I. Welcome & Introductions
Outgoing BCN Chair Tom Tidwell called the meeting to order. A BCN Board quorum was present. The meeting room was extremely crowded, with a number of people having to stand in the doorway leading to the hall. Attendees included 66 neighborhood attendees, an all-time record, and about a dozen speakers and related staff.
II. Approval of Minutes
Minutes for the November BCN meeting were approved.
III. Review/Admit New Member Neighborhoods
The Cross Creek neighborhood asked to be admitted to BCN. Cross Creek is not a Buckhead neighborhood but is adjacent on Buckhead’s western border. The BCN Board approved Cross Creek’s admission into BCN.
IV. Election of 2019 Officers
Because this was BCN’s Annual Meeting, it was time for electing officers for 2019. Current nominations were:
Chair – Mary Norwood
Vice-Chair – Debra Wathen
Treasurer – Jeff Clark
Secretary – Gordon Certain
While any resident of a BCN member neighborhood could nominate themselves prior to election time, none chose to do so when asked. Candidates for all offices, as listed above, were elected.
At this point, Mary Norwood took over as Chair of the meeting
a. Public Safety Update – Major Shaw, Zone 2 Commander Major Shaw
Major Shaw started by saying that the recent pay increases the City gave to lower ranking police officers was very important and was helping to improve morale. He also was very appreciative of the support Buckhead residents are giving the police. Shaw said the Zone 2 Precinct was the City’s largest and busiest. While Buckhead is large with 28 square miles, Zone 2 was a lot bigger with 40 square miles. Zone 2 officers are busier than those in any other zone. In an action to help balance the workload, APD is working on a beat realignment project. Zone 2’s Beat 213, which includes the Cheshire Bridge area down to into Morningside, is slated to be reassigned to Zone 6. Similarly, Beat 203, in the area including Bolton Road, Jackson Parkway, Marietta Boulevard over to the Chattahoochee River, is slated to be transferred to Zone 1. Both of these beats have a lot of demands on police resources and moving them out of Zone 2 will be very good. Shaw said that crime was down 2% overall in the City – he said it could be a 50-year low. But he said that it doesn’t mean much if you are in Zone 5 or Zone 2. What’s happened is that crime trends have changed. He said when he started with APD, the problem was people standing at street corners selling dope. They don’t do that anymore. Instead, they are breaking into cars. It used to be that it mattered whether a car door was locked or if a package could be seen in the car. Now, the thieves realize that there are enough valuables in most cars that they break in regardless. It is very rewarding work economically. In 2018, over 1,000 firearms were stolen from cars in Atlanta. Now, those who break into cars often come armed. So, why do they keep coming back? They may find a brand new Range Rover with the keys inside. Or find cash or guns – it is very lucrative, and they are very successful doing it. Shaw said that much of their police work now is data-driven. He can see what’s going on using real-time computer maps. Chief Shields created units that mainly work in Zone 2 and Zone 5. Shaw said they use data to direct the work of the crime suppression teams. Those teams don’t patrol fixed beats – they are assigned in unmarked cars in plain clothes. As a result, last year, warrant arrests were up 40% and auto theft arrests were up 83%. Burglary arrests are up 32%. Shaw says these results are good feedback that the data-driven decision making is putting the officers in the right places. He also commented that license tag reader cameras are a big help. Shaw said it is important when stopping to refuel your car to be very careful. Lock your car doors and while you are pumping gas, stand so you can look toward the passenger door side of the car. Shaw cautioned us to be very observant when parking in a parking lot or deck. Car break-in thieves often just sit in a parked car, waiting for a car to be parked nearby. As the people who just left the car are walking away, the break-in crew may already be moving toward the car, knowing that the people who left it will be gone for a while. He said they crews are bold, fast, and extremely good at their work. If you see people sitting in a car and it looks suspicious, pay attention to your gut feel and park somewhere else. After parking and walking toward your destination, turn back to look at your car before you walk so far you lose sight of it … has someone started to move toward it? If so, go back to move your car and park somewhere safer. Shaw’s comments were followed by a Q&A session. One attendee complained that we hardly ever see any police officers guarding the malls and shopping centers but when they go to New York City they see lots of police everywhere. What are we doing wrong? Shaw responded that New York has 70,000 more police than we do and we are 350 officers short right now. He said he wished he had a lot more officers, it would really help. But we are working with what we have to protect our citizens in high threat areas.
b. Tree Canopy Update
Kathryn Kolb Kathryn’s presentation focused on how unusual Atlanta’s tree canopy is and the obligation we have to protect it as one of the city’s distinguishing features.
VI. BCN Resolution on Tree Ordinance
The following BCN Resolution on Tree Ordinance approved for distribution to neighborhood associations by BCN’s Board. The resolution cites the many ways in which the City is not complying with the requirements of the Tree Protection Ordinance. All BCN neighborhoods were asked to review and vote to support the resolution to enable it to become a public BCN policy position.
