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Building moratorium in Atlanta’s Westside to provide time to review housing costs, transportation

David Pendered

By David Pendered

To provide a cooling-off period for review of public policies related to development in Atlanta’s heated Westside area, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has called for a six-month moratorium on new construction projects in the area. The mayor started by issuing an executive order to mandate a two-week moratorium, which expires March 2.

The mayor’s moratorium on building in Atlanta’s Westside includes neighborhoods where speculators have been purchasing land and houses. Credit: David Pendered (2018)

The executive order is dated Monday. It expires on the date of the next meeting of the Atlanta City Council, March 2. The council is to consider an ordinance regarding a moratorium submitted to the council on behalf of the administration; a copy of the ordinance was not readily available.

For the next two weeks, the mayor has instructed city entities to halt development projects within the boundaries of a map contained in the executive order. The order does not affect work that is already permitted, or emergency projects.

A statement from Bottoms’ administration attributed the moratorium to an effort to protect the existing supply of affordable housing in the area. Bottoms is quoted:

  • “A key pillar to the Administration’s comprehensive affordable housing plan is ensuring long-term residents are not priced out of the neighborhoods they have built. We know that every permit triggers some form of change in these communities, and it is of the utmost importance that development is carried out in a deliberate, fair and thoughtful manner.”

The statement included this observation:

  • “During the moratorium, the Administration will engage in a robust community planning effort, which will include all relevant City departments and agencies.”

The mayor’s executive order concludes:

  • “As of the date of the execution of this order, the Directors of the Office of Buildings and the Office of Zoning and Development are hereby authorized, ordered and directed to refuse to accept new applications for rezonings, subdivisions, replattings, and lot consolidations for non-public projects related to any parcel(s) within the overlaym as indicated in Exhibit A, attached to this order. This order shall not apply to permits required for emergency work.”

The administration released a map of the affected area that evidently is contained in Exhibit A, of the pending ordinance. It’s roughly the shape of a rectangle with these rough bounderies: On the north, the Inman and Tilford rail yards; on the south, a meandering line few blocks south of U.S. 278; on the east, Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard; on the west, Ga. 280.

According to the mayor’s statement, “the executive order and ordinance requests the following:”

westside moratorium, map

A six-month building moratorium in the area enclosed by the double line has been proposed by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. The mayor has imposed a temporary moratorium that expires on March 2, at which time the Atlanta City Council could vote to implement the longer ban. Credit: Atlanta

  • “Request that the Department of City Planning identify the Immediate Impact Area which is being most affected by the development of the Westside Park;
  • “Develop an Equitable Development Framework for the Immediate Impact Area;
  • “Re-engage the Westside Park and other Beltline parks in the Immediate Impact Area;
  • “Align activities in the One Atlanta Housing Affordability Action Plan;
  • “Develop a Westside Park Transportation Plan in alignment with the One Atlanta Strategic Transportation plan;
  • “Identify City or other public agency-controlled land located in the immediate impact area.”

Moratoriums on development are rare, but not unheard of, in Atlanta.

The council adopted a similar measure in 2015 to chill development along the Memorial Drive corridor; the intent was to allow a long-range planning document to catch up with development. Then Mayor Shirley Franklin issued a moratorium that halted the trend of tearing down smaller houses to replace them with much houses.

 

A buyers market has existerd in the Carey Park neighborhood, on the border of Atlanta’s Westside. Credit: David Pendered (2018)

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David Pendered
David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.

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