I. Welcome & Introductions
Tom Tidwell called the meeting to order at about 6:45 PM. A quorum was present.
II. Approval of Minutes
Minutes for the March meeting, were approved.
III. Admit New Member Neighborhoods
No neighborhoods asked to be considered for BCN membership.
A BCN Neighborhood Census form was again distributed at the meeting. All BCN neighborhoods are requested to complete the form. The form ensures that BCN has contact information for each
neighborhood and explicit identification of each neighborhood’s BCN representative and alternates.
IV. BCN Standing Committee Reports
Major Van Hobbs
Major Hobbs, Zone 2 Precinct Commander, started off the presentation talking about development. While development is great, good for the economy, and brings people into Atlanta, the challenge the police department faces is the petty nuisance crimes associated with development. These include the larcenies, shoplifting, and car break-ins. The main crime we’re up with this year, like last year, is auto theft. Over 40% of the cars stolen in our zone either have the keys in them or they’re running. He cited the case of a guy who was putting air in his car’s tires, with the motor running, and the next thing he knew was the air hose being pulled by the moving car. Hobbs said he doesn’t get it – he lives in a very rural area and he always locks his car. APD is visiting gas stations as a strike team – just watching – hopefully getting people to pay attention and clearing the people out that don’t need to be there. Hobbs said Councilmember Adrean is doing a lot of work with cameras and license plate readers. He said they have already had some successes with all the new cameras. He outlined a case where there were reports of a person taking pictures of houses from the sidewalk, which is not illegal. APD researched the identity of the car and narrowed it down to seven possible cars out of the 1,600 recorded by the area’s cameras. And they waited,
doing nothing since they are sensitive to privacy issues. A couple of weeks later, the homeowners started receiving mail with pictures of their homes from a realtor who suggested that if they ever considered selling their home to keep the realtor in mind. In another case, however, a car pulled into a driveway at about 4 AM. An occupant got out and started pulling car door handles. Flood lights came on and alarms went off and the homeowner’s cameras got pictures. With those images, APD went to their tag readers they got the identity of the car and its tag. They determined it was a rental car. At 8 AM, APD was at the rental agency when it opened. They determined who rented the car and where they lived. They also found out the rental company had a tracker installed in the car. APD started tracking the car, which was up in Gwinnett County at the time and then in Alpharetta. They determined it was in parking lots. Why in parking lots? To break into cars. Alpharetta police were activated as was Georgia Highway Patrol who didn’t stop them because they knew where they were going. APD took four people into custody and found a lot of stolen items
and weapons in the car. They were in jail by 1 PM. The camera technology worked exactly as it was supposed to.
Are cameras a deterrent to crime? No, not yet. But he said once the word gets out, the less criminals are going to want to come into areas with cameras – that’s APD’s goal. He said that councilmember Adrean is working to get more cameras as is the Buckhead CID. He said the Atlanta Police Foundation has a master plan for where cameras should go, but with development going on, the plan will need to be tweaked. He said the APD Video Integration VIC has about 5,700 cameras on line. Bob Helget asked if all the cameras with blue lights tag readers? No, those are the cameras that are watching the streets and linked to the VIC so they can zoom and pan. The tag readers are smaller boxy things you might see on the back of patrol cars. He said tag readers are usually permanently installed in main ingress/egress routes to areas leading to main roads. Hobbs said that while tag readers are set up to log every tag that passes, the APD is also able to provide the readers with specific tag numbers so that car passes the reader, an alert is issued. The card readers can also build databases of car tag numbers that pass it every day, indicating that the
car belongs in the neighborhood. This enables them to filter out new tags coming into an area, so APD can be provided with a list of perhaps 20 tags of interest rather than a list of thousands.
Ton Tidwell asked if APD plans a PR campaign to inform the public about how the camera system is being deployed in a manner that respects the public’s privacy. Hobbs said, yes, their Public Affairs unit is gearing up to inform the public and the media of how the system is being used. They want the public to know that they are not keeping information forever; it is kept relatively briefly and is then erased.
