Posts filed under ‘Traffic’

Briarcliff and Lakeside combine forces for cityhood

By Mark Niesse

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Leaders of movements to create cities of Briarcliff and Lakeside announced an alliance Wednesday night that could result in a proposal for a combined city.

The unnamed Briarcliff-Lakeside city would border Tucker, another area that’s seeking to become a city in DeKalb County.

The courtship between Lakeside and Briarcliff is in the early stages, but the two communities will try to draw borders they can then present to the state Legislature for approval next year, said Mary Kay Woodworth, chairwoman of Lakeside Yes.

“We’re dating right now. We’re not married yet. We’re not engaged,” Woodworth told members of the DeKalb Government Operations Task Force.

Allen Venet, president of the City of Briarcliff Initiative, said it would be difficult for either city to become a reality unless they cooperated with each other.

“We seek to unite, rather than divide, to improve government operations not just in our region of DeKalb but in the entire county,” Venet said.

After Briarcliff and Lakeside decide on a map of their city, they could begin negotiations with Tucker over borders, said Frank Auman of Tucker 2015.

Proposals for the cities fell apart in the Legislature earlier this year following negotiations over overlapping maps, but Auman said he hopes lawmakers will approve the cities if they agree on boundaries.

July 3, 2014 at 2:05 pm Leave a comment

LaVista/Briarcliff Intersection Improvements

Barbara_WheelerBelow is a report from our DeKalb Transportation Coordinator, Barbara Wheeler, following her conversation with Dave Pelton, Supervising Engineer at DeKalb County Transportation.

The current proposal for Briarcliff and LaVista is at a standstill, the county is working on a concept to improve the intersection, but there are some objections by the commissioners to making the intersection any bigger.

Among the constraints, the church on the corner, Peachtree Baptist Church, is historic and cannot be altered, and the Whole Foods retaining wall is also immovable.

The commissioners inquired if the intersection could be converted to a roundabout, but the available space is not adequate for a large roundabout.

GDOT has set aside some money to improve the intersection, but the commissioners are not supportive of this current concept, so it is not moving forward.

The county would welcome any creative ideas for improvements that make the intersection flow better AND be more pedestrian friendly which Mr. Pelton believes is the commissioners’ point of view (hence the roundabout idea).

Click HERE to see the current concept drawing.

March 25, 2014 at 6:42 pm 1 comment

On Our Form of Government

Jeff Rader, DeKalb County District 2 Commissioner

With the indictment of Burrell Ellis, new calls have come for a shift to
a Commission/Manager form of government in DeKalb County.  As with the CEO
form, there is no standard structure in Georgia enabling legislation, so the
“devil is in the details” on exactly what this means.  To make a
judgement, it is important to look at all the mechanics of the “Organizational
Act” or Charter, identifying deficiencies and options for improvement.
Neither form is invulnerable to manipulation by elected or appointed officials,
so the real test is what’s in a Charter that informs the public on government
operations and makes it accountable to voters and taxpayers.

Governmental operations are complex, and they can affect your freedom, property
and welfare.  Therefore you should be able to know in advance how you will
be treated by government, and be treated the same as others.
Unfortunately, many governmental processes are not formalized, and are subject
to the whims of individuals.  The most egregious example of this is the
alleged manipulation of purchasing procedures for political gain, but it can
happen in the award of permits, employment, and the enforcement of laws and
regulations.  DeKalb County needs an Administrative Procedures mandate
that will require County departments to formalize and document how they conduct
business and implement laws, and to adhere to those procedures.  The
Charter restriction against adopting a purchasing code should be removed.

Elected and appointed officials are fond of touting their accomplishments, and
as in Lake Woebegon, everyone seems to see their accomplishments as above
average.  What’s lacking is an objective third party with the skills and
resources to systematically evaluate DeKalb operations against best practices and
makes a public report of findings and recommendations for
improvement.   Surprisingly, the current Charter provides that option
in the form of an Internal Auditor, but the Board of Commissioners has never
filled the position or funded operations.  DeKalb County needs an
independent and mandatory Internal Auditor with a guaranteed budget.

Likewise, the ethical conduct of elected office is the foundation of
governmental legitimacy.  DeKalb County has a state-mandated Board of
Ethics, but it has been neglected and underfunded by the County
government.  DeKalb’s Ethics Board should be strengthened by shifting the
power of appointment away from the officials who the Ethics Board oversees, and
by giving the Ethics Board a guaranteed budget equal to at least twenty-five
cents for each of DeKalb’s 700,000 persons. A quarter per capita is a small
price to pay for an effective ethics watchdog.

County governments are too small and too important to operate on a partisan
basis.  Partisan alignment disenfranchises large minorities in
jurisdictions where elections are determined in the primary.  The election
of all County offices should be non-partisan.

