Monday, September 1, 2014

"New voices" in cityhood include MANA

WABE's Lisa George interviews the presidents of the Druid Hills and Medlock Park civic associations (Justin Critz and Lynn Ganim, respectively) to highlight how our neighborhoods are actively engaging in the cityhood debate. 
"Neither neighborhood group knows at this point which of the options is probable or even possible. For Medlock Park, annexation by Atlanta would put it at the tail end of other areas that would have to be annexed. That includes Medlock’s next-door neighborhood, Clairmont Heights, another group of DeKalb residents now listening closely to the cityhood discussion." Read the rest @ WABE
To view our posts on the issue, going back to November 2012, click here.

Smartphone & tablet tips for seniors

Crossroad News reports that the AARP is hosting workshops to help users aged 50+ better use smartphones and tablets.

There are several workshops being held in the Atlanta area: the ones closest to us  will take place workshops will take place at the Lou Walker Senior Center, 2538 Panola Road Lithonia, Georgia 30058) | map | as follows:
10am - 12:00pm
2:00-4:00pm on
September 24, October 29, November 12 and December 10.

The workshop will cover touchscreen basics, apps, texting, photo sharing and video chat. For more information, see the flyer. To reserve a seat,  call 877-926-8300 or sign up via and scroll down to the desired location.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

MARTA survey

Commissioner Rader alerts us to a MARTA study that is "investigating ways to improve access to bus, rail and Mobility (paratransit) services." This comprehensive analysis will request feedback from  both employees and the general public.

Visit the Comprehensive Operations Analysis site at for additional information. It includes a link to a brief survey.

To learn about MARTA's proposed expansion in the Clifton Corridor area, go to Note the menu items on the right margin (fact sheets, maps, etc.). The project suffered a big setback in 2012 when a 1% transportation-focused tax (T-SPLOST) did not muster sufficient support.

Food for thought. As we ponder improvements to public transportation, a recent item in The Economist might provide some food for thought. "Rolling blunder" tackles the recent emphasis on streetcars and the federal subsidies that buoy them. Although popular and fiscally viable in some cases, the article warns that many streetcar and light rail projects are not cost-effective and fail to serve all constituents equally. Buses, they say, are often a "nimbler" solution that is more cost-effective to implement, adjust and maintain (buses, of course, get stuck in traffic unless they have dedicated lanes). Atlanta's own streetcars are currently in test mode; see a recent AJC update here. For highlights on what makes the world's best public transportation systems so good, see

Friday, August 29, 2014

City of Briarcliff Initiative (COBI) Information Meeting Notes, August 28

Our notes from the meeting, with some additional information and links thrown in...

The meeting took place 7-9pm on August 28 at the North Decatur Presbyterian Church. 50+ people were present as the meeting began, with 10+ indicating they had not attended any other meetings about cityhood. City of Briarcliff Initiative (COBI) speakers included Allen Venet, Herman Lorenz, Don Broussard, and Amy Parker (COBI leaders and residents of nearby Sagamore Hills, Leafmore and Briarcliff Woods neighborhoods).

An audience member distributed a handout with background on what she believes is a driving force behind some cityhood movements (e.g., ALEC).

Venet and Parker clarified that they have always been interested in our area and included us in their maps. The audience was appreciative that COBI took the time to set up a meeting with us and share information about cityhood and annexation in general and COBI in specific, even if so much is still up in the air. Lynn Ganim (acting MANA president) clarified that MANA is trying to arrange meetings in September with City of Atlanta, City of Decatur and also a representative for the "stay in DeKalb County" viewpoint; once we all have that information, MANA will conduct a survey to see how our residents perceive these different proposals.

Venet summarized the history of the Briarcliff, Lakeside and Tucker proposals, per the 2014 legislative session. Venet also mentioned Lakeside was invited to this meeting but wasn't present and Ganim read the email she received from Mary Kay Woodworth (chairperson of the Lakeside City Alliance) explaining that Lakeside rejected the invitation because “prematurely holding an informational cityhood meeting could set unrealistic or unattainable expectations.” Venet added that he also asked Bill Floyd of the DeKalb Municipal Association’s to attend, and Floyd also declined. It would appears that these groups value being “strategic” above communicating with neighbors who are sincerely worried about how cityhood and annexation will affect their communities. 

