Sunday, April 26, 2015

Atlanta Annexation Attack - April 2015

Big issues can bring one back from blog retirement. This is one of those issues.

I give credit to my neighbors who zealously advocate for annexation into the city of Atlanta. While I may not agree with their stance, they have awakened a community that has been too comfortable for too long with inaction.

When all of this was just talk, it was easier to let the activists on either side show their passion and keep walking. Now that something actionable is happening, you get interest and a sense of urgency. One reality is this particular action has a limited action window which is much briefer than allowing a citizen vote, so the fervor increases.

Whichever side you are on, recognize that this issue has been languishing for at least 8 years. After Sandy Springs, south Fulton once led the efforts to address unincorporated areas in Fulton County, now we are the last people to figure it out, Shame on us. If you daydream long enough, people mistake it for a coma.

This process has made me focus on multiple frustrations. As mentioned above, we as citizens contributed to this mess with our uncertainty. At the same time, our politicians also have had years to agree on some plan/course of action--it didn't happen. It's like they are practicing to be federal politicians. Both locally and statewide, politicians have contributed to the gridlock.

My longest standing frustration, comes from a very basic concern. If living in the Atlanta city limits is that important, why not buy or rent in the city? You can live 5 minutes from your current location and have a very similar lifestyle inside or outside of the city limits. I know people who have made the short move to be in or out of the city. Why drag entire communities into a personal decision?

My most important frustration--it is very offensive that the Sandtown Annexation map was drawn to take the schools and the park in between them. This wasn't a requirement to get the people, it was a choice. The vast majority (about 90%) of the kids that go to those schools are not in the annexation zone. Atlanta Public Schools (APS) has excess school capacity; they don't need the space. APS has been closing schools for awhile. Their only growth is in charters. The annexed kids will not go to those schools.. If annexation goes through as currently drawn, Fulton County Schools will need to move heaven & earth on very short notice because of a political ploy. There isn't enough current capacity in south Fulton to absorb the 90% that would not be annexed. In the end it won't help any of the kids that currently attend those schools.

The adults didn't do a decent job of looking out for the kids. THAT disturbs me more than any city/no city/annex/no annex/stay/go BS that all these adults have put on the table. I will fight for those schools, those kids and their families.
Sandtown Annexation Map

The people behind the Sandtown annexation map should be ashamed of what they have done.

Whoever you are, wherever you are, you are bad for kids and bad for communities.