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Take action on crime, downtown Asheville business-owners, staff tell leaders at meeting call for action on crime
Wednesday, 15 March 2023 20:40

From Staff Reports

More than a dozen Asheville business-owners, managers and employees spoke before a packed room March 1, detailing their experiences with crime in downtown and other business districts.

About 50 people filled a back room of Rhubarb, a downtown farm-to-table restaurant, with more turned away at the door after the room reached its maximum capacity.

Asheville City Council was invited to attend the “listening session” by members of the Buncome County Tourism Development Authority and the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, along with a select group of business-owners and other community members, to discuss the impacts of crime in Asheville.

The meeting, which lasted about an hour, was part of an ongoing conversation in Asheville, as police staffing shortages, a recent rash of downtown break-ins and visible increases to the city’s homeless population trigger community concern.

Regarding the meeting, the Asheville Citizen Times stated, “Though anecdotally, story after story described spiking crime rates, with theft and burglary among the concerns voiced by business owners,” although Asheville Police spokeswoman Samantha Booth “said property crime is down 8 percent since March 2022, with a 32 percent decrease for the year to date.”

There were several calls for a greater police presence downtown, which, many of the meeting’s speakers believed, were hindered by a lack of APD staff. 

As the meeting closed, Zach Wallach, vice president for public policy for the chamber, said he hopes council will prioritize public safety, increase resources to downtown and continue to collaborate with the chamber and other stakeholders as they begin to undertake a Business Improvement Feasibility Study, the first step in forming and implementing a Business Improvement District.



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