Future of Buckhead: A conversation about the Atlanta district's future
ATLANTA - The topic of Buckhead splitting from the city of Atlanta and forming its own government continues to weigh heavily on many people’s minds especially as the Georgia General Assembly moves through its fourth week.
WATCH THE FULL CONVERSATION IN THE PLAYER ABOVE
Two bills in both chambers are currently in committee. State Senator Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, sponsors the Buckhead Cityhood bill SB324 that if passed, would allow Buckhead residents to vote next year on whether to split from Atlanta and become its own city. Several Republican senators who support the bill, joined Senator Beach in co-sponsoring the bill.
Rep. Todd Jones, R-South Forsyth, sponsors a similar bill HB854 in the House.
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The bill was dropped during a special session this past fall aimed mostly at redistricting, but are back in committee this session. A previous committee hearing raised more questions about what a Buckhead divorce would mean about public service ownership.
Those in favor of forming "Buckhead City" want to break off mostly due to issues like the recent increase in crime. Bill White is chairman and chief executive officer of the Buckhead City Committee, a volunteer group of Buckhead residents, business owners and supporters determined to create Buckhead City. Pushing back against then-Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms's response to recent crime in August, he wrote:
"The people of Buckhead consider the quality of city-provided police protection entirely inadequate and reiterate our demand for self-determination as a distinct, incorporated municipality. The leadership of Buckhead City will create a tough-on-crime, pro-police policy that ensures our residents feel safe in their own neighborhood. We urge our state legislators to allow a vote on the formation of Buckhead City on the November 2022 ballot."
BUCKHEAD CITYHOOD UP FOR DISCUSSION BY GEORGIA LAWMAKERS
While a recent study shows Buckhead could be financially viable if it split off, Buckhead Coalition President Jim Durrett and others in opposition said the move would be devastating.
"We did an analysis to understand what the impact would be not only on the city of Atlanta, but the state of Georgia, and Buckhead itself, and the results we got back are sobering. It would do great harm to the capital city of Georgia, a potential city of Buckhead, and the state of Georgia," Durrett said.
Rather than split off from Atlanta, Durrett said Buckhead residents should make their voices heard at the polls and work to elect politicians who will better represent their interests. The Buckhead Coalition announced the launch of a big "get out the vote" initiative.
Former longtime Republican state lawmaker Ed Lindsey is co-founder of the Committee for United Atlanta.
"We formed this committee because we wanted to have folk focus on the real problems that exist within Buckhead and look for realistic solutions," Lindsey said. He said breaking off from the city is not an effective solution.
He said the effort should be placed toward electing leaders who can help solve the issues, not only for Buckhead but for other parts of the city.
On the eve of the day marking one month in office for Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, the two sides will engage in a casual conversation about the future of Buckhead. In that time, the city has pushed to establish a Buckhead public safety committee, began construction on a new police precinct in the Buckhead Village District, and began to increase surveillance camera capacity. Still,
Senator Brandon Beach will join Former Representative Ed Lindsey on the panel. Interviewers include Tharon Johnson and Cory Ruth.
Buckhead is not the only community looking for legislative approval to form a city. Lawmakers have also filed legislation to incorporate East Cobb, Lost Mountain, Mableton, and Vinings in Cobb County.