Next, Liz Coyle again posted without comment.
Financial stability/recovery: What programs do you plan to begin, expand, or get rid of right off the bat to get the city back on its feet again financially?
The City budget should be based on a long-range financial plan that looks at restructuring its pension plans, and offering social security to new employees, while taking advantage near-term of stimulus dollars available for improvement projects or public safety. As Councilperson, I would work to ensure the finance department continues to reform outdated practices with a focus on identifying waste and inefficiency across all City departments. I propose the City adopt zero-based budgeting practices, requiring department heads to justify all expenses each year. Budgets then should be built around priorities of public safety and basic service delivery. Through better management of its finances, the City also should seek to stabilize and improve its bond rating in order to meet current and future infrastructure needs. I would consider privatization of some services. Initially, I would have City services audited for efficiency. This would allow a side-by-side comparison of public and private options.
Crime. Specifically how does the candidate plan to address the officer shortage, the broken 911 system, Firehouse closings, the revolving door of the justice system, the rash of escalating crime, and the broken juvenile code.
Assuring public safety should be the City’s highest priority. Finances must be better managed, with zero-based budgeting to justify expenses in all departments and City budgets that reflect safety as a priority. On City Council, I will work with the Administration to ensure strong leaders, adequate personnel and sufficient resources are in place in our Police and Fire Departments. Furthermore, we need to audit the City’s 911 system, put better management in place over the operators, and consider a 311 call center for non-emergencies. Addressing crime takes a comprehensive approach beyond more officers and a strong chief of police. I believe we need more beat officers assigned to foot and bicycle patrol, where they can build a strong relationship with the community. Neighborhood-based safety organizations play a key role by encouraging community residents to be alert to potential criminal activity and willing to report it. In addition, the City, County, Faith community and Atlanta Public Schools need to provide more resources to encourage youth to stay in school and out of trouble, especially gangs. For several years, I have served on the Fulton County FRESH Community Advisory Board, making recommendations on the allocation of resources to expand programs to serve youth in Atlanta. I believe providing young people with mentoring, afterschool programs, and community services helps prevent juveniles from becoming involved in gangs. Also, we need judges who will keep repeat offenders behind bars. Court Watch, a program that encourages residents to attend hearings for repeat offenders, lets judges know we want these criminals kept in jail for the length of time the law allows.
Alternate transportation What is the candidate’s stance on improving and increasing choices and safety for bikers, pedestrians and marta riders?
The City and region cannot sustain growth unless we deal collectively with existing and forecast congestion, balancing automotive, bicycle, transit and pedestrian transportation modes with good land use planning that ties future transportation improvements to future development. The regional Concept 3 Plan and the City’s Connect Atlanta Plan should be implemented and as a City Councilperson, I will work to ensure these are a high priority. The City should continue to advance transportation projects identified in the Connect Atlanta Plan, working with MARTA, ARC, GRTA, private partners and other entities necessary for project implementation. Ultimately, we need state support for public transportation. City leaders must continue to push for the State legislature to approve a regional transportation funding bill.
Infill What is the candidate’s stance on infill, both residential and cmmercial. What is their stance on live/work/play and other planned communities.
As Atlanta’s population continues to grow, we should take full advantage of the opportunity to prepare for new residents in ways that offer a better quality of life for us all. I will work to adopt policies so that Atlanta maximizes economic development potential through smart growth, making infrastructure investments in transportation, clean water, parks and public realm, while mitigating negative impacts on existing infrastructure and preserving assets, especially our great neighborhoods. Compact, complete communities where people can live, work and play are an integral part of my vision for a sustainable Atlanta. I support Transit Oriented Development, including the BeltLine plan to connect Atlanta’s intown neighborhoods; revitalize communities; promote healthy growth and incentivize affordable housing as part of complete, mixed-income, mixed-use compact developments around the 22-mile light rail transit system.
I believe both residential and commercial infill redevelopment should be compatible with the surrounding, existing community. I worked with the Civic Association, residents and commercial property owners to successfully rezone the three commercial nodes along N. Highland Avenue in Virginia Highland from C-1 zoning to the more neighborhood-compatible Neighborhood Commercial zoning. As larger commercial properties like Ansley Mall are redeveloped, I support the Connect Atlanta Plan requirement that a portion of the private property become public Right-of-Way to allow automotive, bicycle and pedestrian connections with the existing street grid to help mitigate traffic impact from increased density.
Greenspace How does the candidate plan to protect and expand public greenspaces, what is the policy on allowing developers to clear cut?
I support policies, including transfer of development rights, that incentivize developers to preserve the existing tree canopy to the extent possible and that disincentive clear cutting.
I have endorsed the 2009 PARC Act to Save Atlanta’s Parks (ASAP) and support the following ASAP goals to protect and expand our public green spaces:
Dedicate 1 mil for park operation and maintenance by 2012
Increase funding for parks maintenance and dedicate existing property tax revenue to the Office of Parks. Funding would increase from the $11.4 million passed in the initial fiscal 2009 budget (equivalent to revenue from 0.57 mils of property tax) to the revenue raised by 1 mil by 2012. From 2012 forward, dedicate, revenue from 1.0 mils of property tax to park maintenance.
Establish a dedicated funding source for land acquisition and park development by 2013
Secure a significant, dedicated funding source that will allow Atlanta to expand its park system while improving current facilities. Potential sources of dedicated funding include:
· Sales Tax (e.g. Gwinnett County)
· Real Estate Transfer Tax (e.g. Rhode Island, Washington State)
· Stormwater Utility (DeKalb County)
· Transfer of Development Rights (Chattahoochee Hill Country, Montgomery County)
Take concrete steps to make parks safer
Institute programs that have proven effective in other jurisdictions. In particular, Atlanta should:
· Provide subsidized housing to police officers adjacent to parks. In exchange, that officer would commit to spending one hour a day in the park.
· Dedicate a certain percentage of any new police hires to monitor parks through a “Park Ranger” or similar program that provides a visible security presence in parks.
· Install structural safety equipment – such as security cameras and increased lighting.
· Increase structured and unstructured activities in parks, especially for children.
Urban homesteading What is the candidate’s stance concerning existing regulations re: chicken keeping, rainwater harvesting, beekeeping, guerrilla gardening, community gardens and regulating farmer’s markets. How does the candidate plan to encourage these green practices in the future?
I support the Atlanta Local Food Initiative’s plan for Atlanta’s sustainable food future, which can be viewed at http://www.atlantalocalfood.org. As Councilperson, I will work to implement policies that encourage the fruition of a locally based food system.