The Great Billboard Controversy of Johns Creek

For several years now the interests of the Johns Creek residents have been growing in their desire to  both understand and participate in how their closest level of government-their city government- functions.

And, what many of have seen has not been exactly what we had hoped for.  Voter apathy has been mentioned often in City Council Meetings.  Lack of citizens showing up at City Hall for Council Meetings was evident.  City Council members tired of the same citizens making public comments.

Yet over the last three years there have been several events that have awakened the public, and coupled with more ways to have conversations (such as the Johns Creek Post and NextDoor) the genie is out of the bottle.  Public scrutiny is going to only grow. Continue reading

Johns Creek: It’s In Your Best Interest to Stop TSPLOST

The vote Johns Creek residents will take on the TSPLOST 0.75% tax is critical to understand.

Voters are being presented with the opportunity to raise the taxes on themselves, which will effectively increase the spending and size of the Johns Creek City government by 29.7%.  That is not insignificant. Continue reading

What’s Undermining Residential Real Estate Values in the City of Johns Creek?

Johns Creek receives many accolades throughout the year, and 2016 has not been an exception to that trend.

For many residents, concern over ever higher densities of residential real estate developments such as apartments and town homes has been a major concern.  But the City of Johns Creek pushes ahead with ever more high density development with seemingly arbitrary lines drawn as to where the higher densities are permissible and where they are not.

Residents did not directly vote on these issues.  They only have cast votes for those that decide on these issues.  And as history has shown, there are not a plethora of voters that even bother to make their voices heard.  That, however is changing.

There is a cost to current residents as more and more of these high density developments are approved and put into place.

Let’s ask the residents of Johns Creek who were here in 2007.  Taking the data from the 2015 CAFR report (you can find it here:  http://www.johnscreekga.gov/JCGA/Media/PDF-Finance/2015-cafr.pdf ) on page 61 shows Johns Creek had a population of 70,050 and a residential tax digest (page 79) of $3,215,735,140.

A simple calculation reveals that in 2007 we had $48,727 of residential real estate per resident.

How have the residents of 2007 fared over the course of the last 8 years?  Well, not so well.  Using the population counts and the residential tax digest from the same pages mentioned above, we can see that residents of Johns Creek  have seen that number drop to $40,117 per resident, a decline of 17.67%.

Residential Property Value Per Capita
Year Residential Property Population
2007 $3,215,735,140.00 65994 $48,727.69
2015 $3,333,836,970.00 83102 $40,117.41
-17.67%
Source: Johns Creek CAFR 2015

Why are residents from years past seeing such a drop in values for their community at large over time? The drop in housing prices from the recession is behind most communities in our area and should certainly be behind us in Johns Creek.

I’ll blame that in large part to the additional higher density housing which has been added over the years and continues to be added even as we speak.

Those that move into higher density developments are those that are not buying the current real estate stock we have in Johns Creek.  Fewer buyers for that real estate naturally lowers the selling prices of the real estate.  Yes indeed, the supply and demand curve you had to learn about in high school and college is actually meaningful.

Additionally, all of this “new” higher density living is coming in at average price points below what the average homes in Johns Creek are worth.

So we have less demand lowering selling points and lower prices units pulling down the averages as well.

Also interestingly enough the amount of commercial real estate per resident is rising.

Commercial Property Value Per Capita
Year Commercial Property Value Population
2007 $691,897,960.00 65994 $10,484.26
2015 $879,818,130.00 83102 $10,587.21
0.98%
Source: Johns Creek CAFR 2015

So as residential property values fall per resident, commercial property values are rising per resident.

I doubt that has been the objective of many of the residents within our community.  Those that reside on Findley Road at City Hall are undoubtedly happy about this outcome, however.

After all, they are the ones who continue to vote and push us along this path of more commercial development and higher density housing.

 

 

 

 

 

(*) Local Option Sales Taxes- How We Are Ripping Ourselves Off

Chances are, you have cast votes on more than one occasion to tax yourself via sales tax for education. traffic or other local projects.  Chances are, you, like many others, felt it was just a penny here and there, and chances are you bought into the notion that others from outside your jurisdiction would also be paying the tax, which is a win-win for all but those outside of your community.

tax dollars

And chances are, you’d be wrong. Continue reading

Play or Pay: How We Are Subject to TSPLOST Extortion

Cities in Fulton County are being held up at legislative gunpoint in Fulton County, Georgia, and if they do not play along with how the rules have been written by the State Legislature, their constituents will pay the price.

Cities within Fulton County (I live in Johns Creek) are required to either get on board with a Transportation Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) or run the risk of having the TSPLOST passed in the fall of 2016, and their jurisdictions be subject to the tax and receive nothing. Continue reading

Me Versus You

In the City of Johns Creek, there is a very interesting battle taking shape over a proposed noise ordinance which is meant to address sound(and the sound waves that generate vibrations) from a commercial business, which is detrimental to the homeowners nearby.

At first glance, it would seem to be a rather easy situation to address.  There are the usual questions people like to discuss: Continue reading

What’s The Real Cost Of the Old Alabama Road Delay to Drivers, Johns Creek?

Johns Creek residents have been fighting a losing battle with traffic for the past several years.  Key road closures and construction projects have taken their toll on drivers and residents who find themselves trapped in their neighborhoods during rush hours, or face 20 minute ride to the grocery or school, which is within a mile or two of their homes.

