Friday, October 21, 2011

Dunwoody Music Festival

Looks like a nice weekend for the Dunwoody Music Festival.  I wish the Chili Cook-Off event could have stayed in the program, but it was not meant to be this year.  Maybe the event will be re-born next year.

The official web site for the event is HERE.

Looks like they "Sold Out" of the Chastain-style seating for Saturday night's concert, but general admisson tickets still available. The event seems to have activities and music for all ages.

Here are a few pics from last year, but this year's event has a new layout.
Occupy Brook Run Chilli Cookers
main stage being prepped for an act

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What is a TOD, and does it make Dunwoody Sustainable?

I wrote a couple days ago about my opposition to the TOD for Dunwoody.  Some people have asked for more details on the TOD, and some suggest I am incorrectly representing the TOD.  All I can do is direct you to the MARTA web site on the topic, and have your read the PCID LCI plan. 

A TOD is a Transit Oriented Development.  The TOD comes in many sizes and colors.  TODs have been built around the world, some successful, some not. To those of us in Dunwoody, the specific TOD being discussed is high-density, mixed use development built surrounding the Dunwoody MARTA station.  Is this in the best interest of Dunwoody?  Does it make us 'sustainable'?  Regular visitors recall the term 'sustainable' is defined as 'enduring'  So, does adding a TOD to the MARTA station by Perimeter Mall make our city more enduring?  I don't think it makes our city enduring.  But I won't throw the project under the MARTA bus just yet.  A mixed use project with 100% owner-occupied housing, sustainable enduring construction materials (not pine 2 x 4 stick construction), Class A office space, and destination retail could be acceptable and enduring to our city.

But that is not the TOD of today.  Today's TOD was born from the United Nations Agenda 21.

Here's a little taste of that UN chatter:
Agenda 21 is a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations System, Governments, and Major Groups in every area in which human impacts on the environment.
Our very own MARTA is eager to implement the TOD in Dunwoody.  After all, with the TOD encouraging people to not own a car, they are dependent upon MARTA. Look HERE. When developing a TOD in metro Atlanta, one of the largest stakeholders is MARTA.  When you play with MARTA, you play by MARTA's rules:
As stated on page 48 of the TOD Guidelines, MARTA believes that residential and mixed-use TOD projects should include a significant component of affordable housing. Achieving this will require a collaborative effort among multiple stakeholders—the municipal and county zoning jurisdictions in the MARTA service area, their housing authorities, the state of Georgia, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, for-profit and non-profit developers, lenders, community groups, and MARTA itself. Together, these stakeholders must be prepared to apply a diverse affordable housing “toolbox”, including land availability, zoning, housing finance subsidy programs, and infrastructure improvements. MARTA intends to be an active participant in this process.

To that end, MARTA will apply a policy goal of 20% affordability, on average, to joint development projects undertaken subsequent to the adoption of the TOD Guidelines. As defined by MARTA, affordable housing includes workforce housing, as well as housing affordable to seniors with low, moderate, or fixed incomes and persons with disabilities. Workforce housing, in turn, is defined as rental housing affordable to households earning 60% to 80% percent of the Atlanta Metropolitan Statistical Area Median Income (“AMI”); or for-sale housing affordable to households earning 80% to 100% percent of AMI.
Within the density allowed by zoning (including any zoning relief or modification which may be associated with a project), MARTA will use both higher densities and reduced parking requirements as financial incentives for the inclusion of workforce units. MARTA will encourage zoning jurisdictions to adopt reduced parking requirements for TOD housing in general and affordable housing in particular, reflecting lower average car ownership among transit-dependent households.

The MARTA document states "Workforce housing, in turn, is defined as rental housing affordable to households earning 60% to 80% percent of the Atlanta Metropolitan Statistical Area Median Income"

From the HUD web site
Section 8 rental subsidies are provided to project owners on behalf of families that are eligible low-income families at the time of their admission by the project owners to the program. Under the Housing Act, "low income families" are defined as those families whose annual incomes do not exceed eighty percent (80%) of the median income for the area in which the project is located, adjusted for family size, as determined by HUD at least annually
 Zoning approvals, relief, or modification. MARTA joint development projects, like all development in Metro Atlanta, are subject to zoning and land use controls at the county or municipal level. MARTA will support zoning approvals for its joint development projects, and may at its discretion advocate for zoning relief or modifications which are needed to facilitate specific joint development projects, or project objectives such as mixed uses, affordable housing, or sustainability. MARTA may advocate for such outcomes on its own initiative or in support of a designated developer, as appropriate in a given circumstance.
As a city we need business growth in the PCID, but that growth needs to be in the form of Class A office space and jobs.  The past decade we have seen  excessive permitting for apartments in the Dunwoody part of the Perimeter business district.  The official PCID area (including Sandy Springs) has inventory to fulfill future needs.  Adding in the huge number of rental units on the outskirts of the PCID, the area has plenty of inventory.  I would be in favor of owner-occupied condos, built using stringent guidelines and premium construction materials.

