Councilmembers Yolanda Adrean and Howard Shook introduced legislation at Monday’s Atlanta City Council meeting aimed at reducing the number of parking spaces developers can build as part of their projects in Buckhead. The legislation would create the Buckhead Parking Overlay District. Within its boundary, which captures Peachtree Road and high-density environs between I-85 and the city limit, the maximum number of parking spaces per category (retail, office, lodging, and residential) will be reduced to those allowed in Downtown Atlanta. “Current zoning allows “suburban-style” parking allowances which are out of date,” said Councilmember Adrean. “It is time to address the preponderance of development impacting our neighborhoods with car centric destinations. Neighborhood representatives grimly understand that development rights cannot be taken away, but that doesn’t apply to the number of parking spaces that directly contribute to our congestion problem.” An executive order signed by Mayor Kasim Reed, and extended by city council, places an immediate moratorium prohibiting developers from applying for new projects while the parking overlay legislation undergoes public review unless applicants conform to the proposed new parking ratios.
Councilmember Kwanza Hall called on the Public Safety Committee to move forward on stalled legislation to change the city’s penalties on marijuana possession. Hall introduced an ordinance back in March that changes the penalty in the Atlanta Municipal code for possession of marijuana less than an ounce from the “general penalty” – which is a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail – to a maximum fine of $75. The Public Safety Committee has debated the legislation at several meetings and held a work session on the topic. The legislation has been stalled since May. A key fact presented during the debate is that the overwhelming number of arrests for marijuana-related offenses are African Americans (92 percent), even though studies have determined usage is at similar levels across racial demographics. “I am calling for our marijuana policy to move forward during the next legislative cycle, which would mean the Public Safety Committee should move it forward at its September 26 meeting and the Full Council should give it a final vote on October 2,” Hall said.