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Protect neighborhoods by saving zoning

By Guest Columnist BOB IRVIN, former Republican minority leader in Georgia’s House of Representatives

Atlanta, your city government is trying to trick you.

Now that sentence, all by itself, may not seem to you like a “man-bites-dog” lead.

Bob Irvin

Bob Irvin

But it is the truth, and you deserve to understand what your city government is up to. Under the cover of working to increase affordable housing, which everybody supports, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ administration is proposing to completely gut the zoning and development laws of the city. They know that not many people support that, which is why they aren’t talking about it much. In fact, every homeowner in the city should stand up and oppose it.

Here are some of the things that the Bottoms administration’s “housing plan” proposes to do, as found starting on page 43 of its massive 88 page document, “Atlanta City Design Housing:”

  • End single-family zoning, allowing any property owner by right to build an additional dwelling unit (called an “Accessory Dwelling Unit”, or ADU) on any lot now zoned for one family residence (p57). The city’s representatives say orally, though not in the document, that the ordinance will prohibit use of these ADU’s as short-term rentals, but that is an empty promise. The city can’t properly stay on top of the STR’s it has now, let alone adding possibly thousands of ADU’s.
    irvin, modular ADU

    Some accessory dwelling units could be built with modular technology, assembled offsite and transported to a final locoation. Credit: Homeplace Solutions

  • Allow the property owner by right to then subdivide the lot and sell the ADU separately on its own “flag lot” (p67), then presumably build another and repeat the process, completely overbuilding the property
  • “Loosen” the building requirements, such as size and height, for ADU’s (p69), making them cheaper, and likely less attractive in the neighborhood
  • Reduce minimum lot sizes, and minimum set-backs from the street and adjacent properties (p82), in order to get more buildings onto every property
  • Allow, by right, any property owner within one-half mile of a MARTA station to build an apartment building of perhaps as many as 12 units, regardless of what the zoning is for that neighborhood (p73)
  • End minimum residential parking requirements citywide (p74), so that new apartment and condominium buildings would not have to provide parking for their residents, but can rather require them to park on neighborhood streets
  • End minimum parking requirements for commercial properties as well (p78), allowing more of them to be crowded into a given area, and overwhelming the local streets

Atlanta’s proposal on accessory dwelling units highlights unobtrusive dwellings such as basement apartments, without noting the potential for units that are much more noticeable, the author observes. Credit: Atlanta

This proposal is a trick the city administration is trying to play on every neighborhood in Atlanta. It should be called “The Developer Feeding Frenzy Ordinance.” The document features the softest possible examples, notably basement apartments, but as demonstrated above, it contains much, much more than that. It speaks of “homeowners building additional wealth,” but it won’t be homeowners who reap the profits. It will be rapacious developers, buying up a few lots, overbuilding them, changing that neighborhood forever, devaluing homeowners’ investments, and then moving on to the next neighborhood.

Atlanta’s neighborhoods are what make us Atlanta, but the proposal’s repeated promises to “maintain the character and form of the neighborhoods” (p43, among other places) are empty rhetoric. The proposal is designed to do the opposite. It will increase density without consideration of infrastructure needs, such as schools, police and fire protection, transportation, and stormwater management. It will self-evidently increase traffic. It will inevitably reduce Atlanta’s tree canopy.

Worst of all, it will do all of this without the consent, or even the notification, of any other affected party – the neighbors, the NPU, or the city government. It will hand over the ability to do it all to irresponsible and greedy developers, by right – developers who don’t live in the neighborhood, or possibly even in the city.

The city charter already provides a process to accomplish everything this proposal includes: ADUs, flag lots, loosened building requirements, reduced lot sizes, and all the rest. The difference is that the current process requires the developer to bring the proposed development before the neighbors, organized in the local NPU, to seek a zoning variance, and then go up the line from the NPU to the Board of Zoning Adjustment and/or the Atlanta City Council. It requires the developer to defend the merits of this particular development, and “sell” it to the neighbors as something that will strengthen, not damage, the neighborhood.

