Suburbs Secede from Atlanta

‘Detroit of the South’ bludgeoned by troubles

By John T. Bennett

As Detroit – beset by violence, debt and social woes – prepares to  undergo a historic takeover by the Michigan state government, the city of  Atlanta could be sliding toward a similar fate.

Some are quietly wondering whether Atlanta is in danger of becoming “the  Detroit of the South.”

The city has experienced an ongoing succession of government scandals,  ranging from a massive cheating racket to corruption, bribery, school-board  incompetence and now the potential loss of accreditation for the local DeKalb  County school system.
For several years, problems of this sort have fueled political reforms,  including the creation of new cities in northern Atlanta suburbs. Due to the  intensification of corruption scandals in DeKalb, some state-level reform  proposals could become national news very soon.
‘Super-white majority’ cities
As a result of the unsavory politics in urban Atlanta, northern suburban  communities acted to distance themselves. Beginning in 2005, many communities  began the process of incorporating into cities.
Thus far, Milton, Sandy Springs, Brookhaven, Dunwoody, Chattahoochee Hills  and Johns Creek have done so.
These cities, after breaking away politically from urban Atlanta, have become  so successful that a libertarian think tank, the Reason Foundation, has featured  Sandy Springs as a model of effective government. The  Economist has also applauded the northern Atlanta cities for solving the  problem of unfunded government pension liability and avoiding the bankruptcy  that looms over some urban areas. The new cities may soon be able to create  their own school districts, which would free them even further from the  issues besetting Atlanta.
While incorporation has been popular with residents of the new cities, not  all of Atlanta is as satisfied. The Georgia Legislative Black Caucus filed a  lawsuit in 2011 to dissolve the new cities, claiming  they were a “super-white majority” and diluting the voting power of  minorities.
A key leader in the black community and a driving force in support of the  lawsuit, who wishes to remain anonymous, bemoaned the “disturbing tendency of  black electorates to not elect the smartest and brightest, or even the  cleverest.”
Nonetheless, he believes that there is a social contract between the northern  and southern parts of the county.
“So when you allow powerful groups of citizens to opt out of a social  contract, and form their own, it may benefit the group opting out, but it hurts  the larger collective,” he said.
The lawsuit would have canceled incorporation and tied the cities back into  the very county that they purposefully left.
State Rep. Lynne Riley, a Republican who represents one of the new cities,   called the lawsuit “frivilous” and “disrespectful to the citizens of these  cities who are most satisfied with their government.”
The federal trial court rejected the lawsuit, and the court of appeals  affirmed the dismissal. However, an attorney for the Black Caucus plans to file  an   amended lawsuit.
Meanwhile, the same concerns that spurred incorporation continue to  mount.
Failing schools
DeKalb  County contributed to what the  New York Times called “the biggest standardized test cheating scandal in the  country’s history” in 2011.
Now, the county is faced with losing its regional accreditation. Losing  regional accreditation is, by any objective measure, a devastating indictment of  a school board, with severe consequences for students and families within the  district.
When nearby Clayton County, Ga., lost its regional accreditation in 2008, it  was the  first school system in the country to do so in 40 years.
The result in Clayton, according  to the Pew Foundation, was that thousands of students left county schools,  the district lost millions of dollars and hundreds of teachers were fired.
In response to the Clayton County crisis, after witnessing the fallout and  the harm to the state’s reputation, the legislature acted to prevent a repeat.  In 2011, the Georgia legislature essentially gave the governor authority to  remove board of education members when a district was placed on probation by the  accreditation agency.
Last December, DeKalb was placed on probation. Then, in January, the governor  of Georgia used his new authority and removed six members of the nine-member  DeKalb Board of Education.
This year, well after the accreditation issue broke open, DeKalb school board  elections were held. Four of nine board members were up for reelection.    Voters in one of the four districts returned their incumbent board member  for another term, despite knowing that accreditation was at risk.
This week, a federal judge sided with the governor and agreed that the six  suspended board members can be replaced. The decision places the dispute into  the Georgia Supreme Court’s purview.
As the issue looms, the mere mention of losing accreditation has impacted the  housing market in DeKalb, with at  least one potential buyer directing his realtor not to search for homes in the  county.
School leadership
Recently, at the helm of the DeKalb school system stood Crawford Lewis. The  former superintendent has been   indicted on racketeering charges.
Along with several of his associates, Lewis is accused by the DeKalb DA of  fraud, theft by a government employee, bribery and a web of racketeering. The  charges arose out of Lewis’ practice of steering lucrative government contracts  toward favored companies.
According  to the indictment, Lewis also used government funds to pay for a hotel room,  which he used as the venue for an affair. Lewis had this affair with a person  who held the position of “Executive Director of the Office of School  Improvement.”
One of the numerous complaints about the DeKalb school board was that it  voted to pay for Lewis’ legal defense. There had been a $100,000 cap on the  costs allowed for legal defense, but the school board waived it for Lewis’ benefit.
The CEO in charge
At the very top, the head of DeKalb’s government is the position of CEO. The  current CEO, Burrell Ellis, is being investigated for a list of concerns,  including alleged bid rigging. Police searched Ellis’s home and office recently,  and local  news outlets report that while no charges have been filed, search  warrants are reportedly aimed  toward potential extortion, bribery, theft, conspiracy, and wire fraud in  connection with private vendors who contract with the county.
Most recently, Ellis sought approval from the county ethics board to  establish a legal defense fund to benefit himself. The board  rebuffed the request.
A corrupt school board becomes a civil rights issue
Instead of being treated as a story about rampant, inexcusable corruption,  the school board fiasco has morphed into a civil rights issue. Atlanta’s NBC  affiliate reports that the Georgia NAACP “accused Republican Governor Nathan  Deal of being part of an alleged conspiracy to get rid of black office holders  and deprive black voters of their rights.”
State Rep. Tyrone Books pointed out that criticism of the governor needed to  include a word about black politicians who supported the governor’s removal  authority.
“How can we complain about him when we have black folks standing there  embracing the removal of black officials?” asked Brooks, D-Atlanta.
The state legislature is trying  to prevent public funds from being used in the legal defense of the ousted board  members. Because the ousted board members see their positions as a civil  rights entitlement, the attorney’s fees required for their defense will quickly  rise, unless legislation puts an end to the entitlement.
One of the suspended board members, Eugene Walker, responded  to the judge’s ruling with a familiar appeal: “Minorities should not feel  secure if contrived allegations from anonymous sources with hidden agendas can  go to private agencies and to have their civil rights stolen away.”
DeKalb has changed from majority white to majority black over the last  several decades. As  the Atlanta Journal Constitution gingerly put it: “The county’s transition  from majority white to majority minority was politically rocky .”

