Protect Neighborhoods by Saving Zoning


Atlanta, your city government is trying to trick you.

Now that sentence, all by itself, may not seem to you like a “man-bites-dog” lead.

But it is the truth, and you deserve to understand what your city government is up to. Under the cover of working to increase affordable housing, which everybody supports, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ administration is proposing to completely gut the zoning and development laws of the city. They know that not many people support that, which is why they aren’t talking about it much. In fact, every homeowner in the city should stand up and oppose it.

Here are some of the things that the Bottoms administration’s “housing plan” proposes to do, as found starting on page 43 of its massive 88 page document, “Atlanta City Design Housing:”

  • End single-family zoning, allowing any property owner by right to build an additional dwelling unit (called an “Accessory Dwelling Unit”, or ADU) on any lot now zoned for one family residence (p57). The city’s representatives say orally, though not in the document, that the ordinance will prohibit use of these ADU’s as short-term rentals, but that is an empty promise. The city can’t properly stay on top of the STR’s it has now, let alone adding possibly thousands of ADU’s.
  • Allow the property owner by right to then subdivide the lot and sell the ADU separately on its own “flag lot” (p67), then presumably build another and repeat the process, completely overbuilding the property
  • “Loosen” the building requirements, such as size and height, for ADU’s (p69), making them cheaper, and likely less attractive in the neighborhood
  • Reduce minimum lot sizes, and minimum set-backs from the street and adjacent properties (p82), in order to get more buildings onto every property
  • Allow, by right, any property owner within one-half mile of a MARTA station to build an apartment building of perhaps as many as 12 units, regardless of what the zoning is for that neighborhood (p73)
  • End minimum residential parking requirements citywide (p74), so that new apartment and condominium buildings would not have to provide parking for their residents, but can rather require them to park on neighborhood streets
  • End minimum parking requirements for commercial properties as well (p78), allowing more of them to be crowded into a given area, and overwhelming the local streets

This proposal is a trick the city administration is trying to play on every neighborhood in Atlanta. It should be called “The Developer Feeding Frenzy Ordinance.” The document features the softest possible examples, notably basement apartments, but as demonstrated above, it contains much, much more than that. It speaks of “homeowners building additional wealth,” but it won’t be homeowners who reap the profits. It will be rapacious developers, buying up a few lots, overbuilding them, changing that neighborhood forever, devaluing homeowners’ investments, and then moving on to the next neighborhood.

Read the rest of this piece at Saporta Report.

Bob Irvin is an Atlanta businessman, and former Republican minority leader in Georgia's House of Representatives.

Photo: A pre-fabricated accessory dwelling unit being placed onsite Credit: Homeplace Solutions