Atlanta, GA

Rezoning the city of Atlanta and its discontents

Sophie-Ann McCulloch

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ATLANTA — The City of Atlanta is among the most sparsely populated major cities in the United States, with more than half of the city’s zoning is dedicated to detached homes,

However, this is not something that benefits the majority of Atlantans. Gradually, people will have difficulty locating locations to live near their work, services, schools and many other facilities because around 60% of the city is designated solely for detached homes. Furthermore, it also means that citizens would not utilize infrastructures such as public transit effectively.

So far, Atlanta’s city planning department has been working hard to carefully update zoning rules to “create a city that is designed for everyone.” Their current plan is to increase Atlanta’s density in subtle and nuanced ways that make sense for unique neighborhoods.

However, the plans to rezone the city have been met with much opposition. One of these oppositions came from state Republican leader, Bob Irvin, who empathized with the interests of landlords of detached homes, arguing that rezoning will produce “crowded” and “overwhelming” housing.

On the other hand, Renters comprise the majority of Atlantans, and they are more prone to displacement when the demand cannot match the housing supply. People who moved into the city are forced to live far from their workplace due to the absence of nearby affordable housing.

Another point of contention in the rezoning debate is the reduction of government-mandated parking minimums. It means that the law will allow a property with a minimal parking spot if the builder believes they can successfully lease or sell it.

The reduction will give developers more freedom while also increasing their budget efficiency, given that parking structures can cost up to $25,000 per space to build.

Some are voicing their concerns regarding the increase in car traffic from denser housing. However, when new households are introduced to a dense environment, they won’t generate car traffic at the same rate as homes in a more sprawling, less-urban place. With a denser housing zone, public transit will start seeing more use as people who live nearby bus stops and train stations can opt for those instead of taking a car. Walking and cycling can also replace the need for cars if people live closer to their destinations.

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