Lakeside Cityhood Movement Announces Arrival

By Jonathan Cribbs – editor, North Druid Hills/Briarcliff Patch
Will the Lakeside High School area find itself part of a new city?
The Lakeside City Alliance wants to find out.
The non-profit, chaired by Northlake-area resident Mary Kay Woodworth, will hold its first public meeting at Lakeside High on Feb. 13. It released the following statement Wednesday:

Citizens Group Announces Cityhood Study Initiative for Northern DeKalb County
ATLANTA, GA — February 6, 2013— A group of DeKalb County citizens announced today the formation of the Lakeside City Alliance, a non-profit group created to study the possibility and feasibility of establishing a new city in northern DeKalb County.  The Alliance is chaired by Mary Kay Woodworth, a lifelong DeKalb County resident, who lives near the Northlake Mall area.  The Alliance released a draft map of the proposed parameters of the new city, which would be bounded roughly by Interstate 85 to the west, Clairmont Road to the south, Chamblee-Tucker Road to the east and Pleasantdale Road to the north.
In announcing the creation of the Alliance study group, Woodworth noted that the proposed boundaries represent the Alliance’s efforts to define the community of interest that encompasses the proposed city.  “After years of being 50,000 citizens without a voice, we are excited about the prospect of examining a form a government that is both closer and more responsive to the people it represents,” Woodworth said.  “The Alliance will study the type of government best-suited to our area with an emphasis on allowing for more local control of police services, parks and zoning.”
Woodworth noted that “members of the Alliance are all citizens of DeKalb County, and we look forward to assessing the feasibility of a local government that integrates efficiently with the current county government.  We will study ways to fund and sustain a new city that provides services best overseen locally, while ensuring that the County can continue to provide the services it delivers best for all residents of DeKalb.”
Woodworth explained that the group will host a series of public meetings to introduce the proposed map, discuss its plans with area residents and receive feedback from interested stakeholders.  The first meeting will be held at at Lakeside High School on Wednesday, February 13.
“Today begins a careful study of the best means to provide local control to taxpayers,” Woodworth declared, “who have felt for far too long that they were powerless to control their own destinies.  It is our hope that with the formation of the Lakeside City Alliance, help is finally on the way.”
Additional information can found regarding LCA by visiting LCA’s Facebook page (, website ( and Yahoo! Group (