Proponents of the Bottoms administration’s plan to gut these protections would have you believe that this process has to be done away with because it always results in a “No,” but that isn’t true. Just this spring a high-profile ADU in the Old Fourth Ward, that comes within 15 inches of the property line (compared to the usual setback requirement of 20 feet), was approved by the local NPU and, based on that, by the city, because the local residents felt it would be good for the neighborhood.

What the Bottoms administration, therefore, is trying to do is to create a legal structure which allows developers to force these developments into neighborhoods where they would not be good for the neighbors. This is exactly what zoning law is designed to guard against – developments, whether commercial, industrial, or high-density residential, which would injure the neighborhood. It is why the city charter created NPU’s in the first place, to allow neighborhoods to fight developers on something like an even footing. The Bottoms administration wants to do away with all those protections.

There’s even a Washington, DC, angle to this. Tucked away in President Biden’s “infrastructure” bill is a proposal for big discretionary grants from the federal government to jurisdictions that “eliminate” single-family zoning. Bait, in other words. But if there was ever an issue that needs to be controlled by local officials elected by local people, not far-away federal bureaucrats, local zoning is it!

Why do Bottoms, and even Biden, want to do this? There you have me. It has become an article of faith in the planning community that high density is good, though many residents of all races and economic levels prefer to live in low density areas. Some extremists even say that all zoning everywhere is evil because they find racism in its origins 100 years ago. I don’t know about that. But I do know what zoning does now. It protects homeowners of all races and economic levels. It protects their neighborhoods. It protects their families. It protects their largest investment. It protects their lifestyle. It protects our city. Don’t let this administration kill it in the dark.

In addition to service in the state House, Atlanta businessman Bob Irvin is a former chairman of the board of Georgia Common Cause.


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  1. Penny & George Hart April 12, 2021 1:16 pm

    Mr. Irvin’s article is right on target and this issue is of crucial importance to all home owners. The present zoning laws are already shamelessly skewed to benefit developers to the severe detriment of to the quality of life of all Atlantans, in one way or another. Those of us who have been personally impacted by adjacent inappropriate development have been shocked, outraged and harmed both financially and in our quality of life. Without personal experience with this, one is unlikely to be aware of the serious flaws in present zoning laws or how they are abused and not effectively monitored. This is also true of the present Tree Ordinance. The very last thing we should accept is additional loosening of zoning requirements. It is our hope that all Atlantans will wake up to this serious threat and SPEAK UP! Thank you, Penny & George HartReport

    1. Gayle Alston April 13, 2021 8:59 am

      I have read the proposal and the author of this article is dead on! This idea was tried a few years ago and was dropped. However, we, who would have been effected, were not allowed to vote then as now. We have lived in our house for 50 years. We’ve raised 3 wonderful children and now are enjoying having 8 grandchildren who can get some of the same benefits as did their parents. Please help us save our neighborhoods by registering your disapproval of these actions.
      By the way, if one’s abode is only 15” from the street, it seems to me that if he mid-steps coming out of his front door, he will land in the street!!!
      Gayle & Jimmy AlstonReport

    2. Mark A. Baker April 13, 2021 2:53 pm

      In other words, you got yours so no changes allowed. While young folks can’t find an affordable place to buy or rent.Report

      1. Brad July 14, 2021 10:05 am

        Exactly Mark. Restrictive zoning has hollowed out Atlanta and young people that give the city life are pushed to the edges. They got theirs, so screw everybody else.Report

  2. Carol Muldawer April 12, 2021 2:09 pm

    Can you show me in writing where Biden’s infrastructure plan calls for what you are saying it does?Report

    1. Bob Daniels April 12, 2021 8:13 pm

      Read the CNN breakdown of the bill. It outlines it very clearly in language even a liberal can understand.Report

