Lack of Planning

How Atlanta Planning Fails to Plan

In April of this year, Atlanta City Council Member Byron Amos  introduced a resolution calling upon the Atlanta Planning Advisory Board (APAB) and the Commissioner of the Department of City Planning (DCP) to work together to create a ‘best practices’ document. I’ve written about that process, the feedback I offered on multiple occasions in public meetings and in writing (with the Interim Commissioner cc’d) that was purposefully admitted to be edited out of those comments in this audio and how Atlanta’s lack of planning leads to state policy with unintended consequences previously. This coming week APAB is set to take a vote on this document, even though we received it from DCP only yesterday- 1.5 hours before our meeting. Yesterday we received the digital copy, linked here, in printed form, à la Kasim

This isn’t because I didn’t ask for it, or encouraged the APAB President to begin the discussion earlier. It isn’t because I didn’t personally visit the Council Member who originated this resolution to better understand its purpose. No, the delay was because DCP staff were all “too busy” to deliver the one thing the City Council has asked them to do in the last three (3) years to work on with their own Advisory Board

It would be sad if it weren’t expected.

I really want to trust the City of Atlanta. I want to believe that the DCP has our best interests at heart. Hell, I want more density, which was actually a shared goal with the previous Commissioner! But then I receive emails like this that tell me no matter what, DCP’s failure to plan is going to become Atlanta citizen’s new emergency. 

So while the APAB membership reviews the second draft of this document, I thought I’d share the following with all of y’all as well:

The last three of these were all shared yesterday at 2:40pm. The first two bullet points have all been shared with the NPUs and feedback has been solicited. Some feedback has been left out (mine, asking DCP to define its own role & responsibilities to NPUs and APAB). I can’t help but see how the gray area of undefined “administrative support” from DCP continues to hamper full empowerment of APAB. I also can’t miss the encouragement to not read the document. 

APAB experienced this sort of ‘don’t worry about reading it, we’ll tell you what it’s about’ attitude previously, from Gloria Cheatum of NPU A (Buckhead) showing up for the first time in the three years I’ve served and asking the Board to co-sign on a letter to the Mayor to oppose more density. She did not share the letter, nor did the APAB President at that time. I wrote about that here.

I don’t vote on things I haven’t read, folks. 

But this seems to be a regular practice of APAB, tacitly enforced by the President. The only response the current APAB President had to being informed that the document wouldn’t be provided in time to be passed onto our Executive Committee membership was, ‘Have a great weekend!” to the DCP employee.

It’s almost as if she knew ahead of time. 

Folks tell on themselves all the time. It’s our job to believe them. 

All of this besmirches a much needed update to the NPU system, which is disappointing to say the very least. I support updating the NPU system, I just also think it’s best not to rush things AND this document can be more effective with defining DCP’s role within the system. The exploitation of the gray area of DCP’s current role is problematic to say the very least. Its failure to plan calls me to question why we entrust it with so much when it can’t keep to a schedule it has known about for months and the one and only thing City Council has asked it to do with its advisory board in years. Maybe once DCP can handle these things, it can graduate to more responsibility. Currently, it isn’t demonstrating it can be entrusted to reliably take out the trash on schedule, but that’s an entirely other Atlanta problem to be discussed another day.

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