Atlanta’s planning department is soliciting community input for its first zoning code overhaul in 40 years, but one local housing advocacy group says the city’s Zoning 2.0 survey for the public is too darn complicated—and so it’s come up with a solution of sorts.

“The survey they developed is really confusing if you’re not a land-use professional,” Abundant Housing Atlanta says, so it’s posted recommendations online to guide urbanist-minded Atlantans in filling out the survey. (The group says it consulted housing experts to craft its recommendations.)

The survey asks residents for their opinions on planning systems like zone strings, frontage standards, and floor area ratio limits—matters with which many are entirely unfamiliar.

Atlanta’s new planning commissioner, Jahnee Prince, told Atlanta Civic Circle in an email that she hasn’t taken the City Planning Department’s Zoning 2.0 survey yet herself. She said she’ll check it out soon, adding, “I’ll ask a couple of my neighbors to take it and tell me what they think.”

Another activist group, Housing Justice League, emphasized the importance of community participation in the zoning code’s revamp, saying in an email blast, “If we do not engage in this process, only folks who want Atlanta to stay the same will participate, which will dictate who gets to live in the city of Atlanta for the next generation.”

“This could be a huge opportunity for [housing] affordability, and if we do nothing, we will continue down the path of rapidly becoming the [San Francisco] Bay Area—affordable only to the ultra-rich,” the organization email warned.

Abundant Housing is rallying Atlantans to demand “more flexible” residential zoning regulations to densify housing in the metro area and make it less car-dependent. The organization argues that imposing as few residential zoning restrictions as possible will keep rents down. 

“The city of Houston has the slowest increase in rents of any large metropolitan area,” the group says on its website. “They have no zoning. This is not a coincidence.”

Some zoning restrictions that the group proposes relaxing are: eliminating parking space requirements for apartment buildings, allowing more accessory dwelling units, such as backyard tiny homes, and reducing restrictions on small- and mid-size apartment complexes and townhomes.

Abundant Housing also suggests that Zoning 2.0 survey respondents lobby the city for new regulations that require the ground floor of parking decks to have pedestrian-friendly restaurants and stores instead of parking. That would go for parking decks on major roadways, near transit, paths and parks, and in mixed-use, commercial, and multifamily areas. 

“If pedestrians are engaging with parking decks, there should be a requirement—NOT an incentive—to have active ground floor uses,” the group says.

Want to take the Atlanta Zoning 2.0 survey? Click here.

Need some guidance from the urbanists at Abundant Housing Atlanta? Click here.

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