Free-For-All Friday 2/17/12

Feel free to use this post to ask questions and make comments about local issues not discussed here over the past week.

Comments close on Monday.

154 thoughts on “Free-For-All Friday 2/17/12”

  1. Friendly reminder to anyone leaving Toco Hills for Decatur.. DeKalb County will be happy to take $178 + 25% fees if you don’t come to a full stop and let your vehicle rock back on its springs when using the dedicated right hand turn lane from N. Druid to Clairmont Rd. Which I assume is why many people during rush hour now go straight and take a hard right underneath the light instead of using the turn lane (a practice I used to hate).

    The whole stop took 12 minutes. After the cop hooked an illegal U-turn on Clairmont, I watched her nail another motorist before I even pulled back onto Clairmont.. so by my math, having one officer at that intersection nets around $800 / hour.

    1. Now I don’t want to get off on a rant here, but somewhere there is a traffic engineer who is responsible for the redesign of this intersection. This person came up with a plan that cost considerable funds to build and now will cost considerable amounts of money to citizens who fail to make a full stop under a green light. This does not sound like a government that is working for us.

      1. I know! The government should make sure that we have the option of following traffic laws without the burden of having to pay for it if we choose not to.

        1. Your strawman indicates that you don’t want to have a serious conversation about this, but I’ll sum up anyway – The government should treat us like customers, not inmates. Poorly designing intersections, and then hyperenforcing behavior at those intersections, sounds like a government that doesn’t understand its role.

          1. To play devil’s advocate a bit… Saying something’s “poorly designed” suggests it doesn’t accomplish what it was supposed to accomplish. It looks like your assumption is that it was an effort to improve traffic flow and throughput and, if that was the case, you’re right. But what if the redesign was intended, as others have noted, to reduce accidents and allow safe crossing for pedestrians? As best I can tell, it has succeeded at both of those.

            Basic public safety is certainly part of government’s role and if they’re getting results through a combination of design and enforcement, doesn’t that indicate that they’re performing their role successfully? (Now this is ticking me off because it’s put me in a position of defending DeKalb County government, which makes me a little bit nauseous…)

          2. “The government should treat us like customers, not inmates.” — Why should the government treat us like customers? The government is not a department store or a cable television provider. The government is the means by which we govern ourselves. The government is us. IMO one of the most self-destructive phenomena nowadays is the prominence of an “us v. them” perspective about government. Of course, to a greater and greater extent, the government is indeed bought and paid for, which reinforces the notion that those who pay for it are “customers.” The problem with that model is that logically, government then is primarily obligated to serve those “customers” and where does that leave the rest of us?

            1. You said it in your reply – “The government is us.” It should be working for us, not against us.

              Designing crappy intersections and then trapping people into expensive traffic tickets is not my idea of working for us. I get Scott’s point that maybe the objective is to make the intersection safer, but then isn’t that a failure of the design, which goes back to working for us? And now the remedy is to impose a police state on that one lane.

              The people who say “what’s the big deal, just make a full stop” are missing the big picture. No, this is not the biggest issue in the world, but it is an example of the government making people pay for its mistakes.

              1. My position is that, by calming that intersection to some degree, the government is actually working for us. It is only working against drivers who can’t be bothered to stop at the stop sign. I don’t see how that’s a “trap” except for the self-important and impatient.

                1. Huh. Well, isn’t that an interesting response. People who safely navigate an intersection without coming to a full stop are self-important and impatient.

                  Let this be a lesson to anyone who questions authority. Stop means stop!

                  1. No, but people who disregard clear traffic signs & laws because a) doing so is more convenient, and/or b) they believe their right to “question authority” should trump the safety of others, are definitely arrogant and self-important.

          3. OK, somebody’s going to make the argument that taxpayers are customers. In that case, as a customer on the strength of the taxes that I pay, I certainly want the traffic laws enforced in order to protect my safety.

