Why I Support Ben Burnett for Alpharetta City Council

​A short video explaining why I support Ben Burnett for Alpharetta City Council. Please vote this Tuesday, November 7th.

Burnett Endorsement Thumb

 

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Legitimate Poll shows Overwhelming Opposition to Rail in North Fulton

Supporters of Georgia State Senator Brandon Beach’s MARTA tax increase bill, SB 313, have made many claims about public support for the legislation. As an elected representative of 63,000 people who live in Alpharetta I know many of those claims are inconsistent with the truth. That is why I am pleased to release the findings of an objective, statistically valid poll which demonstrates the people of North Fulton overwhelmingly oppose such a tax increase for the purpose of extending heavy rail in the region.

Legitimate Poll shows Overwhelming Opposition to Rail in North Fulton

Voters in the 5 major cities of North Fulton county have spoken and oppose a massive tax increase to support a Marta heavy rail extension.  When presented with a reasonable and accurate set of facts, the poll showed a clear landslide rebuttal.  Women opposed the tax increase and rail line by almost 63% and Republicans by almost 69%.  Democrats also opposed by a slim majority and African-Americans opposed by over 66%.  All age demographics were a majority against the tax increase and rail line. The poll was conducted by Landmark Communications a respected, non-biased firm.

 

Landmark MARTA poll

A decision of this magnitude deserves better

In an earlier post I wrote about my experience at the state capital last week. For more background you should also read this article about the hearing at GeorgiaPol.com.

As I testified at the senate hearing Senator Beach commented, “We can disagree without being disagreeable” and I couldn’t agree more. That is why some of the comments made by him and others supporting his 50% MARTA tax increase are so troublesome.

That doesn’t make sense to Beach. MARTA’s opponents, he said, are desperate for solutions. “Some of the politicians are saying, well, nobody is going to use it, and then in the next sentence they’re saying it’s going to create so much congestion coming into it. Well, you can’t have it both ways. If you’re going to have all this congestion, you’re going to have ridership. Just tell me one or the other.”

“The politicians are scared to death” of MARTA expansion, Beach said in an interview earlier this week.

What a perfect example of heavy rail supporters insulting their opponents and misleading the public without addressing the facts laid out by their opposition. Senator Beach’s assertion that politicians say, “nobody is going to use it” is just false hyperbole.

I have never heard it said by any opponent of heavy rail. However I have repeatedly pointed out that the U.S. Census shows only 2% of Fulton County residents ride heavy rail to work.

Yet while Senator Beach’s assertion that politicians say “nobody” is going to ride MARTA is false, his assertion that some say it’s going to cause more congestion is true and supported by facts.

Only 5% of the people who live in the zip code surrounding the North Springs MARTA station in Sandy Springs use heavy rail to get to work.

Commute chart Sandy Springs

And since only 846 people who live within walking distance of the station take trains to work MARTA had to build enormous parking garages. Why? Because most of the people who ride the trains have to drive cars to the station.

That is why rush hour traffic around North Springs is so bad the state of Georgia is spending a billion dollars trying to fix the problem while Sandy Springs is considering building monorails and the Perimeter CID is designing ways to expand surface streets to accommodate more cars, buses and trolleys at taxpayer expense.

So when Mr. Beach demands to know whether it is “one or the other” the response is “the other” because no politician says nobody will ride MARTA trains. Instead informed politicians say that while a small group of people around train stations will ride them the overwhelming majority of riders are forced to drive cars to the station making traffic worse.

Which means a bill dictating MARTA must expand using expensive, inflexible heavy rail lines along GA 400 will force commuters to crowd surrounding streets exacerbating congestion. The only public transportation that can effectively address existing congestion issues while improving economic development opportunities is Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).

The people of North Fulton are tired of congestion on the arterial roads and surface streets around GA 400. Of course other people have a vested interest in making sure transit forces people to visit the Georgia 400 corridor.

That’s why it was perfectly reasonable for Senator Beach to sponsor Senate Bill 313. Senator Beach is President of the North Fulton Community Improvement District (CID) a tax district created specifically to increase the property values of commercial properties along GA 400.

Understanding that, it makes sense for Senator Beach to pretend that North Fulton is doomed if taxpayers don’t spend billions of tax dollars to extend heavy rail into the CID there. No law forces political decisions to be decided on objective facts. So if Senator Beach supports a regressive tax increase which takes money from single moms in East Point to build train stations on three properties within the North Fulton CID it is perfectly fine. Even if it doesn’t seem fair, it’s good business for the CID.

