Beltline Jumps the Tracks!

Wayne Mason the creator of the beltline project is now backing out. He has sighted a few reasons including the lack of cooperation from the Development Authority to the project not being feasible and it will be unable to sustain itself. Mayor Franklin says she can do it with out him? If the numbers were a stretch before I can imagine what they will look like without the major developer. If Mr. Mason won’t donate what he promised before and won’t sell his other property on the track bed, is the City of Atlanta going to use eminent domain to take it from him? As this story unwinds it will be interesting to see the outcome. Even a AJC Opinion writer stated “it’s difficult to envision how the project can succeed without the population density, commercial activity and cash flow that Mason’s projects would have created.

31 comments

  1. Bill Simon says:

    Steve,

    So, tell me, how do you feel about Larry O’Neal lying to you in the well of the House about who requested a change in the tax law regarding deferring capital gains taxes on property sold by a Georgia resident? Because, it certainly wasn’t Bart Graham who requested it as he claimed.

    Let me know if your taste for “expose`” on Wayne Mason and Emory Morsberger will include a fellow House Member lying to you about a law change that was designed to deliberately help the Governor?

  2. heroV says:

    Bill Simon,
    zing, nice question! I hope we get a direct response from Rep. Davis, but for some reason I doubt we will.

  3. I would first like to compliment your use of the word “expose`”, that was nice!

    Your question is flawed because it would start with the precedent that Chairman Oneil actually lied about the bill which I do not believe to be accurate. I like many do not recall the bill at all, and for the record the bill passed unanimously in both the House and Senate. 154-0! And 50-0!

    This is politics at its best, change the subject when you dont have an argument or response to the subject at hand. This way no one will remember what we were talking about in the first place.

    Any other none transit questions you want to ask?

  4. Bill Simon says:

    Steve,

    Let me get this straight: YOU think that because a bill (which had a sweetheart amendment buried in it that any other land holder BESIDES the Governor didn’t know about until a year or two afterward the bill passed) passed unanimously, you think that justifies the “righteousness” of the bill? Because one group of people can be easily bamboozled into voting for a sweetheart deal designed to enrich ONE PERSON’s POCKETS, you think that is okay?

    Dude, please don’t try to fool me…believe me, your “expose`” on Mason and Morseburger should be filed under Master of The Obvious…which can be abbreviated to be simply Duh! as to the reason these two guys are involved in these projects.

    How many of your fellow House Members or Senate Members do you think vote on matters, not because of their constituents’ desires, but of their personal benefits derived from the bill’s passage?

  5. Last comment on this.

    Now you are saying that I am saying things that I am really not saying! This is why it is so hard to debate with Democrats, you simply fill in what you want. I never justified it nor did I say it was righteous. I stated the facts! You sir are stating your opinion and mind you these are political opinions with an agenda and are completely irrelevant to the subject matter of my post!

    As for the other comment, “Master of the Obvious” and “Duh”, does this then mean we agree that these projects are not feasible for congestion relief or are you just agreeing that the principal players are getting the gravy? I would not want to misunderstand your position!

  6. Bill Simon says:

    Steve,

    FIRST, I’m a Republican who doesn’t drink the Kool-Aide. Ask Jill Chambers. So, you’re not debating “with a Democrat” here, just a smart Republican.

    If your statements of how the bills passed (i.e., unanimously) didn’t mean anything as to your opinion on them, then why would you put them in your comments? This isn’t a debate on “facts,” it is a debate on feelings about the facts.

    On the Master of The Obvious statement, it is the fact that both were involved for financial gain that I agree with, and thta I thought was pretty obvious.

    And yes, my post to you on Larry O’Neal was not directly connected to your origninal post. BUT, since you are a Rep who appears to believe that Mason’s and Morseberger’s involvement in their projects is ONLY for financial gain (and, I wonder, is that wrong in your mind?), then I thought the O’Neal/Perdue matter was relevant to your thought pattern.

    Again, I’m not a Democrat. But, I am an engineer by training and logic plays a very big part of my thought process.

  7. heroV says:

    Rep. Davis, you say that you “do not believe that it is the role of government to use taxpayer dollars meant for congestion relief on projects that are mainly high density economic development tools.” Firstly, please identify these sources of funding that are meant for congestion relief that are currently allocated or plan to be allocated to the Beltline. I really do now know.

    Secondly, do you not think that building rail service within the city of Atlanta is not an attempt (even if you disagree with it) to reduce congestion? Isn’t it rationally related to the goal of reducing congestion?

