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DeKalb mayors raise concerns about local government preemption bills

Avondale Estates Clarkston Decatur Metro ATL Trending Tucker

DeKalb mayors raise concerns about local government preemption bills

The DeKalb House Delegation held a virutal meeting on March 2 with mayors from cities in DeKalb County to discuss local preemption bills. Photo is a screenshot of the meeting.

Atlanta, GA — Bills have been introduced in the Georgia General Assembly that attempt to preempt local governments from placing certain use restrictions on residential housing. Mayors in DeKalb County are concerned about home rule and losing local control.

During the DeKalb House delegation meeting on March 2, Georgia Municipal Association Deputy Director for Governmental Relations Charlotte Davis explained that House Bill 1093 and Senate Bill 494 would not allow local governments to address restrictions on rental subdivisions either through zoning or permit applications.

“There’s a fairly new business model that is really taking off in Georgia — build to rent,” Davis said. “There are a lot of large, out-of-state corporations that have focused on Georgia.”

GMA’s role in the legislative process around these bills is to ensure that local city councils and mayors can determine what type of housing is appropriate at the local level.

“The bill is very broad and that’s concerning to us, because that means the preemption in the bill is very broad and would really hamstring a city council from applying any type of restriction or discretion on these types of new developments that are just for rental housing,” Davis said.

Rep. Doreen Carter (D-Lithonia) mentioned HB 1093 was presented as a way to help create affordable housing options.

Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett said this feels like a “bait and switch by the people who are saying this is going to bring affordable units to communities” when the rents that were discussed during the committee hearing weren’t affordable.

“I feel like we do have other solutions, we do have other partners that are local, that want to work with us and help with addressing this crisis,” Garrett said. “I do have concerns about how broad the bill is, that it would have some unintended consequences.”

Avondale Estates Mayor Jonathan Elmore’s main concern is that the bills would take away home rule and cities and counties’ abilities to create ordinances that they feel like are good for their communities. He’s also concerned about having access to inspections, as it’s a public safety concern.

“The cities and the counties have to have the right to come in and inspect structures to make sure they’re safe for the public, because they don’t always want to speak up or can speak up,” Elmore said.

Tucker has had two market-rate apartment proposals for projects like this in the last year. One was approved, and the other was denied, Tucker Mayor Frank Auman said.

“That’s what home rule is about. Nobody knows better than the seven of us on our council the details on the ground as to what’s happening and what would be good or bad for the community,” Auman said.

The city of Clarkston has seen the issues of not having enough parking or other services when a home is divided into a rental subdivision, Clarkston Mayor Beverly Burks said. Her concern is that affordability is not guaranteed if a home is converted into a multi-unit residence.

“We understand our communities,” she said. “The people who are doing these things care less about ensuring affordability when they do these splitting of homes. There’s nothing that requires them to make sure that these homes are affordable.”

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