State legislators fail to give MARTA the needed flexibility on how it spends local funds

By Maria Saporta

It gets so bloody depressing.

Once again, MARTA has gotten screwed. This time, it was at the hands of the State Rep. Mike Jacobs, State Rep. Steve Davis and other misguided colleagues who have lost sight of what being a legislator is all about — to act in the best interests of the state.

In the closing minutes of the 2012 legislative session, political motives and missteps failed to remove the noose around MARTA’s neck that forces the transit agency to spend 50 percent of the sales tax it collects on capital improvements and 50 percent on operations.

In other words, MARTA was denied the flexibility of spending the sales tax revenue it collects for its most pressing needs. The 50/50 restriction had been waived for three years. But the failure of the legislature to act on MARTA’s behalf means that the 50/50 handcuffs will be reinstated in a year — hindering the transit agency’s ability to operate.

MARTA will hold a special board meeting on Monday, April 2 “to discuss financial matters and corridor planning studies” at 10:30 a.m. at its headquarters building at 2424 Piedmont Road — the Lindbergh MARTA station).

The meeting is being held to figure out what options it has to respond to what happened during the 2012 legislative session.

The saddest part is that Rep. Jacobs, chairman of the MARTA Oversight Committee, ought to have known (and acted) better.

He could have urged his colleagues to permanently remove the 50/50 restriction, but instead he chose to clutter the legislation with giving more power on the MARTA board to North Fulton mayors (a totally unrelated issue). And MARTA got caught up in his push to create a City of Brookhaven. Again, another unrelated issue.

The Sierra Club’s Neill Herring put it this way:

“Jacobs is ultimately at fault in my opinion,” Herring wrote me in an email. “He was the main voice for keeping legislative control over the disposition of the sales tax receipts (the 50-50 issue). He said it was a “crude but necessary tool for fiscal management” or words very like that.”

Here is the irony. MARTA continues to be viewed in the public transit world as one of the most efficient and well-run transit agencies in the country. But you would never know that if you listened to our prejudicial state legislators.

So MARTA continues to be used as a political football in a twisted game between state and regional leaders. (Please read my former AJC colleague Jay Bookman’s column on this topic).

State legislators tried to create a carrot and stick approach with their regional transit governance bill. Do we want regional transit governance and the removal of the 50/50 restriction? Then give the state ultimate control of the regional transit agency.

Such a proposal was so flawed that the transit governance bill failed. It is ironic that the push to have the state take over MARTA and Atlanta regional came from a Republican-dominated legislature that claims to believe in local control.

Let’s recap.

The State of Georgia provides virtually no operating dollars for MARTA, yet it continues to hold a heavy, self-righteous stick over the transit agency. Since Atlanta, Fulton and DeKalb pay the MARTA sales tax, they should be the entities calling the shots — not the state legislature.

The 50/50 restriction is just as flawed. No other major transit agency is forced to operate under such an inflexible rule. In recent years, MARTA has needed the flexibility to spend its sales tax revenues on operations. By not having that flexibility, MARTA will once again be facing more budget and service cuts and/or another fare increase.

Whose interest does that serve?

State legislators also are quick to criticize MARTA’s finances and say it needs to find other forms of revenue. But Rep. Davis killed the possibility of permitting MARTA to contract with local governments outside of Atlanta, Fulton and DeKalb to plan, implement and operate rail transit.

MARTA is the only transit agency in the state with any expertise in rail. But local governments who want to start providing rail in their jurisdictions can’t contract with MARTA, even in a competitive bidding situation.

And whose interest does that serve?

This phenomenon of punishing MARTA for the sins of the legislators is not new.

Word has it that MARTA was used as the bargaining chip to create a county of Milton. When the Transportation Investment Act (HB 277) was passed, it included a restriction that none of the money collected by the one-percent sales tax could fund MARTA’s existing operations.

MARTA was the only transit agency in the state to be prohibited from receiving the TIA dollars for operations. Supposedly, if a certain legislator had been able to get a vote to create a Milton County, she would have taken out MARTA restriction.

Again, who is served by such vicious and misguided attacks on MARTA?

Certainly not the Atlanta region — and by extension, certainly not the state of Georgia.

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164 comments
ScottNAtlanta
ScottNAtlanta

I have an idea.  Next legislative session, MARTA should suspend service for 1 day...no trains, no buses, NOTHING...lets see the morons under the dome deal with THAT fallout.  It would certainly get the message out as to the value MARTA brings to the table

ScottNAtlanta
ScottNAtlanta

I have an idea.  Next legislative session, MARTA should suspend service for 1 day...no trains, no buses, NOTHING...lets see the morons under the dome deal with THAT fallout.  It would certainly get the message out as to the value MARTA brings to the table

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @ScottNAtlanta

 That's a very good idea actually.  I can imagine the Legislature's reaction after traffic is backed for nearly 50 miles in nearly every direction to and from Downtown Atlanta during morning and evening rush hours.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @ScottNAtlanta  That's a very good idea actually.  I can imagine the Legislature's reaction after traffic is backed for nearly 50 miles in nearly every direction to and from Downtown Atlanta during morning and evening rush hours.

inatl
inatl

 @The Last Democrat in Georgia  @ScottNAtlanta Then again I think the legislature for political reasons would not mind seeing the City of Atlanta suffer.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @inatl  @Burroughston Broch

 But it's not just the City of Detroit and/or just Metro Detroit that is losing population, it's the entire state of Michigan that is losing population at an alarming clip and is struggling mightily along with its largest city.

