Sunday, November 20, 2016

Get Involved in Dunwoody



The other day, I responded to a question on Next Door which basically asked about getting our Dunwoody Council members involved on that website / online message forum so as to be more engaged and responsive to the community. My reply was 180 of that, and instead focused on how we as individuals need to take personal responsibility to proactively get involved. The following was my response:

I strongly suggest first focusing on a personal responsibility level, starting with each individual. Be proactively engaged and show up to Dunwoody City meetings. Everybody has an excuse for not attending. I've heard it all. Don't be one of those single-issue NIMBY folks that only show up for one item, say some stuff, and then walk out & leave the council meeting as it's still in progress.

Our council works their BUTTS OFF making pennies on the dollar for us, attending late evening meetings (last Monday, they were in session from 6 to 11 pm), being responsive and accessible to our residents, and also (most) having full-time careers, families and other interests.

Sign up for official emails from the city's website. Sign up & follow Heneghan's blog. Follow the city on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

Go to the monthly Dunwoody Homeowners Association meetings, generally the first Sunday of each month (& please consider being a paid member for $40 a year).

Each Friday before the city council meets (usually 2x/month), review the posted agenda as posted to the city's calendar.

Be in the "know". Don't just read what's published in The Crier or even the Dunwoody Reporter. If you do, you'll miss 75% of what's going on, and quite possibly the story will be biased or will leave out additional facts. --- The Crier editorials are quite a "show", of course and greatly exaggerate the views & opinions of our 45,000 residents. As it's a "free" paper, and the more letters that are published, the less the owner needs to pay for a journalist to write copy. --- . Show up, speak during public comments.

Attend the Town Halls (I went to two of them this year. I'm 54 years old and I definitely lower the average age of the attendance.).

Download & review our annual budget. --- Did you know not a SINGLE person spoke during public comments just a couple weeks ago when our 2017 annual budget was approved?

Bored? Submit an application to serve on a city board. And, personally FOLLOW up with the Mayor to make sure you will be considered. -- Send emails & make phone calls.

Submit feedback to ongoing plans. For example the PCID Overlay District, where we receive approximately 70% of our city funds.

Collaborate. Network. Those who show up get heard. I could go on & on.

I'll leave you with this: If anyone wants to start an informal "Coffee / Beer" social periodically to gather and discuss topics, I'd be all for that!
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Thursday, November 17, 2016

No to 3rd lane - or Reversible -- on Mt. Vernon

An inviting & safe street for our community???
Anyone here in Dunwoody use "Next Door" for posting & responding to community topics? Someone has proposed adding a third lane on Mt. Vernon & making it "reversible" -- like on Roswell Rd / Hwy-9 in Roswell just north of the Chattahoochee river.

Feel free to chime in too at this link HERE

What people are not discussing are things like:


- Trip origins & destinations: Do we know where these people are coming from and headed to? How far are they going?


-- Single occupancy vehicles: How many of these vehicles only have one person in them?

-- Alternative mode: Is there ANY OTHER WAY they could move around other than in their motor vehicle? (Bicycle, or course. Maybe even walking) What prohibits them?

--Safety: Does a reversible lane increase or reduce safety for the users of our street, and does it take into consideration pedestrians, disabled, people on bicycles, elderly, and the residents that actually live on the street? What studies have been referenced that show reversible lanes are internationally-recognized best practices, are proven & safe? (They aren't safe at all!)

-- Cost: Where does the money come from if we were to do this? Acquire right of way -- most likely requiring eminent domain. Moving utilities, stormwater, etc., would run into many millions of dollars. Right now for repaving alone, cars only pay for roughly 18%. So that huge expansion would represent an even greater subsidy.

-- Livability: Does a third lane help our community maintain our "sense of place"? Does it help people who are merely just passing through to SLOW DOWN and drive the SPEED LIMIT? Do passersby sense that they have ARRIVED in a place where children, families and retirees are out & about, walking, biking, and safely enjoying our neighborhoods?

-- TWO HOURS A DAY, 5 days a week: That's 520 hours out of 8,760 in a year that traffic is backed up. For the other 8,240 the current street configuration is fine enough.

