Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Ever-Shifting Sands of Tucker2014...2015...

The tortuous path that has led the Tucker "cityhood" groups on its quixotic quest to occupy Northlake has been remarkable.

Initially, the Tucker groups put forth the argument that Tucker was defined by something called a Census Designated Place (CDP), which is defined as "a concentration of population identified by the United States Census Bureau for statistical purposes." Yep, that's what a CDP is: a statistic. Not a city, not a town, just a statistic.

Then came the problems. First, one of chief spokespeople for the Tucker group as well well as all the people in the Smokerise Community (including a DeKalb County commissioner) were outside of the CDP and, according to the groups' territorial claim, outside of the Tucker community.

Second problem: the CDP does not include any territory inside I-285, dispelling the already specious claim of the group that Northlake is somehow part of Tucker.

So then came the zip code argument, my personal favorite. Tucker is entitled to Northlake, the rationale goes, because there are "Tucker" zip codes in the area.

By this logic, Northlake Mall, with its "Atlanta" zip code, should belong to Mayor Reed & Co., and the city of Decatur might be surprised to learn that the Oak Grove United Methodist Church, located 5 miles from its northernmost city border is nonetheless part of that city. And the aforementioned commissioner and Tucker spokesperson? They reside in a Stone Mountain zip code and, thus, the city of Stone Mountain.

Take a look below at how much the proposed city of Tucker falls in zip codes with names of other cities. [Note: the map on the right is an older version of the Tucker map, but almost all of the areas depicted remain part of its proposed boundaries]:


Using the Tucker zip code as a boundary-defining line, Tucker's latest map includes the road that runs right along the Briarlake Baptist Church, the site of tomorrow's Northlake Community Alliance meeting. I wonder if area residents will be surprised at the meeting tomorrow to learn that if they look out a window, at the adjacent side street, they will--in Tucker's eyes anyway--be looking at Tucker property.

They're baaaaack--Part 1: Continuing Obstinately to Behave Irrationally, the Return of COBI

The 2014 session of the Georgia General Assembly ended without a DeKalb cityhood bill passing out of the Legislature.  The city of Lakeside bill, which passed the Senate, was the only northern DeKalb cityhood bill to get so much as a committee vote this year.

One of the factors contributing to this outcome was the existence of two "cityhood" (really, anti-cityhood) movements whose main objectives were to stop the city of Lakeside.  Anti-city forces outside of these groups salivated at the opportunity to use these antagonists to sow doubt in the minds of legislators.  Although other factors played larger in the final result (see, the obstruction and obfuscation of these other groups should not be minimized.  In addition, they helped to divide our community and to pit neighbor against neighbor.  

Well, they're baaaaaack.

Let's begin with the group that refers to itself as COBI.  Over the last year, this group proposed a map that overlapped with Lakeside and included substantial additional territory, such Emory University and the Druid Hills community.  Moreover, the map contained boundary lines that encroached on the borders of existing cities, all of which opposed COBI's proposal.  The map was, as drawn, doomed from the start.

Despite having no traction at the Legislature, being left out of legislative negotiations at the Capitol, having its bill sponsor betray it and having to substantially reduce its footprint, COBI is "back" and insisting that it is relevant.  It is not.  [Note: I can hear it now: "we are relevant, or you wouldn't be saying we're not relevant ."  Get over it.  You're not relevant.]

Emory officials stated publicly--at a recent COBI meeting, no less--that the University is not interested in being part of the COBI plan, despite it being the centerpiece of the COBI proposal.  COBI's Druid Hills representation has quit their board, and rumors of annexation into Atlanta for both Emory and Druid Hills have been swirling for months.

So where does that leave the COBI group?  With a decision to make.  Does the group wish to continue to help delay the opportunity for our area to vote on self-rule, or does it want instead to work towards its expressed goal of supporting cityhood by folding itself into the Lakeside group?

COBI could serve the very limited role of remaining a hindrance to passage of a cityhood bill at the Capitol, which is precisely what anti-city forces hope will happen again.  I hope it chooses the wiser and more neighborly path of removing itself as an obstacle.  

