Candidate Questions

What role do you envision for Buckhead to play to address our City’s housing challenges?

These answers are offered as a community service from candidates who chose to respond.
They do not represent an endorsement by the Buckhead Coalition.

Mayor Candidates

  • Andre Dickens: With any changes to zoning the community must be involved in the process. I am a supporter of the Neighborhood Planning Unit system, and I will continue to protect that system. We must work with the community so that their concerns are considered when we address the future growth in Atlanta and address the issues that are facing our city: public safety, income inequality, housing affordability, lack of transit options, etc. These issues affect all of us, so we must work together to address them.
  • Sharon Gay: Atlanta has no shortage of options to increase the supply of housing at all price points in a way that doesn’t threaten the character of our neighborhoods. I don’t believe in “one size fits all” zoning that imposes rules on neighborhoods that they themselves do not support. We should focus on corridors and thoroughfares, vacant and underutilized land, and properties owned by AHA. We need to ensure that all of our neighborhoods are thriving and attractive to investors who want to build new housing and commercial amenities, and improve the quality of life of our residents.
  • Mark Hammad: I don’t believe that zoning changes are needed in Atlanta. We have more than enough vacant, underutilized, and city owned land that can be developed.

Due to the 10+ years of underinvestment in housing by previous administrations, we now need tens of thousands of units to match the demand. We are in a position where we have to partner with developers to bring this supply online. My areas of focus for development are the following:

    • Vacant or underutilized land in high density/commercial corridors;
    • High density developments within proximity to Marta stations (subway stations); and
    • Developments on City owned land.
  • Felicia Moore: First and foremost, I began my public service career as a neighborhood association president and NPU chair working to preserve the character and integrity of our wonderful single-family neighborhoods. In March of this year, I was the first city official to come out against all blanket re-zoning initiatives. As our next Mayor, I will address our new housing needs by first making city-owned property along major transit corridors available, and making those developments accountable to set aside a significant number units for affordable housing so city employees and service industry workers and their families can afford to live, work, and retire in our wonderful city.
  • Kasim Reed: It’s no secret that we need to increase the quantity of affordable housing to help manage a city growing, but also avoid drastically changing what makes each community in Atlanta special. I am committed to better utilizing our current public real estate assets, particularly the properties owned by the Atlanta Housing Authority and MARTA. There are also untapped federal resources that are available to the city that could be used to expand affordable, transit-oriented housing options. We also need to layer the affordable units so that we have options to serve low-income households earning up to 60% of area median income, while also supporting middle-income households that earn up to 100% of median income.

My approach to density and affordability will be intentional, within areas that can support and welcome it. We have been told we either need to choose affordability or historic and community preservation, but that’s a false choice that I reject.

  • Roosevelt Searles: I do not support the rezoning effort. Plainly put.
  • Richard Wright: Providing affordable living is a priority of my administration. I want to return power to the NPUs to review and authorize zoning codes. Each District is different and thus should be able to review zoning codes. My administration will appoint a Affordable housing Czar to work with NPUs and council members to anazlyze district housing needs. Buckhead is the wealthiest community in the South. There are plenty of single-family residences scattered throughout the Buckhead area. Every district must review and acknowledge that some rezoning is nneded to accommodate the rising population in the city of Atlanta and the overall metro area. My administration goal is to make sure that zoning is fair and equitable. No unnecessary rezoning in areas that don’t make financial or livability sense.
  • Glenn S. Wrightson: As Mayor, I, Glenn S. Wrightson, would promote multi-unit housing near the existing and planned MARTA transit nodes.

I would restrict short-term residential rentals. I would seek to maintain status que in established neighborhoods. Growth needs to be balanced against preserving established communities.

City Council President Candidates

  • Natalyn Archibong: Buckhead is a major employment center. As a result, people from across the region travel to Buckhead to work. I’m glad that many major employers in Buckhead are working together to establish a plan for the development of workforce housing. Under the proposal, local hotels owners, real estate developers and other property owners would establish workforce housing for workers in the service industry and those who make less than the area’s median income. This proposal would also result in shorter commutes to and from work, reducing transportation costs. The city should also support initiatives through Invest Atlanta, Atlanta Housing and through other funds that could be used to build, renovate or retain affordable housing units within Buckhead.
  • Courtney English: Ensuring housing affordability is critical to Atlanta’s future. I believe we can work within our NPU system to increase density where needed and desired, protect the character of our neighborhoods, and our environment at the same time. We will work urgently to utilize the undeveloped land owned by AHA, explore employer sponsored housing, identify a dedicated revenue stream for affordable housing, and turn vacant city owned property into affordable housing units. While Chairman of the APS board, we turned vacant school building into affordable housing units, so I am well suited to lead this effort.
  • Doug Shipman: ​​I do not support the current rezoning proposals. Any changes to rezoning should be coupled with updates to the tree ordinance, so there is a comprehensive approach to growth. I believe older units in Buckhead should be preserved and supported as workforce housing as neighborhoods are less congested and better with an income mix to support commercial activities. I also see the potential for innovative uses of former commercial spaces (e.g., older storefronts) for live/workspaces for artists and creators- providing affordable spaces for creative folks that also support small businesses.