-- CAPACITY BUILDING: When you plan for cars & traffic, you get cars & traffic. Add capacity, and you simply get more traffic. In the long run, you will NEVER reduce traffic. We're going to selectively add some turn lanes at key intersections at Vermack / Manhasset and Tilly Mill.

Adding a reversible lane -- or even a continuous center turn lane -- will only make this street less safe. Go look at one in person and ask yourself if you'd like to live on a street with one. It ruins the residential feel of Dunwoody.

https://thewoodlandsdunwoody.nextdoor.com/news_feed/?post=36453532
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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

I'M GOING TO BUILD A WALL



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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Misc Thoughts on Human-Scale Transportation Planning for Brookhaven




Yesterday 10/31/2016 I participated in a Walk Bike Thrive Workshop held at the Brookhaven City Hall by the Atlanta Regional Commission. It was very exciting and worthwhile and I greatly appreciated being invited. There is definitely some great momentum in Brookhaven in regards to acknowledging and prioritizing non-motorized ways for people to get about. Prior to attending, I wrote a quick list that would be appreciative of consideration in regards to holistic transportation planning.

Plan for People and Places, and that’s what you’ll get. Plan for cars and parking, and that’s what you’ll get. There cannot be disjointed and divergent planning between motorized & non-motorized transportation planning, zoning, funding and prioritization. And that is precisely what I experienced between the Ashford Dunwoody Corridor study open house held a few weeks ago, compared with the Bike/Ped/Trail plan, or yesterday’s workshop. After five minutes at the Ash-Dwy meeting, it seemed as if I was walked back into the 1960s in regards to being focused on moving cars as quickly through an area as possible.

A Real world example from yesterday:


I drove to the meeting yesterday. Due to voting and cars backed up, I drove around the backside of city hall into Town Brookhaven, got as close to the backside of the building and parked. I looked & looked for a place to walk directly across the 20 feet or so to get to the city hall parking lot and found myself looking up at a 6-foot chain linked fence. I could not see a direct entry, yet the distance was so close. I literally was just about to climb over the fence and was readying to do so, when fortunately the Brookhaven City Manager, Christian Sigman saw me, and guided me to a small undisclosed hidden opening in the fence.




This is the world that has been given to us due to the past generation of car-only planning, zoning, and land use regulations. This is the world that we must proactively work on each day to correct; to rebalance; to overcorrect; to take back to a human scale.

Brookhaven Transportation Thoughts


Leapfrog Complete Streets and move to Vision Zero. Zero deaths and minimal injuries for all uses of the street network. Checkout this video about Macon’s approach here.

Safety as the number one priority for ALL transportation planning & projects.

Slow & Calm Motorized Traffic

Trip Destination & Origins. Know where people are moving to & from. How are they moving? Incorporate into all plans.

Measure Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT), not Level of Service (LOS). VMT should be provided with every new development. REDUCTION in VMT should be the city’s goal.

Every new study / plan / project: BEFORE the study is sought, have stakeholder input in the RFP to define the SCOPE, DELIVERABLES and GOALS of the consultant/company.

Holistic Transportation Planning as the movement of humans, regardless of mode. Integrate planning for all modes of travel, including motor vehicle, transit, bike/ped.

Remove parking minimums for developments. Either have maximums, or remove them completely. More from Strong Towns on the cost of free parking HERE.

New office developments – require paid parking

Remove Decel/Acel right turn lanes (etc.) requirements for new developments. All this does is increase travel speeds and make the streets more dangerous.

Reduce speed limits. Contact Decatur and follow their process. They added traffic calming measures, did a speed study & had GDOT approve speed limit reductions. (#2: Petition State Legislators to change the law / regulation / process to allow municipalities to reduce speed limits)

If traffic is moving faster than the posted speed limit, the street needs to be reengineered to slow traffic.

10-ft lane widths should be the maximum widths. Put into formal city documents for restriping. Lots of supporting guidelines.

