Co-chair Kevin Levitas, who led the community meeting at Lakeside High School, repeatedly emphasized the third C -- the political fight over cityhood. An LCA email prior to the meeting set the tone: "Let the politicians know if you support the efforts of the Lakeside City Alliance, the only viable plan with any realistic chance of making it through the Legislature next session."
Levitas spent some time going over the feasibility study results, which found Lakeside's plan fiscally sound, creating a surplus without a property tax increase. He then responded to audience questions.
Levitas suggested that the three cityhood groups -- Lakeside, Briarcliff and Tucker -- should "stop fighting against ourselves" because it "plays right into the hands of legislators" who don't want a new city. He referred to an "illusion of confusion" where certain legislators say the issue needs more study but the endgame is "that you don't have the right to vote."
Later in the meeting, he specifically named state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, sponsor of a cityhood bill for the City of Briarcliff Initiative, as one legislator falling into that category. Levitas also said DeKalb Commissioner Elaine Boyer has already been lobbying against the Lakeside plan at the Capitol.
"Anti-city forces (including those backing other plans that overlap with Lakeside) are hoping to muddy the waters with “competing” plans, so if you favor the opportunity to make this decision yourself locally and not leave it to politicians to decide for you, then let them know your views on Lakeside, whether you want them to change the map or to proceed with the current map without further changes," LCA's statement said. "You have a right to demand your representatives’ specific position regarding Lakeside and cityhood. You may also want to contact the office of Acting CEO Lee May who is pushing to kill all cityhood movements."
Levitas answered questions from Tucker area residents and people who appeared to support the Briarcliff plan. Some quick summaries of his answers to their questions:
1. Why Lakeside over Briarcliff? Levitas said Briarcliff "isn't going anywhere" in the Legislature. Its two sponsors -- state Sen. Jason Carter, who is now running for governor, and Rep. Oliver have little chance of getting anything done in the Republican-dominated Capitol. Other problems with tbe Briarcliff plan include, according to Levitas:
- 15 percent of the territory is untaxable.
- It goes up against the borders of four cities, and those cities are not happy that areas of possible annexation would be lost.
- The boundaries include Emory University, and Levitas said school officials "like being Atlanta."
- The Briarciff territory -- from Spaghetti Junction to the East Lake MARTA station -- is a stretch.
Meanwhile, in other cityhood developments:
- COBI is still awaiting the final results of its feasibility study from UGA's Carl Vinson Institute of Government. The COBI board will schedule a press conference once it has been reviewed.
- Tucker 2014 met with residents this week in the Smoke Rise area. They reported on their Tucker Patch blog that they will meet again Tuesday, Dec. 17, at 7 p.m. at First Christian Church of Atlanta, 4532 Lavista Road in Tucker.