Annexation Proposal Would Pull Memorial Drive Neighborhoods Into Atlanta

HB706 Annexation MapAn annexation proposal by State Representative Howard Mosby (D-Atlanta) would redraw the map of Atlanta to include several neighborhoods along the Memorial Drive corridor. HB 706 has … somehow … already had two legislative readings, meaning it could be presented to local legislative committees for consideration.

Mosby told Decaturish yesterday that 911 response time drives his legislation. “We had a number of people who have gone into serious arrest and we’ve had a couple of people die because of the lack of response between Atlanta and DeKalb and we want to clean that up,” Mosby said.

The map above is an approximation based on the census blocks listed in the bill. It’s a guess: please don’t accept it as authoritative. Mosby told Decaturish that the map does not include schools. However, if schools actually are in the map, then they’re almost certainly going to be moved into Atlanta. And any residents of the areas annexed would begin attending Atlanta schools. Most of the territory sits in the McNair cluster. The annexation appears to contain DeKalb’s Elementary School for the Arts, and perhaps others.

All but the area north of Memorial Drive between Decatur and Avondale Estates also lay within the proposed boundaries of a new city of Greenhaven covering south DeKalb. Mosby said he was indifferent to the Greenhaven borders and had not consulted the proposed city’s leaders before presenting this legislation.

Mosby’s explanation seems odd to some folks who live in the area. Social media chatter shows concern about three or four separate jurisdictions — Decatur, Avondale Estates, Atlanta and unincorporated DeKalb — bumping into one another for emergency service response. “Regarding 911 confusion, Rep, Mosby forgets about the city of Decatur line and Avondale line,” said Atticus LeBlanc, a former school board candidate living near Avondale Estates. “Check out the incorporated boundaries along Midway Rd and McKinnon Drive. Anyone actually looking at these areas can see 911 confusion has nothing to do with these areas being drawn in. Under the proposed bill, there are 3 potential police jurisdictions covering areas within blocks (and even lots) of each other.”

If there’s been an outcry over 911 service around this area, LeBlanc hasn’t heard it.

Annexations into Atlanta have drawn some uncomfortable attention to race. Max Blau of Atlanta Magazine took a look at annexations last month, noting that about three-quarters of the 39,000 people considered for annexation in Druid Hills are white, and how that might affect the racial and political makeup of the city. Blau noted that Sandtown’s 17,500 residents — mostly black — are also on the table for annexation.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s fiery rebuttal took exception both to Blau’s math and to assumptions about the mayor’s approach.

“If we are to buy into Blau’s argument, we must also recognize that more than two areas with populations equivalent to Sandtown’s would need to be annexed in order to preserve the city’s racial demographics—if that were my ultimate goal,” Reed wrote. “Anyone who is even vaguely familiar with this process knows that I have welcomed them both enthusiastically. … The reality is that I have never governed the city in a racially divisive manner; in fact, my entire record of public service shows that I champion fairness and inclusion. The annexation of both Sandtown and Druid Hills, in my view, would be a win-win situation.”

I note in passing that while some of the neighborhoods in the Memorial Drive annexation footprint have been gentrifying, most of the Memorial Drive neighborhoods in the HB706 footprint remain solidly black. Decaturish estimates the population at 10,000 to 15,000.

Also worth noticing: Dr. Michael Erwin, the district 3 board member on the DeKalb County school board, lives on Deerwood Drive in the Hooper Alexander area of the map. If this annexation is accepted, Erwin would no longer live in the district he serves, and would either have to move or resign.

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Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

A link to a better map would better encourage comments.