Amir Farokhi

Atlanta community activists are upset upon discovering that City Councilman Amir Farokhi surreptitiously introduced radical legislation to re-classify 1,800 parcels of land in various neighborhoods from single-family to multi-family land use. Such changes have previously gone through neighborhood planning units (NPUs), but Farokhi wants to end that by revising the city’s Comprehensive Development Plan.

Farokhi’s sweeping legislation– labelled No. 21-0-0455 and introduced this week into Councilman Matt Westmoreland’s zoning committee– initially provides no clue what it really does. But when you get to the middle of the document there are pages listing the reclassification of the parcels. And Farokhi did not announce his plan to Atlantans or even make the details of his proposal known to the City Council president and apparently not even Westmoreland.

Just one example of what would happen if this revision is implemented involves beautiful Ansley Park. At least 118 parcels are targeted for changing the land use designation from single- to multi- family— and they are in the heart of the neighborhood.

“Certainly it is possible that it’s appropriate to reclassify some of these parcels, but each one should come before the NPUs and be judged on the merits of that parcel,” a community activist tells InsiderAdvantage. “That is the way our system works now, and it has served us well. And if Farokhi thought this was such good legislation, he would have announced it rather than introducing it in the dark.”

Interestingly, Farokhi’s plan dovetails with what other Democrats in other cities and within the Biden administration are advocating: Removing zoning laws that protect a single-family residential neighborhood from encroachment by other land uses– specifically high-density, subsidized, low-income multi-family housing. The bottom line: No more single-family home neighborhoods will be built—and the grandfathered ones that exist will eventually be sold and would become condos, apartments buildings or whatever.

Felicia Moore

In fact, Atlanta’s Director of Zoning and Development, Keyetta Holmes, and a Development Services Planner with the Chatham-Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission, Matt Lonnerstater, were part of a panel discussion last year and openly proposed that cities study the abolition of single-family zoning. It is to “encourage more diverse housing types,” they said. Their presentation even criticized Sandy Springs for having 85 percent of its “residential land zoned for detached single-family homes.”

Pushback to such ideas, though, has been occurring even before Farokhi made his stealth move. Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore just last month joined Buckhead skeptics of the city’s new package of housing policy proposals, affirming that she opposed “blanket” changes to single-family zoning and questioning its consequences. Moore, who is running for mayor to replace Keisha Lance Bottoms, addressed a March 2 Neighborhood Planning Unit B meeting where she flatly warned the audience what such an attack on single-family neighborhoods mean. The NPU board also questioned the “Atlanta City Design Housing” plan.

So look for more debate over the Farokhi proposal. This growing community debate will force mayoral candidates and Council members to study the legislation and then take a stand for or against it. It will also cause other Georgia cities and counties to confront a growing anti-single-family neighborhood campaign.

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