LCA, Briarcliff, Tucker Cityhood – Summit/Team building is necessary

As a future citizen of the proposed New City, I believe that the individuals leading these ventures should start acting like city builders and put aside the divisive behavior that will impede progress.  This should be done before the New City is formed.


I have reached out to a couple of individuals involved in both LCA and Briarcliff City, and have been thwarted regarding combining these movements. I really believe that people should set aside their highly localized agendas, and work as a team to build a better City. 


With that said, the only people who will have a legitimate complaint are the people of Tucker. Including them in the New City will require a change of identity.  Tucker has a long history as a community, and a strong sense of belonging that the rest of us do not have.  Although we do have our neighborhood identities, they do not have the name recognition that Tucker enjoys.


I have outlined a few issues below.  Please add some more in the comments and focus on the positive aspects, and not the divisive ones:

1)      Common goals of all City movements

a.       Having local Police Control

b.      Having local Zoning Control

c.       Having local Park Control

2)      My e-mails with the City Movement Leaderships have indicate that they are flexible with the borders of the city, and are not opposed to changing them.  

3)      None of the city movements want to completely sever ties to DeKalb County.

4)      None of the city movements include establishing new school systems.

a.       While some people find this desirable, they must realize that this would be very complex and would take 5-10 years after cityhood is accomplished.

5)      All of the people that are leading these movements are working for the betterment of the community.  (Even thou they disagree on how.)

6)      All of the city proposals are being designed so that they do not raise taxes.

7)      The actual name of the city is less important than the goals, values and the attitudes of its inhabitants, and while some individuals are tied to the name of the city many are not. 

a.       This may be a good thing to vote on, perhaps even an on-line voting system.