    Thirdly, are you aware that in order to make rail service feasible and sustainable, density must be relatively high in the areas in which the rail service is located (i.e. higher than it is currently)? So, why shouldn’t increasing density along the rail lines or in the city the rail line serves be a legitimate piece of the long term goal of building a new feasible and sustainable rail service within the city of Atlanta?

  8. Demonbeck says:

    heroV,

    Tell me what MARTA – a rail project with an aim at reducing congestion – has done to reduce congestion in the past few years?

    If you want to reduce congestion, clean up MARTA and expand its reach. I would start by taking a few cues from METRO in DC – which has done a wonderful job of improving safety and service.

  9. Jace Walden says:

    Demonbeck,

    I have to assume you’re kidding about the D.C. Metro.

    The D.C. Metro is about the most inefficient, subsidy-sucking, big-government boondoggle known to man.

  10. Demonbeck says:

    All I know is DC Metro is safe and clean and that property values near Metro stops are higher than property values further away – quite the opposite for MARTA.

    I also know that traffic inside DC’s beltway is much, much better than traffic inside Atlanta’s beltway.

    I’d be willing to pay more to feel safer and be able to go more places as a MARTA rider.

  11. Demonbeck says:

    When did MARTA become completely subsidy-free?

    When did the Beltline become subsidy free?

    When did twelve to fourteen lane roads become subsidy free?

  12. Jason Pye says:

    At least the roads are a Constitutional function of government.

    I don’t support mass transit (ie. rail). It’s something better handled by the private sector.

  13. RiverRat says:

    I can’t even begin to start with how many things are factually wrong with this post. For starters, what Rep. Davis fundamentally misunderstands is that housing density is the long term solution to traffic congestion, pollution, urban revitalization, and preserving rural Georgia.

    Rep. Davis has absolutely zero ideas about how to accomplish these goals. He can’t give you any good ideas about how to preserve rural Georgia, because he seems to be in favor of maintaining the status quo or building more roads – which has summarily decimated the rural character of Cobb, Gwinnett, and North Fulton counties, and is honing in on the rest of the metro area.

    Pretty soon, there won’t be an authentic small town in north Georgia because government zoning has made it illegal. All most advocates of traditional town building ask is that you make it legal to build what people really want – the problem with Mason’s land is that the government has already outlawed dense growth. Rep. Davis’s logic about government interference is 100% backwards.

    Of course, Rep. Davis has no idea what he is talking about in regards to the future of the BeltLine and Mason’s involvement – the BeltLine isn’t “Mason’s” project, for starters. But I would like to thank Rep. Davis for being SO concerned about how Atlanta chooses to spend its tax dollars. I know he is just honestly concerned for us poor city folk.

    If Davis had a clue what he’s talking about, he’d understand that there is a reason that a huge majority of Gwinnett residents favor commutor rail.

  14. RiverRat says:

    Thanks for looking out for all us poor regular folk who are being hoodwinked by big bad developers and the government, too. All us folk in metro atlanta really hate that they are forcing these noxious ideas down our throat. I hate the idea of being able to walk to work, or of having an alternative to sitting in traffic for hours. Thanks for watching out! That huge public outcry in the metro area about traffic and quality of life must be just a huge illusion by these evil-doers!

  15. RiverRat says:

    Jace – I’d say that highways and 22 lanes of interstate are similar subsidy-sucking wastes of money. what is the difference?

  16. Jace Walden says:

    Jace – I’d say that highways and 22 lanes of interstate are similar subsidy-sucking wastes of money. what is the difference?

    The difference is that these “22 lanes” of interstate are going to carry over 90% of the population. Commuter Rail, at its best, could only pull 10%.

    If there truly is a market for commuter rail, the private sector should handle it. The government would F up a wet dream.

  17. heroV says:

    Demonbeck, well, the MARTA system has an average weekday ridership of 460,000. Maybe you’re unhappy with the fact that MARTA has not magically removed every single car from the roads other than yours, but removing that number of people from a private vehicle must have some effect on congestion.

    Isn’t the objective of the Beltline rail component to extend rail service into to other areas of the city of Atlanta using existing rail tracks? Your alternative suggestion to expand MARTA’s reach is basically exactly what the goal of the Beltline is.

    The question you asked of MARTA can be asked of virtually every road and highway expansion project in metro Atlanta. What have they done to reduce congestion? In a huge number of cases, a cynic could answer that they have done nothing because the very roads that are expanded remain congested.

