Atlanta’s Neighborhood Planning Unit W had a special guest at their most recent meeting. Mayor Andre Dickens appeared virtually to answer East Atlanta residents’ questions about the planned public safety training center which will be nearby.
Dickens stayed well-over his promised 30 minutes time slot during the meeting, defending the controversial construction site in the South River Forest and why the Atlanta Police Foundation is playing such a prominent role in the city project.
But even despite the chat function being switched off during the Zoom meeting, the mayor was met with resistance. Attendees held up signs on their screens that ranged from phrases like “stop cop city” to “vote Andre out.”
The meeting happened Wednesday — two days before the public was made aware that the cost of the project to taxpayers would be more than double the $31 million promised by Dickens administration.
At the end of the meeting, NPU-W Chairman Kevin Friend requested the mayor answer more questions in-person at a neighborhood townhall, to which the obviously agitated mayor responded that his administration has done a lot to address residents concerns.
“I’m not at NPU-D right now, I’m not an NPU-E right now, I’m right here at W and my staff was at W last month,” Dickens said. “If this format is unsatisfactory, and if the other formats are unsatisfactory, I’m wondering if a town hall is going to be unsatisfactory as well.”
Housing gets another boost: Affordable housing initiatives are set to see a historic increase in funding this year. Members of the Finance and Executive Committee OK’d a plan to issue a $100 million housing bond to help hit the city’s goal of creating or preserving 20,000 units of affordable housing in Atlanta by 2026.
The proposal is expected to fly through full council during the next meeting.
When passed, the 2023 bond on top of $100 million in donations from philanthropic groups and an increase in the 2024 budget to the housing trust fund will be the city’s biggest ever yearly investment in affordable housing.
Dickens also recently announced a $1.4 million investment from the housing trust fund to create a Housing Help Center and expand the Secure Housing Program. The new Housing Help center will be located at City Hall and designed to be a “one-stop-shop” for Atlantans looking for affordable housing resources.
Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Too much trash: An attorney who previously sued Atlanta for improper waste fees says Atlanta needs more trash cans.
Craig Pendergrast, who represented 50,000 property owners against Atlanta, said the city kept nearly $500,000 in uncollected funds from its $19 million settlement in the lawsuit. He told city council to buy trash cans with that money.
”That would be 700 new trash cans,” Pendergrast said on May 9.
Public Works Commissioner Al Wiggins Jr. said last month that Atlanta recently spent nearly $500,000 to buy more than 100 trash cans for the city.
‘Robodogs’: City Councilman Antonio Lewis recently said the council and Atlanta’s other agencies will work with the Public Works department to improve its conditions, including the water damage in the ceilings and peeling floors of the solid waste services facilities. But he voiced concerns with the department’s budding autonomous vehicle plan.
”When I see New York City got the dogs running around the park arresting people, that’s what I’m thinking,” Lewis said, referring to NYC’s robotic police dog. “It removes people and kills our labor force.”
Public Works Commissioner Wiggins said he will move employees to other areas of the department instead of firing them if Atlanta gets more driverless vehicles.
We’ll let you know if we see any robodogs inside City Hall.
BIKEFEST: V-103 radio personality Big Tigger is partnering with Atlanta BeltLine to host his first Big Tigger’s BeltLine BikeFest on Sunday June 4 at Westside Park.At the event, 100 bicycles and helmets are going to be given away to pre-selected Atlanta Public Schools students.