Digging Into The Numbers: Forsyth County is Not the Cause of Our Congestion Problems(We Are)

Johns Creek has a constant claim that the traffic here is bad, although it is NOT the fault of our poorly timed and prioritized traffic lights.  No instead it is because of the growth in areas around us that is the cause of our issues.

So I decided to dig into the numbers looking at what the last ten years have brought us in terms of population growth among Forsyth County, Johns Creek, Roswell, Alpharetta and Milton.  What I found is amazing.

Fastest Growing in terms of % Growth: Forsyth County

While that is not a surprise the reason is rather simple:  Forsyth County actually started with a much smaller total population than Johns Creek, Roswell, Alpharetta and Milton did ten years ago.  Put simply they started with a lower headcount, which makes their percentage growth look higher.

Annualized Rate of Growth Over The Last Ten Years

  1. Forsyth County   3.67%
  2. Milton                  2.79%
  3. Alpharetta           2.20%
  4. Johns Creek      1.75%
  5. Roswell              0.66%

There are no major surprises there.  In fact you might look at the numbers for Johns Creek and say “AHA”!  But that is not all there is to this story.

Density Per Square Mile

  1. Johns Creek      2665
  2. Alpharetta          2333
  3. Roswell             2249
  4. Milton                  964
  5. Forsyth County  860

Density refers to the average number of people living per square mile.

 

Johns Creek is # 1 in density.  We have today 2665 people living in every square mile of Johns Creek(on average).  We are more than 15% denser than Alpharetta and more than three times denser than Forsyth County.

Now let’s get to the most interesting discovery.  Who has been adding the most people per square mile over the last ten years-Forsyth County or a Fulton City?

Change in Density Per Square Mile Over Ten Years

  1. Alpharetta               456
  2. Johns Creek          425
  3. Forsyth County     260
  4. Milton                     232
  5. Roswell                 144

Johns Creek and Alpharetta are already dense and getting denser at a faster rate than even Forsyth County, despite it’s tremendous growth.  Why is that?

It’s the size of the land where the growth is taking place, and the starting point of the population 10 years ago.

Size of Cities/Counties

  1. Forsyth County  247 Square Miles
  2. Roswell                42.01 Square Miles
  3. Milton                   39.15 Square Miles
  4. Johns Creek       31.27 Square Miles
  5. Alpharetta           27.3 Square Miles

So if we take the four cites and compare them to Forsyth County on the number of people added per square mile, we find out that despite the growth in Forsyth County, the four cities are adding more people per square mile than Forsyth County.

Growth of Four Cities per Square Mile Over the Last Ten Years

314 New Residents Per Square Mile

Growth of Forsyth County per Square Mile Over the Last Ten Years

260 New Residents Per Square Mile

In fact the four cities are adding residents at a rate that is a whopping 20.7% faster than Forsyth County over the last ten years.

What is the result of the growth that we have seen over the last ten years on a per acre basis?  The results are revealing.  Forsyth County has less than two residents per acre on average, while Johns Creek has more than four residents per acre on average.  So not only are we more dense than Forsyth County, we are adding density faster than Forsyth County.

Remember our zoning as you look at this chart.  R-3, for instance allows 3 homes per acre.  Many townhome communities have 7-9 units per acre.  That translates to 20-30 more people per acre(which is one of the reasons why the densities are rising so fast in Johns Creek and Alpharetta).

 

 

 

In the chart below you can see that Forsyth County is less than half of the population when compared to the four other cities from North Fulton.  And as Forsyth County is adding density at a slower pace than we are, Forsyth County’s  portion of this pie will shrink unless we and the other cities put the brakes on increasing our densities.

 

 

So maybe we better look in the mirror when we start blaming others for our traffic congestion problems.  We are packing in residents faster than they are, and there is no end in sight for this trend.

Is this what we really seek as the future of Johns Creek?  To be the most densest populated City in the area?

Let’s hope not.

The Property Tax Model is Broken Beyond Repair

Let’s be honest. The system of collecting taxes for county, city, and school taxes is broken. And the larger the area dependent on funding from property taxes, the more broken it becomes. North Fulton County residents pay tremendously more for the same county services than South Fulton residents.  Why?

