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People (or Bots) Read These Articles This Year

Since we’re a website that posts articles we’re required to post our most popular articles from the year sometime near the end of December. We’re doing that now. We included the four most clicked on 2018 articles as well as some favorites that didn’t get as much attention from the bots. Only stand-alone articles are included, so nothing from Weekly Links. Finally, we included two articles from years ago that continue to be popular.

     

Most Popular Articles

 

You Don’t Own That Parking Spot In Front of Your House

Smashed windows, eggs, acid, and angry notes. These are just some of the methods residents have used to show their dissatisfaction with people parking on public streets in front of their homes. Americans have largely grown up with the idea that parking is a right; a right so fundamental we included it in the Declaration of Independence or something.

Typically parking anger is voiced when drivers are presented with a fee to park. Of course, even free parking isn’t actually free. It costs money to build and maintain parking lots and structures. Paved parking lots increase water runoff, so a higher stormwater fee is assessed to lot owners. All of those costs are transferred to users directly in the form of paid parking or indirectly in the form of higher prices for goods, rent, and home ownership. Increasingly, though, people not only feel they have a right to free parking, but also a right to exclude others from parking on a public street in front of their house or apartment.

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Why You May Not Have Noticed Georgia’s Hottest Year on Record

While the end of 2017 saw wind chills in the single digits across the state, the average temperature for the year across Georgia was 2.4°F above normal. That places 2017 in a tie with 2016 as the warmest year in 120 years of record keeping. As for the contiguous United States, 2017 was the third warmest year on record.

It’s important to understand why 2017 could be the warmest year on record. Despite Georgia seeing few excessively hot days during the year and Atlanta receiving three to four inches of snow in December, records like this aren’t established by extreme or newsworthy weather events; they’re established by consistent above-average temperatures throughout the year. A series of 75-degree days in the middle of April, though above average, would hardly prove newsworthy. Snow in Savannah, however, will send Twitter and Facebook into a frenzy. Since little news coverage is given to relatively normal days or days that are perceived to simply be “nice”, it’s easy to miss the long-term trend.

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Atlanta Surges in Growth As Metro Area Exceeds 45% of Georgia’s Population

In 2016 we wrote about Atlanta’s explosive growth since 2010 and nothing has changed over the past two years. In fact, Atlanta’s growth has accelerated since 2015 as the city gained 23,000 residents between 2015 and 2017 based on the latest US Census estimates. Atlanta had the 10th largest population increase among the country’s largest cities between 2016 and 2017, adding just 5,000 fewer people than Los Angeles, a city 8 times its size. Of the major cities and counties in the Atlanta metro area, only Forsyth County grew at a faster rate between 2010 and 2017 than the City of Atlanta.

Remember, Atlanta lost around 100,000 residents between the 1950’s and 1980’s – a period known in America as the great urban exodus or the “great white flight” as most major cities saw dramatic population declines. Atlanta is well on its way to reversing those losses as the city added 66,000 residents between 2010 and 2017.

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Is The Supreme Court Capable of Valuing the Environment?

The City of Atlanta has made an interesting argument as to whether the Supreme Court, or any court, is capable of assessing the value of the environment. This is important since the Court would, theoretically, have to assign some value to Florida’s ecosystems in order to weigh its interest against the value of Georgia’s need for a sufficient agricultural and municipal water supply. If the case were to proceed, the Court would need some standard of comparison in order to allocate water between the states.

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Articles We Liked

 

Disorder in the Supreme Court: Four Ways to Resolve the Partisan Chaos

The concept of judicial review becomes problematic, though, when the Court isn’t apolitical and is instead staffed with extensions of the political parties. But scrapping the Supreme Court’s ability to review the constitutionality of legislation or requiring justices to be elected instead of appointed, as some commentators would like, may not be necessary or beneficial. It makes practical sense to separate the creation and enforcement of laws from the review and assessment of those laws. It also makes sense to have federal judges and justices appointed rather than elected. Elections would only intensify a judge’s need to pander to political parties, political action committees, and the viewpoints of extreme groups of people.

Instead, we could simply restructure the Supreme Court to make each seat less consequential. This would potentially reduce the influence of political parties on the Court, which may safeguard the justices from political partisanship. Several proposals for restructuring the Court have been floated, but we’ll focus on four that have garnered attention since Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to replace justice Anthony Kennedy earlier this year.

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Are HOT Lanes Working? Sure, If You’re Wealthy

It depends on what you mean by “working.” If the idea is to reduce traffic congestion for people willing to pay the price to use the HOT lanes then yes, the data appears to show that they are working. However, if the idea is to reduce traffic congestion for everyone, then the data is much less supportive.

The Georgia Department of Transportation recently reported that traffic in the I-75 HOT lanes south of Atlanta moves 10-20 miles per hour faster than the general purpose lanes during the morning and afternoon commute. However, morning northbound traffic in the general purpose lanes moves less than 1 mile per hour faster than it did before the HOT lanes were installed.

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Creating a City For the Stars

Many Americans have never seen the night sky. Sure they’ve seen the Moon, they’ve probably seen Venus, and perhaps they’ve even been able to identify the Orion constellation. While this collection of astronomical objects is impressive, it paints an astonishingly limited portrait of our universe. Viewing the universe in this capacity is like viewing the Grand Canyon from the window of your hotel room in downtown Phoenix.

Due to light pollution, most city residents experience this limited perspective. As America and the rest of the world becomes increasingly urbanized, more people are growing up having never actually witnessed the true view of the universe from Earth. While it may seem inconsequential, this deficiency could have a profound impact on how we interact with ourselves, our communities, and our planet.

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Perennial Favorites

Remembering the Time Andrew Jackson Ignored The Supreme Court in the Name of Georgia’s Right to Cherokee Land

“John Marshall has made his decision;

now let him enforce it.”

Those are the famous words uttered by President Andrew Jackson in relation to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall’s 1832 decision in Worcester v. Georgia to strike down a Georgia law that imposed regulations on the comings and goings of white people in Native American land.

This ruling was foundational in establishing the general idea that Native Americans have some degree of sovereignty in their interaction with U.S. governments. The words and actions of President Jackson in relation to the opinion is a historic event exemplifying the ever present debate over state and federal power and the role of the courts in our modern times.

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The Dawson Forest Site: Atlanta’s Intriguing Former Nuclear Aircraft Site Turned Nature Conservancy

A curious map reader may notice an unusually rectangular piece of green land just north of Atlanta and just west of Lake Lanier in the foothills of the North Georgia mountains. Aside from Yellowstone Park in Wyoming, rarely do we find conservation or preservation land in the form of nearly perfect geometrical shapes, especially here in the eastern part of the country. This makes that green spot north of Atlanta quite intriguing at first glance. At second glance it becomes even more intriguing. Upon zooming in, it’s revealed that this 10,000 acre piece of land approximately 40 miles north of downtown Atlanta is actually owned by the city of Atlanta.

The Dawson Forest – City of Atlanta Tract was supposed to be the site of the proposed second Atlanta airport. That, of course, never came to fruition, but the city still owns the property nonetheless. Decades ago the site was used as a testing facility by Lockheed Martin as part of the Georgia Nuclear Aircraft Laboratory and was later purchased by the city in 1971. The site contained a small radiation effects reactor, which has led to some areas of the site being fenced off since previous studies conducted in the 1990’s revealed slightly elevated, though not dangerous, levels of radiation.

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