The alliance has released a map of its proposed boundaries. To become a city, the state legislature would need to approve the idea and then voters would have to vote in favor of it.
The alliance was featured in a WSB-TV news report as well.

City, Neighbors Have Long Discussion Over Sewer Tank

ByEden Landow
The city of Atlanta, under the gun to meet a federal court-ordered consent decree deadline to substantially improve its wastewater management infrastructure, is trying a third time to build a massive storage tank somewhere near the confluence of the south and north forks of Peachtree Creek, but once again running into neighborhood concerns.
Neighbors turned out last week for a meeting at Rock Springs Presbyterian Church to find out more about the project and voice their concerns, which included security, odor, effect to property values, unsightliness, sewer gas odors and unforeseen problems.
They complained the community is “taking one for the team” by being unduly impacted with massive projects, including the Ga. 400 interchange, Clifton Corridor rail construction, Georgia Power Co.  transmission lines — and now this water-management project.
“What is our neighborhood doing to get in exchange for this,” some asked.
The project is about 60 percent through the design stage and would include building one 10-million gallon, raised overflow tank off Cheshire Bridge Road at 2061 Liddell Drive. The tank would be about 55 feet tall and 185 feet wide, with a pumping station and electrical station on the flood plain at 2001 Cheshire Bridge Rd., near the north end of Lenox Road.
Plans call for tunneling diluted sewage overflow under Cheshire Bridge Road to the Liddell Road tank when the main system is overcapacity, which is usually about once a month, said EDT Waterworks principal engineer Donald Fry, who explained the project in a slideshow presentation.
By email, Lindbergh-Lavista Corridor Coalition board member Courtney Harkness said, “The City of Atlanta has a decision to make: Does it want to redevelop the Cheshire Bridge corridor or does it want to make the area an industrial dumping ground? If the City goes forward with this sewer project off of Cheshire Bridge Road, we will know what path they have chosen.”
Fry said the city needs to do something to protect the creeks and environment and that the city believes this is the best and most cost-effective way to do it.
The project is estimated to cost about $35 million.
“We selected the center of the only commercial and industrial area in the vicinity,” Fry said.
The project, sited on city-owned land, will effectively double the capacity of the current flow. He said the project is not foreseen to ever have more tanks, though he said the site is large enough for  a second one.
The city initially planned to build the overflow tanks off Zonolite Road, then relocated the project off Kay Lane. Both locations were taken off the table after residents and business owners fought against building the project.
According to Sharon Matthews, senior watershed director for the city of Atlanta, to comply with the consent decree, the city must have construction completed in June 2014 and that construction would begin on this facility around the first of the year.
Harkness said the group is concerned the city’s 1999 Cheshire Bridge redevelopment plan would be jeopardized.
“This is the future Cheshire Bridge neighborhood, a multi-ethnic community that integrates open-air shopping, dining and entertainment with new residential development,” Harkness said. “A 55 ft. x 185 ft. sewer tank that will only be used, by the City’s estimation, for four to six hours each month to handle sewer overflow, at a cost to taxpayers of nearly $40 million, does not jibe with this redevelopment plan at all.”
Area residents, who worked to get the City to develop this plan in 1999 and then again to get the City to rezone Cheshire Bridge Road to Neighborhood Commercial (NC) zoning in 2005, feel abandoned by the City and its leadership with the proposal of this sewer tank project, she said.
Matthews said the tank can be built with architectural features and landscaping so that it will not diminish the looks of the community.
Harkness said the community feels the “burden of achieving clean water is being ‘dumped’ on in  this area of town, even though the issue affects a much larger area. They feel that other neighborhoods and jurisdictions (Buckhead, DeKalb County) that are affected by Peachtree Creek should also have to come to the table to solve this issue.”
“The only positive part of this project is that it (supposedly) will keep sewer run off out of Peachtree Creek,” Harkness said. “However, area residents feel that the burden of achieving clean water is being ‘dumped’ on this area of town, even though the issue affects a much larger area.”
An initial community meeting was cancelled last month “due to issues that have to be addressed with internal stakeholders.”
To read the entire article and add your comments, go to the Virginia-Highland/Druid Hills Patch by clicking on this link:

Why Building Roads Creates Traffic

Posted on Monday June 6th by Eric Jaffe for The Infrastructurist – Ameica Under Construction
In the transportation world our intuition can lead us astray. On first thought, no one would suspect that removing a major road can improve traffic flow — yet that’s exactly what it does (or would do) in some cases. The flipside of this contrarian coin is that building a brand new highway often fails to alleviate the congestion that inspired its construction in the first place. Economists Gilles Duranton and Matthew Turner of the University of Toronto offer an impressive and empirical explanation for this concept in an upcoming issue of the American Economic Review (full paper via Google Docs).
Duranton and Turner analyzed loads of data on traffic, infrastructure, and travel behavior from metropolitan regions across the United States and found that “vehicle-kilometers traveled … increases proportionately to roadway lane kilometers for interstate highways.” For those who don’t care for either academic abstracts or the metric system, the authors then parse their conclusion in pithier terms: “roads cause traffic.” The basis for this confusing reality, write Duranton and Turner, is a three-pronged “fundamental law of highway congestion” that explains why road construction can never keep pace with road congestion:

people drive more when the stock of roads in their city increases; commercial driving and trucking increase with a city’s stock of roads; people migrate to cities which are relatively well provided with roads.

As compelling as the evidence in this study may be, it doesn’t tell perceptive urban planners anything they haven’t known for decades. Duranton and Turner trace the “fundamental law of highway congestion” to a study published by road researcher Anthony Downs in 1962. In an issue of Traffic Quarterly, Downs reported his law of “peak-hour” congestion: “This Law states that on urban commuter expressways, peak-hour traffic congestion rises to meet maximum capacity.”
Before Downs, social critic Lewis Mumford recognized the properties of this law in the behavior of drivers in and around New York City. Mumford was well ahead of his contemporaries when it came to recognizing the perils of road construction; Jane Jacobs is often remembered as the foil of road-builder Robert Moses, but at the time many would have cast Mumford in that role. While researching my history of transportation in the Northeast, I came across an illuminating four-part series Mumford wrote for the New Yorker in 1955 called “The Roaring Traffic’s Boom.” In the second article, Mumford provides a commentary that anticipates Duranton and Turner half a century ago:

[O]ur one-eyed specialists continue to concoct grandiose plans for highway development, as if motor transportation existed in a social vacuum. … Instead of curing congestion, they widen chaos. …
All the current plans for dealing with congestion are based on the assumption that it is a matter of highway engineering, not of comprehensive city and regional planning, and that the private motorcar has priority over every other means of transportation, no matter how expensive it is in comparison with public transportation, or how devastating its by-products.

Prescient as he was, Mumford had little impact on the policies of his day, partly because his suggested solutions — carefully planned communities, population limits, and a fully balanced transportation network — were even more objectionable than curtailing road construction. (And you thought raising the gas tax was politically unpalatable.)
Likewise the findings of Duranton and Turner are the type that should, but probably will not, inform good social policy. This is not a blatant call for more public transportation funding; in fact, the Toronto researchers found that adding transit does nothing to ease highway congestion. When one driver leaves the road, another simply takes his or her place, as Turner explained to Streetsblog DC. (That finding will be misappropriated by road-building enthusiasts to argue for more highways under the fundamental “if nothing helps, then who cares?” error.)
The only solution endorsed by Duranton and Turner is congestion pricing. In April 1955, Mumford predicted that Manhattan would soon have to “banish private wheeled traffic” in midtown during the day. This extreme version of congestion control did not come soon, and when Mayor Bloomberg did introduce a pricing plan recently, it was roundly beaten. “People, it seems, find it hard to believe that the cure for congestion is not more facilities for congestion,” Mumford wrote. Some beliefs are hard to change.