Last year I did some calculations to determine what our delays cost us. Some local residents asked me to do the same for the Old Alabama-141 project, and so I have. You can read more about the details in the link below, but I explain as we go how the numbers are generated.

http://ejmoosa.com/blog3/2015/06/05/the-high-cost-of-traffic-dollar-and-sense/

The Old Alabama Road project is, has, and will be going on for a long time, by any measure that you can find.  With less than a 1/2 mile of widening to be accomplished, the cost of the road construction itself is at least $5 million and maybe higher.  The City of Johns Creek went with the GDOT to do the project to save the taxpayers money.

But, like any government agency, they seem to forget about the costs to the taxpayers themselves.  Being stuck in traffic for two years or more has a very high price. Most DOT project guides that I have seen give credence to the costs of that impact on residents.  Johns Creek may be the exception.

According to the Georgia DOT webserver on traffic volumes, there were about 8619 cars per day traveling on Old Alabama during the three morning and evening hours that make up peak travel periods in Johns Creek in 2013.

Most of us have experienced worse delays than the 10 minutes I use for this example, but we will use that as the additional time each vehicle is taking to make it through the intersection.

That equals 86,190 minutes per day wasted sitting in traffic.

That equals 1,436 hours per day.  At a value of $16 per hour(based on what other DOTs use for the cost of traffic delays), that works out to a cost of $22,984.00 per day.

And since there are 250 or so work days a year, that works out to $5,975,840.00 per year.

This suggests to me that the residents and drivers in and around Johns Creek will have nearly $12 million dollars in lost time, wear and tear on their vehicles, and general frustration while the City of Johns Creek will have saved around $5 million by having the Georgia Department of Transportation run this project.

Was it worth it?

MARTA: It’s Not About Racism-It’s About the Math

MARTA_trainSince the beginning of the Mass Transit era in the Atlanta metropolitan area, I’ve constantly heard the arguments that the reason people were against the transit system was racism.

This is usually the moment that the local politician or commentator makes the statement about how people feared that their homes would be broken into and their tv set stolen and taken away on a bus or train. It’s a tired example, and an inaccurate example. Continue reading

Johns Creek and MARTA: The REAL Reason it is NOT the Right Answer

Recently, the City of Johns Creek passed a resolution effectively saying they would not support an increase in the MARTA sales tax, which is and has been collected in Johns Creek since MARTA was formed.

That decision has led to the usual bellowing of racism.  Racism is on the path to becoming the argument of first resort when people, generally on the left, do not get their way.  It used to be the argument of last resort, but why wait?

I am sure that there will be people that claim that my views are biased as well.  They would be wrong.  I graduated from Georgia State University, and I took the train from Hightower to Georgia State daily.  Even then, it took longer by train than by car.  Which is generally true for a lot of MARTA versus car travel cases.

For example, Windward Parkway in Alpharetta to the Atlanta Airport would take 42 minutes at 1:33 p.m. on 11/23/2015.  By bus/rail? One hour and 27 minutes(if you get there as soon as the bus arrives).  Click on the link below, and it will show you current travel times by both modes.

https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Windward+Pkwy,+Alpharetta,+GA/Hartsfield-Jackson+Atlanta+International+Airport,+6000+North+Terminal+Parkway,+Atlanta,+GA+30320/@33.8724997,-84.6242664,10z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x88f59e6c38cf93d3:0x8fcf80e0cde8a243!2m2!1d-84.2459577!2d34.091148!1m5!1m1!1s0x88f4fd2fe1035901:0x4117a3ef1892b048!2m2!1d-84.4277001!2d33.6407282!3e3

We are often told “Look at how successful the METRO is in Washington, D.C.”.  Of course that system is successful.  It was designed and built the proper way a transportation system should be built.  MARTA took a different path.  Well they basically took two paths: North-South and East-West.  That’s their failure.  That they have continued to this day without modifying that plan is why MARTA is not and cannot be the answer.

Have a look at the two systems.  Here are the maps for each:

Washington METRO Map

Washington METRO Map

Washington’s METRO has multiple 8 spokes to their transportation system.  Those 8 spokes three separate transportation circular routes that allow passengers to get to where they are going without the need for everyone to transfer at one primary station if they need to change directions while traveling.

This system is a functional system, and provides for additional expansion because they can connect any two outer spokes, creating another circular path, when the demand is there.

The Washington Metro was started in 1976.  It has:

  • Six Lines
  • 91 Stations
  • 117 miles of track
  • 712,843 passengers per day
marta-map

MARTA Metro Atlanta Rail Map

Atlanta’s MARTA system is shown here:

MARTA was started in 1971:

  • Two Main Lines
  • 38 Stations
  • 48 miles of track
  • 438,900 passengers per day
  • No new stations since 2000

 

As you can see, there is no connectivity between the two main spokes, except at Five Points.  There are no circular paths for patrons to take to get to their destination.

This also creates another major problem.  If MARTA has a failure between Lindbergh and the Airport, or between Holmes and Indian Creek, it disrupts all traffic and buses muse be used.  The Washington METRO allows riders to pick another route if one of the stations happens to be on one of their circular sections of track. Continue reading