Here are three reasons it needs to be scrapped:

  1. There is no correlation between the amount of taxes you pay and the amount of “services” you receive.

A family of six living in a $500,000 home and a family of two living in a $500,000 home, pay the same property taxes if they live in the same community.  Why?  What makes us feel its fair to collect three times as much tax on a per capita basis from one family than another?  What if the family of two lives in a home worth one million?  What makes it right to collect six times as much for the very same levels of services?  Should I mention that the family of six likely creates more demand for services than the family of two as well?

When property values are high, and tax rates are high, this can have the effect of driving out empty nester residents to avoid the high levels of taxes relative to the services they receive for those tax dollars.

2.  Property values rising(and falling) should have no impact on how much tax revenue is needed to run your county, cities, and schools.

We’ve seen property values fall during recessions and rise during better times.  This should have nothing to do with how many dollars are needed to provide services in your community.  Yet we have made the tax digest the first step in the taxation process, followed by each government agency voting on the millage rate to be applied to that tax digest.  Elected officials vote far more often on how much they will tax you than you have a chance to vote on whether or not they should remain in office.

Let’s add to that the huge infrastructure we now have in place at the Tax Assessor’s office to track every piece of property, every structure, and every improvement you make to your home, all in the effort to make sure every $ of real estate(real or imagined) is taxed.

Why on earth should you owe the government more dollars because you decided to finish your basement or add a deck?

The perverseness of this likely discourages residents from making improvements to their properties.

How much time and energy is used by the Tax Assessor’s office to gather all of this information?  How accurate is it?  Is it worth it?  Who is really benefitting?

3.  How many hours of effort will the Public spend appealing these assessments?

If 1/4 of the households in Johns Creek appeal, that could be as high as 7,000 homes.  Spend five hours on this process, and cumulatively we will have spent 35,000 hours fighting our high assessments.

Instead, why don’t we take a moment and consider a different system?  We do not tax each resident within an HOA a variable amount do we?  It’s a flat rate per household.  While not necessarily the same on a per capita basis, it is a fairer system than taxing each household based upon the value of their property.

What would a fixed property tax collected per residence look like?  First, it would treat all of us as equally as possible.

We would not need an army of government employees tracking our properties, needing to know everything about the inside and outside of our homes.

We would never have to appeal property taxes in the future.

Our governments would be accountable to us directly for the rate of taxation we face, and there would be no finger-pointing as to who is to blame.

The current system of taxation has more expensive property owners subsidizing the less expensive property owners.  In a society where wealth redistribution is frowned upon by most of us, it is curious to me why we are so willing to allow tax redistribution with property taxes, where the level of services received are so far removed from what the property owner pays in taxes.

Johns Creek could lead the way to a better model of taxation for its residents.  It’s time we slay the beast that taxation based on property values has become.   Taxation should not be unfair or onerous.

It’s time for a change.  Contact your locally elected officials and tell them you want a different system.  Tell them you want a better, more equitable system.

None of the Above (or What’s a 6th Congressional District Libertarian To Do?)

The Georgia 6th Congressional District Race will go down as the most expensive Congressional race in US History.  Not because of the impact that the winner will have.  It will take years and years for that winner, if they stay in office, to amass the type of seniority and power to really make a difference.

There are no close votes in the US Congress that are going to be decided by 1 vote either.  Instead, this is about appearances.  It’s an opportunity for both national parties (who really could care less about us here locally) to symbolically suggest that the winner of this race somehow proves or disproves the election of one Donald Trump.

Making this race even more enticing is the number in front of the district: the 6th.  Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich once held the same seat number.  But the district is far removed physically from the same turf Gingrich represented.  Nevertheless the media has worked overtime to say just how symbolic a democrat in that seat would be.

As a Libertarian, neither of these two candidates are what I seek in an elected official.  There were several of the 19 candidates that were as close to being what I sought without running myself.  But we must be honest. Before the first votes were cast, the Republican Party leadership was already shaping the minds of the electorate as to who they should support.

An open election such as this would normally be a Libertarian’s dream come true.  An opportunity to participate in an open election without the ballot restrictions.  And were it not the 6th Congressional District, and it was not immediately after Trump’s election, things could have been a lot different.

