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Who Says Zip Codes Don't Matter?

Try telling the kids from Beverly Hills that zip codes don't matter. They do. And here's why:

City of Briarcliff (which, as I understand it, was borne from inside the original Lakeside City Alliance) has asserted more than once that they would like to find a compromise between their map and the Tucker map, if anything is going to get through the House this session.  The borders need to be negotiated, they say.  

But, the mere mention of the fact that Tucker has a clearly defined zip code boundary and you will get an earful from a number of folks who do not want to acknowledge the significance of a pretty easy to understand border. Perhaps that would require the acknowledgment that Tucker does exist, on paper, on business cards, on envelopes, on street signs and on maps.  If they give in to one idea of a defined community, perhaps they are afraid they would have to give more than that.  They might have to give up claims to Northlake and other commercial property inside the perimeter.  So, they would prefer to argue that zip codes don't matter - at least not to them.  

  • A zip code matters to the U.S. post office.
  • A zip code matters to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • A zip code matters to Realtors.
  • Zip codes matter in Sandy Springs where they tried to have their name associated with their 10 zip codes instead of being called Atlanta.
  • Zip codes even matter in Smoke Rise, where they recently worked toward a postal name change from Stone Mountain to Smoke Rise, GA (note they did not ask to be called Tucker).

The U.S. Census Bureau cares a lot about zip codes.  They work very hard to match population data with the zip codes in their census tracts, making areas easier to trend.  Here is a helpful tool for analyzing areas based on their census tract.  

Some folks will say that you can use anything you want in the "city" field on a letter.  But, they are mistaken.  According to the U.S. Post Office, every zip code has a "preferred" name.  For 30084, that preferred name is "Tucker."  

There are some zip codes that also allow other names.  These are called "accepted" names and are only allowed if they are on file with the Post Office.  Here is a zip code lookup tool in case you are curious to find out what your preferred and accepted names are.

Tucker is the only known community even involved in this fight for cityhood in central DeKalb County.  Tucker is the only Census Designated Place (CDP). A CDP shows population concentration where people are choosing to live near one another and remain there, spending their money there, supporting the local economy.  Can either Lakeside or Briarcliff claim they have a stable, long-term residential base as Tucker does?  

The fact that the Northlake business district was excluded from the Tucker CDP in 2010 after having been included in the 2000 study does not indicate a decrease in population in the Tucker area.  Rather, it shows that there was such an increase in the commercial area that the previously reported residential areas had become mainly commercial and there were simply not enough people in the survey area to meet the minimum standard for a CDP inclusion.

As for why a zip code should matter to us today, that's a funny thought.

I am guessing a lot of those Tucker farmers would be laughing right now if they knew I was trying to explain the prestige of something so minor to the "upwardly mobile" intown crowd.  After all, aren't they the ones who were so proud of their"Atlanta" address or their "404" area codes not too long ago or the "ITP" vs. "OTP" labels?  We are supposed to believe that those other ideas matter, but a zip code does not?

But, rather than ask Tucker to defend itself, shouldn't we be asking the other groups to explain themselves?  

Why do they believe they are legitimate when they do not have a CDP, a zip code or even a known community identity that isn't based around school zones?  Tucker is a community and has always established itself as such.  


What the legislators and city advocates should really be asking themselves is:

  • "Where is Briarcliff" today? 
  • What defines "Lakeside" if it is not "just a school?"  
  • And where are the civic-minded groups who are supporting these bills?  
  • Are there really legions of support or are most residents in these areas unaware of the changes being requested that could impact everything from how much they pay in taxes to the quality of the services they receive?
  • Is self-preservation of a historical area a fair reason to force cityhood on a population in Georgia that has existed for more than a century without it?  
  • What will these changes do for the overall stability of the county and the state?

Now, we all know that Tucker is not exactly Beverly Hills, but we do have one thing in common:  we have a community identity.  That identity and established area is currently under fire.  

In the past year, Tucker has gone from the quiet, small town that did not incorporate, to the stubborn, talked about community that is fighting back to protect its borders from unwanted encroachment from its neighbors.   It is like the days of the Wild West where any land not properly settled and claimed is just "up for grabs."  

It's not that Tucker cares about having its own zip code.  It's that others want to tell us that our zip code does not matter.  Others want to claim that our history does not matter.  Sadly, what they are not understanding is that it is not "Tucker's" history that is at stake here.  Tucker's history is just one part of a story that interlocks all of our areas and communities to one another.  We do not have a separate history.  

We share a history with our neighbors, the same ones who are now salivating over commercial revenue or trying to push us aside for their own agendas.   We've always been here, but suddenly Tucker has been called a nuisance, annoyance, a pest.  

Why is that?  
We've heard many times how insignificant our zip code is.  Of course it is insignificant ... to them.  What can they possibly lose by making such an argument?  

In fact, what do they stand to lose at all?  

If you live in Tucker, you do not need anyone to tell you where you live.  You've never considered using a different postal designation on your mail or sending something to yourself with a variety of different city names on the envelope.  Why would anyone think that was a worthwhile endeavour?

Until the Lakeside City Alliance decided they wanted to split up our community and pit us against one another, we did not  have an identity crisis.  In fact, we were doing just fine.  

We did not have any plans to start a city or engage anyone in conversations about silly nuances such as how zip codes are used.  We did not plan to boost home sales in our area by bringing harm to others.  We never thought that schools should be shrines to their builders or that historic societies should be left out of conversations about the future.  

We have been gerrymandered, divided, insulted and threatened.   Yet, during all of this time, we have not changed.  We are still here.  We are still working on the school system, volunteering in our public parks, working to make things better for everyone, raising our families and being kind to one another.  

We are also busy attending all these pointless city meetings as we try to play catch-up to a plan that has apparently been underway for quite some time.  

