No City of Lakeside Referendum This Year, as Proposal Fails in Legislature
(APN) ATLANTA — After a forced compromise with proponents for a City of Tucker, SB 270 has been tabled by State Rep. John Meadows (R-Calhoun) in the House Committee on Governmental Affairs.
At the beginning of the Session, it seemed that Lakeside was the only plausible bill out of three different attempts to incorporate out of unincorporated DeKalb County. The proposed City of Briarcliff had been seen as an unlikely win. Meanwhile, the proposed City of Tucker was holding fast, having been established as a historic community for some one hundred years.
“The source of Tucker’s victory? Identity. Tucker has one. Lakeside did not,” George Chidi of the Peach Pundit blog wrote.
Disputes over the boundaries of the proposed City of Lakeside–which impacted the possible boundaries of Tucker and Briarcliff–were the central problem with the triad effort to annex.
No one could agree until they were forced to agree. In the end, nobody liked the most recently proposed map. And Committee Members were apparently tired of the infighting, as suggested by Chairman Meadows proved by walking in, sitting down, and immediately tabling SB 270.
“By the time Lakeside came along I had decided these efforts at becoming cities were just another attempt by the affluent communities to take advantage of less affluent areas. Affluent areas are typically White, so it all has racial overtones. In addition, I learned that no predominately African American areas were trying to become cities,” Marv Peck, a resident of what would become part of the proposed city of Lakeside, said. [The current proposal for a City of South Fulton; however, might be the first majority-Black new city, if the referendum passes.]
“The call for ‘local control’ sounds to me like an excuse for saying, our houses are worth more, therefore, we pay more taxes but we are not getting service for our money. Both North and South DeKalb areas think the other side is getting more services. I can only conclude that the DeKalb County Government and DeKalb County Board of Education are in serious trouble. They both need to be fixed, but I don’t think the answer is to continually split the county into small cities,” Peck finished.
Cityhood efforts in the Atlanta Metro Area have become the new fad, with recent successful incorporation efforts having occurred since 2005 in Sandy Springs, Johns Creek, Milton, Dunwoody, Chattahoochee Hills, Peachtree Corners, and Brookhaven.
With so many cityhood efforts under the Dome this session, some residents in opposition to incorporation have begun to take the fight to their neighbors within the areas that are calling for a split.
For Lakeside, there was and is a grassroots effort, DeKalb United, with the website NotoLakeside.com. They cite cityhood disasters, focusing on Brookhaven.
“That measly $64,000 in salaries for Brookhaven politicians ballooned into over a cost of over $350,000 [health care, perks, vehicles, and a slush fund]. Despite what some want you to believe, you CAN’T get something for nothing, especially not a bunch of new city politicians. Politicians have a way of being really expensive,” DeKalb United wrote.
A common theme from Lakeside opposition is separating the rich from the poor.
“Breaking off affluent parts of the county into separate enclaves does not improve the government, and mostly serves to make life more difficult for those in the county who already are not as well off. It also creates huge new opportunities for corruption and abuses. In Brookhaven, tens of thousands have been spent on the mayor’s personal crusade against a business [the Pink Pony] he doesn’t like; Dunwoody is being sued under the Fair Housing Act for using zoning codes to push out minority communities,” DeKalb United wrote.
“The area [Lakeside] has no existing identity, no main street, and is intentionally drawn to gobble up an oversized share of commercial properties (which damages the tax base for the county) and leaves out parks like Medlock and Mason Mill. Under the Lakeside plan, our tax dollars would no longer support many beloved parts of our community,” DeKalb United wrote.
As previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News, during the Senate Committee process, the Lakeside map was expanded to include areas outside the Perimeter, where poll data shows there is greater support for incorporation, apparently to increase the likelihood of a referendum passing. This only upset more people.
Lakeside also had taken parts the proposed Briarcliff, and parts of historic Tucker.
Critiques of Lakeside’s effort abound, even on Lakeside City Alliance’s own Facebook page.
“The best answer is SLOW DOWN. Let it die this year and come up with a better proposal. You are messing with all these property owners so you can build a kingdom before anyone knows what has happened,” on commenter wrote on Facebook.
“A complete lack of transparency in the political process but the motivations are completely transparent… thanks for screwing us citizens of central DeKalb who reside south of your proposed city and north of Decatur,” another wrote.
“If we allow these multiple cities to continue to be formed, it can only hurt that portion of the population that can least afford to be forced to bear the burden. By finding a way to work together, there is no reason we could not have a thriving and diverse community,” Peck said.