Which is why it was also perfectly reasonable for Mr. Mark Toro to speak in favor of Senator Beach’s MARTA tax increase. Mr. Toro is a partner in North American Properties, the company now selling their Avalon mixed use development in Alpharetta. If Avalon is worth $500 million now it should be worth tens of millions more with a MARTA station. That’s just good business.

That’s the same reason Mr. Toro was a vocal supporter of the failed Tsplost tax that would have brought heavy rail to Atlantic Station in 2012. Now that North American has sold Atlantic Station and has Avalon on the market it is no surprise he supports a bill forcing Johns Creek retirees to pay for a MARTA station there.

And if Mr. Toro has to tell people who live in the City of Atlanta that objections to Senator Beach’s proposal are based on “racism” and a “bunch of old white guys”… so be it. If that’s what it takes to convince minority taxpayers in Atlanta they should pay for a 2.4 billion dollar amenity in the North Fulton CID, that’s just good business.

But the truth is that most elected officials in North Fulton support expanding some form of transit. Objections to Senator Beach’s 50% MARTA tax increase are not based on racism, irrational fears or muddled thinking but on sound reasoning and fiscal responsibility.

SB 313 diverts billions of dollars from efforts to build a sustainable transportation network that can support a vibrant region and directs them to an overpriced, inflexible mode of transportation that primarily benefits the commercial properties like Avalon within the North Fulton CID. To characterize principled, informed opposition to Senate Bill as irrational fear or uninformed reactionary politics is insulting.

A decision of this magnitude deserves better.

 

Alpharetta City Council Meeting Agenda for December 7, 2015

Below is the agenda for Monday night’s Alpharetta City Council meeting along with highlighted links to many of the supporting materials. Please feel free to leave questions and comments about agenda items in the comment section and I will do my best to respond in a timely manner.

I. CALL TO ORDER
II. ROLL CALL
[Collapse] III. PROCLAMATIONS
A. Proclamation – Police Captain Gary Cann
IV. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
[Collapse] V. CONSENT AGENDA
A. Council Meeting Minutes (Meeting of 11/16/2015)
B. Alcoholic Beverage License Applications
C. Financial Management Report for the month ending October 31, 2015.
[Collapse] VI. PROJECT UPDATES
A. Convention Center
B. City Center – Private Development
C. City Center – Public Development
[Collapse] VII. PUBLIC HEARING
A. CU-15-07/PH-15-11/V-15-19 Chick-fil-A/Avalon
B. PH-15-21 UDC Changes- Definitions and Text Amendments  (1st reading)
[Collapse] VIII. NEW BUSINESS
A. Amending Chapter 18 of the Code (Parking Enforcement Officer) – 1st Reading
[Collapse] IX. WORKSHOP
A. Proposed Design: Old Roswell Plaza
B. Bond Discussion
X. PUBLIC COMMENT
XI. REPORTS
XII. ADJOURNMENT

We’ve Come a Long Way…

It is hard to believe I first asked Alpharetta voters for the privilege of serving on their city council just four years ago. A lot has changed since then.

When I decided to run for office Alpharetta’s unemployment rate was 7.5%. Our office space vacancy rate was nearly 20% while residential property values had dropped by about 20%.

In that environment I took office and immediately began working with the mayor and council to revive Alpharetta’s local economy. We hired an Economic Development Coordinator and pursued innovative tools like the Opportunity Zone incentives which helped attract the Avalon development as well as major new employers like Fiserve and Halyard.

We aggressively sought a new technical school to maintain our skilled workforce and complement our award winning local schools. We began building a downtown Alpharetta our community could be proud of with special events and a restaurant scene to draw people from all over North Fulton.

Now four years into my service Alpharetta’s unemployment rate hovers near historic lows at 4.8%. The thousands of new jobs we attracted have reduced vacancy rates by half and for the first time in seven years new corporate campuses are being proposed to add more jobs in our thriving business ecosystem.

And during that extraordinary growth I never lost sight of how crucial it is to preserve what makes Alpharetta the best place in Georgia to raise a family and do business. I have consistently voted against hundreds of the apartments which further crowd our roadways and schools. I have devoted millions of dollars toward improving roadways and other infrastructure to accommodate growth. I promised to pursue fiscally responsible growth while rejecting tax increases and that is exactly what I have done.