    2. David Pendered April 14, 2021 4:50 pm

      Thank you for reading, and your thoughtful question.
      The zoning proposal in President Biden’s infrastructure bill can be read in the document linked in the relevant paragraph of Mr. Irvin’s piece, in the words “infrastructure bill.”
      The measure is located under the headline that states: “Build, preserve, and retrofit more than two million homes and commercial buildings to address the affordable housing crisis,” and within the body of the bullet point with the subhead that states: “Eliminate exclusionary zoning and harmful land use policies.”
      Best regards,
      David PenderedReport

  3. N.D. Sullivan April 12, 2021 2:34 pm

    This alarms me. I am a native Atlantan and have lived here for over 60 years. I have seen Atlanta destroyed by overbuilding and absurd “traffic calming” projects that create traffic jams wherever they are put into effect. Lindbergh Drive is a prime example.

    Destroying neighborhoods is not a way to create affordable housing. If this plan goes through, I’m sure that Mayor Bottoms and her cohorts will find a way to exempt themselves from having their neighborhoods destroyed by packing people in like sardines. I can’t afford to live on Habersham Rd. or Andrews Dr., but I don’t think that I have the right to force property owners there to accept plans that would destroy their property values and the beauty of their neighborhood.Report

  4. ALBERT G GOODGAME April 12, 2021 5:22 pm

    They should have saved all the homes on Peachtree Street. Rezoning allowed Lenox Square to be built on the site of the lovely Ottley Home and Phipps Plaza to be built on the site site of the stately Alexander Home. The State of Georgia should have kept the Governor’s mansion where the Peachtree Plaza Hotel presently is. Times change. The City of Atlanta is far from dead. Let’s not embalm it! When I drive through Buckhead neighborhoods, it is sadly obvious that many owners no longer have the resources or interest to maintain their large properties. It is fast heading in the direction of Ansley Park and Inman Park in the early 60’s.Report

  5. Stephen April 12, 2021 7:26 pm

    What a load of conjecture, speculation, anecdote in lieu of statistic, crap. The author here is just another one of Atlanta’s outdated, belong in a suburb (or on a farm) NIMBYs who continue to watch their bucolic desires fall by the wayside in favor of progress and growth.

    Since when was an 88 page document a “massive document”? Has the author ever read a book? The direct link that the author tries to make between ADU and STR is pathetically weak, if not non-existent. ADUs are secondary dwelling units on single-family lots…they don’t “end single-family zoning” (flat out lie). In fact ADUs are commonplace in some of the most prestigious housing markets in the country.

    Most of the other initiatives that the author points out are clearly aimed at increasing density. The author is also wrong that density is good is an “article of faith” within the planning community. It is an article of fact…something this author doesn’t have much familiarity with. Higher density leads to more services, higher tax revenue (you know, the money that pays for all those infrastructure needs the author mentions), passive security (something Atlanta is desperately in need of), and higher social engagement…among many other benefits to those interested in living amongst and with their neighbors, not away from them. “Many residents of all races and economic levels prefer to live in low-density areas”…and what’s your point? Many residents also prefer to live in high-density areas.

    As a homeowner in Buckhead, and a citizen who recognizes that I live in a city, not a suburb or a rural community, I welcome changes like this. It will promote density and growth, it will improve property values, it will promote reliance on more efficient forms of transportation (either walking, public or ride-sharing) thereby helping reduce carbon emissions, it will create demand for more lifestyle services in neighborhoods that aren’t dense enough to create the demand fo these neighborhoods now. Don’t like it? I’m sure there is a sleepy, boring little community waiting on you, and a “greedy developer” (euphemism for someone who takes action to improve an area rather than sitting on their tail, complaining and trying to impede progress) that will happily buy your lot.

