Logo showing a stylized city skyline with text that reads: Asheville For All

For housing abundance and diverse, livable communities in Asheville

Support Asheville’s Open Space Amendment

The Asheville City Council voted to approve the Open Space Amendment on July 26, 2022.

Why Should I Support The Open Space Amendment?

Economic Diversity

Housing is a human right. But there is a housing crisis in Asheville.

A successful city is a growing city, and that’s what Asheville is. But as the population grows, we aren’t building enough homes to keep up. This means that people that work in Asheville, and people that have families and friends in Asheville, are being pushed out of the city.

We don’t want Asheville to just become a playground for the rich. Economic diversity is what “makes Asheville weird,” and it brings opportunity to all residents.

The Open Space Amendment incentivizes “urban infill,” which just means that more housing—specifically apartments—will be available for Ashevilleans who are struggling to find shelter.

And in addition to encouraging the development of an overall greater supply of homes in the area, the amendment also incentivizes steps that builders can take to price homes more affordably.

Environmental Justice

Opponents of the Open Space Amendment describe themselves as “environmentalists.” But in the face of the ongoing climate catastrophe, they represent an outdated style of environmentalism that is too individualistic. It misses the big picture.

There exists an older, more individualistic kind of environmentalism where an individual or a family just wants to surround themselves with greenery and nature. That might mean having a big yard and maintaining a garden, perhaps. Or it might mean owning a house where one can enjoy a “mountain view.”

But if you have nothing but detached, single-family homes separated from one another with vast lawns, that’s not environmentally sustainable at all. It means big roads and big highways, because everything is so spread out and no one can conveniently walk or take transit to where they need to go. And the more that our neighborhoods sprawl out, the more likely those mountains will be covered with subdivisions themselves.

For every single downtown Asheville worker that has to find housing in Weaverville or Candler, we would need to plant hundreds of trees to offset the carbon emissions from their daily commutes. That’s why being able to build more housing in places where there are already jobs, infrastructure, and amenities is what battling climate change is all about.

This is exactly what the Open Space Amendment is designed to incentivize.


Gentrification is a scary word that gets thrown around a lot. It’s become a powerful rhetorical weapon, and so it’s also become over-used in confusing ways.

Opponents of this amendment will tell you that it will “gentrify” Asheville. But this reflects a poor understanding of what causes gentrification.

The simple truth is that gentrification, or displacement, is what happens when not enough housing gets built for low- and middle-income folks. When housing supply doesn’t keep up with demand, rents and home prices shoot up, and with scarce housing options, families of different backgrounds, shapes, sizes, and income levels are forced to compete with one another. It’s a zero-sum game that means some people are necessarily going to be pushed out.

The solution to gentrification is to build more housing in places where infrastructure and opportunities exist, so we’re not pitting people against one another.

This is exactly what the Open Space Amendment is designed to incentivize.

Are There Drawbacks?

The new Open Space Amendment is not perfect. In particular, while it creates fixes that make it easier for us to have buildings with eight or more units in parts of the city that are already zoned for higher densities, there is much more work to do on the zoning code to allow for more “gentle density“ citywide.

That work includes decreasing lot size minimums, abolishing exclusionary zoning, and more. Stay connected with us so you can help in that work too.

But the Open Space Amendment is a good start.

Click “Next” to find out how you can help.