Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Beware the MARTA TOD

The Dunwoody Patch covered a recent meeting where Perimeter Community Improvement District (PCID) spokesperson Yvonne Williams spoke on the importance of MARTA.  The Patch article is HERE.

In the article we learn that MARTA is a critical component of growth in the PCID.  Although not mentioned, MARTA is also key to the growth of the Dunwoody Police Department and key to the growth of the Perimeter Mall Loss-Prevention (Mall Cops, Inc.) team. But we can save that issue for another time.

I don't disagree that having a MARTA presence is important for businesses.  I am sure Ms. Williams is correct when she says employers want MARTA nearby.  Well, guess what?  We have three MARTA stations already in the PCID.  
According to the PCID web site FAQ section: 3 strategic MARTA stations are located within the PCIDs boundaries with two more in close proximity
So why the chatter on MARTA?  It makes no sense to add another MARTA stop in the PCID area.  Three serve the area well.  The answer is, expect the PCID to apply big pressure to Dunwoody council and the city manager and to the leaders in Sandy Springs and Brookhaven.  What the PCID wants is a TURD TOD, the Transit Oriented Development. And they want it in Dunwoody.  Who is 'they'?  The leaders of the PCID is 'they'.  And how many of 'they' live in Dunwoody and drive our streets and have kids in our schools? 

Of course Sandy Springs may welcome the TOD in their part of the PCID.  I doubt Brookhaven is interested.

Here are a few prior posts on the TOD topic and impact fees:  One   Two   Three

In summary the TOD is the total opposite of life in the Dunwoody suburbs. A lot of people crammed together, no need for cars, no need for grass yards, no need for trees or gardens, no need for anything except a MARTA Breeze card and a pair of sneakers.

From the PCID web site:
What is a Livable Centers Initiative? A Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) is the program sponsored by the Atlanta Regional Commission that promotes quality growth in the region by providing funds that create more opportunities for mobility and livability within existing employment areas. At Perimeter, LCI grants are used to create activity centers within the Fulton and DeKalb Perimeter areas that support the "smart growth" concept of live, work and play in the community. The PCIDs has successfully obtained over $6 million in LCI grant funds. 

Simply Google the term 'Failure TOD' and you'll find some interesting reading.

Any Transit Oriented Development in the Dunwoody/Sandy Springs/Brookhaven PCID will be a joint venture with MARTA, HUD, PCID, and the FTA.  How much say will our Council have once we sign the dotted line of a TOD in Dunwoody?  Not much.  One issue with the TOD is the required set-asides for 'work force housing'.  Well, Work Force Housing doesn't sound so bad, does it?  Sounds like a starter house with 2 bedrooms and 2.5 baths and a small front yard.  Not quite.  Work Force Housing is actually government speak for poverty shelters.

According to MARTA:
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”)
That is pretty much the same as Section 8 housing (actually it is Section 8 housing and lower)
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 
The opposition to the TOD is not just based on the unfair housing practice of set-asides, it also has to do with school congestion.  The schools in this area are severely overcrowded.  Add in a few thousand more apartments and we have a bigger mess.  When the PCID builds an elementary and middle school in DeKalb, maybe then we can talk about a TOD. Better yet, how about a PCID school system for all those Board members' children and grandchildren?

Ask your mayor and council their opinion of having Dunwoody having a TOD in the city limits.  The PCID gang is full of smooth talkers and have lots of cash for developers and fancy steak dinners to give away.  Funny thing is they don't live  here, we do.  Beware the TOD.

Abernathy at Peachtree Dunwoody Road, Year 2021