LINK Forward

Atlanta region needs to refresh annual LINK trips

For 22 years, an impressive group of metro Atlanta civic, business and government leaders have spent three days a year visiting a North American city to learn how other cities are handling their urban challenges.

The LINK trips also have provided people an opportunity to get to know each other – connecting with leaders from different races, genders and sections of the Atlanta region as well as people from different circles of influence.

Klyde Warren Park

Metro Atlanta leaders headed to Dallas for 20th LINK trip

The 2016 LINK trip to Dallas – scheduled from May 4 to May 7 – will mark the Atlanta region’s 20th anniversary of the annul visit to peer cities – providing metro leaders an opportunity to reflect on the value of the trips and consider their future.

About 110 metro Atlanta leaders are scheduled to be on the three-day to the Dallas-Fort Worth area – studying transportation, urban planning, downtown renaissance, the arts, education, millennials, suburban development and regional economic development.

toronto streetcar

Atlanta leaders travel to Canada for ideas exchange

toronto streetcar

Streetcars line up behind each other on a downtown Toronto street (Photos by Maria Saporta)

More than 100 Atlanta leaders are in Toronto, Canada this week.

It’s part of the annual LINK exchange – when municipal heads travel to other cities to meet the people who run them.

Maria Saporta of the Saporta Report is in Toronto with the delegation. She told Amy Kiley what Atlanta leaders are learning up North.

Original Story by Maria Saporta on WABE

Click here to Play Audio

Atlanta plans $200,000 study to help Turner Field neighborhoods

Atlanta is poised to ask the ARC to help fund a $200,000 study intended to help guide the redevelopment of neighborhoods surrounding Turner Field.

The ARC would provide $160,000 and the city’s match of $40,000 would be provided by the city and by Invest Atlanta, the city’s development arm, according to legislation that’s due to be adopted Monday by the Atlanta City Council.

ARC board defers decision on seating developers, votes to allow public comment during board meetings

The issue of whether the ARC board should seat citizen members who are developers who lead self-taxing-and-spending entities called CIDs gained some clarity Wednesday.

The ARC again released at its monthly meeting a response that cites two legal opinions and a ruling from a former state revenue commissioner. The opinions say, essentially, developers are not precluded from serving on the board of the Atlanta Regional Commission even if they serve on a board overseeing a community improvement district.

ARC: Atlanta gains more residents in year than decade; no housing news

The city of Atlanta added more residents in the past year than it did during the entire first decade of the 2000s, according to an unofficial report from the Atlanta Regional Commission.

Atlanta’s gain of 4,100 residents was part of a 10-county population increase of 52,700, calculated from 2013 to 2014. ARC planners said in a statement the increase is a, “sure sign that the economic recovery is continuing.”

ARC’s latest report does not examine the housing supply or construction industry. The city of Atlanta had a glut of housing after the last decade, with more than 37,000 units added to serve a city population that rose by 3,500 residents, according to an ARC report from April 2011.

ARC board debates barring CID board members from ARC’s board as new rep from DeKalb County takes office

Competing visions of who can serve as a citizen member of the board of the Atlanta Regional Commission emerged Wednesday as the board works to update its bylaws.

Fayette County Chairman Steve Brown has asked the board to create two rules: Term limits for citizen members; and to bar citizen members from service on the ARC board if they serve on the board of a community improvement district – the self-taxing districts that have popped up around the region.

The ARC board’s bylaws working group agreed to consider Brown’s suggestions. The issue raises sensitive political issues, given that ARC Chairman Kerry Armstrong is a citizen member who serves as chairman of the North Fulton CID.

Tactical urbanism, lifelong community on display on Sweet Auburn Avenue

The tangible elements of a lifelong community, one comfortable for the disabled and well as the aging, are on display through Sunday along Auburn Avenue, in downtown Atlanta.

The two-block demonstration project is coordinated by the Atlanta Regional Commission, which has focused the past five years on informing metro Atlantans that the region is graying faster than many realize.

The concept ARC calls a “lifelong community” in a handbook of the same name also has taken the name “tactical urbanism” over the past few years. It’s a branch of the “new urbanism” concept that swept the region during the last decade, when new apartment buildings offered retail on the ground floors and alleys regained popularity.

New report: Atlanta’s sprawl among nation’s worst; ARC’s Doug Hooker says ranking ‘a look back in time’

ARC Executive Director Doug Hooker is pushing back against a new national ranking by Smart Growth America that shows metro Atlanta is one of the worst regions in the country when it comes to sprawl.

Hooker cites a 2013 report by Chris Leinberger, a land use strategist and developer, that announced metro Atlanta is, “experiencing the end of sprawl.” Leinberger’s study observed that walkable urban development now accounts for most of the development in metro Atlanta.

New airport business alliance similar to successful economic development program in Gwinnett County

The newly formed Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance bears a striking resemblance to Partnership Gwinnett, a public-private initiative that has created a strong record of economic development in Gwinnett County.

Each entity was formed to attract jobs and investments to their respective areas. One distinguishing point is that the aerotropolis alliance was convened by the Atlanta Regional Commission, whereas Partnership Gwinnett is based at the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce.

Traffic relief, transit upgrades funded in ARC’s five-year spending plan

A new plan due for initial adoption Wednesday by the ARC board shows the extent to which $7-plus billion can go toward improving metro Atlanta’s transportation network.

Planners talk up the will-do projects contained in this five-year spending proposal, rather than lofty visions in the Atlanta Regional Commission’s long-range transportation plan. The ARC’s 2040 plan update is up for adoption, as well.

This strategy of focusing on the five-year plan addresses some realpolitiks: Regional traffic is building after the recession, while transportation funding remains scarce; A vote to adopt a regional transportation plan will show ARC’s board is not immobilized by disagreement over who should be elected as a citizen board member.

Smallish transportation projects advance as Sierra Club outlines thoughts on regional mobility

Additional federal funding for a new bridge across I-75 in north Cobb County and a stormwater project along Ponce de Leon Avenue in DeKalb County were among six transportation projects approved Thursday in a proposed amendment to the region’s long-term transportation improvement program.

Simultaneously, the Atlanta Regional Commission has started the competition among local governments for the region’s estimated $29 million a year in federal funding for projects that reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality. The filing deadline is Sept. 27 for this new round of federal funding.

Collectively, the projects represent the type of recalibration that is surfacing a year after metro Atlanta voters rejected the 2012 transportation sales tax and its $8.5 billion in planned mobility improvements. In a sense, this approach shares similarities with “framework for transportation progress” outlined by the Georgia chapter of the Sierra Club.

Public transit outlook remains case of: “Better the devil you know”

The landscape of public transit has become clearer in metro Atlanta and elsewhere in Georgia, at least for the next year – not much will change.

The state Senate essentially gave MARTA’s new GM, Keith Parker, a year to get settled into the job and devise plans to curb costs and raise revenues. The Senate stalled expansive legislation, which the House had approved, to privatize segments of MARTA and otherwise retool its board and operations.

Gov. Nathan Deal prevailed in his effort for the state to fund Xpress, the regional bus service overseen by GRTA. Finally, the planning process continues to advance for helping people take public transit to their medical appointments, and other critical destinations, in metro Atlanta and throughout Georgia.