City Council Candidates, Post 1 At-Large

  • Michael Julian Bond: First, to be clear, I do not support the current amendment to the Zoning Code that would indiscriminately increase density throughout Atlanta. Density may be appropriate in some areas of town, but it should only be increased with the consent of those neighborhoods. The City must plan with communities to protect the quality of life and Buckhead should be at the table—in the forefront—planning the future of the area and the City should work collaboratively to implement that development plan and vision.
  • Alfred “Shivy” Brooks: I believe that neighborhoods should be able to maintain their character. I will be responsive to the desires of Atlantans, neighborhood by neighborhood. The city must be responsive to each neighborhoods wishes regarding the types of zoning welcomed in that community. If a community wants more density and upzoning, I would support that; if a community wants more single-family homes, I would support that. Atlanta is not a monolith, and each neighborhood should have the right to have its voices and concerns heard and neighborhood goals respected.
  • Brandon Goldberg: We cannot use a one size fits all approach for issues in Atlanta. Different neighborhoods will require different solutions. What works in one area may work in another, but it may not. In some neighborhoods, rezoning may make sense to allow for more carriage houses, basement units, and similar options. However, these changes should take place in discussion with neighborhood associations and other community organizations. While many of these proposals are promising and can help in addressing Atlanta’s housing challenges, we must take care to address the nuances of each community.
  • Todd Gray: Housing can be complicated in Atlanta, a city defined by its neighborhoods. From Little 5 Points to East Atlanta Village; from Cascade Road to Buckhead, I don’t want to rid the city of single family homes. But I know that we need to take a hard look at 21st century housing policies and build a vision for a future Atlanta. This includes affordable single family housing, as well as multifamily housing opportunities for those that are interested. As a servant leader my door will always be open to anyone who wants to help build a bright future for our city.

City Council Candidates, Post 2 At-Large

  • Matt Westmoreland: Housing affordability is one of the key challenges facing Atlanta– and all across our city. We’ve made some good progress over the last four years– whether it was the issuance of a $100 million housing opportunity bond or the production or preservation of thousands of affordable multifamily units thanks to grants and subsidies from Invest Atlanta. Looking forward, we need to place a special focus on ensuring we are locating affordable units all over town– but to create socioeconomically mixed communities and so that our residents can live closer to their jobs, which both builds community and helps with traffic congestion.

City Council Candidates, Post 3 At-Large

  • Jacki Labat: Growth in Atlanta is inevitable. Our job is to ensure that we promote smart growth that is engineered by both the city and our NPU system. Atlanta’s many unique neighborhoods are what make this city such a special place. However, when we talk about increased density, the approach must make sense for those who will be impacted – residents of those communities. Access to affordable housing across the city should be a top priority for city officials. Ideally, those who work in Buckhead would be able to live in Buckhead reducing the number of commuters/cars on the road daily.
  • Jodi Merriday: I envision Buckhead owners and developers contributing their equitable fair share of accessory dwellings, modestly converted single-family homes, and conservative new developments close to transit toward addressing our city’s housing challenges.
  • Keisha Waites: Inclusionary zoning is tricky. On the surface it’s a great way to increase affordable housing, but if not structured properly it either disincentives developers or it can disturb the character and charm of neighborhoods. Alternative! The city owns a vast amount of land that could be used for affordable housing. Other cities and organizations have experimented with holding long term land leases, thereby reducing the cost of a house by eliminating the land price. In partnership with HUD and the state, the city can re-invest in bank owned and foreclosed multi-family housing units that have been abandoned or condemned.
  • Sherry Williams: I will work with Livable Buckhead on their employer sponsored housing feasibility study. I will work with Invest Atlanta and the Atlanta Housing Authority to see that affordable housing actual gets built with the funds that are already available, including in Buckhead. Additionally, there is money available for first time home buyers that is sitting unused because the city has failed to adequately inform people that it’s available. Finally, after we invest money in affordable housing we need to ensure it remains affordable instead of immediately skyrocketing in price.

City Council Candidates, District 6

  • Alex Wan: I do not support the current rezoning proposals. My experience has shown that the best zoning issue outcomes arise when deliberated collaboratively by all stakeholders parcel by parcel, neighborhood by neighborhood, project by project. Neighbors have a clearer “on the ground” knowledge of the various factors (transportation, infrastructure, natural boundaries, traffic patterns and usage, etc.) that make a proposal work or not. Like all Atlanta neighborhoods, Buckhead should continue to engage in this exploration and proactively recommend where additional units of various types could go, and then work together with City leadership to begin clearing the path for those opportunities.

City Council Candidates, District 9

  • Dustin Hillis: As Atlanta continues to expand affordable housing programs and requirements, it is important that such housing be located equitably across the city. Even in District 9, most of the 900+ new or saved affordable units have been in the southern portion of the district. We need to explore ways for future development, especially multifamily development in already dense areas, to include some measure of affordable/workforce housing, so people can live in the areas they work and serve.