Annual Report for 2020
The Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods was restructured in 2019 to be more proactive in addressing the issues that affect Buckhead neighborhoods. This was accomplished through adoption of Official Resolutions and Communications and the formation of Interest Area Committees and Task Forces for in-depth investigation of issues. The Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods consists of 40 member neighborhoods, as follows:
In 2020, The Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods had two In-Person meetings and two Zoom meetings. Despite COVID, BCN remained actively involved in important Buckhead issues, as follows:
Public Safety has been an important issue for BCN. Criminal behavior escalated in Buckhead in 2020, and BCN organized a Street Safety Task Force co-chaired by Amber Connor, Public Safety Chair, and David Gylfe, Traffic Chair, to address three areas of illegal activity that are occurring on Buckhead streets: Illegal Street Racing, Illegal Truck Traffic, and Illegal Noise Violations. Their Street Safety Resolution (SSR), which was presented at the September 10th meeting, was approved by 85% of the BCN Member Neighborhood Associations.
On October 1, 2020, the SSR was mailed to 1) the City of Atlanta: Mayor, Council President, and all City Councilmembers; and 2) Fulton County: Chairman of the County Commission and all County Commissioners, Incoming District Attorney, and Incoming Sheriff—with copies to the following: Buckhead Coalition, Buckhead CID, Livable Buckhead, Buckhead Business Association, and the Atlanta Police Foundation.
The transmittal letters included the following statement: “We believe that the implementation of these items will help our community, and all of Atlanta, to be safer.”
- Increasing penalties with progressive fines for these illegal activities: Street Racing, Truck Traffic on neighborhood streets, and Excessive Noise.
- Monitoring Social Distancing, Loitering, and Expansion of Occupancy for illegal activities.
- Conducting a review of licensed establishments to ensure they are properly classified, and if not, impose progressive fines and the removal/denial of liquor license.
- Conducting public hearings to review of Due Cause complaints for past 5 years.
- Ensuring that City of Atlanta vehicles obey all route restrictions and traffic laws.
- Applying penalties consistently and impartially.
With the passage of this resolution, BCN encouraged concerned citizens to call the Atlanta City Council and urge them to adopt legislation that would require street racing offenders to be seen by a judge prior to being released. 495 residents responded and called the City of Atlanta Public Comment line. BCN monitored all calls. Public Comment lasted for over 11 hours, and the legislation was adopted with a vote of 10-3.
The Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods has also participated in discussions with Buckhead business organizations and elected officials on ways to increase safety and security in Buckhead. The Buckhead Security Plan that this group adopted is included at the end of this report.
The Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods is participating with four Buckhead business organizations – Livable Buckhead, the Buckhead Coalition, Buckhead Community Improvement District and Buckhead Business Association – to develop a unified brand for their joint communications on behalf of Buckhead.
The Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods is providing input on this effort through Mary Norwood’s participation on the steering committee. As a part of this effort, BCN encouraged member neighborhoods to participate in the group’s online survey which was distributed in the fall and thousands of Buckhead residents did so. In the next few months, the group will develop a unified message and visual brand for Buckhead that draws on the many unique aspects of living and working here.
In 2020, the timeliness and increase of responses from member neighborhoods has been impressive:
- Commuter Buses: Members were asked to submit a Letter of Support to the BCID/Livable Buckhead for their application for Commuter Buses to Buckhead to be included in the ARTP (Atlanta Region Transportation Plan).
In less than 17 days—during COVID and the Fourth of July Weekend – 26 Letters of Support were submitted: from 23 neighborhoods and 3 NPU’s.
This tremendous neighborhood support helped in the approval of this application and its inclusion in the ARTP.
- Street Safety Resolution: This resolution was presented at the September 10 meeting and in 21 days (October 1st), 26 neighborhoods had approved the legislation.
In the next few days, another 7 neighborhoods submitted their approval bringing the total to 33 neighborhoods: 85%.
- Neighborhood Security: Security Patrols and Cameras: BCN Member Neighborhoods were asked to relay their neighborhood’s security measures:
In less than 4 days, 31 neighborhoods responded, enabling BCN to report that 97% of BCN responding neighborhoods had security and that ¾ of them had both Security Patrols and Cameras.