A 72 Hour Challenge Will Make a Dallas Street into a Grand Boulevard, Shared by All

by Alex Davies for Treehugger –
Images Courtesy of Better Block
TreeHugger spends a good deal of time bemoaning the arch-rivals of good urban design in America: suburban sprawl and cities that are designed around cars, not people.
Agreeing that things need to change, a Texas-based group called Better Block has been busy in the last two years transforming ordinary, car-dominated streets into what they call “complete streets” : spaces shared by pedestrians, cyclists and drivers, where people gather and a sense of community is fostered.

Building “Complete Streets”
Better Block calls itself a “planning tool for the urban retrofit,” and has pulled off projects to temporarily redesign city streets in a bunch of cities in the Texas area. The idea is that when people see that their streets do not need to be dominated by cars, that they can be safe, communal spaces, they will be inspired to take action. To change local ordinances and ways of thinking, and make the Better Block installation a permanent reality.
In April 2010, the group hit Dallas’ Oak Cliff community: they cut a street’s three car lanes down to one, installed a bike lane, and enlarged the sidewalk into a wide patio. They installed pop-up businesses and cafes, set up a kids’ art studio and brought in local musicians. The amazing thing? They did it in one day, for less than $1,000.
Check out the results:
The Challenge
Now, Better Block is setting its sights on a bigger project: a 72 hour challenge to give Dallas its own, albeit temporary, grand boulevard. The goal is to remake 11 blocks of Ross Avenue to include a market, an art gallery, a music venue, a food court and a transit plaza.
Those interested are invited to sign up in teams and make their contribution. The “Build a Better Boulevard” challenge is set for June 24-26 and will coincide with Dallas’  Summer Streets program. It’s unclear whether and how a winner of the challenge will be designated, but it’s a sure bet that competitors and visitors to the “grand boulevard” will go home happy.
Interested in building a Better Block in your city? Check out their how to.
For more stories like this, follow me on Twitter.
More urban transformations:
Ritzy Parisian Boulevard Goes Rural as French Farmers (and Their Cows) Take Over Champs-Elysees
Spectacular Urban Transformation in Student Green Roof Design Competition
Parking Day NYC Isn’t Activism, It’s Unintentional Performance Art

The Odd Challenge for Detroit Planners

Luther Gordon, 54, looks after his house and neighboring houses and lots on the northeast side of Detroit

