Ordinance Seeks to Increase Affordability on Atlanta Beltline
(APN) ATLANTA — On Wednesday, September 08, 2021, Atlanta City Councilman Andre Dickens (Post 3-at-large), a candidate for Mayor of Atlanta, introduced an ordinance aimed at increasing housing affordability in new housing developments located within the Atlanta Beltline Overlay District.
The Atlanta Beltline is a circle of paths, some already in place and some in planning, around the City of Atlanta; and has been the cause of both development and displacement.
At its July 2021 meeting, City of Atlanta Neighborhood Planning Unit V (NPU-V) adopted a resolution asking several Councilmembers to introduce the ordinance, as previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News.
NPU-V is a neighborhood organization representing Atlanta’s Mechanicsville, Summerhill, Peoplestown, Pittsburgh, Adair Park, and Capitol Gateway neighborhoods.
Dickens introduced the ordinance as a personal paper at the end of the second day of a marathon two-day Full Council Meeting.
An existing affordable housing policy affecting the Atlanta Beltline, known as Inclusionary Zoning, requires developers to include a certain number of affordable units in new housing developments.
Yet, the way affordability is currently defined in the existing policy leaves out those families most at risk for displacement as a result of gentrification spurred by development.
The ordinance would provide an option for developers on the Atlanta Beltline to comply with the affordable housing requirements by producing units that are truly affordable to low-income families, or approximately 550 dollars per month for a two bedroom apartment.
Currently, developers are required to set aside either fifteen percent of their housing units located within the Beltline Overlay District, as affordable to families making eighty percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) or below; or ten percent of their units as affordable to families making sixty percent of the AMI or below.
Under the new option, developers could set aside at least five percent of the units in the development, but units that are truly affordable to families making zero to thirty percent of the AMI.
Council President Felicia A. Moore referred the ordinance to the Zoning Committee of the Atlanta City Council.
The City’s Planning Department is expected to also refer the paper to all NPU’s on the Atlanta Beltline. It will also go before the Zoning Review Board.
If successful, the ordinance could pass at the last Full Council Meeting of the current Council term, in December 2021. If not, as a zoning paper it will carry over to the new term in January 2022.
The resolution calling for the ordinance was also approved by the Peoplestown Neighborhood Association.
If adopted by the Council, the proposed amendment would make the Beltline Overlay affordable housing requirements consistent with the Westside Park Overlay approved by the Council earlier this year.
As previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News, the Atlanta City Council added a compliance option Westside Park Overlay at zero to thirty percent AMI, after NPU-K adopted a resolution calling for the amendment.
NPU-K includes Atlanta’s Bankhead, Hunter Hills, Knight Park/Howell Station, Mozley Park, and Washington Park neighborhoods.
In 2016, Councilman Dickens introduced the original Beltline Inclusionary Zoning ordinance that passed in 2017.
NPU-V, NPU-W, and others took the lead in asking for a zero to thirty percent AMI compliance option at the time when Councilman Dickens and his staff went around the whole city, presenting the Beltline Overlay IZ policy to every NPU.
Dickens assured NPU-V, NPU-W, and others at the time, in 2017, that the Beltline Overlay IZ policy would be amended to include housing at zero to thirty percent AMI.
However, when the policy passed the Council, the language that Dickens promised was conspicuously missing.
Dickens’s current ordinance, if adopted, would restore the community’s original intent of the Beltline Overlay, consistent with the affordability policies contained in the recent Westside Park Overlay adopted earlier this year.
(END / Copyright Atlanta Progressive News / 2021)