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
Traffic Task Force Survey Exhibit #1
Traffic Task Force Survey Exhibit #2
Traffic Task Force Survey Exhibit #3
Traffic Task Force Survey Exhibit #4
Traffic Task Force Survey Exhibit #5
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)
Whereas, neighborhoods in Buckhead have experienced an enormous increase in traffic, which is causing public safety and quality of life concerns; and Whereas, there has been enormous growth in commercial development in and around Buckhead, particularly in the Buckhead Central Business District (BCBD), but also around Piedmont Hospital and in the Bolton/Moores Mill LCI, with commercial buildings creating jobs for citizens throughout the Atlanta region; and
Whereas, estimates project that as many as 92% of these employees do not live in Buckhead and must travel to and from work; and
Whereas, today, many of these employees travel through Buckhead’s single-family residential neighborhoods to get to their jobs; and
Whereas, the combined travel of commuter traffic with existing residential traffic is causing Buckhead neighborhoods to be suffocated; and
Whereas, representatives of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods have shared their concerns with the following entities: Georgia Department of Transportation, ATL (Atlanta-Region Transit Link), ARC (Atlanta Regional Commission), GRTA (Georgia Regional Transportation Authority), MARTA, Buckhead CID (Community Improvement District), Livable Buckhead, the Buckhead Coalition, the Buckhead Business Association, the City of Atlanta, and the Cobb County Department of Transportation.
Now, therefore, the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods hereby petitions the above entities to join with them to ameliorate Buckhead’s suffocating traffic by designing and implementing appropriate and effective strategies to benefit employers, employees and residents of Buckhead, including but not limited to consideration of the following:
Provide Affordable Workforce Housing
1. Develop a comprehensive Employer-Assisted Workforce Housing Program
enabling Buckhead’s workers to live within Buckhead.
Increase Transit Options
2. Develop and implement a program to provide Express Busses to Buckhead from many regions of metropolitan Atlanta as are currently being provided to other job centers including Midtown and Downtown;
3. Provide better mobility options within Buckhead for commuters and residents including pedestrian, two-wheel travel modes, and four-wheel travel modes;
4. Provide comprehensive and timely shuttle service for all individuals within the BCBD, to facilitate both the “last mile” connections from transit drop-off points, as well as for continuous mobility within the BCBD;
5. Provide commuters who use transit “express return to origin” for personal or family emergencies;
6. Work with businesses to incentivize ride-share for their employees;
7. Develop and implement Rail or Bus Rapid Transit service to Buckhead and/or Lindbergh Center Station from North Fulton, Cobb County, Gwinnett County, and Decatur
8. Improve neighborhood and visitor use of MARTA via bus shelters and bike parking at transit stations and bus shelters;
9. Ensure that the BeltLine’s Northside and NorthEast corridors are integrated into the BeltLine’s transit infrastructure
10. Encourage the City to adopt Vision Zero policies to improve pedestrian safety;
11. Reduce speed in Buckhead neighborhoods through lower speed limits and expanded enforcement through additional police resources and technological solutions (e.g. camera-based enforcement);
12. Pursue improvements and policies that minimize the flow of commuter traffic through residential neighborhoods on all neighborhood streets, including but not limited to street turning restrictions, speed reduction devices, and rush hour congestion pricing (equivalent to pricing for express bus options) for 2-lane neighborhood streets;
13. Encourage and empower residential neighborhoods to develop comprehensive Neighborhood Transportation Plans for their neighborhoods incorporating methods to calm traffic and eliminate cut-through commuter traffic;
14. Adopt economic incentives to manage traffic flow, including congestion pricing and parking taxes;
15. Implement extensive networks of sidewalks and bike lanes within neighborhoods, giving priority to collector streets within our neighborhoods.;
16. Increase Buckhead community involvement with development and transportation planning, including a transparent process around the appropriate classification and reclassification of roads;
17. Increase connectivity between major arterial routes and the freeway system in order to allow traffic to flow from one major corridor to another through commercial districts, without having to travel through neighborhoods
18. Work with WAZE to re-direct their navigational system to protect the safety and well-being of our neighborhoods.
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