And NYC may be more vibrant than ever, but the population of 8 million of NYC proper only represents just over one-third of the entire population of over 21 million people that live in the greater metropolitan area that surrounds the city and includes parts of four states (NY, NJ, CT & PA).

It's not just the 8 million people in NYC proper that contributes heavily to the population growth of Metro Atlanta, North Georgia and the rest of the Eastern Seaboard south of Maryland, but the 21 million of Greater NYC and even the metro areas of Philadelphia, Baltimore and even Washington DC that has played rather very heavily into the population growth of Metro Atlanta over the last few four decades, with NYC leading the charge of migration down the East Coast of the U.S. between Maryland and Florida.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Burroughston Broch

Though it should noted that Georgia's biggest sources of "growth" and the resulting overcrowding from those migrating from other parts of the country for so-called "greener" economic and even social pastures is from the Northeast and the Midwest, most specifically the states of New York and Michigan, respectively.

 

As we've repeatedly witnessed with the administration of NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, government in that state has a tendency to vastly overreach and exert control in places where it shouldn't.

 

In Michigan the lethal combination of a hostile business climate, failure to adequately diversify the state's economy from an overdependence on manufacturing and very cold and miserable winters have teamed together to make Michigan one of the nation's few population LOSERS where over 60 of that state's 83 counties are losing population.

 

Metro Detroit actually LOST over 140,000 people during the decade of the 2000's, the same decade in which Metro Atlanta GAINED over 1.6 million people.  Metro Atlanta gained more than ten times the amount of people that Metro Detroit LOST during that decade. 

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Burroughston Broch

 Not-to-mention that many of the reverberations of an anti-business climate in California are being felt as far away as here in Georgia where we have a higher population than many would expect of those who have moved here from California to get away from a hostile business climate, a sky-high cost-of-living that is escalating, a state government that is on the verge of financial collapse, domination of street gangs in some quarters, horrific traffic congestion and rush hour gridlock, overcrowding, etc.

 

A situation of people fleeing California in droves to escape a less-than-desirable quality-of-living situation that I can personally attest to as I have a buddy whose entire family moved here to Georgia from California to escape to "greener pastures" so-to-speak (his wife moved here to Georgia from Brooklyn, New York for many of the same reasons that people are fleeing California in droves).

 

 

Burroughston Broch
Burroughston Broch

 @The Last Democrat in Georgia 

The people moving into California are in general blue-collar and looking to get on the welfare-state gravy train. Businesses and white-collar people (except for Silicon Valley and Hollywood), highly taxed to pay for the welfare state, are leaving in droves.

The 10% population increase during 2000-2010 is the smallest since the first census in 1860. The estimated increase 2010-2011 is 1%, continuing that trend. Why do you think that Washington, Oregon, and Nevada grew so much faster than California during 2000-2010? Well-to-do people and businesses leaving California.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Burroughston Broch

"My point in mentioning the article is that regions in California are doing part of this Agenda 21 that you were snickering up your sleeve about.Methinks you should look again."

 

I wouldn't necessarily conflate government overreach with an international conspiracy by the U.N. or Agenda 21 as California governments, both state and local, have a history of increasing government interference in free markets and overreach in many, if not most facets of human life.

 

From overly-restrictive gun laws that are very much likely in violation of the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, to laws that are seemingly tailored to make affordable living and doing business in the state all but impossible, the law that you mentioned and that is written about in the article that you provided a link isn't necessarily evidence of a larger international plot to force dense living upon everyone, but just the latest case of an escalating pattern of blatant unnecessary government overreach by a government body in the state of California which has a well-documented history of such behavior where there is a pervasive mindset that people need to be told what to do by the government instead of being left to make the decision for themselves.

 

In this case, mandating that new development only occur along dense corridors along rail transit lines is TOTALLY UNNECESSARY as the market is already moving very decisively in that direction due to traffic gridlock and an increasing lack of undeveloped land to build-on. 

 

California would be best to just step aside and let the market decide for itself where to locate new development as it was already doing before the government interfered with what was a very productive process.

 

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Burroughston Broch

 It should also be noted that, as we speak, land spectulators are engaging in a major land/parcel-buying binge in Downtown Atlanta near the Five Points area in the immediate vicinity of the planned Multimodal passenger rail/bus station in anticipation of long-term appreciation of land values due to the convenient access to increased future rail transit service that these properties will provide in light of a transportation project that could have the same impact on Atlanta that Grand Central Station has had on New York City.