Betsy Parks July 11, 2013 at 03:14 PM
Christie- the LCA said, “Based on strong community feedback from people who are not currently in the boundary area but would like to be, it is very likely the map will be revised to include some additional areas….We will, however, keep to our community’s expressed desire not to create a vast, overpopulated and disconnected area that encompasses too large an area to be considered a true community of interest.” Tucker for the past 125 or more years has chosen not to incorporate and define its borders. If you feel left out it is because Tucker’s continuing inability to define its community and govern itself (incorporation in GA) not the LCA. The one meeting I attended it was clear: Lakeside cityhood effort was the only reason the Tucker leaders were thinking about changing. Other than being a friendly neighbor from a neighboring Georgia community in DeKalb we (me and you) have little in common and are not a true community of interest. Sorry. It is my opinion the only group who could choose ALL of Tucker is Tucker but in the absence and there is a long history of absence of viable option the people should be able to make the choice and for themselves without being called names like “land grabbers”. A person cannot be a “home wrecker” for courting another if no one ever bothered to put a ring on it. I do hear they are ready to make a commitment now but I would probably “walk” and proceed with extreme caution considering motivations very carefully.
Frannie D. July 11, 2013 at 03:55 PM
Christie, the Briarcliff initiative makes no claim to Tucker, leaving your area to decide the destiny of your choosing--and currently, the Tucker 2014 map does include your area. (It's only the LCA that wants to annex part of north Tucker, but they are no longer the only option.) And you're right--that 4 mile stretch of decaying "auto" businesses needs attention if Tucker wants to get back on the upswing. Which is a really, really good reason to vote yourselves into cityhood presence--the zoning control you'd gain would help immensely. Something to chew on.
Roberto July 11, 2013 at 04:00 PM
On a scale from 1 (love it / wonderful) to 10 (hate it / awful), please indicate your feelings towards the following: a. DeKalb County government officials b. The cityhood process in general c. How proposed city boundaries were developed d. Current proposed city boundaries e. Openness and trustworthyness of cityhood initiative board members and leaders f. Ability of cityhood initiative board memebers to explain complex financial, legal, political, governmental, and social aspects of cityhood.
Tracy White July 11, 2013 at 07:43 PM
Items c-f would be separate items for each plan. I think most people interested in cityhood would rate a) as 9 or 10 and b) as a 5
Michael Swahn July 12, 2013 at 09:33 AM
Roberto, I like your thinking can you do something with Survey Monkey? However, again let's stay positive and think of how to move forward. Please add other questions and if you don't want to set it up I will. What do you think about this? Pease indicate your feelings towards the following: a. DeKalb County government officials b. The cityhood process in general c Current proposed city boundaries e. Openness and trust of Briarcliff Cityhood initiative board members and leaders f. Openness and trust of LCA initiative board members and leaders g. Ability of cityhood initiative board Briarcliff members to explain complex financial, legal, political, governmental, and social aspects of cityhood. h. Ability of cityhood initiative board LCA members to explain complex financial, legal, political, governmental, and social aspects of cityhood. i Proposed City Name: LCA Briarcliff Write in other
Frannie D. July 12, 2013 at 11:15 AM
I think a summit is a great idea, something we'd all like to see. I'd suggest that the survey, on the other hand, to really be useful, should be carefully prepared with more specific questioning, else it has the potential to muddy the waters. Gauging "feelings" is likely to just devolve into partisan cheerleading efforts. In the end each side will likely just end up disagreeing about the validity of the poll, how accurate a statistical sample it is, whether ballots were stuffed, yadda yadda. It might be more useful to list the specific services proposed by each effort, and ask users to prioritize them by rank, with a adjunct question beside each asking whether they believe that the added local-zoning-control of cityhood would be an improvement, detriment, or effect no change. (and in the case of Briarcliff, "code enforcement "of the zoning too, something LCA is not proposing as part of their plan.) And other issue-specific questions of that nature. That way, you remove emotion and existing bias toward one group or another, and keep the focus on the issues. Just a thought.
Betsy Parks July 12, 2013 at 11:41 AM
