CAN Update May 14: Senate Bill 349 and House Bill 401 did NOT move forward!

The General Assembly effort to prohibit local governments from enforcing single-family residential restrictions has died for this legislative session.

Senate Bill 349 and House Bill 401 failed to meet a May 13 deadline for moving out of committee and to the floor of either chamber for a vote.  Although theoretically the GOP caucus could pull some legislative magic and push the bills forward, this is not likely because there wasn't  enough consensus among Republicans to get the bills out of committee.

The bills would have forced local governments to allow construction of duplex, triplex, and multiplex dwelling units, as well as townhouses in neighborhoods zoned for only single-family housing.  Additionally, the bills would have allowed construction or conversion accessory dwelling units into residential housing and forbidden local governments from imposing existing regulations, such as parking.

The Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods (CAN) opposed the bills as potentially destroying the character of long-standing neighborhoods.

CAN thanks those members who joined it in expressing their opposition to the bills. Together, we sent a powerful message that local governments are in the best position to make decisions on zoning and housing needs based on both existing situations and comprehensive planning. 

CAN Statement on Senate Bill 349 and House Bill 401

The Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods (CAN) strongly opposes NC Senate Bill 349 and House Bill 401, which seeks to take away local government's authority to make decisions affecting single-family residential zoning.

Such a move also would effectively remove any chance for residents to have a voice in how their neighborhoods are shaped, thus jeopardizing the most precious investment residents have made--their property values.

The provisions of these bills have the potential to destroy the character of residential communities, overwhelming sewer and water capacities, escalating stormwater runoff, and leaving local governments and residents to foot the bill to meet these increased demands.    

One of the supposed intentions behind these two bills is increasing the opportunity for more affordable housing. Although CAN supports the need for affordable housing, shackling the hands of local governments by preventing them from making their own legislative or policy determinations on how to apply zoning standards is not the answer. 

If the General Assembly is concerned about the lack of affordable housing, it should provide incentives, allowing local governments to address that need, not punish them with draconian legislation  

Senate Bill 349 and House Bill 401 are not in the best interest of the City of Asheville, its neighborhoods and its residents. CAN urges the City of Asheville to stand firm against these measures and demand that it retain the authority to make its own decisions on what is best for Asheville. 

SB 349 and HB 401, still pending in the North Carolina General Assembly, would have the effect of: 

  • eliminating single-family zoning statewide, including the City of Asheville
  • forcing the City of Asheville to allow duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes and townhouses into all residential zones, including all low-density zoning districts, for the stated purpose of expanding housing opportunities in towns
  • prohibiting the City of Asheville from even examining a traffic impact analysis which has satisfied the North Carolina Department of Transportation, whether or not the municipality believes that the traffic generated by the project poses a danger to public safety and the ratification by the Department is prudent
  • mandating the allowance of “one accessory dwelling” in the City of Asheville, which can consist of a duplex, on each lot on which there is a single-family residence, circumventing all usual approval processes such as conditional district zoning, and trumping all local parking requirements and utility approval protocols without regard to the impacts of a potential tripling of density
  • shifting financial responsibility for a developer’s attorney’s fees onto the City of Asheville whether or not the City's decisions have been made in good faith in a manner seeking to protect the common good

Although SB 349 has reportedly been endorsed by “affordable housing” proponents as a way to increase supply and decrease costs, there is nothing in the bill which actually controls costs. 

 SB 349 has the potential to fundamentally change most neighborhoods in Asheville,
accelerate the disruption of the lives of its permanent citizens, as out-of-town investors continue to buy up low density housing stock for short-term vacation rentals.

 CAN has sent the following statements to Asheville city leaders and to our local state legislative representatives:

Letter to City of Asheville

Letter to NC Legislative Representatives

Email Addresses for NC and Asheville Officials

------------------- First Response -------------------------

From: Sen. Julie Mayfield <Julie.Mayfield@ncleg.gov>
Date: Apr 16, 2021, 2:17 PM -0400
To: CAN President <president@asheville-can.org>
Subject: Re: Strongly oppose NC Senate Bill 349 and House Bill 401

Thank you Rick.  I agree these decisions should be best left to the local level, even as much as I appreciate the effort to increase the availability of housing types.

Julie

Senator Julie Mayfield
NC Senate District 49

North Carolina General Assembly
16 W Jones St., Room 1025
Raleigh, NC 27601-1096
919-715-3001
julie.mayfield@ncleg.gov
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------------------- Second Response -------------------------

From: Kim Roney <kimroney@avlcouncil.com>
Date: Apr 19, 2021, 8:51 AM -0400
To: CAN President <president@asheville-can.org>
Subject: Re: CAN opposes NC Senate Bill 349 and House Bill 401

Rick and CAN neighbors,

Thank you for contributing to the conversation around these bills. For resilient neighborhoods, protecting our tree canopy and green spaces, and infrastructure investments that benefit ours and future generations, I know local governments need to be able to make decisions around smart growth and density while considering transit and multimodal-accessible corridors.

Council will be discussing these bills in our chekins this week.

With Gratitude,
Kim