 

No lie, the multimodal rail terminal has the potential to have that dramatic of an impact on Atlanta.

http://www.atlantadowntown.com/initiatives/green-line-plan/multi-modal-passenger-terminal

http://www.dot.state.ga.us/aboutGeorgiadot/Board/Documents/2011Presentations/Feb/MMPT.pdf

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Burroughston Broch

 Another interesting tidbit that clearly illustrates the assertion that developers will be attracted to sites around future rail transit stations is the tiny exurban city of Oakwood, Georgia (population 3,970) which is located near the junction of I-985 & GA Hwy 53 in Northeast Georgia just south of Gainesville.

 

Oakwood is located directly on and straddles a major Norfolk Southern/Amtrak freight rail line that is slated for high-speed intercity passenger rail service between Atlanta and New York and high-frequency exurban-to-urban core commuter rail service, the first leg of which is service between Atlanta and Gainesville

 

Oakwood officials are well-aware of the plans to substantially expand passenger rail service through their town and are planning future development accordingly by making a future commuter rail station, which at this point looks like it may not be built for many years, the centerpiece of their future development efforts, which can be seen here:

http://www.oakwood2030.com/Transit-Station.htm

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Burroughston Broch

 It should also be noted that suburban cities and towns like Norcross and Duluth in Gwinnett are also forging ahead with comprehensive redevelopment of their historic downtowns, with Duluth making significant inroads and Norcross being pretty far along in the redevelopment process and even lobbying HEAVILY to be the site of a future MARTA station on an expanded Northeast line or whatever color line they call it now.

 

Though the mother of examples in development being attracted to existing rail transit stations is undoubtedly Downtown Decatur who a few years ago redesigned and reconstructed their MARTA heavy rail transit/subway station to better fit in asthetically with the community and have even made the MARTA station and the easy access to mass transit it provides a key part of the continuing development and redevelopment efforts of its historic downtown which has an undeniable bohemian feel to it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decatur_(MARTA_station)

http://www.itsmarta.com/ew-dec-overview.aspx

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Burroughston Broch

"As far as developers FLOCKING to areas around rail stations, can you cite evidence of that here?"

 

I'll do you one better and cite examples of developers and speculators flocking to rail transit stations (in these cases future commuter rail stations) that are as of yet to even be built.

 

Downtown Woodstock, Downtown Suwanee and Downtown Smyrna are prime examples of the so-called "new suburbanism" in which new residential and commercial development has been springing up in historic downtown areas with existing mature development next to existing freight rail lines near the sites of future commuter rail stations on the premise that high-frequency exurban-to-urban core commuter rail service will someday service these areas.

http://www.suwanee.com/economicdevelopment.towncenter.php

http://www.oldetownewoodstock.com/

http://www.smyrnacity.com/index.aspx?page=122 

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Burroughston Broch

 "Of course, as people and business continue to desert California, perhaps little new development will be needed."

 

People who are looking to actually make a profit in business and not be faced with an escalating tax burden may flee California out of necessity, but there is so much foreign migration into California (both legal and illegal as has been well-documented) that the population keeps climbing at a pretty heady rate (for the time being, anyway).

 

Example:  The population of California is currently around 37.7 million, up from 33.9 million in 2000 while Los Angeles has become the second-largest Spanish speaking city in the world, second only to Mexico City in the number of people speaking Spanish within its environs.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Burroughston Broch

 Los Angeles in particular also faces a problem of EXTREME to EXCEPTIONAL traffic congestion and gridlock on a scale of somewhere around five times that of Atlanta.  Yes, imagine having a traffic congestion gridlock problem that is FIVE TIMES worse than Atlanta.

 

Despite having a freeway system that is amongst the most comprehensive in the world for any major metro area, the freeway system just simply cannot handle the peak-hour demands put on it by a much-larger and increasingly dense population as there is something like 18 million people in the Greater Los Angeles Basin, which as they have found out the VERY hard way, makes use of mass transit a necessity.

Burroughston Broch
Burroughston Broch

 @The Last Democrat in Georgia My point in mentioning the article is that regions in California are doing part of this Agenda 21 that you were snickering up your sleeve about.Methinks you should look again.

As far as developers FLOCKING to areas around rail stations, can you cite evidence of that here? MARTA ballyhooed BellSouth consolidating office space around Lindbergh a few years ago, but that's been pretty much it.

The developers will FLOCK to those locations in California because that will be the only place they can do business. Of course, as people and business continue to desert California, perhaps little new development will be needed.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Burroughston Broch

 What's even  more interesting about California is the geographical limitations to "sprawl" that the major cities on the Pacific Coast face.

 

The Los Angeles Basin reached build-out status sometime around the year 2000, meaning that there are effectively no more "greenfields" available for new development within the L.A. Basin, as all of the greenfield parcels have been developed.

