Johns Creek: At a Crossroads (Or Being Pushed Towards A Different Outcome)

The semantics are similar, and people can argue which is which.  But make no mistake about it, Johns Creek has been pushed for the last ten years towards change.

The affects of this change are readily apparent in our annual CAFR reports.  Our per capita income is declining.  Our density(number of people) per square acre is rising.

It seems that there are those among us that believe we just need more population to make all of the things we have in Johns Creek work.  More residents justify the need for more services.  More residents justify the need for Bus Rapid Transit.  And you need to have a place for all of these residents to live, and while mostly built out, the only wan to do this is to increase the density of our housing.

The recent “first draft” of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan was revealing.  While the CAC and the City have more or less dismissed this draft, it was they that brought it to us.

Pages upon pages of conversations on Tax Yield Per Acre.  Drawings of Mixed Use high density developments at some (but not all) commercial developments.  State Bridge Road to be widened to three lanes in both directions (this is a done deal according to the City or we will be sued) as well as 141 (we will get sued again).

Where is this push coming from?  Have the residents gotten together and demanded all of the things I have described above?  Is that why we are here?  We want to be a suburban city where we cannot tell where Alpharetta starts and Johns Creek ends?

Let’s go back to the beginning:  Our per capita income has been falling.  The number of people we have per acre within Johns Creek is already higher than our neighboring communities.

That trend is not going to change if we pursue work force housing, Bus Rapid Transit, six lane thoroughfares, and a coordinated redevelopment of the private property we know collectively as Tech Park.

Let’s talk about a few of these things such as work force housing.  We are told that there are not affordable places for the “work force” in Johns Creek to live.  Therefore our local government is responsible to address this issue.  Actually, nothing could be further from the truth, but let’s play along.  So our City is going to get into the business of managing the housing stock.

To be affordable for the “work force” you will need land.  But property for development is in short supply(and the City made it in much shorter supply by buying up large tracts for parks).  So the density wherever this work force housing is to be located will need to be higher-much higher than we have in Johns Creek today.  And to keep the costs down, we will need to approve smaller dwellings than we average today-perhaps as small as 1000 feet.

So how is this going to be accomplished without creating higher and higher densities?  It cannot.  And how will the City go about getting the work force into the housing?  Won’t higher income earners also choose to live in Johns Creek as cheaply as they can afford? Not all higher income earners want the larger homes in the first place.  The answer is they will not be able to do so.  So the concept will fail.

The second thing being sought is Bus Rapid Transit- a pipeline for businesses so that they can expand their access to workers.  And to do this we will widen 141 to three lanes in each direction(we already have buses running from the Doraville Marta station that are empty) to bring workers to and from Johns Creek.  This allows the businesses to not raise wages for employees.

That is why the workers cannot afford housing in Johns Creek-low wages.  Yet we are going to enable companies to continue paying less by increasing the number of workers who can get here on Bus Rapid Transit?  Can you see the failure in this logic?

Finally, we are told that we “must” rebuild Tech Park, as the thirty year old structures are out of date.  But this flies in the face of the statement that we are built out.  If there is a greater economic use for the property, it would already be happening.  Property owners, of their own accord, would be upgrading their own properties and then reaping greater financial rewards.  They are not.  And there is a simple reason.  At this point in time there is no demand for the current inventory or the proposed inventory.

So yes we are being pushed towards a different destination or outcome than the path the City of Johns Creek was on 10 years ago.  And we are already seeing the effects of that push in lower per capita incomes and higher densities, which have lead to more gridlock in our local  traffic.

If you have been watching the City Council at all, then you know who has been driving forward this push to change Johns Creek.  If you want that process to slow down, then you need to elect a Council Member who is not pursuing objectives like work force housing, Bus Rapid Transit, and widening of the roads to handle the buses.

The choice is yours.  The incomes are already falling.  The density is already rising.  Where will they be in ten years is what you need to ask yourself.

And what impact will those changes have on the public school system?  That is the reason most people choose Johns Creek in the first place.  If you kill that Golden Goose you will be sorry.  And if you think that cannot happen, think again.

It happens all the time.



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About EJ Moosa

EJ Moosa believes that a smaller government is a more efficient government. He believes that better analysis leads to better solutions. A graduate of Georgia State University In Business Administration, EJ grew up in Cobb County,GA, graduating from Osborne High School and worked at several Atlanta companies including First Atlanta, IBM, and Six Flags over Georgia.

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