Ashford Dunwoody Corridor Study: What happened here? Who defined the scope for the consultants? Very, very dangerous proposals greatly reducing safety of all users




        1.       Increases motor vehicle speeds
        2.       Increases motor vehicle throughput
        3.       Intersections treated like expressway on & off ramps (like at Peachtree). Greatly reducing the safety for pedestrians, disabled, bicycles, and motorists. Change the approach and design them at a HUMAN scale. Checkout some great examples here.
        4.       Montgomery Elementary & Safe Routes to School – Safety of children should have been the number one priority, instead of moving cars quicker
        5.       Faster speeds are worse for local businesses. Can’t see them
        6.       Level of Service. (LOS) Why is this even in the scope and why was this presented? If LOS was a true barometer, then the Champs de Elysee in Paris would FAIL.
Safe Routes to School – Put 25% FTE staff member for active PROGRAMMING on this for all K-12 schools. Walking & Riding bikes to school CAN be a daily occurrence, and not just a 1 or 2x/yr event.  ~18% more traffic when school is in session. This small cost will have significant ROI. 

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Nothing Personal, Just Asking: Information about Dunwoody Senior Baseball




The game's afoot here in Dunwoody with a proposed land swap between the City of Dunwoody and DeKalb County Schools. The current site of "Dunwoody Park", 10-acres of publicly-owned land presently used by Dunwoody Seniors Baseball is to be swapped and used for the new site of Austin Elementary School. Two baseball fields are proposed to be built & maintained by the city on the site of Peachtree Charter Middle School. The city would take ownership of some acreage at PCMS for these fields.  

I'll leave the school stuff to other bloggers. For details of the current proposal, please head over to Heneghan's Blog here.

My questions below are around Dunwoody Senior Baseball. Pretend you just arrived in our town and want to know the history, background and current situation. Nothing malicious. Just no assumptions. 


My overarching point of view is, “Just because we started as a city with something, does it mean by default we continue?” - for example the Dunwoody Village Overlay Zoning that specifies everything has to look Colonial. As a minimum, let's have open public meetings asking questions like, “How much does the city pay in taxpayer dollars per Dunwoody resident to play baseball with Dunwoody Seniors?” “Should the city be in this business?” “What are the Opportunity Costs that we could use elsewhere for Parks & Rec Services that would benefit a broader representation of our residents?” 

I've sent in these questions to the city (on 10/18). When I get responses, I'll post them and/or offer a link to this information. 

My Questions:


Who & what is Dunwoody Senior Baseball? Are their board meetings scheduled and open to the public? Are their meeting minutes available to the public?

How many Dunwoody residents are enrolled with Dunwoody Senior baseball? What are their ages & sex?

Who are their board members, where does their board meet? How are they elected?

When & how did they establish a relationship with the city? (As contrast to being grandfathered in by DeKalb County)

What public input was offered prior to establishing this relationship with the city and entering into an agreement?

What are the terms & conditions between Dunwoody Senior & the city? Do they have exclusive use of the public parkland?

What is the length of their contract for use of city property? Is it up for competitive bid, publicly announced prior to the term expiring? What is the mechanism for public input as the city considers renewing or granting terms to use city parkland? Is the contract voted on by the Mayor & council?

Does Dunwoody Baseball offer anything to women? Co-Ed? Recreational Adults? Senior citizens? If not, will they?

What is the mechanism for the greater public to use these ball fields? Can residents sign up & block out a date & time? 

Will the city be keeping regular open, unscheduled, unreserved dates & times of the ballfields for public at-will use?

What is the estimated cost of the new ball fields? What amenities will they have? Will there be public input prior to approving the final plan?

Will Dunwoody Senior have reserved parking spaces as is currently in use at Dunwoody Park?


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Monday, September 12, 2016

Dunwoody is Updating the 5-Year Comprehensive Transportation Plan

Hi Friends,

At tonight's City Council meeting (9/12/2016), our council is expected to agree to the contract awarding Pond & Company to complete a 5-year update to our 2011 Comprehensive Transportation Plan. The RFP was issued earlier this summer with only two companies responding.  

To review the RFP and scope of deliverables, please click HERE.

Unlike the 100% from scratch plan that was produced to great detail by Arcadis, the scope of the work is relatively small & focused. 


To save you from downloading and reading the PDF, here is the Scope of Work:



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2.1. Compile and review accident data for the last five years for the purpose of updating Table 8 and Map 11 in the 2011 plan.

