King Krugman



If you haven’t read or been forwarded an article showing that Hotlanta isn’t so hot when it comes to upward mobility, you must be one of the ones penny-pinching to get to the club in your beat up Toyota Celica. That hasn’t passed emissions. Lately, Atlanta has become the butt of every sociologist, urban planner, economists’ joke, including the honorable Paul Krugman who spared “Sprawlanta” no rod and beat us to a pulp.

Krugman claims that, 


“…And in Atlanta poor and rich neighborhoods are far apart because, basically, everything is far apart; Atlanta is the Sultan of Sprawl, even more spread out than other major Sun Belt cities. This would make an effective public transportation system nearly impossible to operate even if politicians were willing to pay for it, which they aren’t. As a result, disadvantaged workers often find themselves stranded; there may be jobs available somewhere, but they literally can’t get there.” – Paul Krugman


He couldn’t have been more right.  Of course, his claims came with great resistance from none other than yokels.  More specific, a sort-of-known host of a WSB radio show and Fox News contributor, Erick Erickson (fake name this guy says) voiced his pain over Krugman’s harshful words. Erickson says that Krugman should stop bashing Atlanta becuase, 


“Atlanta is middle of the pack for Sunbelt cities. It’s more dense than places like Montgomery County, Maryland and Westchester County, New York, which nobody seems to have a problem with.”


So wrong, He listed the density of the City of Atlanta and not the 28-county metro area which CLEARLY was what Krugman was alluding to.  Also, no one has a problem with places like Montgomery or Westchester County because maybe they are exemplary jurisdictions that don’t really need density because:

1. They are NOT the main sphere of influence for D.C. and New York City respectively

2. Both counties rank in the top 20 wealthiest in the COUNTRY.

3. Westchester County developed WAAAAY before most suburbs. Atlanta is a new age city. They have three commuter rail lines that span three states while Atlanta has 0. 


But density STILL doesn’t play in Atlanta’s favor when talking about mobility.  Krugman relayed heavily on our transit system that he claimed was inecffective because most lower-income residents can’t reach it to get to their jobs not near their home.  He was speaking on the Lithonia single mother who can’t get to her job in Kennesaw on time because she would have to take a bus, two trains, and another bus all equating to a three-hour trip because our system isn’t compatible together. So she drives, like everyone else here, and complains, INSTEAD, that traffic made her late. Apparently, Erickson still covers for Atlanta, er… Brookhaven perhaps, in saying that, 


“Krugman clearly has no idea what’s going on in Atlanta right now, what both the business community and civic leaders are pushing for. I live in Brookhaven now and there are two large apartment developments going up right next to Brookhaven’s MARTA station. “


Maybe the clueless one is Erickson again because if we’re still talking about the city vs. the metro, Brookhaven would not be included. And two apartment complexes??? If they were groundbreaking enough as the BeltLine or Krog Street Market, which Erickson also mentions as projects ACTUALLY being done in the city proper, this blogger would’ve heard about it by now.  Brookhaven MARTA Station has to be one of the worst examples of TOD due to the recently-constructed mixed-use development complex known as Town at Brookhaven located ONE MILE from the station. There’s literally NOTHING adjacent to the station that you wouldn’t have to cross six lanes of traffic to get to . 

In saying, Krugman is teaching us a valuable lesson, yet again.  Our knack of creating jobs in any particular location without thought of how we get there has once again put us in the bad spotlight.  It is bad when you can start from the bottom and make it to the top in Detroit easier than here.  It’s no wonder why much of the population is being sucked to D.C. or out West. I will say this, though. We have to make our voices heard because believe it or not, it is OUR commute, OUR city, and OUR metro.  We have the power to change and influence what gets built and where.  If we don’t have a say, we can’t make a change.  To Mr. Erickson, maybe it is YOU who should stop talking about Atlanta since you technically don’t live here. 



A Piece of Utopia

ImageWhile out one night, a group of friends and I went to Atlanta’s only Wet Willie’s which was awkwardly located streetside on Piedmont Road in Lindbergh City Center.  That got me thinking…Why isn’t Lindbergh living up to its full potential?

   As Atlanta’s only Transit-oriented Development site, Lindbergh Center can “get by” with its livability index with having residential apartments, a couple of restaurants, nightspots, a bank, and big-box stores to shop at nearby.  (and of course the coup de grace, the huge MARTA Station that makes all of this special, right).  For some reason, I don’t feel that Lindbergh City Center really qualifies as a true blue TOD site.  First off, there are thousands of parking space around it, which would really juxtapose the idea of a TOD site.  Second, the retail paradise is across the street from it all.  It would be lovely for a smaller Marshall’s store to relocate to City Center if that was possible.  I know they could definitely afford the rents here. But, in order to get to it, you have to walk 5 minutes from the train station, cross the traffic-choked Piedmont (and God forbid Sidney Marcus as well), and cross thousands of ample parking lots.  Very disgusting. 