DETROIT — When Marja M. Winters was studying urban planning in graduate school, she learned the art and science of helping cities grow.
Now Ms. Winters, a native of Detroit and the deputy director of the city’s planning and development department, finds herself in an utterly unexpected role, one that no school would have thought to prepare her for: she is sorting out how to help her hometown shrink, by working through difficult decisions that will determine which neighborhoods can be saved and which cannot.
“It was always this notion that the population of the world continues to grow, and more and more people want to live in cities,” Ms. Winters, 33, said about her courses at the University of Michigan. “The reality is very different. Who knew?”
Puzzling through the best way to downsize a city it is not unheard of (it has been considered in Youngstown, Ohio, and Flint, Mich. and even, decades ago, in New York). And Mayor Dave Bing has made it a priority to deal with Detroit’s fast-sinking population and crumbling infrastructure by steering those who remain into fewer neighborhoods, rather than leaving them scattered throughout the 139-square-mile city, whose boundaries made more sense when twice as many people lived here 40 years ago.
Actually carrying out such an effort, particularly in a city as vast as Detroit, is like solving a complicated set of interwoven puzzles, as Ms. Winters has discovered over many long days and some nights poring over thousands of pages of maps and statistics in her 23rd-floor downtown office.
How to reconfigure roads, bus lines, police districts? How to encourage people — there is no power of eminent domain to force them — to move out of the worst neighborhoods and into better ones?
Later this month, a team that includes Ms. Winters is expected to present a proposed — and certain to be highly controversial — map to guide investment in each of the city’s neighborhoods. A final plan for a remade city is expected by year’s end.
“The biggest misconception is that we don’t have to change,” said Mr. Bing, who was elected in 2009 and describes his city as a place that is “hurting” and “sick.”
“The biggest problems are those people who are on the outskirts more than anything else, where neighborhoods have gone down to a point where it makes no sense to reinvest,” he said. “People will say, ‘Well, why not me?’ And I’m saying, we don’t have the money to do that.”
Detroit is already shrinking on its own, of course. Recent census figures show the city, once the nation’s fourth largest, lost a quarter of its population in the last decade alone, leaving it with fewer than 714,000 people.
But the losses have been spread around the city, meaning that vacant, dilapidated homes and empty lots speckle Detroit’s neighborhoods, rather than cropping up in consolidated, convenient chunks on the city edges, leaving a more vibrant core. In fact, some of the city’s best-kept neighborhoods are on its outer edges, while the troubled spots are closer to downtown.
And so, a contingent of private consultants and city officials like Ms. Winters have taken part in one of the deepest mile-by-mile analyses of Detroit in memory, tracking population densities, foreclosed homes, disease, parks, roads, water lines, sewer lines, bus routes, publicly owned lands, and on and on.
Among the dismal findings: more than 100,000 parcels, private and public, are vacant; and only 38 percent of Detroiters work in the city.
The goal is to identify the strongest, most viable neighborhoods, which would receive extra attention and help from the city. The residents of some of the weakest, emptiest neighborhoods would be encouraged to move into them.
It will be a difficult sell for people like Luther Gordon, whose home on the east side of the city sits across from an empty house that burned down a few nights ago and a vacant lot on a block with many vacant lots.
“I’m going to stay right here,” said Mr. Gordon, 54, about the possibility that his neighborhood of more than two decades might be deemed too far gone to save. “I don’t plan to go anywhere but in the ground.”
Rumors are winding through neighborhoods. Chief among them is that the worst neighborhoods will actually be closed, with the power turned off and buildings bulldozed. The true intent, Ms. Winters said, is far more nuanced, and slower-moving.
Though the city will offer some kind of incentives for people in miserable neighborhoods to move, no neighborhood will be simply shut down, she said. A place deemed not worthy of new residential investment might see subtle shifts: services like garbage pickup, she said, could slow to every 12 days from once a week.
“We want to reduce the city’s cost of delivering services, but we also want to support a baseline quality of life — the key is how do we balance that out?” Ms. Winters said.
The ultimate plan for those neighborhoods — and the ultimate cost of consolidating them — is uncertain; some might become home to new industry, and some might be used to fill temporary needs, or for urban gardens and green space.
In more well-to-do neighborhoods, like Indian Village, where mansions fill the blocks and lawn-service crews were out in force last week, the idea of shrinking the city’s neighborhoods sounds appealing to many residents.
“When I go in some of the neighborhoods now, I have tears in my face, I just can’t believe what I see,” said Rukayya Ahsan-McTier, who was walking briskly for exercise in Indian Village, while clasping a golf club in one hand for protection from stray dogs or, as she said, any other trouble that might come her way.
Still, even Ms. Ahsan-McTier had lingering doubts about how the city’s plan would work. How would the city persuade people to move from less expensive neighborhoods to more expensive ones? And would the new neighbors mesh?
Elsewhere, others had their own worries: Would this simply amount to another chapter of “urban renewal” in which the poorest, least educated and unluckiest would be forced to move?
And what exactly would become of the neighborhoods with diminished services, likely to be places already plagued in some cases by what residents described as new, audacious brands of crimes? (Stores in some neighborhoods here have taken to placing cement blocks outside their glass entryways, residents said, to prevent thieves from crashing their cars through the doors for break-ins.)
“I’m hopeful, but I don’t know what it all would mean,” said Bayard Kurth, a screen printer from the West Village, another established neighborhood. “Big greenbelts in the city? Unmonitored places where people do whatever they want? All-day parties there?”
For their part, city officials say the police and firefighters will always serve all Detroit neighborhoods — even ones where only a few people may be left.
Mr. Bing’s hope is that a “core group” of neighborhoods connected to downtown, and to the city’s spine, Woodward Avenue, will remain, and that the master plan will ultimately help end the exodus of Detroiters.
Lately, Ms. Winters has spent hours meeting with large groups to talk about their concerns, their questions and their doubts over the plans. Last week, clergy members quizzed her; before that, older residents. Later this month, she is to meet with youths, artists, environmental advocates and entrepreneurs.
“It’s all very hard,” Ms. Winters said the other day. “There’s so much weighing on it, we just can’t afford to mess up. We’ve got to get this right, right now.”