    Fortunately for everyone living in the CITY of Atlanta, the NIMBYs always get defeated and bypassed in the way of progress. They’re just an annoyance.Report

    1. Bob Daniels April 12, 2021 8:18 pm

      Spoken like a properly trained elitist.Report

      1. Stephen April 12, 2021 9:24 pm

        Yeah, because everyone who has a differing opinion is an elitist. More shallow garbage…fits with the general attitude and article.Report

    2. Sally Lipscomb April 12, 2021 10:05 pm

      You obviously have no care for all the misplaced wildlife, and the fact that the citizens of Buckhead pay taxes to support the majority of city services which they do not benefit from. Density makes sense when land is limited. Atlanta has no natural boundaries, poor zoning laws, no infrastructure to support more density. We have no urban planning. We do have a mayor who is absent and does not care about all the citizens in this city. She has policemen protecting her street but no one else’s. She fired the police chief who was liked and respected by members of the police force and then 140 policemen quit out of protest. You want more people in an already overcrowded city. I don’t care about your politics. I do care about quality of life. Less density affords more outdoor space, less pollution less loss of wildlife. Zoning laws exist for a reason. The mayor, Kasim’s buddy, is just upset that she was only offered the ambassadorship to the Bahamas. She’s just trying to elevate her political position. Read between the lines.Report

      1. Stephen April 12, 2021 11:08 pm

        Atlanta isn’t some protected landscape full of endangered species. It’s a city. It’s clear that nobody hear realizes that. Density makes sense regardless of land availability. It’s just an absolute necessity when there’s limited land. You clearly don’t understand the definition of overcrowded either. Population density in Atlanta is significantly lower than many other major cities, so overcrowding isn’t the issue. I do agree that the infrastructure is completely nonsensical, and that any sort of comprehensive or thoughtful urban plan (if there ever was one) was forgotten long ago. Atlanta also has significantly more green space than many major cities as well, but NEWSFLASH, there’s more to quality of life than the size of everyone’s front yard…and more free space means more dependency on cars (because the environment isn’t dense enough to walk or cycle anywhere), which increases pollution. Lastly, nobody is abolishing zoning laws. Is that what you got from this hack-job of an article?Report

        1. Stephen April 13, 2021 10:49 am

          It doesn’t seem like you understand how this works. I won’t be going anywhere, nor will the tens of thousands of new Atlanta residents. We’ll stay, buy homes, rent apartments, and fuel the demand for further density and all the benefits that brings. Our dollars and our engagement with the community will create a more vibrant environment, stimulate more diverse forms of development, increase walkability, and foster the transition away from a mid-level sprawling town into a proper city. I’m sure there will be plenty that will still whine and complain, but ineffective lip service has never been able to impede progress in the big picture.Report

          1. Jonathan April 14, 2021 10:01 pm

            Stephen, It doesn’t seem like you understand. We don’t want YOU and the other tens of thousands of people here. Period.Report

        2. George April 16, 2021 2:37 pm

          FACT SHEET from the White House
          Eliminate exclusionary zoning and harmful land use policies. For decades, exclusionary zoning laws – like minimum lot sizes, mandatory parking requirements, and prohibitions on multifamily housing – have inflated housing and construction costs and locked families out of areas with more opportunities. President Biden is calling on Congress to enact an innovative, new competitive grant program that awards flexible and attractive funding to jurisdictions that take concrete steps to eliminate such needless barriers to producing affordable housing.
          This is abolishing zoning laws. READ the bill.

          The sad part is the entire highway system (including bridges, barriers, etc) could be rebuild for the $2.5T being proposed.

          The housing credits of $20B is not very attractive to independent, small business builders. 500,000 divided by $20B is $40,000. That doesn’t go very far in large cities with high building costs. Do your research. It’s about the same price to build a second story or add a basement to home as it is to scrape the property and build new. Ultimately homes would be scraped, lots added together to build additional high rises.

