As the Atlanta City Council member for District 8, the western half of Buckhead, I am often asked: What is causing Buckhead residents to entertain the idea of forming their own city government, separate from Atlanta? Many assume the reason is crime because that is what they have heard. But there is a great deal more to it than that. It boils down to many years of Buckhead’s neglect by the city of Atlanta’s government.

For example, I requested months ago– but have not yet received– a Five-Year Capital Plan for District 8. The city of Atlanta produces a Five-Year Capital Plan. I want nothing less for my own Council District.

Our city’s leadership knows of my documentation of, among other things, the mishandling of the 2015 Renew Atlanta Bonds and TSPLOST funds. But in addition to those well-known debacles, we have been overlooked and underserved for years.

Our streets are in the second worst condition of all Council Districts, and despite my pleas and requests there has been no concentrated effort, or administrative plan, to bring our streets up to acceptable condition. Commuter traffic and truck traffic, i.e. construction trucks, service delivery trucks, city trucks, and maintenance trucks — all cause a deterioration of our roads.

Our traffic is suffocating. I applied for an Atlanta Regional Commission grant to analyze District 8 traffic and to design solutions. It was denied. I asked for city funds to produce a District 8 Traffic Plan and was told there are no funds available. I asked about the new bond and TSPLOST funding (which the citizens approved in March) and was told: 1) Bond funds wouldn’t be available until November and 2) TSPLOST had not collected enough funds to grant my request.

Our neighborhoods are being devastated with indiscriminate tree cutting (entire acres are being clearcut) and with flooding from upstream development.

Our single-family residential zoning (indeed, and that of all of Atlanta) was under assault by the city government during all of 2021. Only by the commitment and diligence of neighborhood leaders have we been able to preserve our neighborhoods so far.

And for those that say we “need density,” here’s the answer: Buckhead has over 64,000 units of attached housing: townhouses, mid-rises and high-rises— both apartments and condominiums. We have accepted a disproportionate share of “growing Atlanta!” So please don’t tell me we need density.

So what do we need? We need:

… Our streets paved

… Our traffic calmed

… Our zoning protected

… Our quality of life assured

… Our tax dollars well spent

… Our citizens safe

… Our neighborhoods preserved

It is NOT too much to ask, for Buckhead, or for any part of the city.

Buckhead is not getting what we need and deserve. If the Atlanta government wants to forestall the creation of a separate city, it should focus on the same thing that I, as a City Council member, am focused on: the delivery of services to my constituents. The concerns I have been hearing throughout my district, and that I am expressing here, should be taken very seriously by our Atlanta City Government. Time is of the essence.

Mary Norwood, a past candidate for mayor, is an Atlanta City Council member representing Buckhead.


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