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: ) 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
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
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.






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

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.

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?

What’s The Real Cost of that MARTA Ride?

MARTA is in the news a lot lately in Fulton County, as they push for more funds to expand heavy rail, especially in North Fulton County.  We are told of the benefits of MARTA, and one could argue that there are indeed benefits, especially for those that do not own vehicles.

MARTA is pushing today for a sales tax increase that would increase their sales tax revenues by 50%.  By doing so, Fulton County will be increasing the subsidies that are given for each MARTA rider.

But what is the true cost of of this Mass Transit system today, and where do the funds come from?  Is it a positive or negative expense when it comes to other modes of transport?

Only 22% of MARTA’s funding comes from fares.

Twenty-two per cent of MARTA’s funding comes from Fare Revenue, 58% from sales tax revenues, and the other 20% from other sources such as State and Federal government.  What would it cost if MARTA relied entirely on fares, and not on sales tax dollars,and federal and state dollars? Continue reading

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.,+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 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

The High Cost of Traffic: Dollar$ and Sense


We have all felt it and dealt with it.  Some of us deal with it every day of the work week, weekends included:  Traffic.

Traffic also has a cost that can be estimated in dollars, and hopefully that will lead to some common sense.

Wherever you reside, chances are you know when you need to leave by to avoid the brunt of traffic.  But sometimes, you haven’t a choice, and you are stuck with the slow crawl towards your destination.

In my case that destination is through one primary intersection both coming and going.  And sometimes it can take 15 minutes or more to travel the final three miles.  That is not the way coming home should ever feel.

Searching high and low on the internet, you will not find much of substance in dealing with traffic.  We know the familiar things that are often offered to resolve it.  Time(as in it will be years before we can do something), Technology( as in if we install cameras along the entire route and we upgrade all the traffic signals). and Mass Transit( because buses which serve people who generally do not own cars, and drivers keep on driving), I found one thing missing: cost analysis.

I did find two stories of interest to me.  One was a story detailing from the Texas Transportation Institute the cost of traffic delays.  The story dates back to 2011, which makes me think that despite the high toll it takes on us, we have more or less resigned ourselves to suffer with traffic.

Here are some of the findings from the CBS Moneywatch Story:

1) Commuters in large urban areas spend roughly 40% more on average or $1,166 per    year twiddling their thumbs in traffic. And remember, these are 2011 dollars.

2)  The cost of wasted time and fuel?  $16 per hour for cars and $106 per hour for commercial trucks.

That is quite a sum of money over the cost of the year.  And if those numbers are valid, then could I build an estimate of what just one intersection (State Bridge and Georgia 141 in Johns Creek, GA) costs drivers just during rush hours (the three peak hours in the morning and the evenings)?

The intersection of State Bridge and 141 is a major intersection.  It just might be the busiest intersection in the Metro Atlanta area that is not limited access and is controlled by a traffic light.  I have diligently searched the Georgia DOT Traffic Server for a busier one, but I have yet to find it. I encourage you to check it out and see what you can learn about your traffic as well.  You can find it here:

The data for most survey locations is only collected once a year, so be sure to look back at previous years to confirm that the data you are using seems reasonable.  And the data does not reflect intersections, so the method I chose to calculate the intersection volumes was calculated by taking the volumes from the mornings and evening rush hours and adding them together.  For 141 I took the two measurement locations North and South of the intersection, and determined the average of the two.  For State Bridge Road, I used the location East of 141 as the West location is not current.

Morning Rush Hour:

The volume North-South on 141 totals 10,436 vehicles between 7:00 a.m and 9:59 a.m.

The volume East-West on State Bridge totals 9,320 vehicles between 7:00 a.m and 9:59 a.m.

Evening Rush Hour:

The volume North-South on 141 totals 11,763 vehicles between 4:00 p.m and 6:59 p.m.

The volume East-West on State Bridge totals 9,320 vehicles between 4:00 p.m and 6:59 p.m.

The total going through the intersection then is approximately 19,756 in the morning period and 21,664 in the evening period for a total of 41,420 vehicles.

And if you were wondering just how many for the entire day?  It’s likely averaging over 101,000 vehicles per day.


Below is a table which will give you an idea of just how much this traffic is costing us depending on just how much time you feel it is taking you extra to travel through the intersection.  A backup heading northbound on 141 at the Chattahoochee River could indeed take you more or less 15 minutes.

Note that even two minutes per day has a significant cost.

Cars per Day 41,420 41,420 41,420 41,420
Minutes Wasted 2 5 10 15
Minutes Wasted per Day 82840 207100 414200 621300
Hours Wasted per Day 1380.66667 3451.66667 6903.333333 10355
Cost per Hour $16 $16 $16 $16
Daily $22,091 $55,227 $110,453 $165,680
Weekly $110,453 $276,133 $552,267 $828,400
Annually $5,743,573 $14,358,933 $28,717,867 $43,076,800

These are rather large sums of money that we are wasting each workday.  Even if you disagree with the $16 amount, hopefully you are worthy of minimum wage:

Cars per Day 41,420 41,420 41,420 41,420
Minutes Wasted 2 5 10 15
Minutes Wasted per Day 82840 207100 414200 621300
Hours Wasted per Day 1380.66667 3451.66667 6903.333333 10355
Cost per Hour $7 $7 $7 $7
Daily $10,010 $25,025 $50,049 $75,074
Weekly $50,049 $125,123 $250,246 $375,369
Annually $2,602,557 $6,506,392 $13,012,783 $19,519,175

There may be some different ways to calculate this cost.  The State of Michigan has a Construction Congestion Analysis Spreadsheet to calculate the cost of delays for traffic due to construction. Perhaps it could be adopted for our purposes.,4616,7-151-9625_54944-227053–,00.html



Common Sense:

As the costs are rather staggering when computed, it really only makes sense to begin tackling these problems today, and not waiting another 2, 3 or even 5 years.  These are real dollars coming out of our pockets today.  We have not even tacked on the emotional costs of getting to your child’s swim meet or ball game.  Some things do not have a price tag.

Governments, however, look at this slightly different.  If they have to pay for it what is the return on THEIR investment?

I believe that answer is simple.  Less congestion equates to higher property values, higher levels of commerce and a safer and happier community.

Higher property values and higher levels of commerce leads to higher tax revenues.

Recently, the City of Johns Creek announced that it had received an improved rating for the Johns Creek Fire Department, which will safe the citizens close to 20% in future insurance premiums.  They could have chosen to have a Fire Department that was rated slightly lower at a lower cost and saved some dollars.  They chose not to for many reasons.

This was a solid investment on behalf of the citizens of Johns Creek to this point.  And that is the sort of investment I want to see dealing with the traffic issues.  The return on investment is even higher than what we saw with the Fire Department.  And this is just one intersection.

As everyone here knows, we have several others as well.

You have a responsibility as well.  You need to realize that this is a worthwhile investment and contact your officials and encourage them to act now, not later.

The money you save will be your own. Let’s work to saving the green and getting the green.

These are my opinions.  I want to hear yours.

Leave me a note and I will be happy to respond.