          Anyone with kids already knows the APS school system is over crowded and the city has planned no new schools.Report

    3. John April 16, 2021 2:26 pm

      This is why folks are leaving NYC, San Francisco, Chicago, etc. Over crowding, increased taxes, higher cost of living, high crime rates, poor schools, and the list goes on. I have no issue with adding housing if the infrastructure and services are in place or planned prior to the building. Gwinnett is a perfect example.Report

      1. Stephen April 16, 2021 5:47 pm

        Errr…completely wrong. For starters, the gap between cities like SF & NYC and Atlanta so incredibly, dramatically, almost unafthomably large that the amount of development and densification that would be required in Atlanta, to trigger the same level of crowding, cost of living, etc. would take decades, if not a century….not to mention the fact (something that seems to evade most commentators on here) that both of those cities are constrained geographically. Atlanta is not. Atlanta will densify and expand, which will put far less pressure on housing prices than in a place that has a real boundary to development. Second, taxes are a political issue, and given the political climate in the south, it’s unlikely they’ll ever look like they do in SF or NYC. Look no further than Florida for a perfect case study. Crime, well, it’s questionable whether you can read…crime per capita is significantly worse in Atlanta than it is in NYC. I could have just said your response was shallow and complete fiction, but I took the courtesy to provide some concrete evidence of your BS.Report

  6. Duane April 13, 2021 6:59 am

    Sorry Stephen. Seems I’m the only one who will agree with you here. Those against this clearly already live in an area where they have all the services and amenities they need while ignoring the fact that much of Atlanta desperately needs higher density because those neighborhoods do not have the tax base to support them. Then they are bringing up dated zoning laws that haven’t been changed since the 60s or before and are doing exactly what they were meant to. Keeping lower income individuals away. There are more low density neighborhoods in the CITY of Atlanta then there aren’t. Keyword being city because some don’t believe they live in one.Report

  7. Beth Smith April 13, 2021 8:56 am

    Hard to believe people fall for these scare mongering tactics, but they do. Find out what’s really going on by getting involved with your neighborhood NPU and reading the Atlanta City Design – https://bit.ly/3mPzlGbReport

    1. Michael April 13, 2021 10:07 am

      I read it and Bob has it right. Show me any city or community that has improved by packing more people in less space. Portland come to mind, how about Houston with no zoning. I’ve been to both and prefer Atlanta. Our current system works and provides opportunity for sustainable growth while protecting our livable neighborhoods that make Atlanta unique. The case for this change is based on how the system was used over 100 years ago. The culture and society have evolved and the zoning of today is in no way connected to the system of the 1920s. if you think otherwise explain the dynamics of the positive changes this city has seen over the past 40 years.Report

      1. Stephen April 13, 2021 10:57 am

        Paris, London, NYC, Berlin, Seattle, Oslo, Seoul, Tokyo….should I continue? All of these cities have an abundance of public services, high rates of public transportation usage, excellent educational institutions at every level, top-notch cultural institutions, high quality of life, etc. Sure they have problems, like high housing prices, but that’s because of a little thing we call supply & demand…people want to live in these cities (demand) for all the aforementioned reasons and more.

        Oh, you’ve been to Houston (a massively sprawling city that is the antithesis of dense development) and Portland (a not incredibly dense city, with more of a political problem than a zoning problem)? Congratulations…you just compared an apple to a Christmas tree…not even remotely close in any context.Report

      2. Joe yaya April 13, 2021 5:13 pm

        “Show me any city or community that has improved by packing more people in less space. ”

        Atlanta. The arguments against “density” are just mistaken. The fact is the parts of Atlanta you like are more dense than what existed previously. Basically folks here are afraid of what they don’t understand.Report

  8. Michael April 13, 2021 9:36 am

    Stephen you are completely wrong. Density is a disaster and will destroy the character of Atlanta. You call it progress but progress to what? More traffic, more congestion, more demands on our infrastructure that we can’t pay for, more crime and perhaps most importantly the complete erosion of my right to have any say as to the character of my neighborhood and city. Density is a buzz word for some utopian world that doesn’t exist and never will.Report

    1. Stephen April 13, 2021 11:07 am

      The character of Atlanta needs to change. The “character” you refer to is that of an old, slow, southern town that is incredibly divided on a racial and economic context. It’s a town that used to see less than 10% of its MSA population living in the city limits. It’s a town that had / has mediocre cultural institutions. It’s a town that used to draw from small local / regional municipalities and universities.