Another attendee asked Hobbs about cheap ($24) tag covers available online which make it difficult for tag readers to decipher tag numbers. Won’t criminals simply use covers to escape being tracked? Hobbs says their traffic guys will pull cars over if they can’t read the tag number. He said the university tag frames that obscure even the county name are a violation. If there is something wrong with the visibility of a tag, that’s a clue that something might not be right.
Denise Starling, Livable Buckhead
Denise Starling is Executive Director of Livable Buckhead, Inc. (LBI) PATH400 is a Livable Buckhead project. She said that LBI’s mission is to support the area’s sustainability, with greenspace being an important component. In 2009/10 the City of Atlanta did an analysis of park space by city council district and determined that Council District 7 was the lowest “parked” district in the city. A 25-person stakeholder committee was organized to determine a plan to address that greenspace deficiency. It was determined that 106 acres of parks needed to be added in District 7. That goal will include a variety of different type of parks, not just greenspace.
Since 2012, 34 acres of park land have been added. LBI has been directly involved by buying land that is then turned over to the City of Atlanta. She said they are working on acquiring a parcel in the Peachtree Park neighborhood right now. Another example is the Tower Place conservation easement was slated to be developed as a 20+ story hotel; Regent Partners places the land into a perpetual park easement. PATH400, however, has added the majority of the 34 acres. Ultimately, the plan is to get parks spread out over the district so that all residents will be within walking distance of a park. PATH400 was envisioned as a way to provide connectivity to these parks. LBI brought the Buckhead CID into the project as a funder and the Path Foundation in for their construction expertise. These three entities together manage the project. Various government agencies are involved. The land predominately belongs to the Georgia DOT. GDOT granted the City of Atlanta a special permit to allow it to use the land as a park. The initial plan for PATH400 extended from the area near the I-85/GA400 interchange north 5.2 miles to Loridans Drive. So far, several segments have been completed. The initial segment which opened in early 2015 extended along Lenox Road from the signal at Tower Place Drive intersection to GA400 to Old Ivy Road. The second segment is under construction and will extend from Old Ivy Road to Wieuca Road. Short segments at Greystar and between Adina Drive and Piedmont Road have been completed in 2016. A fourth segment from Sidney Marcus Boulevard to Miami Circle will be completed later in 2016. Other phases are planned when funding is arranged. These include a Wieuca Road to Mountain Way segment which will connect to the Mountain Way Common park which is currently being developed. Later, a segment from Mountain Way to Loridans Drive will complete the initial plan, intersecting with a new park which includes the Lowery Stevens Cemetery which dates from 1852, making it one of the oldest family cemeteries in the City of Atlanta. Connectivity from PATH400 to the Beltline project is planned. PATH400 ends where Adena Drive terminates on the east side of Piedmont Road. The Beltline path beginning on the west side of Piedmont Road will provide connectivity to the west. Other connections to the east are planned. The South Fork Trail which now terminates on the other side of Peachtree Creek from PATH400’s terminus and will connect to the Emory campus and beyond. A similar connection is planned for the North Fork Trail which will extend to Duluth. [We have also learned that the Nancy Creek Trail system in DeKalb County has announced plans to
connect from the Dunwoody area through the Nancy Creek valley to PATH400.]
Recently, plans were authorized for a major expansion of PATH400 along GA400 through Sandy Springs. The new GA400/I-285 interchange has been designed in a trail-friendly manner to facilitate PATH400’s extension well to the north of I-285. LBI will be deeply involved in this expansion of PATH400 into Sandy Springs.
VI. Community Concerns/New Business/Announcements
VII. Next Meeting May 12, 2016
IX. Adjourn – The meeting adjourned at about 8:00 PM.
Note: The opinions expressed by the speakers and individual neighborhood representatives in these minutes do not necessarily represent those of BCN or its member neighborhoods.