We will continue doing all of these things and we will continue having our mail addressed to us in Tucker.  History may be a matter of fuzzy recollection or poor record keeping for some, but we live in the present moment.  And today, my home is in the same place it was when I bought it.  

My address says "Tucker."  

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Tom Doolittle February 24, 2014 at 07:31 PM
It definitely will be clumsy to have a city of 50,000 to 80,000 with six zip codes and five converging within two miles of each other. In fact, I'd wager it is unprecedented. I do like being a place of firsts, but this one may be a handicap.
Bill Lowe February 25, 2014 at 11:34 AM
Tom, please give an example of how this could be a handicap. Please keep clear of any mental handicap issues that may arise from such mass confusion of multiple zip codes under a single city. Many places have existed with multiple zip codes within their boundaries. Proximity to other zip codes at their boundaries has been in place for lots of places. Does the post office get confused about this? Could it be corrected by the elimination of a few redundant zip codes? Zip codes are meaningless in regards to a local municipality.
Jim Tackett February 25, 2014 at 12:23 PM
Tom, sorry, but it's a verifiable fact that plenty of municipalities have numerous zips. And Cheryl, basing a serious discussion on a premise that a kid's show references a zip code? Also, very important fact: There has been not one mention from either COBI or Lakeside officials, ever, saying that Tucker is not historical, or doesn't exist as a community. That's made up propaganda designed to falsely paint and disparage city groups and those of us ITP. You both may find it helpful to read the parts about inner-ring suburban areas here. It applies to both Decatur and Tucker, and explains in clear ways how we came to have so many zip codes in one area, and how using them for geolocation purposes is a totally unintended function. http://www.zipboundary.com/zipcode_history.html ------------------ That said, for the purpose of stopping all this childish bickering (that shouldn't be anyone's business but those who actually live and work in the contested zone) I'd be more than happy to split the Northlake area by zip code. Or flip a coin. Or have a hog toss. It'd be just as valid a way to settle this as using a mail-sorting protocol dating back to times before our area was actually built up with real neighborhoods and residents.
Tom Doolittle February 25, 2014 at 01:32 PM
The zip code thing is odd. It's not that there are many (as you say many cities have several zip codes--BIG cities), it is there are many that come together in the same area. I can't put my finger on the commercial aspects, but I can quote chapter and verse how it relates to governmental jurisdictions--police precinct lines, county comm districts, state representative districts. Its not that the zip codes do this--its that the zip codes reflect it. Its a subject for brainstorming, not asserting anything definitively. My comment has absolutely nothing to do with choosing one city boundary over another--its a sociological thing--its topographic, its a mystery. Northlake is a no-man's land because of this.
Jim Tackett February 25, 2014 at 02:23 PM
Actually, not just big cities Tom. The reference article linked talks about specific areas that were initially assigned (for post delivery purposes) as part of larger adjacent jurisdictions, but had since "grown up" to become part of other areas--or areas in their own right. They mention specific towns (100K, roughly the size of COBI, Sandy Springs etc), and say it's endemic with land-locked inner-ring suburban areas of large cities. Exactly our situation. Point is, we can micro-analyze rhetorical questions and moot reasonings such as zip codes ad nauseum, or we could bring the conversation more to practical solutions for the here and now. Based on today's realistic borders and political issues...not 1960....much less 1890. Any civic theory or analysis you choose confirms that highways form a permanent, realistic neighborhood division in the 20th and 21st centuries. (Again, reference The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs--an important read for anyone interested in cities.) We can pine for the olden days, pretend they don't exist--or we can man up, get real and deal with what is on our plate today. Had Tucker been willing to meet in the middle earlier on, we'd have had a situation where we all got a vote on our future, not just those in the Lakeside map. (I'm referring to a compromise with COBI mind you, not Lakeside--there is a big difference, and it's sad that some well meaning but uninformed posters convoluted the two, causing confusion which history might show may have been responsible for splitting Tucker and North Decatur permanently by handing Lakeside a win.)
RandyRand February 25, 2014 at 02:32 PM
If you enjoy the nonsense Cheryl is spouting above, Check out this recent Tucker Charade “Rumors have it that the folks who are going around the Gold Dome sporting stickers that say "Republicans for Tucker" and "Republicans Against Lakeside" are actually all Democrats playing identity games to try and stop the City of Lakeside from being formed in favor of getting the City of Tucker formed...and then, if they are successful, not pushing Tucker for city-hood, thus screwing the proposed City of Lakeside for at least 2 years, all the while pretending to "want" the City of Tucker. Three women identified wearing these stickers are Honey Van De Kreke, Michelle Penkava, and Sonja Szubski. Van De Kreke is IDed on Burrel Ellis's 2012 campaign Website as supporting him for his reelection as DeKalb CEO. According to the voter files, Penkava voted Democrat in the 2012 General Primary and Democrat in the 2010 General Primary, and Szubski has only voted as "Non-Partisan" in the 2012 General Primary...thus indicating she is hardly a "Republican" either.” How low is low enough for Tucker!
David White February 25, 2014 at 07:23 PM
If you are not in a real city - then you are actually in Dekalb to most people. Very few people want to move to Dekalb these days. De-accredited school threats, indicted official after indicted official, terrible fiscal situation, abandonment of sewers and roads to decay and then billing actual taxpayers later to fix them in spite of their payed-up taxes, and the home of Kathie Gannon.
Doctor DeKalb February 25, 2014 at 11:32 PM
There is no compromise when one side only wants to take. And there shouldn't be people making deals that could potentially affect thousands of homeowners without their knowledge or consent. The process is flawed.
David White February 26, 2014 at 12:55 AM
If people only knew the tax fraud that is going on in Dekalb right now with the tacit or outright support of Kathie Gannon. Shocking.

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