 

The focus in the L.A. Basin has now turned to redeveloping existing residential and commercial development (an example of which is how people in many parts of Metro Atlanta were tearing down existing single-family homes and replacing them with McMansions both ITP and OTP alike during the real estate boom years of the 2000's).

 

While both San Diego and the San Francisco Bay Area also have substantial geographical limitations that make further highway construction and the traditional lower-density suburban "sprawl" that results increasingly impossible.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Burroughston Broch

 

Even here in Metro Atlanta, we have already been seeing successful high-density developments being built and even thriving in some cases as the longtime low-density suburban cul-de-sac subdivision model of development while isn't anywhere nearly as bankable for real estate developers as it once was up through the 1990's.

 

Here in Metro Atlanta many of the newest residential real estate developments over the last decade or so have been sometimes three or four times as dense as they used to be as density, even in far-flung suburban and exurban areas has become a selling point in a turn of the market that once thought to be highly improbable.

 

Developers have happily gone along with the turn of the market towards more high-density residential real estate development because (in a good market, anyway) they have quickly figured out that can make three or four times the amount of profit selling brownstone (and brick, etc) rowhouses than they would have made selling traditional single-family homes in subdivisions with much lower densities (more homes per acre = more profit).

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Burroughston Broch

 The problem with the State of California is that instead of "Letting the market decide for itself" as many Conservatives and free-market analysis would say (a point that I agree with, by the way) they are attempting to manipulate the market with the overbearing hand of government.

 

Manipulating the market to require more density is totally unnecessary, especially since the market is ALREADY deciding for itself to move towards more density in residential development.

 

The State of California doesn't need to regulate that new homes can only be built in narrowly-defined corridors, as all they basically need to do to encourage more density if they so desire is to laydown viable mass transit lines (rail and bus) in pre-existing high-density corridors where they are sustainable. 

 

Developers will FLOCK to the areas surrounding the rail transit stations and adjoining the high-density bus lines.

 

 

Burroughston Broch
Burroughston Broch

 @The Last Democrat in Georgia In an interesting parallel, this weekend's (April 7-8) Wall Street Journal has an opinion piece on California governments requiring densification of most new housing into narrowly defined corridors. Web link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303302504577323353434618474.html. It's an interesting read about the future of the People's Republic of California.

 

 No mention of ALEC or Agenda 21 could I find, but I didn't review the 210 comments.

 

There might be some truth in Agenda 21, so I don't think that laughing up your sleeves is the correct approach.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @ScottNAtlanta  @inatl

 Speaking of Chip Rogers, he believes in and subscribes heavily to the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory in which those on the extreme right-wing believe that efforts to increase density of development and access to rail mass transit are part of a vast international left-wing conspiracy to force all Americans into dense living spaces near railroad tracks and take away their cars so that the New World Order, spearheaded by the United Nations can unseat the U.S. Federal Government and replace them with one world government.  No lie:

http://clatl.com/gyrobase/creative-loafings-2012-golden-sleaze-awards/Content?oid=5135264&storyPage=2

"The "Black Helicopters" Award

Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock

If you want to waste a few hours of your life, ask a Tea Party member about "Agenda 21." Developed by the United Nations in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the voluntary program was designed as a blueprint to help communities lessen their impact on the environment. But Tea Partiers and conspiracy theorists remain convinced it's a vehicle for U.N.-sponsored troops to march people out of their subdivisions and cars and into Soviet-style tenements and overcrowded trains. Enter Rogers, one of the upper chamber's most influential and powerful members, who introduced a mind-bender of a resolution that says Agenda 21 promotes "radical, so-called 'sustainable development'" and "views the American way of life of private property ownership, single-family homes, private car ownership and individual travel choices, and privately owned farms all as destructive to the environment." When not battling the New World Order, the good senator — who, whoa, dude, represents Senate District 21 — was pleasing his corporate overlords, especially telecommunications companies. Inspired by the free-market fappers at the American Legislative Exchange Council, Rogers introduced legislation that would preempt cities and counties from starting broadband programs in rural areas so private companies, which now say the low density of these rural areas doesn't justify installing infrastructure, could one day do business there. Chip Rogers is protecting Georgia from tin-foil conspiracies and keeping rural areas on dial-up and in the dark ages until AT&T decides they're worth a damn. Way to go, senator."

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @ScottNAtlanta  @inatl

"Then again with Chip Rogers and the like being on the take (he is on the board of ALEX which supplies prefab horrible laws to state legislators)...maybe they just need to be bribed to do whats right"

 

This horrific excuse of a State Legislature is already being bribed, to the tune of tens-of-thousands of dollars per very influential legislator as House Speaker David Ralston took an all-expenses-paid family vacation in November of 2010 to Europe that was paid for by a German trainmaker and State Senator Jeff Mullis has been known to have possible connections to foreign manufacturers of high-speed trains which is the main reason for his infatuation with future high-speed rail service between Atlanta and Chattanooga.