Michael, I think my experience with DeKalb, a transplant who lives off Briarcliff Rd is very different from long time in town Tucker resident living. (I have not heard as much about the areas included in the COBI but not on the LCA map but it seems to be similar) Folks close to downtown Tucker seem mostly happy with the arrangement but would like to see some service improvement. They point to police around the corner, established volunteers to take up the slack with the parks and downtown Tucker. With their connections and pull they have managed to keep a principle and grow a community football program. They seem to have managed to basically keep a calm and carry on. Compare this portrait to our experience: our daughter was inches from a speeding bus and we were told there was not enough police to patrol five houses from Hawthorne Elem as the children walked to and from school. We petitioned and got speed bumps not more police or a “school zone” moved to the block around the school instead of Briarcliff Rd. Our "park" Mary Scott Nature Preserve is an unfunded joke. Volunteers close to Burrell Ellis and Jeff Rader created a master plan despite written policy forbidding it. Shortly after we arrived, Lakeside High School's principle was removed because Crawford Lewis thought he was god not great. He despite his success and community support was replaced with Lewis’ church friend a failure from Gwinnett, Ms. Moton. Lakeside’s football program and a lot of its traditions were dismissed and things got very bad for a lot of families. We left for SPX for our two youngest feeling fortunate to have options. It is good to have options. Considering the amount of tax we pay for our home it is not too much to ask that we be able to deliver the services we are in a better position to deliver. This whole idea that we are required to put ALL our money together is not working for my neighborhood. When our kids were little, I hated to get the note from the teacher instructing us to purchase supplies and not put our child’s name on it. By Christmas break the supplies were in our experience gone or broken to bits not having been taken care of properly. Hiring better teachers (vote in better leaders) to monitor is not going to work any better because that is not the problem or likely. It is a bad plan for everyone even if we have done it for 100 years. I agree with the LCA’s map. For a few services, I want to keep our money for the police and parks the same way I wanted to keep my kids crayons. I don’t see much point in a larger map or a summit. To me saying LCA is not really a grass root effort is funny and a bit self-serving and at this point I am not interested in a map as large as COBI unless they can convince me they share our concerns. I have not heard that yet buy I am listening- it ALL depends on the feasibility report. Check out Neighbors for City of Lakeside, LCA is listening.
Frannie D. July 12, 2013 at 12:10 PM
To your point, Betsy: Many others believe that N. Druid Hills/Fernbank and Briarcliff/Oak Grove have more in common, and more of a shared history, than Briarcliff/Oak Grove and N.Tucker/OTP. Betsy, maybe you have some insight you can help with, since no one has been able yet to get LCA to answer this directly: why do you think LCA and its supporters are wanting to cut off N. Druid from the community? It's not due to lack of interest, as LCA claimed, since this area has shown they *are* interested in cityhood by helping fund Briarcliff (being their only choice, since LCA left them out.)
Michael Swahn July 12, 2013 at 12:12 PM
Betsy, I understand what your saying. However, realize that the City Programs have nothing to do with the Schools. (school supplies/football etc.) The need for a summit is because the movement started and many people did not get there voices heard. Leaders need to understand that everyone has a voice and even if they disagree with them they need to listen. Furthermore, one can not improve a plan until one know the weakness. You may find out that the original plan had so many holes that it is time to redirect. There are many people that are yelling that some individuals have tried to buy influence in the city hood. While this may be correct, I have to question it. But it should be discussed, because it shows that people are not trusting the leadership before it gets started. What some people may not be aware of is that there are some wealthy individuals in our area that are very generous. To learn more about such a family, and perhaps help out your school look at the following link. http://www.rhamefamilyfoundation.org/what-weve-done
Frannie D. July 12, 2013 at 12:16 PM
My apologies, I thought this was the other thread. I actually hope to hear a response, but I did not mean to further participate to a hijack of your Summit post, Michael.
Betsy Parks July 12, 2013 at 12:38 PM
Frannie- I do not speak for the LCA but I sure did not get the impression that Briarcliff (COBI) was interested in for the seme reasons as us (LCA). The first time I heard the COBI speak was the Tucker meeting where they said 6 people had raised 23K in 3 weeks to partner to stop Lakeside's land grab. He did not share my concerns and said they wanted to partner with Tucker. Really does sound like they want to work together on a common vision does it? LCA has said that they would listen to the communities and they I believe are doing just that. I would like to suggest that perhaps they could have beter results from a similar approach Neighbors of City of Lakeside approach if we do actually share common experiences and goals ut that is just my opinion. For me, the jury about their vision is still out, but probably not to late to try. Sorry Michael if this is off topic or I hijacked anything.
Jan Reed July 12, 2013 at 12:55 PM
I've been to 3 of the 4 large LCA meetings, including the Tucker fiasco and recently at a neighborhood meeting where LCA was invited to speak by "Friends of Lakeside City". The small group format really gave those attending an opportunity to ask pertinent questions and get into specifics, and Woodworth/Levitas didn't evade any questions. The majority of the OTP areas are part of the existing feeder school pattern and were the logical starting place for a community of interest. They didn't include Druid Hills, North Decatur, and other southern areas because it adds another 30,000 residents, bringing the population close to 100,000 - which in their research is too large. It wasn't because they "dislike" or don't "see the value" of those areas. Also, those areas have long been viewed as potential annexed areas for City of Atlanta, Decatur and others. Many of the commenters on this board and others seem to view this as a competition, but when January arrives, it's all about who has the legislative power to get this done.