What could be done better?  For one, Lindbergh City Center should try to look for some more suitable tenants.  MARTA is in the process of looking at some possible development sites around its train stations, and surprisingly enough, Lindbergh Center wasn’t one of them.  They must think its perfect or something. Second, make the area more inviting (to transit riders, that is.) Replace some of the parking decks with multi-level mixed-use development.  That would be a BIG move for the area. Also, if the retail on the other side of the tracks is looking to connect with the rest of the area, a pedestrian bridge wouldn’t hurt. Morsogo and Piedmont looks like a total crime scene.




Hope you didn’t drown in Atlanta’s roadwork weekend extravaganza these past two weeks!  If you missed it, don’t worry.  It WILL be back next year. All of these backups got me thinking  why we have such gridlock. Last week, Los Angeles’ A+D Museum unveiled their newest exhibit, “Windshield Perspective”, a visual representation of the modern city that automobiles built. Unfortunately.  Atlanta shares that same vice with the City of Angels, as it is no surprise that our traffic rivals that of cities the size of Los Angeles and New York, just in a smaller space.  But why?  We don’t have as many people as they do, right?  WRONG. The Metropolitan Statistical Area of Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell just passed the 6 million mark, meaning that there are people that commute from Meriwether County southwest of Newnan to jobs in the northern suburbs of Forsyth County, while watching our local news, reading our papers, and contributing to our economy.  This has happened for years, but not as synonymous as we’d all hope.  Atlanta’s terrible traffic was the result of the expansion of our highways, which led to the suburban expansion that we’ve seen today.  Race and class also plays a part in traffic, as we live by the “Drive til’ you Qualify” motto of moving farther from the city to areas that are affordable.  Once African-Americans were liberated to this same ideal in the late 60’s, they followed suit.  We could be like Midwestern cities and build more interstates that connect the already-existing freeways, but the east side resistance to the Stone Mountain Freeway proved that they shall not be moved.  It needs to stay that way.  Then, there’s the alternatives.  We know MARTA is less than stellar, but they jumped off around the time the metro experienced its most explosive growth.  The road infrastructure couldn’t keep up then, and now the transit can’t provide adequate service to suburbanites now, leading to the gridlock of even our local and arterial roads.  (Ever wonder why Ponce or Howell Mill is ALWAYS clogged?)

So why so many cars???                  

I believe that people don’t see any other way. People here are quick to bash MARTA when they have never ridden it, but won’t look at what they are doing to improve it.  Some people just do more in their cars than at home or work.  Food delivery services has increased by the boatload here showing that businesses can cut costs if they send others to deliver their product. Also, our spheres of influence lies in the suburbs, not the city.  If you walk through Atlantic Station, Lenox, or even in Midtown, 8 out of 10 people you see are OTPers, meaning they DROVE down. Realtors can see this, which is why strip malls and McMansions are the norm here.  Others just like to be by themselves when they drive for peace and quiet.  You’re in the wrong place for that.  

Our only solution to change this behavior is to offer clean alternatives to driving.  Carpooling is the first step.  If you know someone you can ride with, especially to work, leave the car at home.  Join a vanpool is you know commuting will be the norm all week.  MARTA won’t change unless you ASK for it.  Attend public hearings and voice your opinion on what should be built.  If you have the power to telework, DO IT!!! It is verrrrry rewarding. Biking is becoming the fastest-growing commute alternative in Atlanta, and if you’re balsy, ride on in with the gas-guzzlers to make ’em jealous. And, of course, if you have the pleasure of living within walking distance of anywhere, give those two feet the workout. 

Moral of this story, Los Angeles isn’t as glamorous in the morning and evening just like some of us with no makeup.  Sometimes you can’t even see the city because it has a smogging problem, which we all know can be very deadly  Let’s not let Atlanta get that way and help control the car population.  Have your vehicle spayed and neutered.  Next week is a perfect start on how to do so.  (See link below!!!)


Greetings from the ‘Ward

Greetings, earthlings!  This is TheATLplanner, and I would like to personally welcome you to the BLOG.  I am currently a Graduate student at Georgia Tech getting my Master’s in City and Regional Planning. I live in the Old Fourth Ward, am a avid cyclist, and a HUUUGE MARTA nut.  I have a passion for smart growth and public transit because I believe those are the two things that can turn a plain city into a progressive city.  I am glad to call Atlanta my playground to study and influence other’s into sharing my vision for this dynamic metro area.  On this blog, you will read about many developments happening in the region, who’s doing what, and what we can do better based on other cities’ actions.  Feel free to leave comments where available or email me at Image