BUCKHEAD COUNCIL of NEIGHBORHOODS A RESOLUTION BY THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE BUCKHEAD COUNCIL OF NEIGHBORHOODS
WHEREAS, the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods (BCN) is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit established in 2008 to provide a unified voice to address and protect the common interests and quality of life issues shared by all Buckhead neighborhoods;
WHEREAS, the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods is concerned about the lack of transparency and public input in the rewrite of Atlanta’s Tree Protection Ordinance (ATPO), and the lack of enforcement of six specific sections of the ATPO which include: Section 158-106, which requires on-site preconstruction conferences prior to site disturbance; Section 158-34(c), which requires enhanced tree protection (chain link or wooden fencing) on construction sites that do not maintain mesh tree protection fences; Section 158-103(f), which requires quarterly reports on the activities of the Arborist division of the department; Section 158-101(e)(4), which establishes procedures for postings prior to tree removal; Section 158-63(5), which requires the preparation of a Master Plan for the urban forest of Atlanta; and Section 158-63(4), which requires the establishment of Standards of Practice for the Arborist division;
WHEREAS, the lack of current enforcement of these six sections is resulting in extensive tree loss in Buckhead neighborhoods and a lack of planning for the City’s overall tree canopy;
THEREFORE, the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods requests that:
1. The Department of City Planning provides specific details about the tree ordinance rewrite process in terms of the names of the specific individuals who are rewriting the ordinance, estimated timeline for first and subsequent draft reviewals by the general public, and how public feedback will be incorporated in the rewrite;
2. The Arborist Division and the Department of Parks and Recreation comply with the Atlanta Tree Protection Ordinance as follows:
- Section 158-106: Require that an on-site conference be held between the developer and the city arborist for a final tree fence inspection before any demolition, grading, or construction begins;
- Section 158-34(c): Require enhanced tree protection (chain link or wooden fencing) on all heavy construction sites or sites that do not maintain mesh tree protection fences;
- Section 158-103(f): Commit to a definite date for production of the required quarterly report to resume;
- Section 158-101(e)(4): Post notices of preliminary approval to remove trees (yellow signs) in the office of the city arborist that issued the approval, and commit to a definite date for yellow sign postings on private property to begin appearing on the City website as the City currently does for public property;
- Section 158-63(5): Commit to a definite date for when there will be a Master Plan prepared for the urban forest of Atlanta; and
- Section 158-63(4): Until new standards of practice are written, adhere to the 2009 Standards of Practice to avoid arbitrary application and decision making, particularly in assessing tree health (DDH evaluations) and keeping field books.
— End of resolution –
VII. State of BCN
Issues for 2019 – presented by Mary Norwood
a. Interest Areas
Mary introduced a BCN committee structure that she said will help us immensely in interacting with our City and being aware of what policies and operational procedures are happening that can impact us all and help our quality of life. The structure she outlined follows that of the Atlanta City Council while adding provisions for other governments with which we work. She also outlined how BCN members could volunteer to work within that structure.
INTEREST AREAS – CITY COUNCIL COMMITTEES/ FULTON/GEORGIA
- CRIME Public Safety/Legal Administration
- DEVELOPMENT Zoning
- FlNANCE /TAXES Finance/Executive
- GREENSPACE Community Development/Human Services
- HOUSING Community Development/Human Services
- LEGISLATIVE Fulton County/ State of GA
- STREETS City Utilities
- TRANSIT Transportation
- TRAFFIC Transportation/ Planning/ City Utilities
- TREE CANOPY Community Development/Human Services
- WATER City Utilities
BCN INTEREST AREAS – CHAIRS
- CRIME Valerie Sellers
- DEVELOPMENT Nina Schwartz
- FINANCE/TAXES Mike Bell
- GREENSPACE Tom Tidwell
- HOUSING Sam
- LEGISLATIVE Beth Beskin
- STREETS Debra Wathen
- TRANSIT Robert Patterson
- TRAFFIC Robert Sarkissian
- TREE CANOPY deLille Anthony
- WATER Kim Shorter
b. City Council Information
City Council Committee Jurisdictions Each committee has jurisdiction over the following areas and matters:
Solid waste, sanitation, and recycling; street equipment, street naming, and abandonment, and other public right-of-way matters; matters pertaining to the City’s cable service within the Mayor’s Office of Communication; Department of Watershed Management; Department of Public Works; City franchise agreements.
Committee on Council:
All operations of the council, its officers, and employees; Office of Research and Policy; Council Communications; Office of the Municipal Clerk; all questions pertaining to conflicts of interest and standards of conduct; revision, codification, and clarification of all ordinances; formulation of council’s agenda; all matters pertaining to elections, initiatives, and referenda; rules of council and modifications thereof; conduct and decorum and good repute of the council and its members.
Community Development/Human Services:
Department of Planning and Human Development; Department of Parks and Recreation; comprehensive development plans and land-use plans; Mayor’s Office of Human Services; Mayor’s Office of Film and Entertainment; matters pertaining to Invest Atlanta, WorkSource Atlanta, the Atlanta Housing Authority, the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency, tax allocation districts, and related boards; matters pertaining to health, education, and welfare.
Department of Finance; Department of Human Resources; Department of Procurement; Office of Contract Compliance; oversight of the executive branch; intergovernmental relations, international relations, and diplomatic affairs; all licensing approvals and tax officials and collectors.
Public Safety and Legal Administration:
Law Department; Atlanta Police Department; Atlanta Fire Rescue; Department of Corrections; Mayor’s Office of Emergency Preparedness; Municipal Court operations; Solicitor’s Office.
Department of Aviation and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport; Department of Public Works; Renew Atlanta; Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority; Atlanta Streetcar/Beltline transit; Atlanta Regional Commission; infrastructure bond issues and other capital funding related to transportation projects.
Zoning Review Board; Metropolitan Atlanta River Protection Act; Board of Zoning Adjustment; City’s land subdivision ordinance (Part 15 of the City of Atlanta Code of Ordinances); land plat amendments.
c. Renew Atlanta/ TSPLOST Public Meetings
Mary encouraged attendees to make sure to join her at the upcoming TSPLOST meeting scheduled on January 24. A strong turnout is important.