Jan Reed July 12, 2013 at 12:59 PM
One more comment - regarding blog posting. They reiterated that based on past experience, they made the decision not to engage in blog comments, as it can easily devolve into name-calling, accusations, etc. They intentionally created many formats to engage in discussion, but blogging was not one of them. IMO that's a logical decision.
Betsy Parks July 12, 2013 at 01:29 PM
Thanks, Jan.
Frannie D. July 12, 2013 at 02:03 PM
Thank you too, Jan. I've been looking for answers on this for a while. I was going to post this to the LCA website, but saw two very similar questions already there, so didn't see the need to ask again. I found their answers a bit too vague, however. But your feeder schools comments has confirmed a thought I've been having for while: it does seem they are looking at this from a "Lakeside High" point of view after all--ie, that's the "community" they perceive. I, having lived here since 1979, and with no more children in school, do not share that view. I see the N Druid/Toco/N Decatur area as one community, and splitting my community in two is as egregious to me as it apparently is to Tucker as well. The way I see it, if LCA leaves Tucker/OTP out of their city, they'd have the "room" not to exclude this vital area. Regardless, thanks again for the info.
Longerthanu July 13, 2013 at 01:19 PM
You hit the nail on the head, Jan. What we have is two groups with two different visions for a city. They don't need to come together. The one that comes out on top will be the group that has the most pull under the Dome. After that, the public fight begins -- among those within whatever boundaries the legislature graces us with.
William Fulcrum July 13, 2013 at 04:47 PM
I initially attended the LCA meeting at BBChurch and became very interested. Since then I have become less enthused with LCA. LCA needs to leave Tucker alone and merge their energies and other resources with Briarcliff.
Longerthanu July 13, 2013 at 08:28 PM
Jan hit the nail on the head. What we have is two differing visions of a city. There's no need / incentive for LCA and COBI to sit down and talk. Whichever group has the most juice will win under the Dome. That's when the real fight begins-- among those of us who live within he boundaries of the map the Georgia legislature hands us. City or no city? That's also when it gets really ugly.
Tom Doolittle July 16, 2013 at 11:52 AM
It's really too bad that a community-building and defining effort can't come out of city-making groups "evaluating" the idea of cityhood. The reason this races ahead to become a "city yes/or city no" false choice in every community (Sandy Springs is the exception) is due to the legislative process. The summit that I would recommend takes a step back and looks at: (1) what is legitimately a representative process and leadership effort in a particular area? (2) why is there an economic feasibility study and not a social/geographic feasibility study? (3) Using Sandy Springs as a benchmark, compare your communities preparedness to establish a city. (4) Is cherry-picking three services a legitimate way to establish a new taxing jurisdiction, including the economic feasibility, knowing that follow-on services and expansion will quickly follow? (5) Should an electoral bar or other metric be established to indicate the interest in cityhood PRIOR to a referendum being scheduled by legislation? A polling process required by the legislature at the same time the economic feasibility study is done. (6)Should economic revitalization and real estate development be immediately considered in the feasibility analysis. It has become apparent that city investment and incentives are being prioritized in new cities well before city operations have become fully established. Where are those projects going to take place? (7) A survey of best practices among state legislation for forming new cities. theres' more but I think you get the point that this train has rolled down the tracks too fast because of the ease with which the legislative process allows. The evidence that the process is illigitimate is that once the city-hood movement "met" an area that isn't a congealed and defined community, the entire ballgame changed from the once neat and tidy "formula" of Sandy Springs. Tim for a step back and broader look.
Roberto July 16, 2013 at 12:43 PM
Folks, the train has done did left the station and is scheduled to arrive in late 2014 like it or not! This whole process boarders on the absurd given that: a. A few neighbors decide to create a city based on dissatisfaction with County officials and some services provided b. The few neighbors get backing from state legislator to establish apparent validity and announce Let's Roll. c. A few neighbors decide the city boundary with flexible hard lines based on no known objective criteria d. A few neighbors propose a City-Lite government with a few minimal services [ok police is a big deal] relying on the same dysfunctional County to continue to provide the majority of daily services for its residents. e. Panic sets in with vocal community leaders over selected prized turf [parks, Northlake, Toco Hill, etc.] setting up battles to grab or repel, include / exclude, etc. My city is the best and first so kill all the rest. How many cities can we overlap in the same area? I'm not buying a ticket for this train as the tracks are too wobbly and the bridge to the future has yet to be constructed. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?