      The progress will be greater racial and economic inclusion. It will be less traffic and congestion, because you know what causes traffic and congestion? One Million plus people commuting into town for their jobs on a daily basis, sitting in their cars on highways and local roads. You know what doesn’t cause congestion and traffic? People walking, cycling, to taking public transportation where they need to go. You know what pays for demands on infrastructure? Higher tax revenue. You know what creates higher tax revenue? Denser development and the corresponding increase in housing prices, as well as new business to serve the needs of the increased population. You will never lose the right to have any say as to the character of your neighborhood….but guess who else does? Everyone else that lives their too. The arrogance and stupidity to think that your right is somehow more important than everyone else’s is why these shallow complaints form people with little to no understanding of urban dynamics ultimately die on a message board or in someone’s living room…you’ve got nothing more than your opinion and anecdotes from the few people who think like you, while the people who are making changes and influencing progress are out there doing it.

      Density is a buzzword that the world’s best cities are built on…and those exist all over the world. If you want to live in some little backwater, the future Atlanta is not the place for you.Report

      1. Michael April 13, 2021 3:03 pm

        With all due respect, I have lived here for all of my 64 years and watched this “little southern town” or “backwater” as some say, grow into a vibrant city. I am not opposed to growth and welcome the changes that have occurred, all under our current system that balances growth with preservation and recognizes that neighborhoods are a backbone of a healthy city. all you have to do is look at the growth that is already occurring downtown to see the system works. So why the need for change? So we can grow. We already are. and frankly the calls of racism that are coming out in this discussion are completely out of line. We aren’t in the 1920s and this is a city that has been at the center of civil rights for decades. As to your European cities, I have been there too and what do their residents love, open spaces, parks, and their country sides. So much for density.Report

        1. Joe Yaya April 13, 2021 5:23 pm

          “I have lived here for all of my 64 years and watched this “little southern town” or “backwater” as some say, grow into a vibrant city.” Atlanta is much more dense than it was 64 years ago. Thus, making it more dense clearly did not have a deleterious effect. In fact, as density increased it grew “into a vibrant city.” Those are your words.Report

        2. Stephen April 13, 2021 6:37 pm

          “I’ve lived here for all of my 64 years”…So you have no experience living in other cities, understanding different development patterns other than those outside your front door, or understanding the real social, cultural and economic changes that density on a larger scale than what you know brings. Oh, you’ve been on a vacation…haha…I’m sure that makes you an expert. Oh, and by the way – all those open spaces and parks exist in cities that are multiples more dense than Atlanta…and their countrysides? Those aren’t their cities. Not surprising that you don’t distinguish between countryside and city though. So yeah, density.

          Being at the center of the human rights movement doesn’t somehow absolve you of the reality that exists. The city, 60 years after the civil rights movement, is still a largely segregated city…a simple look at the fact of demographics makes this abundantly clear.Report

  9. Shea obrien April 13, 2021 12:51 pm

    Good to see that the ignorance of NINBYism isn’t just a problem in my community. If you don’t want it to change, then a city isn’t for you because cities in America are historically built on change. If you don’t want it to change move to a space under a rock and hide from the outside world that you so profess to love but actively don’t want “others” living in that world outside your front door. Single family zoning is classist and inherently racist and when one supports the idea of single family zoning and calls proper zoning a “gutting of our neighborhoods” that’s racism and classism. Sorry to say but Bob Irvin here is a racist and he may not even be cognizant of his racism and hopefully through a bit of self education he can learn why he’s being a racist here. But I’ve little hope for the ignorant racist classist NIMBY.Report

  10. R. John Anderson April 13, 2021 2:38 pm

    I am surprised to see Mr. Irwin advocating to retain Atlanta’s Exclusionary Zoning ordinance which requires over 70% of the city to be restricted to Exclusively single unit homes. You can trace this Exclusionary Zoning back to the Segregationist Federal Policies of the 1930’s. We do not need to preserve these relics of the Jim Crow Era that have become normalized in today’s real estate culture.
    Speculating on a limited supply of housing by limiting the housing choices of other people is reprehensible when done intentionally and just bad when done in ignorance. I cannot tell if Mr. Irwin is a reprehensible person , or just an ignorant person. The effect upon the people kept out of his neighborhood is the same in any case.


