Your Name: Tod Leaven

Why are you running for Asheville City Council?

Since I first moved to Asheville in 1985, this is the first time that the city has ever declined.  Public safety, cleanliness, and infrastructure all seem to be on a backburner and tourism will be affected.  There is no affordable housing in the city.  The fact that downtown is considering another BID shows that the city is not doing its job.  City Council needs at least one person who can focus upon core city services – public safety, water, infrastructure, parking, etc.  City Council needs greater fiscal responsibility and they need to fully fund core city services before they even think about peripheral issues.

I am an attorney.  I have practiced land-use and HOA law.  I have served on many Boards of Directors.  Current city governance is dysfunctional.

If elected, what are your top three priorities for Asheville?

Core City Services (the top is public safety)

Affordable Housing

The Unhoused

Fair market rate for rental housing increased 78% in five years in the Asheville area (according to a recent article in the Citizen-Times). Most independent restaurant employees don’t meet the eligibility requirements for affordable housing, what strategies and incentives will you use to increase the stock of workforce housing?

BUILD.  The city needs to drastically increase the housing stock.  There is no reason development should be such a four-letter word in Asheville.

The cost of and availability of housing, coupled with Asheville/Buncombe County’s high cost of living in other areas, is making it difficult for food and beverage employees to live in the City of Asheville and/or Buncombe County. Aside from increased workforce housing, how will you assist workers with cost-of-living affordability? BUILD, BUILD, BUILD

Safety for employees has been a top concern for businesses in recent years. What approach would you take to ensure safety of employees and all citizens? What characteristics and experience are you looking for in a new Chief for the Asheville Police Department? 

The city needs to fully fund the police department.  We need to pay our officers significantly more.  I went to grade school with Mike Lamb – he is what the city needs in a Chief.

Do you support a Business Improvement District (BID) for the downtown Asheville area? Why or why not?

It is sad that this is necessary, but I fear it is.  I support it just because the City cannot manage to support the police department.  In supporting a BID, The city cannot try to manage the purse strings again.  If local businesses are paying an extra tax to cover the services that the city is obligated to provide, then the local businesses get to manage the funds, not the city.

In what other ways can Asheville City Council support the local independent restaurant community? 

The city absolutely should not charge restaurants for outdoor use.  The city should not charge restaurants for graffiti.  Businesses should not pay extra for water consumption, especially when the city is not willing to invest in repairing and updating our water system, despite many outages.  The city should view restaurants as an asset to promote, not as a pocket to nickel and dime in order to support the city’s lack of fiscal responsibility.

Anything you’d like to share with our local restaurant workforce?

The reason housing is so expensive in Asheville is because there is nowhere enough housing in Asheville.  When I got out of the Army in 2004, I was able to buy a house in Asheville as a full-time student at UNCA and waiting tables full-time at the Grove Park Inn.  This is no longer attainable by our workforce because the city does not want to develop.  If elected, I will do everything I can to foster sustainable and equitable development in the city so that the people who serve our city can actually afford to live in our city.