Venet gave a very round-about answer to the question of how City of Decatur's annexation plan affects the Vinson Study’s viability assessment for Briarcliff. The question resurfaced later, and Lorenz and Broussard added that little pieces here and there don't change much but if you add them up, they have an effect. They also noted that the Vinson study did not include Emory Point and that is a big revenue generator. They did not state that Suburban Plaza/Medline + Emory Commons (and nearby businesses) have a similar combined value (i.e., that their loss to annexation by Decatur would be compensated by Emory Point). Audience members asked if COBI would need to re-do their feasibility study in view of Decatur’s annexation plan. Venet said that Representative Mike Jacobs said no and sort of waived that requirement but it is understood that if there is a referendum, an updated study with finalized boundary lines would be needed. Venet encouraged the audience to review the Vinson Institute feasibility study, which is posted on the COBI website.

There was no follow-up to the comment that City of Decatur started out with one annexation map and then expanded the boundary further so that it now completely engulfs the Medline LCI study area; it all looks similar to the “cherry-picking” that resulted in Lakeside’s very irregular borders and which has been roundly criticized. City of Decatur has approved a contract for the Sizemore Group to complete an annexation study. Sizemore was a major player in the Medline LCI study. You can see MANA, CHCA and Good Growth DeKalb’s concerns about the study here (in particular, about the eventual routing of Scott Blvd/ N Decatur Rd. traffic through our neighborhoods, conveniently outside City of Decatur borders). 

COBI clarified that at this point, Medlock Park and Clairmont Heights are simply looking into be included in a proposal so as to have the opportunity to vote should the proposal succeed ratification by the legislature and governor.

Venet said that he had talked to Senator Jason Carter and Carter said he would support the Briarcliff proposal [should the proposal be approved by the legislature, should Carter be elected governor].

People asked about Emory University’s involvement in all this and Venet said that Emory originally claimed neutrality, but in reality remains attached to its Atlanta identity. Venet also explained that Emory believes a light rail connecting the campus to MARTA is critical to its future growth, and Emory is impressed with Atlanta's recent successes securing federal funds for projects such as the Beltline and streetcars. 

Schools were discussed very, very briefly. There was no reason for the Vinson Institute to include anything about schools in the Briarcliff study because constitutionally, COBI will not touch the schools. Unless the state constitution changes, schools come into play only under an annexation scenario into an existing city that has a grandfathered school systems (that would mean Decatur or Atlanta). The school buildings themselves are owned by the school district, not by the County. Should there be a transfer of ownership, fund generated by the sale would not go to the municipal government but rather to the school district.

As to progress in negotiations between the overlapping Briarcliff, Lakeside and Tucker proposals, Venet stated that this is all very new (per this week’s announcement that the three organizations must finalize their maps by November 15) and that the COBI board is meeting later this week. He also shared that Representative Jacobs had named Bill Floyd to “mediate” process through which maps will be finalized (this was also mentioned in the CAN meeting the previous evening). Venet was uncertain about what this mediation will entail. Bill Floyd previously served as mayor of Decatur and now represents the DeKalb Municipal Association (DMA), which lobbies for cities; he also serves in the County’s Task Force, representing DMA, and as noted above, declined participating in this meeting.

The audience asked what might happen if “no one picks us” so to speak. COBI explained that these proposals will not be allowed to carve a "donut" or island where a neighborhood is surrounded by cities and cut off from an unincorporated area. However, that there is a risk of an area being left out of nearby proposals and being left as "a schmear" connecting to a larger tract of unincorporated land and this is bad—quality of services can be affected simply as a matter of geography. The island scenario would be if our area were cut off the unincorporated parts of the County by Atlanta to the west, Decatur to the south, and some new city or cities to the north/west. The "schmear" scenario would be if we had a new city to the north, Atlanta and Decatur to the west and south respectively, while remaining municipally connected to unincorporated DeKalb to the east and south.

The meeting thus concluded, we left pondering dairy metaphors: who moved our cheese, and how to not become a schmear in DeKalb County’s history.

Please stay tuned for additional meeting announcements.

MANA's October 11 yard sale: sign up by Sept 26

Click to enlarge. Download pdf.
MANA is hosting a Neighborhood Yard Sale 
Saturday, October 11th, 2014,

Sign-up deadline: September 26th

MANA handles the details so you can focus on your $ales: For a small fee of $10.00, MANA will place all ads, put up all signs, provide a sign or balloon for your mailbox, and design neighborhood maps designating addresses and locations of all of the participating homes. All you have to do is just sign up, set up your items, make some money, have some fun! Sellers must be located within MANA boundaries.