        2. We all have to follow the rules, but I think you’re being naive if you believe everything the government does is about safety, and has absolutely no cash motive behind it. Keep drinking the FDA approved genetically modified kool-aid…

    2. Come to a complete stop and you won’t have anything to worry about. You broke the law, got a ticket and are now complaining for something that you caused!

    3. I’m conflicted on this one. I drive that way every day and personally think that stop sign is idiotic and a yield sign would work just as well given the reconfiguration that they did there. That said, stop does mean stop and so, even if it’s stupid to have to do so, you gotta stop. But then, on the third hand, I’d need more than 2 hands and feet to count the number of times that the vehicle behind me has almost hit me because they did not expect me to actually stop. It’s amusing when it’s a little Prius but downright frightening when it’s an SUV or even larger truck.

      I just wish that, at least for one day, they started ticketing the aggressive drivers who honk at, yell at, and/or flip off the people who obey the law and come to a complete stop. I can’t even tell you the number of times that the driver behind me did one of those things and then felt the need to further make their point by blowing through the sign so they could speed past me and do it again. Watching *those* people get pulled over would be fun!

    1. Agree!!

      Although, I would be totally fine with them turning that into a “Yield” sign instead…. but maybe I’m not thinking of some pertinent fact as to why that would not be a good idea…

      1. It was a yield sign for many, many years (going all the way back to when I began driving legally and we had dinosaur crossings). Eventually, there were enough bad accidents there, that they changed it to a stop sign.

    2. I think that’s what Todd said.

      But it’s a good thing our government is “keeping us safe” by designing traps like that one.

      1. Well, it being a stop sign, everyone should fully stop. Being a little neurotic, it KILLS me when people don’t do a complete stop there. Stop, count to 3, and then proceed! Did anyone else learn that in driver’s ed?

        But seriously, why isn’t this a yield sign???

      2. I fail to understand how this can be called a trap. It is a very busy intersection with multiple lanes going forward and multiple turns lanes with a very clear stop sign. Not exactly what I would personally consider a trap.

    3. Nothing particularly hard about coming to a full stop at a stop sign. I remember as well when it was simply a yield sign and there were so many more accidents. I don’t think it’s designed as a “trap” but it’s a place that Dekalb police know people don’t stop at the stop sign – why not pull people over for it? It’s their job and people are violating traffic laws. I’ve noticed most people get pulled over there though when the light going across Clairmont and continuing on N. Druid Hills is green. People think that applies to the right turn lane, but it doesn’t.

      1. “People think that applies to the right turn lane, but it doesn’t.”

        I wonder if that’s why the aforementioned traffic engineer placed the right turn lane a good 50 feet away from the light-controlled intersection, separated by an island with shrubbery. Gee, what could they have been thinking?

        1. They probably overestimated the intelligence of the average person granted a driver’s license. I suppose I understand people who aren’t familiar with the interesection being confused by it. I’ve noticed actually that most people with out of county or state license plates make the sharp right onto Clairmont actually at the traffic light though. If you’re familiar with the area and the intersection, there is really no excuse though. Traffic signs aren’t just suggestions. They keep people safe.

          1. More likely that they underestimated the intelligence of drivers, many of whom can intuitively navigate our roads safely by drawing cues from the environment, other than just signs.

            1. I’m sure that’s what all of the drivers said who were ever involved in accidents at the old intersection. Actually, what I’ve read about reducing the quantity of traffic signs, thereby enabling/encouraging drivers to take cues from what is actually happening in that minute, make sense. But I also have to roll my eyes whenever somebody gets a ticket for not stopping at that particular sign and gets all outraged about “poor design” and draconian enforcement. Anyone who thinks the intersection should be redesigned should lobby the County accordingly. Meanwhile, stop means stop.

              1. Just to be clear, because it seems like you really enjoy imagining bad things about people who are questioning that stop sign and enforcement – I haven’t had a ticket in over 10 years. So it’s not personal for me, it’s philosophical.