So yes, we have come a long way from where we were 4 years ago… but there is a lot of work left to do. That is why I now ask the people of Alpharetta to extend to me the honor of serving them one more term on city council. With their blessing I will dedicate the next four years to continue representing this city honorably while fostering growth we can all live with. I hope I have earned your votes once again and appreciate any support you can lend in this effort.

Sincerely,                                                                                                                                           Jim Gilvin                                                                                                                               Alpharetta City Council, Post 4

Alpharetta City Council Agenda September 3, 2013

It’s been so long since I last posted here that I’ve almost forgotten how. Making time to blog has been difficult given all the other demands on my time but we live in interesting times and I miss being able to discuss issues in this format.

So each week as I am notified of our City Council meeting agendas I’ll post them here for your review. You are welcome to ask questions and leave comments. I will do my best to respond. As time allows I will try to post other articles and items of interest as well. Hopefully this will make it easier for people who care about Alpharetta to stay informed and speak up.

I encourage the open and frank exchange of ideas here but also caution readers that I will keep commenters on a short leash of civility and the leash is especially short for those who choose not to comment under their own names.

Please note that because of the Labor Day holiday next week’s city council meeting will be held on Tuesday night.

Update: 8/31/2013 @ 7:50 a.m. For administrative reasons there has been a change to the Tuesday night meeting agenda. The executive session will now be held at 7:00 p.m. prior to the regularly scheduled city council meeting.

 

CITY OF ALPHARETTA

Council Meeting for September 03, 2013
City Hall Council Chambers
7:30 PM

I. CALL TO ORDER
II. ROLL CALL
III. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
IV. PRESENTATIONS AND PROCLAMATIONS
A. Retirement of Fire Prevention Officer Charles Sims
B. Art Presentation to Council from campers at Camp Happy Hearts
C. National Payroll Week
V. CITY CENTER PROJECT
A. Workshop: City Center Update
B. City Center Master Plan Revision: Library Front Entry Parking
VI. NEW BUSINESS
A. Grants Administration
1. Wal-Mart Foundation
2. The NRA Foundation General Grant
B. Public Safety
1. Purchase of Public Safety Vehicles: Bid #14-005
C. Engineering/Public Works
1. Marietta Street Sidewalk Improvements: Bid #14-003
D. Administration
1. An Ordinance to Amend Certain Guidelines for Door to Door Solicitation
(First Reading)
2. An Ordinance of the Mayor and Council of the City of Alpharetta, Georgia to Amend Chapter 2, Article II of the Code of the City of Alpharetta, Georgia Regarding the Municipal Court (First Reading)
VII. PUBLIC COMMENTS
VIII. REPORTS

City of Alpharetta

Executive Session Agenda for September 03, 2013

City Hall Council Chambers

7:00 PM

  1. I.              PERSONNEL
  2. II.            REAL ESTATE
  3. III.           PENDING LITIGATION
  4. IV.          ADJOURNMENT

Thank you, Alpharetta

In case you haven’t heard, I won Tuesday’s Alpharetta City Council election by a huge margin.

We could never have won this election without the tremendous effort of dedicated volunteers and the encouragement we received from many of you. I will never lose sight of that fact as I serve you over the next four years and I will be eternally grateful for this opportunity.

And now that the challenge of a political campaign is over it is time to focus our efforts on the challenges ahead. Voters approved the new City Center project so the next four years should be exciting as we implement a plan to completely revitalize our downtown community. I will also work hard to improve Alpharetta’s traffic situation while keeping our taxes low and working to restrain high density development that will negatively impact our schools and quality of life.

There is a lot to be done and it won’t be easy. But neither was winning an election against an entrenched incumbent who enjoyed the support of the political establishment. With your help we achieved that victory Tuesday so there is no reason to think we can’t meet the new challenges ahead.

I know that as an elected representative of over 50,000 people there is no way to satisfy every person every time but I give you my word that I will always do these three things:

1)     I will always listen to your concerns.

2)     I will always keep an open mind.

3)     I will always be honest with you regarding my positions.

Regardless of the issue in question you deserve those three things from your elected representatives and you have my word that you will get them from me.

And I hope that all of you will feel comfortable calling me or emailing if you have any questions or concerns over the next four years. My cell phone number is 404 271-2716 and my personal email address is jimgilvin@bellsouth.net . Please accept this note as an open invitation to reach out to me whenever you wish.

Thank you again for this opportunity to serve you on city council. I am truly humbled by this honor and will serve you to the very best of my ability.

Sincerely,

Jim Gilvin