BCN Chair Mary Norwood brought the meeting to order and the 47 meeting attendees introduced themselves. Attendees included neighborhood Buckhead area, two visitors from Sandy Springs, and many from various government agencies and the Atlanta City Council.
I. Approval of Minutes
Minutes for the November BCN meeting were distributed to attendees.
II. Motion to admit Underwood Hills to BCN
The Underwood Hills neighborhood asked to be admitted to BCN. Underwood Hills is not a Buckhead neighborhood but is adjacent on Buckhead’s western border. The BCN Board approved Underwood Hills’s admission into BCN.
III. Elected Officials:
This part of the meeting allocated time for three Atlanta City Council members to brief BCN attendees on their ongoing efforts. Among other topics, all three addressed Buckhead traffic issues in one way or another.
i Councilman JP Matzigkeit – District 8
JP discussed his quality of life issues involving land use. He has been working on legislation that would block creation of land-locked lots. JP also wants an ordinance to block extreme topographical changes to residential land, mentioning a 19-foot retaining wall as an example of current abuses. He also mentioned legislation he jointly sponsored with Matt Westmoreland, Howard Shook, and Andre Dickens asking the planning department to conduct a study of commuter traffic coming from across Northwest Atlanta into Buckhead. He also mentioned the need for long promised traffic signal synchronization and how imperative it is to get commuter bus service into Buckhead.
ii Councilman Matt Westmoreland – Post 2-at-large
Matt reported that the city had implemented Phase 2 of a $30 million police pay increase. He said that about a year ago APD was 400 officers short of ideal staff levels. Today, APD staffing has been boosted by 111 officers. He also spoke about the importance of updating the City’s tree protection ordinance. Regarding traffic, Matt pointed out that the reason that traffic is so bad in Buckhead and Midtown is because that’s where almost all the city’s jobs are. If we can be intentional and strategic about how we encourage development in other parts of the city, there will be other places for folks to go and have jobs.
iii Councilman Howard Shook – District 7
Howard talked about a study that he and former City Councilmember Yolanda Adrean had commissioned about traffic on Peachtree Road. They had seen Peachtree traffic as aggravating five years ago. But now, rush hours are worse. Howard says that Peachtree’s peak morning traffic volumes are now met or exceeded from 1 pm through 8 pm. Is there a prospect of it getting better? Their study showed that there is land available for development in Buckhead which can support an additional 55 million square feet of new development given the way the land is already
classified by the City’s Comprehensive Development Plan. He doesn’t think there is a judge in Georgia that would reverse those land use classifications. Given that reality, what can be done? He thinks choices will be tough. He said parking restrictions were possible but they might be unpopular since it could push parking into nearby neighborhoods. Basically, Howard said efforts need to focus on reducing the rate at which our traffic is getting worse. He said, We can’t build a wall around Buckhead.
Mary Norwood countered, Yes, but we can build a fence around it.
IV. David Gylfe: Presentation of Traffic Task Force Survey
David outlined the results of the survey of neighborhoods conducted during the summer of 2019. Buckhead neighborhoods were given the opportunity to provide their comments about traffic issues in preparation for the BCN Transportation Resolution.
Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods
‘Let Buckhead Breathe’ Transportation Initiative
Summer 2019 Traffic Survey
V. Robert Patterson and David Gylfe: Transportation Resolution
Robert and David outlined this proposed BCN Traffic Resolution.
LET BUCKHEAD BREATHE!
BUCKHEAD COUNCIL OF NEIGHBORHOODS
TRANSPORTATION RESOLUTION (final version)
VI. Feedback and Questions on Transportation Resolution
There was an audience discussion of the provisions of the draft resolution distributed at the meeting. The changes made as a result were:
• Two whereas clauses were reworded,
• The phrase “(equivalent to pricing for express bus options)” was added in item 12.
• Item 18 was added regarding WAZE.
City Councilmember Howard Shook mentioned City Council traffic initiatives that have been ignored by the administration:
• Police should ticket delivery trucks that pull over into the sidewalk lane on major streets to deliver products even though retail facilities already have required places to do deliveries.
• The City of Atlanta Public Works should stop handing out lane closure permits during drive time hours simply because it might be convenient for the applicants.
A motion for distribution of the revised resolution to BCN member neighborhoods was approved by BCN’s Board. Note that the resolution shown in these minutes includes changes resulting from this meeting.
VII. Suggestions for Focus Areas for the Upcoming Year
Mary outlined about a dozen areas that BCN has already been active in or has plans for, and asked the audience if there were other topics. These were the suggested topics:
• Film production companies whose operations are often very disruptive.
• “E-scooters” being left all over the place.
• WAZE is reported to be responsive to city requests about routing traffic. We should ask for their help.
VIII. Annual Meeting Announcement and Request for Nominations
Next Meeting – Thursday, October 10, 2019