                1. You do realize that you are now going to get a ticket on the way home this afternoon don’t you? Probably for running a stop sign. 🙂

              2. I have always thought that stop means slow down, take a quick look and make sure the coast is clear before speeding through the intersection unless you see a po-po and/or have had a couple of beers, in which case, stop means stop, make sure the cars rocks backwards, count to 3 and then proceed slowly through the intersection.

              3. Several years ago when I lived in the now torn down apartments next to the now closed Athens Pizza Express just north of the VA on Clairmont, a veteran was struck and killed by a speeding car. Drivers routinely hit 50-60 MPH on that stretch of Clairmont, where there are students crossing to the Emory Clairmont campus, VA patients and staff going to the hopsital, etc.

                I’m all for obeying traffic laws. I’m one of the slower drivers on the interstate, routinely passed on four lane in-town roads, etc. More than once I’ve stopped for geese waddling across Clairmont. I don’t think that not waiting for the car to rock back on its springs presents the same risk of harm (and thus merits the same official attention) as blasting through a red light, driving drunk, speeding, distracted driving, etc. Having worked at Grady for several years now, I’ve seen darn few patients come in for “incomplete stop” but every day we see people who’ve been maimed or died because of high speed, impaired driving.

                Thanks to the design of that intersection, though, it makes for easy pickings. Why wait a half hour to nail the driver who may actually cause an accident or injury when you can write five easy tickets in the same time?

                And the subsequent U-turn was illegal because it was from the northbound Clairmont left lane across a double yellow line into the opposing right hand lane just short of the stop signs in question. Without lights or sirens.

                1. From the Official Code of Ga:
                  40-6-121. U-turns
                  No vehicle shall be turned so as to proceed in the opposite direction:
                  (1) Upon any curve;
                  (2) Upon the approach to or near the crest of a grade where such vehicle cannot be seen by the driver of another vehicle approaching from either direction;
                  (3) Where such turn cannot be made in safety and without interfering with other traffic; or
                  (4) Where a prohibition is posted.

                2. 40-6-121. U-turns
                  No vehicle shall be turned so as to proceed in the opposite direction:
                  (1) Upon any curve;
                  (2) Upon the approach to or near the crest of a grade where such vehicle cannot be seen by the driver of another vehicle approaching from either direction;
                  (3) Where such turn cannot be made in safety and without interfering with other traffic; or
                  (4) Where a prohibition is posted.

                  I don’t see anything mentioned about a double yellow line.

                  40-6-6. Authorized emergency vehicles
                  (a) The driver of an authorized emergency vehicle or law enforcement vehicle, when responding to an emergency call, when in the pursuit of an actual or suspected violator of the law, or when responding to but not upon returning from a fire alarm, may exercise the privileges set forth in this Code section.
                  (b) The driver of an authorized emergency vehicle or law enforcement vehicle may:
                  (1) Park or stand, irrespective of the provisions of this chapter;
                  (2) Proceed past a red or stop signal or stop sign, but only after slowing down as may be necessary for safe operation;
                  (3) Exceed the maximum speed limits so long as he or she does not endanger life or property; and
                  (4) Disregard regulations governing direction of movement or turning in specified directions.
                  (c) The exceptions granted by this Code section to an authorized emergency vehicle shall apply only when such vehicle is making use of an audible signal and use of a flashing or revolving red light visible under normal atmospheric conditions from a distance of 500 feet to the front of such vehicle, except that a vehicle belonging to a federal, state, or local law enforcement agency and operated as such shall be making use of an audible signal and a flashing or revolving blue light with the same visibility to the front of the vehicle.
                  (d)(1) The foregoing provisions shall not relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons.
                  (2) When a law enforcement officer in a law enforcement vehicle is pursuing a fleeing suspect in another vehicle and the fleeing suspect damages any property or injures or kills any person during the pursuit, the law enforcement officer’s pursuit shall not be the proximate cause or a contributing proximate cause of the damage, injury, or death caused by the fleeing suspect unless the law enforcement officer acted with reckless disregard for proper law enforcement procedures in the officer’s decision to initiate or continue the pursuit. Where such reckless disregard exists, the pursuit may be found to constitute a proximate cause of the damage, injury, or death caused by the fleeing suspect, but the existence of such reckless disregard shall not in and of itself establish causation.
                  (3) The provisions of this subsection shall apply only to issues of causation and duty and shall not affect the existence or absence of immunity which shall be determined as otherwise provided by law.
                  (4) Claims arising out of this subsection which are brought against local government entities, their officers, agents, servants, attorneys, and employees shall be subject to the procedures and limitations contained in Chapter 92 of Title 36.
                  (e) It shall be unlawful for any person to operate an authorized emergency vehicle with flashing lights other than as authorized by subsection (c) of this Code section.