Each meeting in 2020 has had multiple presentations from elected officials and organizations:
Major Andrew Senzer: APD Zone 2 Commander – Public Safety Updates: Jan/Mar/Sept/Nov
Jim Durrett: Buckhead Coalition and BCID: Safety and Security
Elizabeth Gill: Atlanta Fire Rescue: Buckhead Fire Stations
David Gylfe and Amber Connor: Street Safety Task Force Co-Chairs
Kathy Zahul: GDOT District 7 Engineer: Peachtree Creek Bridge Project
Josh Rowan: COA Commissioner of Transportation: Vision Zero
Denise Starling: Livable Buckhead: Commuter Buses – ARTP
Denise Starling: Livable Buckhead: Housing in Buckhead Report
TREES and TREE ORDINANCE:
Chet Tisdale: Tree Conservation Commission Board Member
deLille Anthony: Tree Canopy Chair: The Tree Next Door
BCN is grateful for the Elected Officials who attended our meetings in 2020, gave updates, and made presentations, as follows:
State of Georgia:
Representative Betsy Holland
Chair Robb Pitts
Commissioner Lee Morris
Chief Judge of Fulton Superior Court Chris Brasher
Sheriff Elect Pat Labat
City of Atlanta:
President Felicia Moore
Council District 7 Howard Shook
Council District 8 JP Matzigkeit
Council District 9 Dustin Hillis
Post 2-at-large Matt Westmoreland
Post 3-at-large Andre Dickens
Atlanta Public Schools:
Board Members Nancy Meister & Cynthia Briscoe Brown
2020 meetings had a total attendance of over 600 attendees including representation from the following neighborhoods:
As the organization founded to provide a unified voice to address and protect our common interests and quality of life issues in Buckhead, our mission is paramount to our activities. We, the Officers of BCN, appreciate the support of our Board Members, our Interest Area Chairs, our Task Force Members, and so many residents and affiliated organizations who have attended our meetings and participated with us in our mission.
Respectfully Submitted, Mary Norwood, Chair
Debra Wathen, Vice Chair
Gordon Certain, Secretary
Jeff Clark, Treasurer
BUCKHEAD COUNCIL OF NEIGHBORHOODS
P.O. Box 550047 Atlanta, GA 30355
The Buckhead Security Plan
In October of 2020 a number of public and private sector interests came together to discuss what might and should be done to address an increase in unlawful behavior in Buckhead that had reached a point where outcry from the public demanded action. Those entities that were represented in the development of this security plan are:
- The Buckhead Coalition;
- The Atlanta Police Foundation;
- Atlanta City Council (J.P. Matzigkeit and Howard Shook);
- Fulton County Commission (Robb Pitts and Lee Morris);
- City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office (Jon Keen);
- Atlanta Police Department, Zone 2;
- The Buckhead Community Improvement District;
- Livable Buckhead;
- Buckhead Business Association;
- Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods; and
- NPUs A, B, and C
We have proposed an actionable security plan with near-term (NT) and longer-term (LT) actions to increase the safety and security among the people who live in Buckhead, people who work in Buckhead, and people who visit Buckhead on business, for shopping, and for entertainment. The plan will be collaborative, with both private and public sector support, but will be intended to lead to greater public sector support without over-reliance on private sector contributions.
As we continue with the implementation of this plan, it is important to keep in mind potential threats to our success:
- Further attrition at APD
- Increasing brazenness among “party-goers” and their hosts, as well as street racers, if the proper response to their actions is not forthcoming
- Potential reduction in Zone 2 manpower due to our program, or appetite by city to add resources
- COVID worsens or continues unabated
- Potential civil unrest due to events, actions beyond our control
- City/APD budget pressure
- Morale at APD continues to decline
- Tax base erosion from employee and business loss as well as residential exodus if unlawful behavior is not substantially curtailed
We have divided our plan into actions to consider that fall under the headings of Deterrence & Enforcement and Policy & Procedural Change. After gaining consensus on the elements of the plan, we will assign responsible parties to take ownership of further development of each element through analysis of cost, management responsibilities, and funding source(s).
Deterrence & Enforcement
Operation Shield Expansion
Development of a strategic Buckhead grid: a concentration of Pan/Tilt/Zoom (PTZ) cameras and License Plate Readers (LPRs) to cover all major travel corridors and intersections. Ownership of the development of this element of the plan will be by a collaboration of The Atlanta Police Foundation, the Atlanta Police Department, and Livable Buckhead.