Friday, January 4, 2013

WABE Story on Prefiled Legislation Addressing Cityhood

Clearing Hurdles

A State Representative from DeKalb County has "prefiled" legislation, House Bill 22, that, if enacted, would make it much more difficult to create new cities DeKalb.  The text of House Bill 22 can be read by clicking here.

Regardless of your feeling about creating a new city in northern DeKalb County, a recent WABE news story about the bill is worth a listen.  You can hear the story by visiting the following page: WABE Story.

After you have read the bill and listened to the story, please share your comments below with your neighbors.

As a reminder, there will be a pro/con panel on the cityhood issue this Tuesday, January 8, at 7 p.m. at the Oak Grove United Methodist Church.  A flyer with details about the  event can be seen below in the post entitled: "Open Thread: What's on Your Mind for Tuesday."

Hope to see you Tuesday!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Open Thread: What's on Your Mind for Tuesday

As we prepare for Tuesday's pro/con panel, please share your thoughts and questions about cityhood.

Remember, too, that questions posted here or emailed to me at will receive priority during the Q&A portion of the meeting.

Monday, December 10, 2012

City-Do List

Part of weighing the pro's and con's of cityhood involves a discussion of what services a new city would provide and whether current service levels are sufficient to meet the needs of residents.  Did you know that Georgia law requires a city to provide at least three of eleven enumerated services in order to keep its charter active?

Here's the law and the list from the Georgia Code:

O.C.G.A. § 36-30-7.1 (b).

§ 36-30-7.1. Inactive municipalities

(a) On and after July 1, 1995, any municipal corporation in this state shall be deemed an inactive municipality and its charter shall be repealed by operation of law if the municipal corporation fails to meet any of the minimum standards provided in subsection (b) of this Code section for determining an active municipality.

(b) An active municipality is any incorporated municipality in this state the governing body of which meets each of the following minimum standards:

(1) Provides at least three of the following services, either directly or by contract:

(A) Law enforcement;

(B) Fire protection (which may be furnished by a volunteer fire force) and fire safety;

(C) Road and street construction or maintenance;

(D) Solid waste management;

(E) Water supply or distribution or both;

(F) Waste-water treatment;

(G) Storm-water collection and disposal;

(H) Electric or gas utility services;

(I) Enforcement of building, housing, plumbing, and electrical codes and other similar codes;

(J) Planning and zoning; and

(K) Recreational facilities;

(2) Holds at least six regular, monthly or bimonthly, officially recorded public meetings within the 12 months next preceding the execution of the certificate required by subsection (c) of this Code section; and

(3) Qualifies for and holds a regular municipal election as provided by law, other than a municipality which has a governing authority comprised of commissioners or other members who are appointed by a judge of the superior court.

A few questions to ponder:

Is there a need to provide additional or different services in northern DeKalb?    If so, what are they?  

Are you satisfied with the current levels of service you are receiving?  If not, what changes would you like to see?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Speakers Set for January Pro/Con Panel on Cityhood

Great news!  We have a pro/con panel on the issue of cityhood set to take place on Tuesday, January 8, from 7-9 p.m. at the Oak Grove United Methodist Church.  (See event flyer below for the meeting address and additional information.)

A majority of those who attended last month's informational meeting requested a pro/con panel to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of creating cities in DeKalb, so this is your meeting.

The panelists include will include: State Reps. Billy Mitchell and Tom Taylor, DeKalb County Commissioner Kathie Gannon and former Dunwoody Councilman Robert Wittenstein

Please note that questions for the panelists submitted in advance of the 
meeting will receive priority and that the meeting will end promptly at 9 p.m.

As with our last meeting, please consider bringing a food donation for the Church's hunger project  to express our appreciation for the Church's generosity in hosting our meeting.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

"Who Are We?"

The title of this post gets its name from a fair question posed by a member of the audience at Monday's cityhood meeting at the Oak Grove United Methodist Church.

Before we could begin to know whether cityhood makes sense, we have to know the area(s) that might be considered to create a new city.  So, folks, "who are we?"

Post your maps, drawings and written suggestions for which areas make the most sense to you as the boundaries of a new city.

While you're at it, why not share your reasoning?  Is it a strong community of interest?  A strong mixture of commercial/industrial and residential property in a contiguous and reasonably shaped area?  What makes sense about the boundaries you chose?

Ask yourself: "Who are we?"