                  Law enforcement vehicles can disregard regulations governing direction of movement or turning in specified directions even if the u-turn was illegal (which it isn’t). You broke the law. Not the police. Stop trying to make them look bad for your wrong doing.

                  1. “Law enforcement vehicles can disregard regulations governing direction of movement or turning in specified directions”
                    Almost. But you disregarded subsection (c) of 40-6-6. Lights and sirens must be used, which they were not here. Whether the cop’s maneuver was legal is another question. A U-turn is probably not prohibited there, assuming that Todd actually meant the SOUTHBOUND left lane (the northbound left lane may actually present the visibility and distance issues implicated in both code sections). Of course, even if a U-turn is allowed, failure to slow and properly signal the turn still makes it an improper turn for which you or I would likely be ticketed by that same officer.

                    1. section c refers to authorized emergency vehicles not law enforcement vehicles. Authorized emergency vehicles are fire, ems, and vehicles with flashing red lights, not law enforcement vehicles. There also is no hindrance of visibility at that location. He was probably stopped in the turning lane immediately after his failure to stop at the stop sign or on McConnell Dr., where they frequently pull vehicles over. From either place you can see beyond Mason Mill Rd. looking south and beyond the Clairmont Rd. / N. Druid Hills Rd. And like you just pointed out again, his turn signal is not required as he/she can disregard regulations governing direction of movement or turning in specified directions. I’m not saying we could do it, just that I don’t think he should making accusations that are not true about the officer out there doing their job just because they gave him a ticket.

                    2. You’re just effing with me now, ain’t ya Gator? I’ll give you one thing, though; you’d be 100% correct if only the first 50% of subsection (c) existed. Unfortunately, I get held in contempt when I fail to disclose only half of a law. The entire code section applies to emergency vehicles AND law enforcement vehicles. They are separated out in (c) simply because the former have red lights and the latter have blue.

                    3. Yeah. Now I’m now to the point of nit-picking for entertainment. I agree with you as far as the “spirit” of the law goes. I think you could argue it by the “letter” of the law. It would be weak, but I think it could be done.

        2. The shrubbery was a nice touch – makes it harder to see if any traffic is coming.

          All in the name of safety, I guess.

          1. Good grief, you have got to be kidding about the shrubs. I am all of 5′ 4″ and sit in a low to the ground sport’s car and I have absolutely no problem with the shrubs. Sounds like you are just complaining to complain.

  2. I’ve got a two hand crosscut saw itching to cut down some trees for fun. Anybody have any extra trees they don’t need? 🙂 Sorry, couldn’t resist…

  3. That intersection used to have a yield sign but people were flying through it to turn right onto Clairemont. It only takes a few seconds to stop and it’s definitely cheaper!

    1. Not consistent with most people’s view of right turns at a stop sign, though.

      On a related note, I’ve seen quite a few people turn right on red at Ponce and Commerce. Last night some dear soul even crossed into the bike lane, driving over the turtles to turn and save a few seconds. But the No Turn On Red sign’s not lighted, so I guess it’s okay…and that’s what 4 wheel drive is for, right?