2.2. Provide additional analysis and proof of concept for the following existing projects:

a. Womack at Vermack Intersection Improvement

  • Provide updated level of service and delay information for the current traffic conditions.
  • Provide a discussion of pedestrian safety at roundabouts and recommend additional treatments that could be considered to enhance pedestrian safety.
  • Provide recommendations to address concerns with how the proposed roundabout interacts with the high school driveways and internal circulation on the school property.

b. Mount Vernon Center Turn Lane

  • Compile accident history and obtain turning movement counts at each of the nonsignalized intersections on Mount Vernon Road. Determine left turn lane warrants based on the GDOT Driveway Manual at each of these intersections.
  • Present the data in an easily interpretable graphical format including a conceptual layout for the corridor with the left turn lane and necessary tapers at each of the intersections where a left turn lane is warranted based on accident history or turn volume. For this scenario quantify the area of additional right of way that would be needed. Bike lanes must also be shown in this graphic. 
  • Present examples of context sensitive 3-lane roadways in residential areas.
  • Recommend locations for mid-block pedestrian refuge crossings with the 3-lane section.

2.3 Obtain traffic counts and evaluate the safety and operations at the following intersections
for possible additions to the project list:

  • Womack Road at Chamblee Dunwoody Road
  • Tilly Mill Road at Peeler Road
  • Winters Chapel Road at Dunwoody Club Drive
  • Meadow Lane Road at Ashford Dunwoody Road (lengthen eastbound left turn lane)
  • Meadow Lane Road at Ridgeview Road (add an eastbound left turn lane)

2.4. Update the Bicycle Recommendations and Projects


  • Revise the bicycle network recommendations to provide a connected network that incorporates the city’s existing bike lanes.
  • Develop priority levels for new bike lanes based on the bicycle suitability of the existing roadway and closing gaps in the existing network
  • Update the multi-use path network map and meet with surrounding jurisdictions to coordinate regional connections


2.5 Incorporate projects from the Pedestrian Safety Action Plan and the city’s sidewalk improvement plan into the project list.

2.6. Public Involvement- A public information open house will be held to present the updated
recommendations and gather community input. The consultant shall be responsible for preparing information and displays for the meeting, staffing the meeting with knowledgeable staff and providing written responses to comments received. The consultant shall also provide a briefing at a city council meeting at the time the plan is presented for adoption by the council.

2.7. Deliverables- It is anticipated that the five year update will be an addendum to the original plan. The consultant shall summarize the findings and recommendations in a brief written report that includes a prioritized project list with estimated costs and updated maps and graphics. A summary of the public involvement shall be included as an appendix to the report.


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Now here's my feedback and questions I sent today to our Public Works Director:


A lot has happened with thought leadership in the transportation planning world in the past 5-6 years since we authored our current transportation plan. And it would be great if this paradigm shift could be reflected in our updated plan. 


        How many PIOHs will be held? In the RFP, it looks like there is only one. I would see as a minimum two. One at the onset, seeking citizen input, and a second to present their recommendations / draft updated plan prior to adoption by Council

·         Will there be an advisory committee, or an opportunity for stakeholders to meet & discuss prior to any PIOH?

·         In the executive summary, can you add a statement like, “This is a PLAN, Serves as a general guideline. New standards arise, new initiatives are undertaken, additional citizen feedback is obtained. So there may be additions or modifications to this plan.”

·         Can you insure that “accident” data also include pedestrian & bicyclist crashes / incidents? (Several years ago I asked Chief Grogan if his accident reports had a checkbox to identify whether or not it included bicycles, and he replied no. If this is not yet part of the data our police department incorporate, then can we please change their reporting to add this?).

·         Can you remove the term “accident” and replace with “crash” or “collision”? An "accident" is, by definition, unintentional. Additional reference here.

·         Adopt a Vision Zero policy, with the focus on zero deaths or serious injuries on our street network as the primary purpose for funding our transportation budget and projects?



·         Can you replace the LOS model and instead use Vehicle Miles Driven (VMT), with the overarching goal of lowering our city’s annual VMT?  The LOS model puts an emphasis on moving motor vehicles as quickly and efficiently as possible. The Vehicle Miles Driven put a focus on greenhouse gas emissions, impact on air quality, Clean Air Act. We should have a goal of REDUCING our city’s annual VMT per capita, which can directly improve air quality and the overall health of our residents.

·         Can you insure that traffic counts include persons on bicycles?