  11. Rocket April 13, 2021 3:29 pm

    Irvin is right. Stephen is a hateful ignoramus. A properly zoned high density area is fine for those who like it. Most don’t and move out ASAP. Stupid Stephen cites NYC, a housing disaster. But miserable Keisha wants to force that on everyone. Progressive leftists are utopian dopes, coercive and wrong. Marxism hurts the weak and poor worst.Report

  12. Sheila Anderson April 13, 2021 5:54 pm

    Are you a developer by chance? It’s the only way your comments make sense. And yes it is a city but we had hoped it would limit development to leave the Tree City and not an urban jungle. NYC is calling YOUReport

  13. Gayle and Jimmy Alston April 13, 2021 6:15 pm

    Stephen (last name ?) may have moved here from a major metropolis and not understand that Atlanta, at one time, was a large attractive southern city, not huge but a pleasant place to live, enjoy and safely raise a family. It also had capable leadership which it’s lacked for many years. There’s enough of that smaller city feel to warrant protecting what is left. More density and abolishing zoning laws that are already weak is not the answer. I hope that everyone with any feeling for what we have left will stand and fight against what Stephen is advocating….Gayle and Jimmy AlstonReport

  14. Just look at the data April 14, 2021 12:27 am

    Fearmongering at its finest, Bob. How about some data to support your assertions? You want to “protect our neighborhoods”? From what exactly? Here’s a stat for you: 92% of Buckhead workers don’t live in Buckhead. What do you think that does for traffic? How about creating housing options close to where they work or closer to existing transit infrastructure? Another stat from AARP: only 20% of the US population is comprised of nuclear families. Does that mean we should keep the same types of single family neighborhoods that comprise 70% of the city? Family sizes themselves have shrunk consistently over the last 60 years, while the average size of single family homes have nearly tripled over the same period. Studios and 1 bedroom units make up 12.5% of total housing stock, but 73.5% are 1&2 person households. That just doesn’t make any sense, and it’s the city’s job to plan accordingly. Today, all those “greedy developers” can build are big expensive homes (which they do and you’re fine with) when they could be building the same size house as a quad for 4 households while making the same or greater profit. This isn’t even really a question of “density.” It’s just a question of how much space, resources, & tax dollars you and your neighbors are willing to waste while the folks who deliver your packages, serve your meals, cut your hair, protect your streets, teach your grandkids, and care for your aging parents have to commute 1 – 2 hours for the pleasure of doing so. But let’s at least be honest with each other, those are exactly the people you want to protect your neighborhoods from. The fact is that the people who serve you do not have even a remote opportunity to live anywhere near you, and you’re perfectly ok with that. Thankfully the leadership in this city is not.Report

  15. Jonathan April 14, 2021 11:33 pm

    It seems that Stephen can comment here as much as he desires as my comments continue to disappear. I totally disagree with his point of view and wouldn’t be happier if Stephen and the tens of thousands of others who think they would like to move to Atlanta would opt to move elsewhere. We honestly don’t want you here.Report

    1. Stephen April 16, 2021 12:30 am

      “we don’t want ya hurr in our little city. Go on back to your high falutin life elsewhere ya yankee!”. Ha…unfortunately for you, what you want doesn’t really matter to the thousands of people that will continue to migrate to places like Atlanta, continue to buy homes, continue to support densification, and continue to move on with their lives in bigger, better, more progressive cities while the whines and whimpers of the naysayer NIMBYs get carried off into the redneck wind.Report