Jason Stephenson Named Volunteer of the Year for 2010

Receiving 52% of the votes cast online by our members, Jason was named Volunteer of the Year for 2010 at our Annual Meeting on 11 November.
Jason has served on the Board of Directors for the past two years as Treasurer. He has also worked on the Marketing Committee, the Membership Committee, the Grant Writing Committee, the ESL Program Steering Committee, the Meadow Loop Trail, and the Communications Committee as Newsletter Editor. Jason recently represented LLCC as a co-presenter at the Neighborhood Summit sponsored by the Community Foundation of Metro Atlanta.
Jason lives in the East Lake Community, but until recently lived in the LaVista Walk complex in Lindridge Martin Manor for 2.5 years. He is employed as Director of Youth Ministries at Westminster Presbyterian Church on Sheridan Road in LaVista Park.

5% Day at Whole Foods Market Briarcliff


Shop for a cause at Whole Foods Market Briarcliff! On Wednesday, June 30, Whole Foods Market will donate 5% of their net sales to the Lindbergh LaVista Corridor Coalition. Funds will be used for the continual development of the Confluence Trail system along the North and South forks of Peachtree Creek. Stop by the Briarcliff location to show your support and help raise important funds for the LLCC!

Good neighborhoods have lots of intersections

Grist admin avatar badge avatar for Jonathan Hiskes by Jonathan Hiskes
It’s a little counterintuitive, but it turns out that having lots intersections is really important for neighborhood walkability and transit use. A new study on Travel and the Built Environment by planning scholars Reid Ewing and Robert Cervero finds that “intersection density” is the single most important measurement for understanding what keeps folks out of cars.
Pedshed summarizes:

Of all the built environment measurements, intersection density has the largest effect on walking – more than population density, distance to a store, distance to a transit stop, or jobs within one mile. Intersection density also has large effects on transit use and the amount of driving.

Visually:maps(Larger version)

These images represent the same total area, yet differ vastly in how well streets connect to each other. More connections=more walkable. This is why Dave wants fewer dead ends in his own neighborhood when he puts on his city planner hat.
More good summary, with a slightly different focus, from Kaid Benfield, an influential Smart Growth blogger at NRDC:

The study’s key conclusion is that destination accessibility is by far the most important land use factor in determining a household or person’s amount of driving.  To explain, ‘destination accessibility’ is a technical term that describes a given location’s distance from common trip destinations (and origins).  It almost always favors central locations within a region; the closer a house, neighborhood or office is to downtown, the better its accessibility and the lower its rate of driving.  The authors found that such locations can be almost as significant in reducing driving rates as other significant factors (e.g., neighborhood density, mixed land use, street design) combined.
The clear implication is that, to enable lifestyles with reduced driving, oil consumption and associated emissions, environmentalists should continue to stress opportunities for revitalization and redevelopment in centrally located neighborhoods.  As Ewing and Cervero put it:  ‘Almost any development in a central location is likely to generate less automobile travel than the best-designed, compact, mixed-use development in a remote location.

Benfield mentions a point I’ve been trying to address: “It also makes me wonder why more environmental groups, clearly incensed at BP and the Gulf oil spill, aren’t paying more attention to land use.” He’s right — transportation and land use are what climate policy looks like outside our front doors.

American Makeover: Sprawlanta

American Makeover is a six-part web series on new urbanism, the antidote to sprawl.
Episode 1 was filmed on location in Atlanta, Georgia and Glenwood Park, a new urbanist influenced neighborhood near downtown Atlanta.
Watch Video