    Please cite some examples for your claim that property values are depressed close to MARTA stations relative to property values far away from MARTA stations. It seems that property values in downtown, midtown, buckhead, sandy springs, decatur are high, and property values near other MARTA stations are not. But does this mean that MARTA CAUSES low property values in some of these blighted areas while magically CAUSING the exact opposite in Midtown, where an office building was just sold for $400 a foot?

  18. RiverRat says:

    Jace – your logic ignores 60 years of federal and state spending to subsidize suburban development in the form of roads, sewers, and other infrastructure. Not to mention government subsidized mortgage programs which favored new construction over infill areas, as well as zoning laws which outlawed dense development. So when you stack the decks to support automotive-based development, big surprise that roads currently carry most of the load!

    In areas with a better surface street grid, smaller blocks, and more traditional-style neighborhood development, you’ll find that many people don’t even need cars because transit works so well. Trying to make a “free market” argument in support of roads ignores the basic facts of history. Roads ONLY work because they are government subsidized, while rail at least pays for some of its operating costs (and even makes some money in dense areas, see AMTRAK NE line – it is the rest of the system that loses money).

  19. Harry says:

    The basic problem with the Belline is, that a fundamentally good idea to add value to neighborhoods was jumped on by a number of pork barrel con artists; including Mason, MARTA (union scale and rules), Atlanta Development Authority (government subsidized “workforce” housing). If they could just take a little money and build some trails and eventually perhaps a trolley line, and depend on private money for further development – that would have been fine. But instead, it immediately morphed into a payola vehicle for the usual suspects.

  20. Demonbeck says:

    HeroV,

    I am not one of the 460,000 who rides MARTA on a daily basis, but I am one of the 10 million Georgians who will likely never use the Beltline.

    What I am proposing is an overhaul of how MARTA does its job and an expansion of the capabilities. Both will be nearly impossible to do, but are more feasible and capable than this Beltline idea or the Lovejoy/Braintrain ideas.

  21. heroV says:

    Demonbeck,
    I’m not sure I get your point. Because you claim that today there are 10 million Georgians (in a state of 9 million people) who will likely never use the Beltline, that means the city of Atlanta should not pursue its implementation phased in over a period of 15-20 years? Can I also use that logic on state highway expansion Douglas, GA if I consider it useless for my needs? Also, please address my other questions in my previous post if you get a chance.

  22. RiverRat says:

    You know, currently, the BeltLine project does not call for any state funds – it is being paid for via a local TAD. Nor does MARTA receive ANY state funding – in fact, it is the largest transit system in the country not to receive state funds. At least get your facts right if you want to complain about the rest of Georgia not using a transit system. They aren’t paying for it.

    In light of that, I fail to see what about the BeltLine is Rep. Davis’s business, other than a chance to rant about any form of rail transit that exists.

  23. Harry says:

    If the TAD idea had gone forward, it was going to attract a lawsuit from the Fulton County Taxpayers Association (FCTA). The idea of making taxpayers pay for development and services received by special interests which don’t have to pay anything is not right. I know they funded Atlantic Station that way, but let’s realize that was a political inside deal from the beginning.

  24. I won’t go over everything that has been said since earlier but I will make two simple points.
    1. The TAD will not pay for the beltline alone. According to their website http://www.beltline.org/what/faqs.shtml#5
    Q How will the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership’s plan be funded?
    A We are exploring all options available to a city project of this magnitude. We are actively pursuing a Tax Allocation District – the only feasible funding mechanism for a majority of the BeltLine infrastructure costs. We anticipate private funding, federal funding, and other state and local funding sources will become available after the passage of the TAD.
    2. The TAD proposal illegally incorporates the education portion of the property taxes from the Atlanta City Schools! Please read the Georgia Constitution Article VIII Section VI. Furthermore, the TAD freezes the local budget for 25 years, and if the increased taxes collected from the new development is used to pay for the “eligible” capital improvements (rail, parks, schools, police and fire stations, libraries…), then how are you going to pay the employees to work at the new locations or even maintain it? Remember the budget is frozen for 25 years or until the bonds are completely paid off! Its absurd.
    Nothing is free and the truth hurts sometimes! And for the fact of the day, Transit rail subsidizes are on average 250 times greater than highway subsidizes based on per passenger mile 🙂

  25. Jason Pye says:

    In light of that, I fail to see what about the BeltLine is Rep. Davis’s business, other than a chance to rant about any form of rail transit that exists.
    How is it not his business? Where is the money coming from? The taxpayers, we have a right to voice our opinions on any issue that involves our money.

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