    2. Atticus LeBlanc April 16, 2021 4:48 am

      “We honestly don’t want you here.” That about sums up the NIMBY point of view as succinctly as you could, and summarizes the article perfectly. Thanks for the intellectual honesty around being truly exclusionary in your thinking. The problem is that I bet you do want retail, restaurants, working public infrastructure, hospitals, schools, the airport, emergency workers, and let’s not forget Amazon deliveries and Uber rides. If you don’t think any of the people working these $15k – $40k/year jobs in this city deserves an opportunity to live here, where do you want them to go exactly? “Somewhere else?”
      Please tell me what your vision is for this city, and where you think the 340k cost-burdened households in the metro area should be living. I understand that you don’t want them here, but are you also willing to give up all the services provided?Report

  16. Elaine Falone April 15, 2021 1:48 pm

    I want zoning that protects single family detached housing, Atlanta’s traditional neighborhoods. I’ve grown weary of the never ending
    hi-density development creeping into our traditional neighborhoods, protect the tree canopy & our quiet, safe quality of life.
    Advocates of hi-density housing promise affordability, Ha HA! Look @ all the cities that have opted for this nationally/globally & the
    cost of housing has only increased. The only way the affordability goal is reached is through subsidizing @ tax payers expense.Report

    1. Stephen April 16, 2021 12:27 am

      You clearly don’t understand the basics of supply & demand….can you imagine how much more expensive those cities would be if all that demand for housing wasn’t met with all those thousands of new residential units?Report

  17. Annie Stocklin April 15, 2021 2:43 pm

    Why did the Saporta Report publish this trash?? Every single one of these initiatives are well researched ways (by academic urban researchers, google scholar any of the above) to increase affordable housing supply.

    Our housing supply is too low BECAUSE the city downzoned during white flight. The zoning rewrite is an attempt to rectify those harms.Report

  18. Atticus LeBlanc April 16, 2021 4:49 am

    “We honestly don’t want you here.” That about sums up the NIMBY point of view as succinctly as you could, and summarizes the article perfectly. Thanks for the intellectual honesty around being truly exclusionary in your thinking. The problem is that I bet you do want retail, restaurants, working public infrastructure, hospitals, schools, the airport, emergency workers, and let’s not forget Amazon deliveries and Uber rides. If you don’t think any of the people working these $15k – $40k/year jobs in this city deserves an opportunity to live here, where do you want them to go exactly? “Somewhere else?”
    Please tell me what your vision is for this city, and where you think the 340k cost-burdened households in the metro area should be living. I understand that you don’t want them here, but are you also willing to give up all the services provided?Report

  19. Grove Park Resident April 21, 2021 1:16 pm

    For those of you lobbying for quiet neighborhoods with large front yards and deep backyards… where every home is period specific and conforms to design standards… where traffic is light, despite every home having a two car garage, with some with three… a planned HOA community on the outskirts of the city might be for you. I think I hear Serenbe calling your name.

    For the rest of us, we know that this is a CITY. If you’re lucky enough to afford a single family home with a yard ITP, GREAT! But don’t try to prevent development and progress because you want your street to look like a subdivision in Jackson County. Density and infrastructure / transit are very much a chicken and the egg situation. One doesn’t succeed without the other.

    Also let’s be real here. If someone can afford to build an ADU, they more than likely can afford a house with an attached garage in the city. The current ADU stipulations count garage space as a part of the ADU square footage, which makes putting a unit over the garage impossible without hard to get variances. This would keep street parking to a minimum… which is what you NIMBYs want, right?

    The likelihood that an apartment complex is going up on the other side of your fence is slim to none as well. Getting rid of zoning will mean that families that work in town will be more likely to live in town if they can get the square footage of the suburbs. That can be accomplished by adding another floor to a bungalow or buying a home designed to be threes stories. But let’s say that’s a developer does approach you to buy your block to build an apartment complex or that all of the bungalows around you suddenly get torn down for McMansions… you realize that this is what happens everyday to lower income families, right? And what do you say to them? Be HAPPY it’s happening and that you’re being offered more than your home is worth. Be HAPPY that the tax base is going up. Be HAPPY that this new development is bringing new amenities to the neighborhood. The only real difference is that adding density will actually help correct displacement instead of exacerbate it when gentrification happens.Report


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