholder, and family man, hoping to contribute my knowledge and experience to help Asheville grow sustainably, support residents to build and sustain a life here, and preserve the unique qualities that we all value in our city.
These questions are about problems, challenges or topics facing city government and how you will try to deal with them if elected.
1. Of the current top city officials that answer directly to City Council — City Attorney, City Manager and City Clerk — which ones would you favor retaining or firing? Why?
Retain all three. During my six years on the Planning and Zoning Commission, the last four as Chair, I’ve had ample opportunity to interact with these and many other City officials.All members of staff that I have worked with have been professional, conscientious, hardworking, and transparent.As a business owner, I would never make a decision to fire those who report directly to me without first having the opportunity for direct supervision. If I am chosen to serve on Council, then will I be in a position to fully and fairly ascertain job performance of our top city officials. In general, I am not a big fan of placing blame—I don’t find it useful, particularly without firsthand knowledge. I prefer to recognize problems, identify solutions and execute.
2. The powers granted to the planning and zoning commission are a key point of debate in how Asheville should deal with growth and how much of a direct role elected officials should play. Do you think those powers should change, If so, how?
We need defined development standards, formulated through extensive public outreach, that are not subject to political whims of the day. We need leaders who are committed to implementation and periodic review of these standards. We need a plan for the future of Asheville that is the product of everyone’s ideas but insulated from any one political extreme. This is how we will achieve balanced growth and the improvements to quality of life that we all seek.
Our City Council, reacting to the proliferation of commercial development downtown, has recently revised the standards — with almost no public input — to make more projects subject to Council’s approval. This means more power to Council to reject a project that is politically unpopular, and less assurance to the applicant that a project, even one in compliance with all codes, ordinances and plans, will ever be approved. This will have a chilling effect on the investments in our urban core that we so desperately need to address our affordability crisis. It takes substantial resources — both time and money — to shepherd any project through the approval process. Who will make that kind of investment with no guidance or assurance as to the probable outcome or likely roadblocks?
As Chairman of Asheville’s Planning and Zoning Commission I have, recently, seen City Council politicize projects that P&Z has worked hard to align with our current development standards and aspirational plans. If our plans and laws no longer meet our needs, we should change — not abandon them in favor of an ad hoc approval process. Our City Council, the Commission, and Asheville’s citizens and stakeholders each have an important role to play in this process.
I published an article on this topic, “Civic Mindfulness, Not Politics, Will Sustain Growth for Asheville,” on my Facebook Page: Goldstein for Council.
3. Some Pisgah Legal Services attorneys recently criticized city staff’s enforcement of tenant protections, asserting that they don’t sufficiently enforce the written ordinance and place additional burdens on tenants dealing with bad landlords. How would you change or reinforce the city’s tenant protections and their enforcement?
First, assess the situation. We need to determine if the City is, in fact, sufficiently enforcing our written ordinances effectively and equitably. Meet with Pisgah Legal Services attorneys to identify exactly where and how, in their opinion, lack of enforcement is occurring. Next, work with the City Manager and City Attorney to make sure policies and procedures are in place for staff to properly abide by and enforce the law.
4. In response to a community push that cited the de facto segregation shown in reports like the State of Black Asheville, the Buncombe County Commissioners recently supported taking funds intended for a jail expansion and instead putting them towards community support and rehabilitation. Do you favor a similar shifting of Asheville’s law enforcement funds? If so, to what extent and to what kind of programs?
This is not a matter of shifting funds from one integral function of government to another. These issues are not mutually exclusive. Arbitrarily defunding our police department is not the answer to our problems. We need effective law enforcement. Our men and women who put themselves in harms way on a daily basis to protect and serve the people of Asheville seek everyone’s support and gratitude for undertaking a dangerous and difficult job.
We also need to remedy de facto segregation by all means possible. If we are going to resolve equity and trust issues in our community, we need to work together—not against one another. It is imperative that all of our citizens—in all of our neighborhoods—feel safe and have opportunities to succeed. I would look forward to working in partnership with many individuals and organizations to determine the best practices and innovative strategies that can achieve this result for Asheville.
5. What course of action do you favor in dealing with Asheville’s Confederate regime and segregation-era monuments?
Rededicate the Vance Monument. Provide historical context. Leave the obelisk. The Center for Diversity Education has done some great advocacy around ways to convert the Vance Monument space into a better tool for teaching the history of Asheville.
As to other monuments that remind us of an ugly and hateful past, proceed with caution. We need to engage in a thoughtful, honest community dialogue about how to address these monuments.
Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. My family from my earliest memories ingrained this in me. If we remove from view all reminders of bigotry, racism and discrimination will it prevent its very return? I think not. In fact, it may fan the flames of hatred, fear and ignorance and usher in its return with greater speed. We need to be reminded. We need to be triumphant in our successes and celebrate our progress. But we need to remain steadfast in fighting for equality and equity for all. We need to be reminded.
These questions are about specific proposals Asheville City Council has or may consider, and how you would vote on them. The first word of each answer must be Yes or No. An explanation of one’s position — or an alternative proposal — may follow. Answers in this section that do not begin with “Yes” or “No” will not be published.
6. Earlier this year, the local NAACP — backed by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice — called for several reforms in an attempt to address racial disparities in the APD’s traffic stops. Those reforms included: ending regulatory stops for minor issues like expired registration or a busted headlight, written consent for a driver agreeing to allow a vehicle search and a transparent investigation into why full stop numbers may not have been reported to the SBI. Do you favor the full and immediate adoption of these reforms?
I wholeheartedly agree that we need to address racial disparities in our community. Absolutely. However, it cannot be done by decree. My understanding is that we have a highly qualified, caring and hardworking police Chief. She is aware of these disparities and interested in creating a police department that serves and protects all of our citizens regardless of race. We need to provide support and time for her to effectuate change.
The NAACP reforms suggested might be effective. They might make a difference. However, I believe we need to work with our law enforcement professionals to find solutions.
7. Do you favor extending the ban on whole home/apartment Airbnb-style rentals to areas where the practice is currently allowed, such as downtown and the River Arts District?
Absolutely not. Lodging is an appropriate use in our central business district and other commercially zoned districts within the River Arts District.In fact, we want our guests to stay in our urban areas so they can walk everywhere, leave cars parked, and stay off roads and out of our neighborhoods. Why on earth would we consider banning lodging uses in our urban spaces in favor of hoteling our neighborhoods? Seriously?
In fact, there is no “ban” on whole home/apartment Airbnb-style rentals in residential neighborhoods now. Lodging in our neighborhoods has never been legal. A “ban” insinuates that it once was legal and that the property rights of owners within these neighborhoods have been somehow infringed upon by enforcing our existing laws. That is not the case. The only property rights that are being infringed upon within our neighborhoods as a result of this illegal commercialization are those of people whose property taxes are now increasing, whose streets are filled with guest vehicles, and whose children can’t sleep at night due to excessive noise from constant parties.
Commercialization of our residential neighborhoods threatens the character of our community. Like other tourist towns across the globe, we are in a battle to keep our neighborhoods accessible to those of us who live and work here. People create a community, not houses full of transients. The proliferation of illegal short-term rentals is pitting neighbor against neighbor, driving the price of housing higher, increasing property taxes on everyone and making it less affordable to live in the City.
8. Do you favor the city establishing a rental crisis fund that would give direct monetary assistance to those in danger of being pushed out by rapidly rising rents, with priority given to those in the most marginalized and rapidly-gentrifying neighborhoods?
We need to find a permanent solution to affordability within the City.
There is a significant lack of housing diversity in downtown. There is a significant lack of housing in downtown, period. We need to ease regulations and use zoning as a tool to encourage—not discourage—investment in our downtown.
There is no one, single magic pill to solve our affordable housing problem. This is a nationwide problem. The reality is that we need to attack this issue on multiple fronts. Increasing the overall supply of housing options will have the single greatest impact on affordability. There are simply more people than there are places to live, which drives the cost higher. Downtown presents the most viable opportunity to tackle the problem without overburdening our infrastructure.
In order to increase supply of affordable housing, the City needs to leverage our funds by offering incentives to those willing to invest in our community to add an affordable housing component. Best options include contributing to infrastructure improvements and additional public parking. In addition to increasing the number of affordable units in a project, those kinds of investments will benefit the City in other ways.
As we continue to grow our tax base by encouraging density, we will have additional funds to direct to our Affordable Housing Trust Fund and other programs that seek to create permanent affordable housing solutions in our downtown.
9. Lambda Legal and other civil rights groups have dubbed HB142 a “fake repeal” of the HB2 legislation that discriminates against LGBT (especially trans) people and sued to overturn it. Should the city of Asheville formally condemn HB142, pass a non-discrimination ordinance in defiance of it and prepare to defend that ordinance in court?
I don’t condone discrimination of any kind or in any form.
10. Should the city of Asheville declare itself a sanctuary city, as some social justice and immigrants rights’ advocates have called for?
The City has no authority and no need to declare itself as such. In 2013, Asheville passed a resolution endorsing the protection of civil liberties of all persons and affirming that we are a welcoming community to all. Immigration policy and enforcement is in the federal jurisdiction. In addition, Buncombe County operates our jail system, not the City of Asheville.