 

The fact that the State Legislature is already effectively being bribed, pretty heavily, and still won't and can't make any significant inroads in increasing access to critically-needed rail transit lines both ITP and OTP speaks volumes to the exceptional dysfunctionality of the Georgia General Assembly at the moment.

 

ScottNAtlanta
ScottNAtlanta

 @inatl  I think it was the idea that BUSINESS would suffer (lack of employees able to get to work) that would be heard loud and clear.  Then again with Chip Rogers and the like being on the take (he is on the board of ALEX which supplies prefab horrible laws to state legislators)...maybe they just need to be bribed to do whats right

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @inatl  @ScottNAtlanta

 I don't necessarily think that the State Legislature wants to see the city suffer, especially since most of the political power is concentrated in the Atlanta Region and North Georgia with the explosive population growth of the last three decades.

It's just that these guys are so incredibly and spectacularly incompetent that they either don't how or intellectually just plain can't do what needs what to be done at this point.

From some of the conversations I've heard from some very key and powerful people in the Legislature, they seem to be very aware of the miserable traffic problems in the Atlanta Region and they seem to be aware of what needs to be done to fix them it just seems that something crucial either in the gray matter or critical thinking departments is missing for them to be able to even be able to begin to work on solving the problem in a constructive and innovative way.

As we have witnessed more-and-more with increasing intensity over the last several years of Legislative sessions, the Georgia General Assembly is an incredibly dysfunctional and increasingly incompetent and ethically and morally bankrupt lawmaking body. 

As was just confirmed in a survey of the ethics and corruption laws of all 50 state legislatures that our Legislature to be THE WORST in the union in terms of ethics enforcement and punishing corruption, it's obvious that our "legislature" has some incredibly deep and profound institutional flaws that are visibly taking their toll on the quality-of-life of the state at the moment as the ethical situation in the Legislature seems to be deteriorating rapidly.

The State Senate is in the throws of a weird and chaotic power struggle between four different and is incredibly dysfunctional right now, while the House is trying to distract the public from their own very profound ethic issues in an ongoing effort to avoid long overdue ethic reforms in a legislature that sadly seems to be rapidly descending towards some type of massive scandal or series of scandals.

While the Georgia Department of Transportation, which was once considered to be one of the absolute best state highway departments in the nation, has been shamefully mismanaged into spectacularly inept and dysfunctional agency that is not even a shell of its former glorious self.

There just is no way that this Legislature and state government can be counted on to be a serious part of the solution when they are barely functional and rife with ethical issues and blatantly corrupt practices. 

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @inatl  @Burroughston Broch  But it's not just the City of Detroit and/or just Metro Detroit that is losing population, it's the entire state of Michigan that is losing population at an alarming clip and is struggling mightily along with its largest city. And NYC may be more vibrant than ever, but the population of 8 million of NYC proper only represents just over one-third of the entire population of over 21 million people that live in the greater metropolitan area that surrounds the city and includes parts of four states (NY, NJ, CT & PA). It's not just the 8 million people in NYC proper that contributes heavily to the population growth of Metro Atlanta, North Georgia and the rest of the Eastern Seaboard south of Maryland, but the 21 million of Greater NYC and even the metro areas of Philadelphia, Baltimore and even Washington DC that has played rather very heavily into the population growth of Metro Atlanta over the last few four decades, with NYC leading the charge of migration down the East Coast of the U.S. between Maryland and Florida.

inatl
inatl

 @The Last Democrat in Georgia  @Burroughston Broch Detroit lost people because of what the auto industry was going through.   New York City is more vibrant than ever.   Atlanta has one of the highest foreclosure and/or underwater mortgages.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Burroughston Broch Though it should noted that Georgia's biggest sources of "growth" and the resulting overcrowding from those migrating from other parts of the country for so-called "greener" economic and even social pastures is from the Northeast and the Midwest, most specifically the states of New York and Michigan, respectively.   As we've repeatedly witnessed with the administration of NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, government in that state has a tendency to vastly overreach and exert control in places where it shouldn't.   In Michigan the lethal combination of a hostile business climate, failure to adequately diversify the state's economy from an overdependence on manufacturing and very cold and miserable winters have teamed together to make Michigan one of the nation's few population LOSERS where over 60 of that state's 83 counties are losing population.   Metro Detroit actually LOST over 140,000 people during the decade of the 2000's, the same decade in which Metro Atlanta GAINED over 1.6 million people.  Metro Atlanta gained more than ten times the amount of people that Metro Detroit LOST during that decade. 