·         Can you please add Ashford Dunwoody as a viable bicycle transportation corridor, with preferred facility of a protected / separated / buffered bike lane (cycle track)? Brookhaven is presently undergoing a study of this corridor, to include high-quality bicycle facilities.

·         Can you  please add an appendix with PICTURES and EXAMPLES of various pedestrian & bicycle facilities, and a matrix outlining “Context Sensitive” treatments – where they make sense and where they do not?

·         Can you please add to the “Addendum” to the 5-year plan have the opportunity to incorporate recognition of updated national design standards? To include:

o   5-ft bike lane width (-vs- 4-ft minimum AASHTO standard). Atlanta’s design guide is 5-ft is their minimum preferred width.
o   Change our City Ordinance for Bike Lane Requirements to change the width from 4-ft to 5-ft. (Chapter 16, section 16-237, Streets)
o   Formal acknowledgment and adoption of NACTO Guidelines for Urban Bikeway Design Guide (Atlanta has adopted this)




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Sunday, June 19, 2016

ANOTHER New Bank in Dunwoody Village???





6/19/2016 - I've submitted the following as a Letter to the Editor of our local paper, the Dunwoody Crier:

We’re getting ANOTHER BANK in Dunwoody Village. How does this make you feel? Sun Trust bought the Old Hickory House on Chamblee-Dunwoody. For whatever reasons, the Texas-based restaurant chain that originally bought it well over a year ago pulled out (Word was they didn’t like the heavy restrictions required by our City which requires building everything to look like Colonial Jamestown – Why are we requiring this anyway? Talk about being business unfriendly).




To add insult to injury, they are asking for MORE parking via a Special Land Use Permit (SLUP) – which requires City Council approval. Are you kidding me? Practically every day of the year, you’ll already find a gazillion empty parking spaces in a sea of heat-generating asphalt surrounding the site. What about providing space for people, instead of cars? And as is embedded in our zoning (as defined by our elected City Council), there’s NOTHING we can do to prevent them from installing a drive-thru, either. (Our zoning needs to change so that ANY request for a drive-thru goes through the SLUP process. Think of the nearby Dunkin Donuts on Mt. Vernon & Chamblee Dunwoody. How’s that drive-thru working out on a busy morning?)

If our city council does not act, or a gracious Angel Investor appears, Sun Trust will be opening their SECOND location in the Village. We already have at least TWELVE banks in the Village.
Do you know what the real purpose of these brick & mortar banks actually serve? They operate at a LOSS to the corporation and simply act as billboards & advertising. I’ve only stepped in to a bank once in the past three years.

What can we do as citizens? Do you believe that our City Council acted properly when they bought the “PVC Farm” in Georgetown to prevent more new apartments from being built? Do you believe it’s prudent to have proper oversight to protect our community and neighborhoods? Do you believe that we citizens spoke loud & clear when offering input to the Dunwoody Village Master Plan; in that it should be a “human-based” area, with a “sense of place” for our community to come together; including public green spaces, small shops, walkable and great places to eat and meet your neighbors (think Canton Street in Roswell)? Do you believe that our City government is OF, BY and FOR the PEOPLE and is empowered to act proactively? Or, are you simply sick & tired of seeing all of these banks and know there’s a better alternative? If you say yes to these, then contact our Mayor, Denis Shortal and the City Council members and insist that they simply PURCHASE the land. E-mail: councilmembers@dunwoodyga.gov or call: 678-382-6700.

Once purchased, follow a much simpler model from the PVC Farm and sell it back to the private sector in a way that respects our residents and follows the spirit of the Dunwoody Village Master Plan. A vision that puts PEOPLE FIRST over drive-thrus or more car parking.

Sun Trust is holding a neighborhood meeting this Wednesday, 6/22 from 6-8 pm at 5486 Chamblee Dunwoody Rd, Suite 8. Show up and speak out.


PS: Shout out to Gary Ray Betz aka “Copperhead Hunter”. Where’ve you been? Missed hearing from you and reading your eloquent prose! Love your You Tube videos, especially your "A Cure for Dementia" using snake venom and am anxiously waiting to purchase one of your coveted T-Shirts. Pray tell how we can buy one?

Sincerely,

Joe Seconder

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