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In this issue:  Safer School Zones, Sidney Marcus Park Food Drive, COVID Vaccinations, and more...
Welcome to the first 2021 edition of the Atlanta City Council District 6 eNewsletter! Below you will find some helpful information about issues in our District and City.

As always, I encourage your feedback and comments. Please contact me at (404) 330-6049 or jnide@atlantaga.gov if I can be of assistance. I appreciate the opportunity to be your voice in our city government.

* We are still operating in remote mode, and I anticipate that we will be for a while longer.  Email continues to be the most efficient way of reaching my office.  Although we are not at City Hall, we are still here to serve you.

Lance Orchid - Chief of Staff: LROrchid@AtlantaGA.gov
Kent Strickland - Constituent Services: KPStrickland@AtlantaGA.gov
 
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In This Issue

One Atlanta: APD Plan to Address Violent Crime


Street racing created dangerous conditions on our roads, and certain violent crimes have been up significantly from a year ago.  Both the Mayor and City Council take the safety of all of our residents seriously, and we are working to address these safety issues on several fronts.     

If you haven't seen it, the Mayor just announced the One Atlanta: One APD Plan. The plan focuses on a seven-step process:

1) Expand enforcement of nuisance properties
2) Focus additional resources and increase targeted enforcement on gangs and gun violence
3) Expand the Operation Shield camera network
4) Support neighborhood safety planning
5) Disrupt street racing and auto crimes
6) Explore a new Public Safety Training Academy
7) Improve recruitment and retention

City Council is currently considering legislation for retention and recruitment bonuses to assist in increasing our sworn officer force.  We are also considering legislation that would  create a Department of Public Safety and Wellness that would include, in addition to APD and Atlanta Fire and Rescue, a non-emergency response division.   

I have also been working with State representatives on whether changes need to be made at the state level to address street racing and dangerous driving in order to be able to take unsafe vehicles off the road.  Hopefully we will continue to see a decrease in this dangerous activity. 

Finally, I have been spending a great deal of time working with NPU-F and Lindridge Martin Manor leadership to address properties along the Cheshire Bridge corridor that appear to be violating their liquor licenses and state law on a regular basis and are hubs of criminal activity.  As I discuss in an article below, I have introduced legislation to help address "problem establishments" that are not complying with their liquor license, and I anticipate that City Council will conduct a full review of our liquor license process.      

Safer School Zones! 

In 2018 the General Assembly approved the use of speed cameras in school zones to curtail risk to students across the state.  I have been working ever since to get the City of Atlanta to implement the program.  From the tragic death of a Grady student, Alexia Hyneman, to the daily tumult that Springdale Park Elementary families face, District 6 definitively needs additional measures in place to make our streets safer for students, school staff, and families.

I am happy to say that the program should be launched this year.  Working hard with School Board Member Michelle Olympiadis and Board Chair Jason Esteves, I was able to help the City and APS reach a mutually beneficial agreement to participate in the program.  I just introduced legislation approving the agreement and hope to see APS implementing it soon.   


If you want to read the details of how the program works under state law, you can find that here.  Essentially, once the speed cameras are installed, there will be a grace period to notify drivers, similar to the hands free implementation, and then tickets will begin to be issued for cars going more than 10 miles over the speed limit in a marked school zone during the hours of instruction, as well as one hour prior and one hour after.  The citations are civil offenses, so do not lead to points on your license.  Fees generated are split between the City and APS, and any funds collected exceeding the costs of operating the program must be used for public safety.  

I hope to have this legislation finalized and passed this month in order to protect our students. While the pandemic has prevented daily in-person learning, I want to insure students are safe from all risks when the time comes to return to the classrooms.

General Assembly & Congressional Update

The 2021 Session of the Georgia General Assembly began on Monday, January 11. While the session will be held in regular in-person fashion, there have been significant adjustments made to ensure the safety and well being of the members and their staff. Efforts to keep COVID-19 at bay include a mask mandate, twice weekly (voluntary) testing at the Capitol, and reconfigured committee rooms to ensure social distancing. Additionally, Governor Kemp's annual State of the State will not be in front of a joint session of the Senate and the House, rather it will include a variety of virtual options for members. Increased policing at the Georgia Capitol has been implemented in light of concerns regarding potentially violent protests. Members seem excited to get back to work and to set the schedule for legislative business. 

If you are not sure who your state representatives are, you can check your address here.  There are 3 state senators who cover parts of City Council District 6:

There are 8 state representatives who cover parts of City Council District 6: I work hand-in-hand with our state representatives on many issues, ranging from traffic concerns on state roads to affordable housing issues. I encourage you to get to know your state representative if you haven't.  (And yes, there are still men in the General Assembly, just not in from our neighborhoods!)   

I am sure most of you know that we have a new Congressional Representative for the 5th District to fill the seat left open when Congressman John Lewis passed. Congresswoman Nikema Williams took office on January 3, 2021.  Congresswoman Williams' official website is nikemawilliams.house.gov, which is where you can request help with a federal agency, get in contact with her office, make a request for tours and tickets, order a flag, apply for an internship, and get assistance with federal grants.  Representative WIlliams' office can be reached as follows:

     Washington DC Office
     1406 Longworth Office Building
     Washington, DC 20515
     (202) 225-3801

     Atlanta District Office
     100 Peachtree Street NW, Suite 1920
     Atlanta, GA 30303
     (404) 659-0116

We will also have two new Senators in Georgia, Senator Raphael Warnock and Senator Jon Ossoff.  Once they are sworn in and have office information available, I will provide that information.

