Zoning Board to Announce 444 Sycamore Decision Tonight

Decatur Heights resident Dave Kell of InDecatur notes that tonight is the night when Decatur’s Zoning Board of Appeals will make its decision regarding the legality of the Peer Support and Wellness Center at 444 Sycamore Drive.  The meeting begins at 7:30pm.

According to tonight’s ZBA agenda (pdf), there’s only one front-yard zoning variance request prior to the 444 Sycamore agenda item.  The board will discuss the issue and then announce their decision.

No comments will be taken.

Why Georgia, Why?!?

In his morning op-ed, New York Times economist Paul Krugman turns his Noble prize-winning, piercing brown eyes to Georgia’s growing army of failed banks and wonders “What’s wrong with Georgia?”

I’m not sure how many people know that Georgia leads the nation in bank failures, accounting for 37 of the 206 banks seized by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation since the beginning of 2008. These bank failures are a symptom of deeper problems: arguably, no other state has suffered as badly from banks gone wild.

To appreciate Georgia’s specialness, you need to realize that the housing bubble was a geographically uneven affair. Basically, prices rose sharply only where zoning restrictions and other factors limited the construction of new houses. In the rest of the country — what I once dubbed Flatland — permissive zoning and abundant land make it easy to increase the housing supply, a situation that prevented big price increases and therefore prevented a serious bubble.

What makes Georgia so special?  According to Krugman, it basically boils down to a lack of consumer protections, which allowed “homeowners to treat their homes as piggybanks, extracting cash by increasing the size of their mortgages.”  Texas, with its similarly sized, limitless growth, mega-opolises, has such protections in place and isn’t feeling quite the level of bank-failing pain as the Peach State.

Krugman’s Monday morning lesson?  While all the focus in the national press has been on breaking down the country’s largest banks, good old-fashioned predatory lending was also a major contributor to the greatest of recessions.

Thanks to Judy for pointing out the Op-Ed!

Two Decatur Shotgun Houses!

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While many Atlanta in-town neighborhoods, like Inman Park, have countless examples of shotgun houses (a very popular house-type in the American South from around 1865-1920) Decatur has surprisingly few.

Last week, my curiosity got the better of me and I asked Decatur’s Preservation Planner Regina Brewer if there were any examples of shotgun houses left inside the city limits.

And though no one at the city was able to confirm Melissa’s recent report of two shotgun houses along the 700 block of Sycamore Drive, Laura Drummond – who recently worked on Decatur’s Historic Resources Survey – points out two double-shotgun houses on East Lake Drive in Oakhurst!

At first glance, they sorta look like two Craftman-style bungalows smashed together.