Tom Doolittle July 16, 2013 at 01:14 PM
BTW--to the author--Writing about A summit is a good idea and I appreciate you trying to reach out to the leaders. The meeting that the legislators held at Clairmont Baptist was getting there, because it had all of the county, state reps, city-makers, Druid Hills Civic, Decatur and Chamblee--for a broad GOVERNANCE perpsective (not cityhood). Obviously, with the county retaining most services, its GOVERNANCE perspective should still mean something to citizens (and that has been sorely lacking). Also--since the state has authority over the county (and obvious influence)--it should answer questions about how it might affect county governance DIRECTLY (not surrepticiously), not just end-run with city-making. The purpose of such a summit would not necessarily be to stop city-making or even impact a 2014 vote. It would primarily set this commuity up as the first one that wa able to contribute to a responsible study and dialogue of the process and role that the state should have in influencing county government. The rest of the state should benefit from this as the legislative process continue to "morph" based on a combination of actual results in 5-10 year old cities and pushback from later commnities looking at this.
Cheryl Miller July 21, 2013 at 03:16 PM
Jan, "They reiterated that based on past experience..." Oh, you mean when they did this same thing over at Brookhaven? Yeah, I remember that.
Jan Reed July 24, 2013 at 06:28 PM
Cheryl, What are you talking about? When who did what at Brookhaven? I was referring to answering or addressing blog posts.
Cheryl Miller July 25, 2013 at 08:18 AM
Steve Schultz stated that he was instrumental in the formation of Brookhaven. He is also the person who asked "his" Senator Fran Millar to file a bill on behalf of a city of Lakeside.
Betsy Parks July 25, 2013 at 08:34 AM
Smear campaigners are like spoiled playground bullies who kick another child when the teacher’s back is turned, just because the child doesn’t give them whatever they want. They cannot be made to empathize, and they are well-practiced in their abusive games, because they have been playing them all their lives. More Here: http://lightshouse.org/lights-blog/smear-campaigns-part-3#ixzz2a3mzxNi3
Cheryl Miller July 25, 2013 at 01:25 PM
I can't be spoiled, I'm on the outside of the LCA map, remember? And, I was an honor student in school, so your example doesn't describe me in the least. Anyone who knows me would laugh at the thought of calling me a bully. I seriously don't scare anyone. And, I really do believe that we can work things out if our leaders would be more honest about what they are planning and why. You don't just decide to control zoning out of the blue. Why do they want to control it? Obviously to change some things... give us specifics. If it is a good plan, maybe we will like it and get behind it. But don't lie to our faces and make us attend all these meetings to come up with a generic agenda straight out of the playbook that's been used already. We're smart enough to see what's going on. That's why we are not supporting this whole city movement. It just doesn't seem... legitimate.
Cheryl Miller July 25, 2013 at 01:26 PM
If anything, I would have probably been called a "tattle-tell" in school. I like to follow the rules.
Brett July 25, 2013 at 02:05 PM
"You don't just decide to control zoning out of the blue. Why do they want to control it? Obviously to change some things... give us specifics." I'm not sure why it's obvious to you that the rationale for wanting to control zoning is to "change some things" and saying something is obvious doesn't make it so. Have you considered the possibility that some folks would simply like to have some input into what's happening in their own neighborhood?
Roger Kennedy July 25, 2013 at 02:35 PM
Following up on Brett's post: Most of the newly formed cities have had zoning/code enforcement as one of the services that they desire to manage. It's not to "control" - it's to have input, information, and make rationale decisions about appropriate zoning and code enforcement for an area. Here's a recent example in the Oak Grove area - DeKab commisioners voted 5-1 (with one abstention) to make changes to the Lavista/Oak Groove Road intersection - that will severely impact the merchants in that area. The business owners weren't aware of it until a few days before the vote, they opposed it, but it was still voted upon affirmatively. Other examples are late night clubs that overnight appeared in Embry Hills, Clairmont Road, etc. Look at the Northlake Inn and the Knights Inn that are full of prostitutes and druggies. That's what kind of "control" the community wants some say about. You seem to see a conspiracy around every corner and with the Lakeside group, some scheme to price senior citizens and others out of the community, rezone and put in commercial development throughout the area - and these are just a few of your assertions over the last few months. As others have asked - where's the proof that this is what Lakeside would do? Where have you heard them say this? Substantiate these claims, Cheryl.
Cheryl Miller July 26, 2013 at 07:25 AM
Brett, yes, I am one of those people who would like to have input, but even with asking the right questions, I have received little or nothing in terms of the answers. There are groups who want to control zoning but they are not telling us what their zoning plan might include that would be different than how we are all zoned right now. Who starts a city without any clue on who their leaders are? I can't vote on a city unless I know who wants this "control" and what they plan to do with it.


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