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."