Asheville’s downtown throngs with many activities that collectively create a unique and vibrant sense of place. Balancing its many uses is an ongoing process in an ever-changing downtown.
Discussion at the Aug. 24 Public Safety Committee centered on three high-impact areas downtown, places where many uses intersect, including street performances, pedestrian traffic, sidewalk amenities and brick and mortar business activity. The discussion was a continuation of a conversation that began in July 2014 with the presentation of the Asheville Police Department’s Downtown Enhancement Plan. Street performances, part of downtown Asheville’s vibrant community fabric, are an important part of the ongoing discussion.
After hearing input from street performers and other community members at committee meetings in September 2014 and April 2015, staff explored ways to maximize the many uses of downtown space while maintaining Asheville’s character. After balancing input gathered in meetings with buskers and other downtown stakeholders, public input from committee meetings and best practices in place-making, staff designed a pilot program suggested Monday to the committee.
The suggested pilot program designated spaces of a specific size in front of the Flat Iron sculpture, in front of Woolworth Walk and on southwest corner of Patton and Biltmore avenues. In an effort to address overcrowding of sidewalks and other public safety concerns, staff’s initial design suggested no other performances occur within a defined number of feet from the designated spaces. Street performances outside the defined zones would be allowed to continue under current city ordinances with many areas still available for artists to perform.
The pilot program was presented to the committee to get input before presenting the program to the community for feedback. There was no action requested of the committee at the Aug. 24 meeting.
The committee’s feedback included asking staff to consider space for non-noise producing street performances in closer proximity to the designated spaces in the high impact areas. This was a suggestion originally made by street performers commenting during the public comment at Monday’s meeting.
Staff will now take the conversation, including the possibility of a pilot program, to interested community stakeholders. The results of the conversations will be presented back to the committee. Council’s approval would be required before implementation of a pilot program.
For more information, see the Public Safety Committee meeting agenda packet.
Interested in contributing to the conversation? Call 828-232-4538.
The area in front of Woolworth Walk on Haywood Street downtown bustles with tourists and locals alike, often including street performers. It is one of the three high-impact areas for the suggested pilot program regulating where street performances can occur.