open sign written in chalkProtecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public is the City of Asheville’s top priority. The City of Asheville is committed to supporting and responding to the changing needs of the community during the COVID-19 crisis and through phases of recovery. With consideration for physical distancing and other safety measures implemented by public health officials, the City launched new ways to use outdoor spaces – like streets, sidewalks, parking areas and parks – differently, to support economic recovery and other community and business needs. This work has relied on collaboration, communication and flexibility across sectors of government, business and community.

City staff and City Council received great ideas and proposals in the spring of 2020 and continues to welcome input. Staff is tracking and reviewing recommendations along with current and emerging best practices from other cities. Intentional and strategic community engagement is critical to the success of these programs.

This webpage will continue to be updated regularly. 

 


Happening Now

The City has an interdepartmental team working on transitioning each of the AVL Shares Space initiatives into new or existing long-term programs. Staff is providing updates and seeking feedback along the way from Downtown Public Space Management Task Force, a sub-committee of the Downtown Commission, and other stakeholder groups. Please find the current status of each temporary program in the next section under “Program Descriptions and Status Updates”.

June 13, 2022 – staff provided updates to the Planning & Economic Development Committee of City Council. The presentation is available here and the staff report is available here

November 9, 2021 – staff provided updates to City Council. The presentation is available here.

September 2021 – a public survey was launched to get feedback on the temporary programs. The results are available here. Thank you for your input!

*If you own or manage a business and have directly participated in these programs, please email us and we’ll send you the participating business survey. 

 


 

Program Descriptions & Status Updates

  • Curbside pick-up zones in commercial districts 
    • Initial announcement (5/22/20)
    • These zones are located downtown and on Haywood Road in West Asheville. They are not dedicated to individual businesses, but provide opportunities for customers to more easily access curbside pick-up within the surrounding area. A map is available here.
    • As of spring 2022, parking services staff is reviewing how these spaces are being used and engaging with nearby businesses to consider which zones could be removed and returned to metered parking.
    • To request that an existing space be removed, please email parking@ashevillenc.gov.
  • Flexible use of private property 
    • Initial announcement (5/22/20)
    • Businesses were able to request to use their private parking lots and landscape areas to expand operations in alignment with public health guidelines,
    • Staff is working one-on-one with businesses to determine if there is a path to permanency through existing permitting processes. Businesses can submit their site details through this form or contact Development Services staff at pac@ashevillenc.gov or 828-259-5846.
    • No new applications are being accepted.
  • Use of public sidewalks 
    • Initial announcement (6/5/2020)
    • Businesses were able to go through an expedited and fee-free process to utilize areas of adjacent public sidewalk in alignment with public health guidelines.
    • As of January 3, 2022, businesses must apply for an outdoor dining and/or merchandise permit (and encroachment agreement as applicable) to continue having seating or merchandise on public sidewalks. Submit an application for a new permit or renew a previously issued permit through the City’s development portal here
  • Temporary “parklets” in on-street parking
    • Initial announcement (6/23/20)
    • Businesses and organizations were able to temporarily use 1-3 public parking spaces adjacent to their storefronts to expand operations in alignment with public health guidelines.
    • Existing temporary parklets may remain in place if they continue to follow the program guidelines
    • No new applications are being accepted for the temporary program. Development of a long-term “streetery”program  is underway for launch in July 2023. 
    • Contact: Dana Frankel, dfrankel@ashevillenc.gov
  • Shared Streets / “pedestrian priority zones” for commerce and recreation
    • Initial announcement (6/23/20)
    • Launched in spring 2020 on The Block, South Slope, Wall Street and a portion of College Street following these guidelines
    • In fall 2021, these uses transitioned to the temporary parklet program. 
  • Equity Markets
    • In partnership with the City’s Business Inclusion Office, diverse small businesses and makers can connect with customers through City-supported vending opportunities 
    • Launched November 2020 at the ASAP Farmer’s Market, Creative Hub Market and Uncommon Holiday Market and continued through 2021 at the Ooh La La Curiosity Market from May – October. 
    • Find more information and opportunities from the Business Inclusion Office here or email ABI@ashevillenc.gov

 


Guiding Principles and Goals

  • Align with the guidance of state and local public health agencies
  • Support the recovery of our local economy and the overall vitality of Asheville’s commercial districts
  • Expand opportunities for safe public access to businesses and services
  • Be flexible to accommodate the changing operational needs of businesses and organizations
  • Introduce new or different uses of public space that support the health, safety and well-being of our community
  • Provide a framework that incorporates opportunities for implementation across varied geographic areas and equitable engagement in decision-making
  • Consider longer-term implementation of successful tools and strategies
  • Recognize that balancing the needs and uses of public space often requires compromise
  • Aim to maximize public benefit while 1) prioritizing responsiveness to the recovery needs specific to COVID-19 and 2) using an equity lens to weigh particular uses over others.
  • Make sure initiatives can respond quickly to the community’s needs without compromising public safety
  • Use public resources responsibly

 


How Can I Submit Ideas or Feedback?

Please visit the project’s Public Input page here

Email the team at publicspace@publicinput.com

See Sept. 2021 public survey results here

 


Additional Temporary Accommodations to Support Businesses with Recovery

 


Information and Updates

 

Program Guidelines

These and other guidelines can also be found at develop.ashevillenc.gov

COVID-19 Resources

Find information on COVID-19 in Buncombe County at www.buncombeready.org

 


Contact

Contact the team at publicspace@publicinput.com.

 

Updated 11/14/2022

 


 

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