Preparing for the sale: Are you conflicted about signing up because you dread getting ready for the sale? We hear you! Here are several links with great tips about what to do 2-3 weeks prior, the week of, and the day of the sale, from checklists and pricing to how to arrange and price items and how much cash to have on hand.

After the sale: See below for options for donating/recycling items that don't sell. We contacted the American Kidney Fund and Goodwill to ask about scheduling a multi-household collection but it appears each household must schedule separately. The American Kidney Fund did specify that following our yard sale, the earliest pickup dates would be Oct 13, 15, and subsequent Mondays and Wednesdays. Interested individuals can start checking availability on October 1 by calling or using their online form.

DeKalb Electronics Recycling

Area Non-Profit Organizations that Accept Donations (updated: August 2014)

For more info
(asterisk denotes tax-deductible donation)
Will pick up
Drop off info
Closest location to Medlock Area
Picks up 6 days a week
* American Kidney Fund  / American Kidney Services
Yes, call in advance to schedule or use online form
See web for bin locations, & Value Village stores
Bin at Chevron at 1923 Clairmont Rd 
no large appliances or large furniture for pickup

The Furniture Bank of Metro Atlanta
Yes, use online form
908 Murphy Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30310

Call ahead
Monday - Friday, 9 am to 3 pm 
763 Trabert Ave NW, Atlanta, GA 30318
Suits, Separates, Handbags, Jewelry & Accessories;

Goodwill Industries
Trailer is staffed during day hours
Trailer permanently in parking lot behind Macy’s at N. DeKalb Mall on Lawrenceville Hwy side

When store is open
2935 N Decatur Rd, Decatur, GA 30033
Open 7 days a week into evening
Call for potential pickup of large appliances or furniture
Can drop off at numerous locations and churches
2050-C Chamblee Tucker Road
Atlanta, GA  30341

more info here and locations
Schedule pick-ups here
before 6 pm
2857 E. College Avenue
Avondale Estates, GA 30030

Mon-Tue: 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM, Wed: 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM, Thr-Fri: 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM, Sat: 10:00 AM - 6
Call for potential pickup of large items
Open Wed thru Sunday, check web for hours
1 N. Clarendon Ave near intersection at E. College Ave
Proceeds support homeless animals

See website for other locations, FAQ, & call for hours
see drop-off locations here
Distributes to people in need, regardless of race, religion, class, or any other criteria.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Reminder: City of Briarcliff Initiative Information Meeting [Aug 28]

August 28, at 7:00 p.m.
North Decatur Presbyterian Church (611 Medlock Road)

This meeting is being organized and led by the City of Briarcliff group, whose proposal to the 2014 legislature included the Medlock and Clairmont Heights areas.

The Lakeside Alliance, whose map partially overlaps Briarcliff's while excluding the Medlock and Clairmont Heights, is aware of the meeting but has opted to not participate.

MANA is also in the process of organizing a September meeting(s) to include representatives from City of Atlanta and City of Decatur--details coming soon.

Through these meetings, we hope to obtain credible, practical information to help us evaluate any choices presented to us in the coming months.

To see all our posts on cityhood, click here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

GA House to DeKalb proposed cities: clean up your room!

That's the message from the House Government Affairs Committee. The AJC reports that
"Committee Chairwoman Amy Carter, R-Valdosta, would appoint a panel of five House of Representatives members to draw city boundaries if the City of Briarcliff Initiative, Lakeside Yes and Tucker 2015 can’t agree by Nov. 15. The instructions were developed by Jacobs and Rep. Tom Taylor, R-Dunwoody." Read the rest @ AJC
The last legislative session ended in a mad scramble as the Briarcliff, Tucker and Lakeside cityhood initiatives failed to resolve their overlapping boundaries and nearby DeKalb cities called dibs on unincorporated commercial property they wish to annex before someone else does.

See our post last winter for a recap of where things were at the end of the last legislative session; alas, there's little progress form then to now.

City of Briarcliff Initiative representatives will discuss where Medlock stands as they look ahead to the consideration by the 2015 state Legislature of proposed new cities in DeKalb County. The meeting is Thursday, August 28, at 7:00 at North Decatur Presbyterian Church. This is the time to ask your questions about one of the possible choices facing us in the near future.