The Georgia Court of Appeals recently ruled that landlords can severely limit legal actions against them by tenants. Even if you’re not a tenant, the decision is important because it’s another example of how consumers are routinely forced to forgo their access to the judicial system in order to participate in everyday transactions. Tenants did, though, score a major victory in the Georgia Legislature.
Throwing eggs and leaving angry notes are just a couple ways people have shown their dissatisfaction with someone parking in front of their house on a public street. These actions come despite the angry note leaver or egg thrower having no legal right to the parking spot. While parking restrictions may be necessary in some situations, burdensome auto abandonment laws and inappropriate restrictions could raise rents and create more trouble.
Georgia law has long allowed juries to find a landlord liable if they fail to take necessary steps to keep a tenant safe. It’s a basic legal protection given to tenants, particularly those in higher-crime areas. The Georgia Court of Appeals, though, is okay scrapping the whole jury thing if the judge thinks the tenant should have known not to get harmed. So no more juries, even if the landlord’s botched security job may have contributed to the tenant’s harm.
Buckhead has sometimes been referred to as the Jewel of Atlanta, though this title is severely threatened by its increasingly underwhelming user experience. Its lack of vibrancy, identity, and walkability make the neighborhood a shining example of poor urban design and undercut its ability to attract residents and businesses. In its attempt to remain relevant, Buckhead should look to Miami’s Brickell neighborhood, Virginia’s Tyson’s Corner, and Atlanta’s Midtown neighborhood.
Cities are in love with small coffee shops, artisan burger shops, and boutique clothing stores. The only thing they like more is taking people’s property and converting it to those types of businesses. This is, of course, a bit of hyperbole, though many would make that statement with much more sincerity. A bill passed by the Georgia Legislature would allow local governments to condemn blighted property and sell it to developers. It’s not a bad idea.
Congress looks to overturn an Obama-era rule designed to track racial discrepancies in access to affordable housing by gutting federal funding for critical GIS data. The American Association of Geographers has taken a strong stance saying these actions “…could have far-reaching consequences on federally-sponsored research on racial discrimination, including on federal human health programs; census issues; education programs, including services for children; Department of Justice programs; and other critical programs.”
Home and small music studios are the lifeblood of the Atlanta music scene. Recent violence in city neighborhoods has given rise to an ordinance to eliminate studios from residential areas. While an updated regulatory scheme may be necessary, the proposed Atlanta ordinance is a step in the wrong direction.
The case lets surface the fundamental problems we have in addressing quality housing for all people. At a time when affordable housing shortages are increasingly widespread, the Georgia Supreme Court’s decision should prompt us to address a past wrong. We can start by encouraging the private development of affordable housing in the same we encourage the private development of other important land uses, like conservation and agriculture.
We’ll likely see an increase in the number of poorer suburban communities. While Cobb and North Fulton will still have enclaves of wealthier residents, they will increasingly become the destination of lower-income individuals when they are priced out of the walkable Atlanta area. While quality-of-life is an issue even for wealthier residents in auto-centric communities, it is much more of a problem for their poorer residents. Try getting to the grocery store or your job when you don’t have a car and your community doesn’t support sidewalks or alternative transportation. While sitting in traffic on the way to work is stressful, having no transportation options to safely get to that place of work is arguably more stressful.
Removing zoning to a larger regional authority would undoubtedly be met with fierce political opposition, though it’s likely just what the doctor ordered for many metro areas to grow in more organized and reasonable manners. Making counties and cities compete among each other when we all freely travel between jurisdictions on a daily basis makes little sense. The bureaucratic inconsistencies and infrastructural headaches that ensue degrade our comprehensive regional planning efforts while cultivating a fractured political atmosphere and an overall distrust of one another.