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The DHCA Survey

We thank our Druid Hills neighbors for their participation in this important survey. The high response rate gives us confidence in its accuracy.

The initial report to the survey committee appears below. The results reveal three important facts:

  1. Residents oppose joining a new city.
  1. A slight majority of residents are interested in Atlanta annexation.
  1. A large minority of residents are interested in remaining in unincorporated DeKalb County.

A full analysis of the results will be posted to the website soon.

Druid Hills Survey Preliminary Report

14 Comments
  1. Don Broussard #

    I would submit that one reason for the high negatives of joining a new city (now, LaVista Hills) is the negative letter sent to DHCA in September by one of the leaders of the Lakeside group. It turns out that letter was actively solicited by Anne Wallace, the chair of the committee that put the survey together. Several posts here accurately sense that Wallace and at least part of the DHCA board is actively pushing annexation (nothing wrong with that) except that the survey is not well structured and its results are being given a spin to promote annexation. Please recall that after the well-attended town hall meeting at Glenn in Aug. 2013, the survey of+200 attendees put the City of Briarcliff as the leading preference compared to annexation into Atlanta or continuing un-incorporation. Both surveys ought to be considered. Neither is definitive gospel.

    11/20/2014
  2. Matthew #

    Does anyone have a good resource or discussion forum that contemplates the financial impact of all the cityhood initiatives on what remains of unincorporated Dekalb? To Christopher Liggett’s point #2, I would like to know if remaining in unincorporated Dekalb is really still a viable option?

    With the very large new cities of Lavista Hills to the north (http://briarcliffga.org/) and the City of South Dekalb to the south (http://www.decaturish.com/2014/11/plans-south-dekalb-city-taking-shape/) there is very little left of unincorporated Dekalb County at the end of 2015.

    One of primary financial drivers of cityhood seems to be to shed Dekalb’s pension liabilities. After the new cities have been created, will all of Dekalb’s legacy pension costs become the responsibility of the small sliver of unincorporated Dekalb that stretches from Druid Hills to Tucker? To avoid bankruptcy, does Dekalb have to dramatically increase what it charges for the services it still provides (water, sewer, sanitation, schools)?

    Any help/guidance would be appreciated.

    11/19/2014
  3. Ned #

    I admire the ability of some to throw their children’s classmates under the bus.

    11/19/2014
  4. Christopher Liggett #

    I found the survey results fascinating, and the analysis sound and unbiased. Thanks for helping to illuminate the situation. However, we need to remember two things about this survey: 1) it was only answered by 24% of DHCA residents, so it shouldn’t be used as an ironclad indicator of how the majority of us might respond in a referendum; 2) it measured preferences at a particular point in time, one which has already been eclipsed by events.

    If you’ve seen the new map of the proposed city of Lavista Hills you will notice that it has withdrawn the southerly border to roughly the one used by Lakeside, and instead has expanded the proposed city limit to the northeast, infringing on area that is also desired by the Tucker proponents. Nonetheless, it would have the effect of marooning Druid Hills on an “island” of unincorporated DeKalb County, situated in the far western extremes of the county. This does not bode well for even a continuation of services from the county, much less a strengthening or improvement. Also, the General Assembly had instructed cityhood proponents not to create such islands, so this suggests that for us, remaining in unincorporated DeKalb is not a likely scenario.

    I support annexation into Atlanta, for the reasons others have stated: the city is rebounding economically and has taken major strides toward better municipal governance, better schools, and stronger public safety and historic preservation protections. I am very leery of becoming swept into a new, untested city government that will have inevitable growing pains and plenty of thorny issues to resolve with DeKalb County regarding the coordination of services. Atlanta has a known track record and long established relationships with DeKalb and Fulton Counties. Bottom line is for me, I don’t see new cityhood as a viable alternative now, so if it’s a choice between staying unincorporated or joining Atlanta, I would go with the ATL!!