Commission district boundaries, like those of the General Assembly and Congress
are the object of increasingly effective gerrymandering.  As in these
other bodies, the result is entrenched incumbency, political polarization and a
general disaffection with government as representative of the common
interest.  DeKalb should have an objective redistricting protocol that creates
compact districts with common communities of interest.

As mentioned at the start, the details of an improved Charter are important and
complex.   In many other states (and increasingly in new DeKalb
cities) charter review is accomplished by a “Charter Commission”, an
independent group of leading citizens with expert staff, but in Georgia, such
changes are often accomplished by local legislative delegations in the course
of the 40-day legislative session.  The DeKalb delegation should empanel and
fund (using County tax dollars) a Charter Commission to work for a year to
draft a revised DeKalb County Organizational Act for legislative approval in
2015.

All these suggestions, and not a word about CEO vs. Commission/Manager!
That’s because the improvement of government is not so much about how
politicians divide power between themselves, but is instead about how
accountable those politicians are to the public that elects them.  If
voters don’t insist that accountability be strengthened, the CEO/Commission
Manager debate won’t matter much at all.

December 21, 2013 at 5:02 pm Leave a comment

What the Steamship and the Landline Can Tell Us About the Decline of the Private Car

Emily Badger for The Atlantic Cities

Steamship

This prediction sounds bold primarily for the fact that most of us don’t think about technology – or the history of technology – in century-long increments: “We’re probably closer to the end of the automobility era than we are to its beginning,” says Maurie Cohen, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Environmental Science at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. “If we’re 100 years into the automobile era, it seems pretty inconceivable that the car as we know it is going to be around for another 100 years.”

Cohen figures that we’re unlikely to maintain the deteriorating Interstate Highway System for the next century, or to perpetuate for generations to come the public policies and subsidies that have supported the car up until now. Sitting in the present, automobiles are so embedded in society that it’s hard to envision any future without them. But no technology – no matter how essential it seems in its own era – is ever permanent. Consider, just to borrow some examples from transportation history, the sailboat, the steamship, the canal system, the carriage, and the streetcar.

All of those technologies rose, became ubiquitous, and were eventually replaced. And that process followed a pattern that can tell us much about the future of the automobile – that is, if we’re willing to think about it not in the language of today’s “war on cars,” but in the broad arc of time.

“There’s not going to be a cataclysmic moment,” Cohen says of what’s coming for the car. “Like any other technology that outlives its usefulness, it just sort of disappears into the background and we slowly forget about it.” The landline telephone is undergoing that process right now. Your grandmother probably still has one. But did you even bother to call the phone company the last time you moved into a new home? “It’s not as if we all wake up one morning and decide we’re going to get rid of our landlines,” Cohen says, “but they just kind of decay away.

“I think cars will kind of disappear in much the same way.”

They may still exist at the periphery (there are still canal boats out there). But, for the most part, in all likelihood we’ll move on. History is full of these “socio-technical transitions,” as academics like Cohen call them. The history of the steamship has particularly influenced this line of thinking. Society spent a good hundred years transitioning from the sailing ship to the steamship. “It wasn’t as if steamships instantly demonstrated their superiority,” Cohen says. There were problems with the technology. Kinks had to be worked out. Sometimes they blew up.

We often think of the car as having arrived with a flourish from Henry Ford around the turn of the last century. But the history of the automobile actually dates back more than a hundred years earlier to steam-powered vehicles and the first internal combustion engine. Early prototypes of the car used to blow up, too. People were afraid of them. You had to acquire a special skill set just to operate them. And then there were all the networks we needed to develop – roads, gas stations, repair shops – to make cars feasible.

“We tend to focus on the car itself as the central element,” Cohen says, “and we fail to recognize that it’s not just the car.” Like any ubiquitous technology, the car is embedded in a whole social system. In this case, that system includes fuel supply lines, mechanisms for educating and licensing new drivers, companies to insure them, laws to govern how cars are used on common roads and police officers to enforce them. In the academic language of socio-technical transitions theory, all of that stuff is the regime around the car.

“People who are part of that regime get up in the morning, put their shoes on and reproduce that system on a daily basis,” Cohen says. “So that system also has a profound ability to beat back any challenges to it.”

But we can already start to see cracks in the regime. New automobile registrations have plateaued in the U.S, even as the population has continued to grow. Rising gas prices have made some housing patterns predicated on the car unsustainable. Twentysomethings are now less likely to own cars and say they’re less enamored of them. The 1973 classic car flick American Graffiti, Cohen points out, would never be made today.

Within any social system, there also exist what Cohen calls “insurgent niches” challenging the regime. Niches are fragile, they’re underfunded, they’re stigmatized. The car was once an insurgent niche in the age of streetcars. Now in the age of the automobile, we might think of those niches as car-sharing companies or bike advocacy groups.