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Burroughston Broch  Not-to-mention that many of the reverberations of an anti-business climate in California are being felt as far away as here in Georgia where we have a higher population than many would expect of those who have moved here from California to get away from a hostile business climate, a sky-high cost-of-living that is escalating, a state government that is on the verge of financial collapse, domination of street gangs in some quarters, horrific traffic congestion and rush hour gridlock, overcrowding, etc.   A situation of people fleeing California in droves to escape a less-than-desirable quality-of-living situation that I can personally attest to as I have a buddy whose entire family moved here to Georgia from California to escape to "greener pastures" so-to-speak (his wife moved here to Georgia from Brooklyn, New York for many of the same reasons that people are fleeing California in droves).    

Burroughston Broch
Burroughston Broch

 @The Last Democrat in Georgia  The people moving into California are in general blue-collar and looking to get on the welfare-state gravy train. Businesses and white-collar people (except for Silicon Valley and Hollywood), highly taxed to pay for the welfare state, are leaving in droves. The 10% population increase during 2000-2010 is the smallest since the first census in 1860. The estimated increase 2010-2011 is 1%, continuing that trend. Why do you think that Washington, Oregon, and Nevada grew so much faster than California during 2000-2010? Well-to-do people and businesses leaving California.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Burroughston Broch "My point in mentioning the article is that regions in California are doing part of this Agenda 21 that you were snickering up your sleeve about.Methinks you should look again."   I wouldn't necessarily conflate government overreach with an international conspiracy by the U.N. or Agenda 21 as California governments, both state and local, have a history of increasing government interference in free markets and overreach in many, if not most facets of human life.   From overly-restrictive gun laws that are very much likely in violation of the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, to laws that are seemingly tailored to make affordable living and doing business in the state all but impossible, the law that you mentioned and that is written about in the article that you provided a link isn't necessarily evidence of a larger international plot to force dense living upon everyone, but just the latest case of an escalating pattern of blatant unnecessary government overreach by a government body in the state of California which has a well-documented history of such behavior where there is a pervasive mindset that people need to be told what to do by the government instead of being left to make the decision for themselves.   In this case, mandating that new development only occur along dense corridors along rail transit lines is TOTALLY UNNECESSARY as the market is already moving very decisively in that direction due to traffic gridlock and an increasing lack of undeveloped land to build-on.    California would be best to just step aside and let the market decide for itself where to locate new development as it was already doing before the government interfered with what was a very productive process.  

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Burroughston Broch  It should also be noted that, as we speak, land spectulators are engaging in a major land/parcel-buying binge in Downtown Atlanta near the Five Points area in the immediate vicinity of the planned Multimodal passenger rail/bus station in anticipation of long-term appreciation of land values due to the convenient access to increased future rail transit service that these properties will provide in light of a transportation project that could have the same impact on Atlanta that Grand Central Station has had on New York City.   No lie, the multimodal rail terminal has the potential to have that dramatic of an impact on Atlanta. http://www.atlantadowntown.com/initiatives/green-line-plan/multi-modal-passenger-terminal http://www.dot.state.ga.us/aboutGeorgiadot/Board/Documents/2011Presentations/Feb/MMPT.pdf

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Burroughston Broch  Another interesting tidbit that clearly illustrates the assertion that developers will be attracted to sites around future rail transit stations is the tiny exurban city of Oakwood, Georgia (population 3,970) which is located near the junction of I-985 & GA Hwy 53 in Northeast Georgia just south of Gainesville.   Oakwood is located directly on and straddles a major Norfolk Southern/Amtrak freight rail line that is slated for high-speed intercity passenger rail service between Atlanta and New York and high-frequency exurban-to-urban core commuter rail service, the first leg of which is service between Atlanta and Gainesville   Oakwood officials are well-aware of the plans to substantially expand passenger rail service through their town and are planning future development accordingly by making a future commuter rail station, which at this point looks like it may not be built for many years, the centerpiece of their future development efforts, which can be seen here: http://www.oakwood2030.com/Transit-Station.htm

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Burroughston Broch  It should also be noted that suburban cities and towns like Norcross and Duluth in Gwinnett are also forging ahead with comprehensive redevelopment of their historic downtowns, with Duluth making significant inroads and Norcross being pretty far along in the redevelopment process and even lobbying HEAVILY to be the site of a future MARTA station on an expanded Northeast line or whatever color line they call it now.   Though the mother of examples in development being attracted to existing rail transit stations is undoubtedly Downtown Decatur who a few years ago redesigned and reconstructed their MARTA heavy rail transit/subway station to better fit in asthetically with the community and have even made the MARTA station and the easy access to mass transit it provides a key part of the continuing development and redevelopment efforts of its historic downtown which has an undeniable bohemian feel to it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decatur_(MARTA_station) http://www.itsmarta.com/ew-dec-overview.aspx

