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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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

The Right to Bear Arms Vs. Property Rights

In a story today at Breitbart News (link below), a District Judge has stated that your right to defend yourself does not start only at your door.

It’s always good when a judge affirms what most of us already agree with.  But here is where it becomes tricky.

Do your constitutional rights go with you wherever you go, or do they end when you enter property not owned by yourself and not government property?  Are your rights merely extended to you on your own property, in essence?

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