Some niches eventually grow to replace the prevailing regime, as cars themselves once did. But that process is equally dependent on so much more than technological invention. Look at how the cell phone has evolved to replace the landline. Our need for cell phones didn’t arise in a vacuum. Work practices changed. Commuting times got longer, creating the need for communication inside cars. Batteries got smaller. Cell phone towers proliferated.

These are the unnoticed events that happen in the slow course of technological transition. We didn’t even recognize that the car was a fundamentally new thing until around World War I, Cohen says. Until then, many people viewed the car as just a carriage without a horse.

“The replacement of the car is probably out there,” Cohen adds. “We just don’t fully recognize it yet.”

In fact, he predicts, it will probably come from China, which would make for an ironic comeuppance by history. The car was largely developed in America to fit the American landscape, with our wide-open spaces and brand-new communities. And then the car was awkwardly grafted onto other places, like dense, old European cities and developing countries. If the car’s replacement comes out of China, it will be designed to fit the particular needs and conditions of China, and then it will spread from there. The result probably won’t work as well in the U.S., Cohen says, in the same way that the car never worked as well in Florence as it did in Detroit.

We’re not terribly well positioned right now to think about what this future will look like. Part of the challenge is that, culturally, we’re much more accustomed to celebrating new gadgets than thinking about how old technology decays.

“And people don’t have the perspective that extends beyond their own lives,” Cohen says. “They were born into a society and culture where cars were everywhere, and they can’t envision – with good reason – living their lives without a car.”

He worries that in the U.S., we’ve lost our “cultural capacity to envision alternative futures,” to envision the Futurama of the next century. More often, when we do picture the future, it looks either like a reproduced version of the present or like some apocalyptic landscape. But this exercise requires a lot more imagination: What will be the next carriage without a horse? The next car without an engine?

March 21, 2013 at 8:24 am Leave a comment

Emory to invest $312M in Clifton Road hospital expansion

 

Staff Writer – Atlanta Business Chronicle

Emory Hospital Expansion

Emory Healthcare will invest $312 million in expanding its flagship hospital on Clifton Road.

The health system previously announced plans to build a new 9-story clinical tower, to accommodate an increase in patient volumes.

While Emory declined to disclose the number of jobs that might be created, based on industry estimates, a 200-bed hospital would employ about 1,000.

The tower, which will be build across the hospital, will have 210 inpatient beds — a combination of new and existing beds that will relocate from Emory University Hospital.

The tower will include operating rooms, imaging services, a clinical laboratory.

Construction on the tower will begin in July 2013 with the building of an underground parking deck. The tower is expected to be completed in 2017

February 7, 2013 at 3:46 pm Leave a comment

Affordable Lindbergh’s Last Stand

A controversial rezoning proposal in Atlanta’s Lindbergh  community, to be considered for the second time by the City Council of  Atlanta on Monday, October 01, 2012, will in part determine the fate of  some two hundred low-income families living in affordable multi-family  apartments like the San Lucia Apartments near Adina Drive, Lindbergh  Drive, Morosgo Drive, and Piedmont Road; as well as the ability of  working families to have some opportunity to afford to live in the  Buckhead area.

Developer  Jeff Fuqua wants to build high-end apartments at market rate rents; a  big box, 3.7 acre Wal-Mart superstore with a giant, 4.2 acre surface  parking lot; and a park.  This, despite the fact that the existing  shopping center there already has a Target, which already includes a  grocery store inside.

Read more >>>

September 29, 2012 at 7:30 pm Leave a comment

Atlanta Council Delays Vote on Walmart Development

Jaclyn Hirsch – Buckhead Patch

Atlanta City Council failed yet again on Monday to make a decision on the controversial mixed-use development plan off Lindbergh Drive west of North Druid Hills that includes a Walmart.

Council voted to send the zoning request back to committee to address the land use issues, according to a note sent to residents by the Lindridge Martin Manor neighborhood association.

Developers want to build a mixed-use development that would include a Walmart off Lindbergh Drive near the MARTA station.

But the property is zoned for residential use, and Monday’s city council vote indicates that council will not approve the project unless the property is rezoned.

“The Walmart development cannot go forward with out the land use being changed,” Lindridge Martin Manor Neighborhood Association President Roxanne Sullivan wrote to neighbors. “There was lots of speculation as to what does this mean. Most of them involved the fact that the developer did not have the votes for approval. It most likely will not come back from committee.”

Developers battled with neighbors for roughly two years in an effort to move the project forward.

Many residents in and around Buckhead opposed the project due to the size of the development and the location.

Andrea Bennett, who chairs NPU-B’s Development and Transportation Committee, told Reporter Newspapers “the accusations of prejudice against Walmart are unfounded.”

“We voted against this before Walmart ever entered the picture, before we even heard Walmart was involved,” Bennett said. “Our issue isn’t whether this is a Walmart or whether it’s a Nieman-Marcus or something else. It’s about the form of the development.”

September 18, 2012 at 10:47 am Leave a comment

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