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Burroughston Broch "As far as developers FLOCKING to areas around rail stations, can you cite evidence of that here?"   I'll do you one better and cite examples of developers and speculators flocking to rail transit stations (in these cases future commuter rail stations) that are as of yet to even be built.   Downtown Woodstock, Downtown Suwanee and Downtown Smyrna are prime examples of the so-called "new suburbanism" in which new residential and commercial development has been springing up in historic downtown areas with existing mature development next to existing freight rail lines near the sites of future commuter rail stations on the premise that high-frequency exurban-to-urban core commuter rail service will someday service these areas. http://www.suwanee.com/economicdevelopment.towncenter.php http://www.oldetownewoodstock.com/ http://www.smyrnacity.com/index.aspx?page=122 

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Burroughston Broch  "Of course, as people and business continue to desert California, perhaps little new development will be needed."   People who are looking to actually make a profit in business and not be faced with an escalating tax burden may flee California out of necessity, but there is so much foreign migration into California (both legal and illegal as has been well-documented) that the population keeps climbing at a pretty heady rate (for the time being, anyway).   Example:  The population of California is currently around 37.7 million, up from 33.9 million in 2000 while Los Angeles has become the second-largest Spanish speaking city in the world, second only to Mexico City in the number of people speaking Spanish within its environs.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Burroughston Broch  Los Angeles in particular also faces a problem of EXTREME to EXCEPTIONAL traffic congestion and gridlock on a scale of somewhere around five times that of Atlanta.  Yes, imagine having a traffic congestion gridlock problem that is FIVE TIMES worse than Atlanta.   Despite having a freeway system that is amongst the most comprehensive in the world for any major metro area, the freeway system just simply cannot handle the peak-hour demands put on it by a much-larger and increasingly dense population as there is something like 18 million people in the Greater Los Angeles Basin, which as they have found out the VERY hard way, makes use of mass transit a necessity.

Burroughston Broch
Burroughston Broch

 @The Last Democrat in Georgia My point in mentioning the article is that regions in California are doing part of this Agenda 21 that you were snickering up your sleeve about.Methinks you should look again. As far as developers FLOCKING to areas around rail stations, can you cite evidence of that here? MARTA ballyhooed BellSouth consolidating office space around Lindbergh a few years ago, but that's been pretty much it. The developers will FLOCK to those locations in California because that will be the only place they can do business. Of course, as people and business continue to desert California, perhaps little new development will be needed.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Burroughston Broch  What's even  more interesting about California is the geographical limitations to "sprawl" that the major cities on the Pacific Coast face.   The Los Angeles Basin reached build-out status sometime around the year 2000, meaning that there are effectively no more "greenfields" available for new development within the L.A. Basin, as all of the greenfield parcels have been developed.   The focus in the L.A. Basin has now turned to redeveloping existing residential and commercial development (an example of which is how people in many parts of Metro Atlanta were tearing down existing single-family homes and replacing them with McMansions both ITP and OTP alike during the real estate boom years of the 2000's).   While both San Diego and the San Francisco Bay Area also have substantial geographical limitations that make further highway construction and the traditional lower-density suburban "sprawl" that results increasingly impossible.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Burroughston Broch   Even here in Metro Atlanta, we have already been seeing successful high-density developments being built and even thriving in some cases as the longtime low-density suburban cul-de-sac subdivision model of development while isn't anywhere nearly as bankable for real estate developers as it once was up through the 1990's.   Here in Metro Atlanta many of the newest residential real estate developments over the last decade or so have been sometimes three or four times as dense as they used to be as density, even in far-flung suburban and exurban areas has become a selling point in a turn of the market that once thought to be highly improbable.   Developers have happily gone along with the turn of the market towards more high-density residential real estate development because (in a good market, anyway) they have quickly figured out that can make three or four times the amount of profit selling brownstone (and brick, etc) rowhouses than they would have made selling traditional single-family homes in subdivisions with much lower densities (more homes per acre = more profit).

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @Burroughston Broch  The problem with the State of California is that instead of "Letting the market decide for itself" as many Conservatives and free-market analysis would say (a point that I agree with, by the way) they are attempting to manipulate the market with the overbearing hand of government.   Manipulating the market to require more density is totally unnecessary, especially since the market is ALREADY deciding for itself to move towards more density in residential development.   The State of California doesn't need to regulate that new homes can only be built in narrowly-defined corridors, as all they basically need to do to encourage more density if they so desire is to laydown viable mass transit lines (rail and bus) in pre-existing high-density corridors where they are sustainable.    Developers will FLOCK to the areas surrounding the rail transit stations and adjoining the high-density bus lines.    