Crosswalk & Street Sign Fixes


Getting crosswalks re-striped and missing street signs replaced in a timely manner has been an ongoing frustration for many of you as well as our office. Thankfully, the Atlanta Department of Transportation has finally completed the procurement process to obtain the equipment to perform re-striping in-house. Rather than relying on outside contractors, we will soon have the ability to provide these updates on our own.  DOT has also worked with the procurement department to ensure it has contracts in place to buy street signs on an efficient basis.  

While our office has been in contact with several of our constituents over high-profile intersections like Lenox and Cheshire Bridge, we want to compile a master list of intersections throughout District 6 that need refreshing in order to present a complete list to Atlanta DOT. This will include street signs that need updating like the "No Thru Trucks" signs along Beverly Rd. in Ansley Park that need replacing. Our office plans to conduct a complete inspection of the District in order to start compiling that list, but if you know of intersections that need touching up or signs that need replacing, please send them to Kent Strickland in our office at KPStrickland@AtlantaGA.gov.

Sidney Marcus Park Food Drive


Friends of Sidney Marcus Park is teaming up with Intown Collaborative Ministries to collect and distribute food to those in need. Intown Collaborative Ministries is an organization that has been doing homelessness outreach in the District 6 area for years now and has fed, clothed, and housed hundreds of Atlanta residents.

The food drive will be on both Friday, January 15 from 9:00 - 11:00 AM and Saturday, January 16 from 9:00 to 11:00 AM. There will be a drop off table and a Friends table at the picnic area on Cumberland Road. Please stop by and help your less fortunate neighbors! Preferred items include canned proteins, fruits, peanut butter, vegetables, cereals, and pasta! Thank you and we'll see you out there!

 

Fulton and DeKalb County COVID Vaccination Information

As the pandemic continues, Fulton and DeKalb Counties continue to be crucial resource providers. They have been on the frontlines providing free testing and are now stepping up to assist with vaccination efforts. While we are behind schedule in vaccination numbers, we appreciate the work being done by our local agencies to disseminate the vaccine in order to curb the rampant infection rate.

The COVID-19 vaccine was made available to those 65 and older this week. There are no requirements for underlying health conditions in order to receive the vaccine. The Fulton County Board of Health has released a sign-up form on their website in the coming days for registration.  It is filling up fast, so you likely need to check it often. If you need help with registration, please call the COVID Hotline at (404)613-8150. You can also visit their website or email boh.communications@fultoncountyga.gov.

The DeKalb Board of Health's COVID-19 vaccination page can be found here.  On that page you can find their sign-up, vaccine locations, as well as opportunities to volunteer.  The page for DeKalb's COVID-19 testing can be found here

In the meantime, please continue to practice CDC recommended guidelines such as social distancing, hand-washing, and wearing a mask. Stay safe and stay healthy!

Review of Alcohol Code and City Liquor Licensing Audit

I have spent a considerable amount of time recently on alcohol licensing and nightclub issues.  The last comprehensive review of our Alcohol Code was between 2011-2013, and it is clear that it's time to look back and see what's working and what's not.  Several parallel processes are taking place that will help shape this work. 

First, the City's Auditor is in the process of auditing the liquor licensing process. I've been interviewed and shared many of the issues we have had on Piedmont and Cheshire Bridge. The Auditor will be presenting their findings to City Council very soon, and I will provide a link to that audit in the next newsletter. Second, several of the intown neighborhoods and NPUs have directed a letter to City Council identifying concerns and requesting that City Council conduct a review.  Finally, the leaders of the three Commercial Improvement Districts (CIDs) from Downtown, Midtown, and Buckhead have shared concerns arising in commercial districts.  I appreciate all of this input and know it will guide our work going forward on this important work.

Independently, I introduced legislation that requires audits of a certain percentage of restaurants and convenience stores. This effort is intended to insure that these establishments are not operating outside of their licenses.  In particular, it is intended to examine whether certain establishments that have a liquor license for a restaurants are not actually operating as nightclubs. I will continue to pursue this avenue of improvement.

On the Horizon ... Trees, Impact Fees, and More.


I know many of you are awaiting two important pieces of legislation that have been in the works for a long time--the Tree Protection Ordinance and the Impact Fee Ordinance.  The TPO should be introduced at the January 19 City Council meeting, and the Impact Fee Ordinance at the February 1 meeting. They will both be going to the Community Development Human Services Committee chaired by Matt Westmoreland.  I fully anticipate that Councilmember Westmoreland will set a work session for these pieces of legislation to provide for a more in-depth discussion and opportunity for public input.  Mr. Westmoreland's email is :mwestmoreland@atlantaga.gov.  I will report more fully on these items and provide the dates for public meetings in next month's newsletter. We will also be posting these meetings on the District 6 Facebook page @ATLDistrict6.

Next month's will also report on developments regarding the Beltline and an update on Renew projects, including the Monroe Complete Street and fire stations.  Stay tuned for more! 
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