    11/19/2014
    • Christopher, I completely agree with your analysis. The survey is in effect a straw-poll used to gauge interest in general and at one point in time. For me it says that it is worthwhile to put the question of annexation up for referendum, without any prejudice about what the outcome of that would be. That’s democracy, and I’m cool with whatever the outcome is.

      Thinking about Druid Hills going forward, I do think that if we do not annex this year, that this will continue to come up in subsequent years. If La Vista Hills becomes a reality and if there is any movement North by Decatur – which is also likely, or if Medlock goes to La Vista Hills, then Druid Hills will be a real island and we will be forced to choose a city. I think it would be Atlanta vs. La Vista Hills. As much as I would like to combine with Decatur, those folks simply don’t have the stomach at this point to think really big.

      Here is the critical thing: If all the other cityhood and annexation plans go forward and Druid Hills does not annex this year, it may get much tougher to annex in subsequent years. DH would remain the only tax base primarily for what is left of the county, with a proportionately higher financial burden. There was the expression “Will The Last Person To Leave Detroit Please Turn Out The Lights?” We would effectively be that person to the county, which will have to deal with the prospect of bankruptcy if it looses significant tax base.

      There is something satisfying and prideful about maintaining the status-quo. There is a sense of guilt about seeming selfish if annexation causes some school reshuffling. I get those sentiments. But it is not DH’s fault that this process started. At this point we have to be pragmatic and play a bit of defense for ourselves. This pragmatism is what has pushed me to root for Atlanta.

      11/21/2014
  5. Theo Sider #

    Reading the survey and the Druid Hills CA posts, it seems the CA is pushing a pro-annexation into Atlanta agenda.

    If you combine the unincorporated and new city responses, clearly annexation into Atlanta is the least desired.

    Simplified: Annexation into City of Atlanta? Yes or No. No seems to be the majority response, so now address those choices.

    11/19/2014
    • Jarod Apperson #

      Theo – I believe you have misunderstood how to read the survey results. It would make no sense to add the percentage supporting two of the options together because respondents answered both of the questions separately. They didn’t choose one to answer. All options are out of 100% and adding two of them would make the sum of responses equal 200% which is not interpretable.

      The results show that of the three choices, COA is the most popular option; however, it is also more divisive than remaining unincorporated because opinions are more extreme in both support and opposition.

      Here are the results summarized in three categories that may make it easier for you to interpret:

      Option – Support / Neutral / Oppose

      Cityhood (LaVista Hills) – 19 / 18 / 62
      Unincorporated DeKalb – 46 / 16 / 38
      City of Atlanta – 52 / 11 / 37

      COA annexation has the most support and the least opposition, but it is important to note, as the authors of the results point out, that of those opposing annexation (37%) most strongly oppose it (28%).

      11/19/2014
      • Theo Sider #

        Again, the plurality seem against annexation into CoA. Why not get a true measure by a simple Yes or No. Do you support annexation into the CoA? It would seem the answer is no.

        And the Civic Association seems as though they are pushing in the annexation direction rather than staying unbiased.

        11/19/2014
      • Jarod Apperson #

        I’m confused why you keep saying a plurality oppose City of Atlanta when 52% responded that they support annexation. It is impossible for a plurality to oppose when a majority support.

        >

        11/19/2014
      • Theo Sider #

        Out of 10, if 4 choose A, 3 choose B and 3 choose C. More in number chose B or C to A.

        11/19/2014
      • Bob #

        Its important to note that those numbers include those already living in the city of Atlanta. They are irrelevant. When you look at only those in unincorporated DeKalb, staying unincorporated has the highest “score.”

        Medlock is leaning towards sitting and waiting. Reality is that we don’t know that any of these proposals will succeed. Even if they do, our “island” with Medlock is more like a continent.

        11/21/2014
  6. Anne Wallace #

    David, Thank you for your comment and for participating!

    11/18/2014
  7. Thanks for a good survey and analysis. If the county were run as well, we wouldn’t have this dilemma.

    11/17/2014

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