Partnering with MARTA (and the other Federal stakeholders interested in creating mass transit villages), whose goal is to simply increase ridership, is not how I envision Dunwoody growing.

As a Dunwoody Councilman, I will work to discourage the development of an unsuitable TOD.  The developer's 'sustainable village' is the Dunwoody homeowner's 'unsustainable city'.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Proudly Not Endorsed by the Atlanta Board of Realtors II

Yes, this is not an original title of a Dunwoody blog post.  Before continuing, go read a post from three years ago by our very own King John - HERE.

John spoke on how he had some fun interviewing with the Atlanta Board of Developers Realtors.  I like to have some fun as well, but the Atlanta Board of Realtors never even contacted me or Terry Nall (Terry is the other candidate working to unseat the District 1 incumbent Robert Wittenstein) regarding a possible endorsement of our campaigns for the Dunwoody City Council.

The Atlanta Board of Realtors sent out an email to all the mayor and District 2 candidates in Dunwoody, inviting them to interview for the 'endorsement' and possibly to receive funds from their PAC (Political Action Committee).  But they completely ignored the two candidates running against Robert Wittenstein (Rick Callihan and Terry Nall). When questioned about why Terry and I were not contacted (but everyone else running for Dunwoody City Council and mayor was contacted), here is the response received:
Thanks for writing. We are aware of the other contested seat. ABR and ACBR are supporting the incumbent, Robert Wittenstein. 
Robert Broome
Governmental Affairs Director
Atlanta Board of REALTORS
Atlanta Commercial Board of REALTORS

Well, at least the guy is honest and not beating around the bush. So it is official; I have not received the endorsement of the Atlanta Board of Realtors, and they won't be contributing money to my campaign.  That's fine by me.  I choose wisely from whom I accept endorsements. Not sure I'd want an endorsement from a Board that is so closed-minded that they rule out two people without even speaking to them.  Perhaps they ruled me out ahead of time due to my suggestion that Dunwoody needs to be wary of approving more apartments ahead of adding more Class A office space and jobs.  Or maybe they did not contact me because I am the only candidate opposing high-density MARTA cities for Dunwoody

From the Atlanta Board of Realtors web site:
Impact Fees
POSITION: REALTORS® oppose any changes to current law regarding the collection and use of funds. REALTORS® also oppose any increase in existing fee structures that would negatively impact development.
During the two debates I have suggested the use of impact fees for building a large park in the Perimeter area.  The impact fee could be assessed on new developments.  Would the impact fee "negatively impact development" of apartments?  Here's another question on that topic: Would the construction of 10,000 apartments negatively impact our schools, our traffic, our police department, and our quality of life?

Does the political endorsement by the Realtor group of my opponent (Robert Wittenstein) and the fact that impact fees have twice been pulled from discussions at city council have anything in common?
I'm sure there are good things that come out of the Atlanta Board of Realtors, but the way they handled this issue is not one of them.  Sour grapes on my part?  No.  Some endorsements carry too much baggage.  My received endorsements and campaign contributions do not bind me to any political action committee (PAC) and I owe no group any favors.  As a side note, I have not been out asking people or businesses for money for my campaign.  I have received unsolicited funds from friends and I appreciate those donations.  The Atlanta Board of Realtors has supported many good causes for real estate agents and for homeowners, but endorsing candidates and contributing money to people whom will have a vote when it comes time saying 'yes' to the urbanization of Dunwoody is not one of them.

Please forward this blog post to other voters in Dunwoody.  Thanks for your support.

Rick Callihan
Not Endorsed by the Atlanta Board of Realtors

Rotary Club Event SUNDAY

RunDunwoody 2011 is SUNDAY, OCTOBER 23. The race is on SUNDAY and is a MUST for runners, families, and community-minded Dunwoody citizens! Information about how to sign up for the 5K qualifier for the Peachtree Road Race, the 1 Mile Fun Run and the ever-popular Tot Trot may be found at  There will be substantial fun to be had at the Family Festival after the race, including "celebrity" appearances by "Q" and First Responders...
Before the run, a pre-race warm-up will be presented by Operation Boot Camp. Presenting Sponsor Saint Joseph’s Hospital will provide cardiovascular screenings.  Ruby Sponsor Georgia Perimeter College will be onsite offering dental health education and screenings.  Another Ruby Sponsor, The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy, will offer flu shots as the flu season begins in earnest.
During the post-race Family Festival,  members of DeKalb Fire Rescue and Dunwoody Police Department will present opportunities to learn more about what they do for the community and will give kids of all ages an up-close-and-personal look at the trucks, cars, people and equipment used to protect our community.  Top it all off with music, games, awards, prizes and great “tastes” of Dunwoody.  And Fire Dog "Q" will make a special guest appearance. With her handler, “Q” visits local schools and demonstrates proper fire safety skills to help young and old in case of a fire. 
Registration is just $25 until race day and entitles the registrant to an official race shirt.  Registration day of the event is $30.  Register as a "phantom" runner to get a shirt without lifting a foot!  Go to for all the details!