Congressman Tom Price owned the seat.  In years past there have been no serious efforts by members of either party to unseat Tom Price.  That is the power of being an incumbent.  With incumbency comes money, power, and influence.

That’s also why you saw the mad scramble, mostly from Republicans in office who resigned to run, and those who had been in offices before, and saw this opportunity as the chance of a lifetime.

Due to ballot access restrictions in Georgia during the regular election cycle, Libertarians cannot generally meet the incredibly high number of signatures needed to be on the ballot, which is something the other two parties do not even worry about.

As a Libertarian, I feel that shows clearly that something is wrong with the system.  But, as a Libertarian, I am still entitled to vote for either of the two candidates remaining.

So do I vote for John Ossoff, the Democrat, to send the Republicans a message that they need to offer us true Constitutional candidates?  And then work to get a Libertarian on the ballot in 2018?

Or do I vote for Karen Handel, and give the Republicans another candidate who may likely have the seat for as long as she may want it?

No, I do not think I will do either.  I am going to vote for None of The Above(NOTA).  NOTA is really the only option for me, other than not voting.  And I will be voting.

Definitely Ossoff or Handel is going to win on June 18th. But there is only one way for those of us out there who are unhappy with both candidates to express our displeasure in a way that can be measured.

Imagine if 20,000 or more voters, unhappy with their choice of candidates, voted NOTA.  Would both parties get the message?  What if the race is so close, that one of those two parties learns that there is a group of voters out there that are being ignored that could have changed the outcome?  Will they try to appeal to us in the future?  Will they offer us better choices as candidates in the future?

It’s up to us to make our voices heard.  And we will not be heard if we just fall in line and support the (insert your party name here) because the other party is much worse.

While we are at it, let’s work together to end the restrictive ballot access issues third parties have in Georgia.  We are only cheating ourselves by eliminating competition before it even has a chance to be heard.

Is there anything less American than denying a candidate an opportunity to run for office because of their party, except in an open election?

As a reminder, both the US Constitution and the Georgia Constitution promise equal treatment under the law.  Every elected official has taken an oath to uphold that.  Isn’t it time they do what they promised they would and treat us all equally?

Proof of Concept: Three Lanes Through

Definition – What does Proof of Concept (POC) mean?

A proof of concept (POC) is a demonstration, the purpose of which is to verify that certain concepts or theories have the potential for real-world application. POC is therefore a prototype that is designed to determine feasibility, but does not represent deliverables.

Proof of concept is also known as proof of principle.

https://www.techopedia.com/definition/4066/proof-of-concept-poc

Residents of Johns Creek have been told that to cure their traffic ailments, that they must widen State Route 141 to three lanes in each direction.

Others, such as my neighbors and myself, have challenged that this is the only cure for the traffic we have.

We are more than frustrated with our traffic.  We have been for years and years. We are told that we want to simply do nothing.  That is another myth by City Officials.  We want to do something.  We want the right solution, and not just any solution.

Putting the mettle to the test, we have asked to slow down the laying of asphalt and let us see what we can do to improve the bottlenecks we have in Johns Creek.  If traffic can get through the bottleneck, we feel there is adequate asphalt to handle the volume of vehicles until that traffic reaches the next bottleneck(which we can also address).

We are led to believe that just improving the intersections cannot address our issues.   If what we have proposed for the intersections does not work, then neither will their solution of paving three lanes in each direction.  The crucial component is that we get the intersections to function more efficiently.  The roadway between the intersections  when an intersection does not function properly is just space to queue vehicles.

And then we will be right back where we started, with six lanes instead of four.

I encourage our residents, therefore to ask the City Council to show us the Proof of Concept.  Give us the three lanes southbound at 141 and State Bridge Road through the intersection only.  Also, at the same time give us the three lanes westbound on State Bridge Road and have it terminate at the main entrance to Johns Creek High School.

My belief is that will show that three lanes through at the intersections will give us a major improvement in traffic movement, and at the same time demonstrate that we do not need to pave the entire corridor in both directions with three lanes. Our backups will be much shorter in both distance and duration.

And we haven’t even gotten started on the actual functions of the traffic lights themselves.

Imagine that.

I can.