Burroughston Broch
Burroughston Broch

 @The Last Democrat in Georgia In an interesting parallel, this weekend's (April 7-8) Wall Street Journal has an opinion piece on California governments requiring densification of most new housing into narrowly defined corridors. Web link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303302504577323353434618474.html. It's an interesting read about the future of the People's Republic of California.    No mention of ALEC or Agenda 21 could I find, but I didn't review the 210 comments.   There might be some truth in Agenda 21, so I don't think that laughing up your sleeves is the correct approach.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @ScottNAtlanta  @inatl  Speaking of Chip Rogers, he believes in and subscribes heavily to the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory in which those on the extreme right-wing believe that efforts to increase density of development and access to rail mass transit are part of a vast international left-wing conspiracy to force all Americans into dense living spaces near railroad tracks and take away their cars so that the New World Order, spearheaded by the United Nations can unseat the U.S. Federal Government and replace them with one world government.  No lie: http://clatl.com/gyrobase/creative-loafings-2012-golden-sleaze-awards/Content?oid=5135264&storyPage=2 "The "Black Helicopters" Award Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock If you want to waste a few hours of your life, ask a Tea Party member about "Agenda 21." Developed by the United Nations in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the voluntary program was designed as a blueprint to help communities lessen their impact on the environment. But Tea Partiers and conspiracy theorists remain convinced it's a vehicle for U.N.-sponsored troops to march people out of their subdivisions and cars and into Soviet-style tenements and overcrowded trains. Enter Rogers, one of the upper chamber's most influential and powerful members, who introduced a mind-bender of a resolution that says Agenda 21 promotes "radical, so-called 'sustainable development'" and "views the American way of life of private property ownership, single-family homes, private car ownership and individual travel choices, and privately owned farms all as destructive to the environment." When not battling the New World Order, the good senator — who, whoa, dude, represents Senate District 21 — was pleasing his corporate overlords, especially telecommunications companies. Inspired by the free-market fappers at the American Legislative Exchange Council, Rogers introduced legislation that would preempt cities and counties from starting broadband programs in rural areas so private companies, which now say the low density of these rural areas doesn't justify installing infrastructure, could one day do business there. Chip Rogers is protecting Georgia from tin-foil conspiracies and keeping rural areas on dial-up and in the dark ages until AT&T decides they're worth a damn. Way to go, senator."

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @ScottNAtlanta  @inatl "Then again with Chip Rogers and the like being on the take (he is on the board of ALEX which supplies prefab horrible laws to state legislators)...maybe they just need to be bribed to do whats right"   This horrific excuse of a State Legislature is already being bribed, to the tune of tens-of-thousands of dollars per very influential legislator as House Speaker David Ralston took an all-expenses-paid family vacation in November of 2010 to Europe that was paid for by a German trainmaker and State Senator Jeff Mullis has been known to have possible connections to foreign manufacturers of high-speed trains which is the main reason for his infatuation with future high-speed rail service between Atlanta and Chattanooga.   The fact that the State Legislature is already effectively being bribed, pretty heavily, and still won't and can't make any significant inroads in increasing access to critically-needed rail transit lines both ITP and OTP speaks volumes to the exceptional dysfunctionality of the Georgia General Assembly at the moment.  

ScottNAtlanta
ScottNAtlanta

 @inatl  I think it was the idea that BUSINESS would suffer (lack of employees able to get to work) that would be heard loud and clear.  Then again with Chip Rogers and the like being on the take (he is on the board of ALEX which supplies prefab horrible laws to state legislators)...maybe they just need to be bribed to do whats right

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @inatl  @ScottNAtlanta  I don't necessarily think that the State Legislature wants to see the city suffer, especially since most of the political power is concentrated in the Atlanta Region and North Georgia with the explosive population growth of the last three decades. It's just that these guys are so incredibly and spectacularly incompetent that they either don't how or intellectually just plain can't do what needs what to be done at this point. From some of the conversations I've heard from some very key and powerful people in the Legislature, they seem to be very aware of the miserable traffic problems in the Atlanta Region and they seem to be aware of what needs to be done to fix them it just seems that something crucial either in the gray matter or critical thinking departments is missing for them to be able to even be able to begin to work on solving the problem in a constructive and innovative way. As we have witnessed more-and-more with increasing intensity over the last several years of Legislative sessions, the Georgia General Assembly is an incredibly dysfunctional and increasingly incompetent and ethically and morally bankrupt lawmaking body.  As was just confirmed in a survey of the ethics and corruption laws of all 50 state legislatures that our Legislature to be THE WORST in the union in terms of ethics enforcement and punishing corruption, it's obvious that our "legislature" has some incredibly deep and profound institutional flaws that are visibly taking their toll on the quality-of-life of the state at the moment as the ethical situation in the Legislature seems to be deteriorating rapidly. The State Senate is in the throws of a weird and chaotic power struggle between four different and is incredibly dysfunctional right now, while the House is trying to distract the public from their own very profound ethic issues in an ongoing effort to avoid long overdue ethic reforms in a legislature that sadly seems to be rapidly descending towards some type of massive scandal or series of scandals. While the Georgia Department of Transportation, which was once considered to be one of the absolute best state highway departments in the nation, has been shamefully mismanaged into spectacularly inept and dysfunctional agency that is not even a shell of its former glorious self. There just is no way that this Legislature and state government can be counted on to be a serious part of the solution when they are barely functional and rife with ethical issues and blatantly corrupt practices. 

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