Specifically, we need to accomplish the following:
- Deploy more LPRs and PTZs than are currently in place (NT)
- Upgrade the components needed to integrate private cameras into Operation Shield (NT)
- Encourage businesses to connect to Operation Shield with new and existing cameras (NT)
- Formalize a sustainable camera maintenance program (NT)
- Ensure the Video Integration Center is staffed and managed optimally (NT)
Crime Stoppers Investment
Fund and promote a more robust Crime Stoppers Atlanta program to yield more information about crimes and criminals that leads to quicker arrests. Ownership of the development of this element of the plan will be by a collaboration of The Atlanta Police Foundation and The Buckhead Coalition.
Specifically, we need to accomplish the following:
- Offer special rewards for crimes committed in Buckhead, funded by the Buckhead community (NT)
- Increase the marketing of the program throughout the city via billboards or other means (NT)
- Provide feedback to funders to demonstrate the return on investment (LT)
Dedicated Buckhead Supplemental Security Force
Fund and operate a coordinated security patrol, consisting of extra-duty officers from the Atlanta Police Department, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, The Georgia State Patrol, as well as private security firms, within the commercial and residential areas of Buckhead.
Ownership of the development of this element of the plan will be by a collaboration of The Buckhead Coalition, The Atlanta Police Foundation, The Atlanta Police Department, Livable Buckhead, and the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods.
Specifically, the following need to be accomplished:
- Fund and establish a supplementary multi-car dedicated security patrol, utilizing off-duty sworn APD, Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, and Georgia State Patrol personnel, for exclusive use within the Buckhead commercial corridors, to be managed by the Zone 2 Commander at APD, to augment on-duty APD patrol (NT)
- Engage existing neighborhood security patrols to aggregate and integrate into a coordinated patrol of Buckhead, including establishment of a coordinated communications platform (NT)
- Establish a new communications framework of information gathering and dissemination between Zone 2 and the public, utilizing existing or new platforms, to provide good information to residents and businesses within Buckhead (LT)
- Provide feedback to funders to demonstrate the return on investment (LT)
Clean Car Campaign
We need to examine the existing Clean Car Campaign for effectiveness and modify appropriately given existing conditions in Buckhead. (NT) Ownership of the development of this element of the plan will be by a collaboration of Livable Buckhead and the Atlanta Police Department.
We need to investigate special technology tools to enhance and supplement enforcement efforts, piloting their use in Buckhead for ultimate potential use throughout the city. (LT) Ownership of the development of this element of the plan will be by The Atlanta Police Foundation.
Policy & Procedural Change
Many existing policies and procedures are not producing the results that are expected. Additionally, there are further actions needed.
Ownership of the development of this element of the plan is by The Buckhead Coalition, which will count on the support of many other entities to work on the specifics for accomplishing the following:
- Ask Mayor Bottoms to support this plan, and to publicly declare, especially for out of town visitors, that lawless behavior will not be tolerated in Atlanta (NT)
- Support Buckhead APD officers in multiple ways, including
- Gift cards, meals, events, support dogs (NT)
- Housing assistance to encourage and enable officers to live within Zone 2 (NT)
- Buckhead community support for efforts to build a safer city throughout all of Atlanta, such as expansion of the @Promise Center program and deployment of more cameras and LPRs outside of Buckhead (NT)
- Buckhead community support for the hiring, training and retention of trained officers to achieve a full force at APD (NT)
- Buckhead community support for the establishment of a new training center for APD and Atlanta Fire and Rescue Department (LT)
- Buckhead community support for studies/assessments/policies to encourage best-in-class community policing (NT)
- Buckhead community support for One Atlanta, One APD to ensure all rally behind APD in their mission (NT)
- Work with landlords with problematic tenants to address property use that leads to illegal activity and public disturbance (NT)
- Offer pro bono auditing assistance for Licenses and Permits to find indications of license and permit violations (NT)
- Fact check building permits and parking contracts of problematic establishments in Buckhead (NT)
- Engage Fire Marshal to spot check overcrowding at problematic establishments in Buckhead (NT)
- Crack down effectively on “Party Houses” and rowdy behavior at hotels (NT)
- Enforce the noise ordinance, and/or determine what needs to be changed to better enable enforcement (NT)
- Enforce loud muffler ordinance, and/or determine what needs to be changed to better enable enforcement (NT)
- Support the efforts of APD and its partners to control street racing (NT)
- Work with the court system to address repeat offender sentencing (LT)
- Work with all levels of government to address the proliferation of illegal firearm possession (LT)
- Seek support in the State Legislature to address penalties for violation of municipal ordinances (NT)
- Examine the probation officer program in the city for opportunities (LT)
- Engage the MARTA police department, the incoming Fulton County Sheriff, and the Zone 2 Community Prosecutor for support (NT)