 

Continue reading

The Naked Truth About (Subsidized) Wages

If you have read my work over the years, then you know that I am not a proponent of Minimum Wage.  An adult should be able to work for anyone at an agreed price.

However, a new issue has come into my view I did not realize existed until recently.

Apparently there are groups out there (think Chamber of Commerce) that works with your local governments to hold wages down by:

A)  Making sure that there is Affordable Housing in your area so their workers can live nearby

B) Making sure there is mass transit options so that low cost workers can get to the businesses that want to hirer low cost employees(A Chamber Objective for sure) Continue reading

Ten Pounds of Sugar In A Five Pound Bag

“You can’t squeeze ten pounds of sugar in a five pound bag”

Residents of Johns Creek have heard this quote on more than one occasion when it comes to issues relating to traffic.  This quote, unfortunately, suggest that we have twice the volume of traffic at our intersections than we can handle.

But, what if the volume at our intersections was not twice as much as they can currently handle?  What if they were only 9-13%% over the capacity today?  Could we make some minor changes that would yield major improvements? Continue reading

A GDOT Traffic Tutorial

You’ve heard lots of information on traffic in Johns Creek.  Many of the conclusions I feel are based on erroneous assumptions and intuitions. The GDOT (Georgia Department of Transportation) surveys data at locations throughout our state and you have access to that data for yourself to confirm or deny your very own assumptions about the traffic you personally experience. Continue reading

Traffic Choking Points

One of the biggest issues we face is how to get more vehicles through an intersection at a minimal cost.

One thing we can do at many of our intersections is to eliminate Traffic Choking Points and utilize the right turn lanes as both a right turn and through lane, increasing the through volume of traffic 40%-50% immediately.

This one improvement could eliminate much of the delay on many of our busiest roads without the need to widen the corridor. Continue reading

Minor Improvements Can Yield Major Benefits

A truck with a high load underestimated the height of his load by 2 inches and found himself wedged into the entrance of a tunnel.  Unable to back out, experts were called to come and see what could be done to get the truck removed.

All of the engineers crowded around scratching their heads and making drastic suggestions.

Finally a little boy walked up, looked at the engineers and suggested “Why don’t you just let the air out of the tires. Continue reading

Getting 141 Moving: Another Intersection That Needs To Be FATTER

Where is one of the biggest opportunities to get traffic on 141 moving in the morning?  Anyone that drives south out of Johns Creek would agree that it is East Jones Bridge and 141.  Below is a depiction of the standard backup I have seen between the hours of 7:00 am and 9:00 am.

The orange represents the backup southbound.  The red on the east and western sides of the intersection represents the vehicles on those sides you see when you finally get to pass through the intersection.  So what is wrong with that picture?

It’s important to note that nearly every vehicle east and west bound makes it through the light with just one cycle of the lights at the intersection.

Here is an aerial view of the intersection:

 

As you can see, only one lane in each direction east and west travel straight.  With no additional asphalt the east bound side could be configured to carry two lanes straight through the intersection.  But they need to add an additional through lane westbound.

(What is a FATTER Intersection? http://ejmoosa.com/blog3/2017/02/15/what-should-we-do-to-improve-johns-creek-traffic-flow-on-141/)

Doing this would make this intersection MUCH more efficient at a minimal cost. That would have the ability to keep this light green longer and move this traffic through the corridor.

Just two lights down at 141 and Peachtree Corners Circle, the light is green for 4 minutes.  There is no backup heading south at this light whatsoever.

Also, with such short queues on the east and west bound sides of the intersection should indicate that they could keep the light green longer anyway.  They have, for some reason, chosen not to.

Finally, they could do what we have done in other areas such as the stretch between Old Alabama and State Bridge on 141 and make the area three lanes through all the way to Spalding Drive, and this would require no additional asphalt.

Summary:

  1. Fatter intersection east and west bound reduces red light time on 141
  2. Three lanes southbound using existing asphalt increases southbound capacity up to 50%.
  3.  Longer green light times than 141 south currently has increases the volume of vehicles per light cycle.

We could get this traffic moving drastically without destroying the entire corridor and at a minimal cost.

Unfortunately, we wait while the City of Johns Creek works to convince everyone the only solution is three lanes in all directions.

Click here to see more issues and suggestions on traffic:  www.ejmoosa.com