      I’m guessing my bike in the going straight lane was too much for her.

    2. I can’t say for certain, but perhaps it also had something to do with pedestrians being unable to cross there because of a constant stream of yielding cars. I recently got an emissions check at Jiffy Lube on the corner of Clairmont and North Decatur, not my first choice but quickest option that day. While sitting there an officer pulled over two cars who refused to yield to pedestrians.

      1. Cars not yielding for pedestrians who have a light and a crosswalk is my biggest pet peeve. I’ve never walked through that intersection, but I walk everywhere in downtown Decatur and a lot of cars simply don’t care that a pedestrian in a marked crosswalk with a walk light will always have the right of way. I wish Decatur police would ticket cars who don’t yield to pedestrians. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost been hit crossing Ponce at Clairemont in front of the old courthouse by cars turning right onto Ponce. Most of them are on their cell phones though…

        Now if the pedestrian is crossing without a light or isn’t in a crosswalk that is a different story. When I’m driving I have such an urge to hit pedestrians that cross in the middle of the street when there is a crosswalk about 10 feet away from them.

        1. +1 on both counts.
          It’s only a matter of time before a pedestrian gets seriously spattered somewhere in downtown Decatur. And in my mind it’s an even bet whether it will be the pedestrian’s fault or the motorist’s.

          1. If my failing memory serves me, there was a pedestrian fatality while crossing Commerce at Clairemont many years ago. They were crossing from the First Baptist corner to the Fidelity corner. I don’t remember the details but that right turn yield onto Commerce from Clairemont can be dangerous as cars are whipped around the corner while looking left.

        2. My biggest pet peeve is those who walk against the light. Worst places for that, IMO, are Ponce/Commerce (at CVS), McDonough/Trinity (at ChikFilA) and Church/Sycamore (at the MARTA station). There is kind of a lot going on at each of those intersections, and even attentive motorists can be caught unawares by scofflaw pedestrians. If I ever hit anyone because they stepped out against the light (and I nearly have on numerous occasions including people pushing baby strollers), I’ll be very sorry but also REALLY angry.

          1. +1

            People always look at me like I’m nuts because I absolutely refuse to cross against the light, even if no one is coming in any direction. I’m just not willing to risk it because like you, someone could come up trying to make a right turn or something.

            I see so many people cross against the light at Ponce/Commerce, which is a dangerous intersection because you can’t see very far in either direction down Commerce. I also see it a lot at Commerce / Clairemont because people don’t understand the way that light works (ie – if you’re trying to cross by the Bank of America / Printer place you have to wait for the turn light from Clairemont onto Commerce, whereas if you’re crossing from the island in the middle of the road to the Fidelity building, you don’t.

            1. Speaking of dangerous, try crossing E. Lake at Paden Circle (near E. Lake MARTA station) even with the light. Cars coming from the Ponce direction come flying around the curve and basically go into emergency braking. It’s hard to stop in 200 feet or so when you’re going 50-60 mph. Does anybody know if that intersection is within Decatur city limit?

              1. According to the map at the city website, E Lake/Paden Circle is inside the city limit, but East Lake/Parkwood, just a few yards away, is not. I remember hearing something not long ago about revamping East Lake between Park Place and Ridgecrest, I believe, and I hope they do it sooner rather than later. Even though it would not directly include the corner at Paden Circle, it would be bound to help.

          2. People who walk across the street when I have the left turn arrow drive me crazy! By the time they get across the intersection, I’ve lost my chance to turn. This happens a lot at the Ponce/Commerce (CVS) intersection. Ugh!

            1. I’ve seen this happen at Ponce & Church (Leon’s) so many times. One incident resulted in the pedestrian (who crossed against a Don’t Walk sign) pounding on the hood of car that was trying to make a left onto Church on a green arrow, and calling him a few choice names – all while being completely in the wrong. It was astonishing.

              1. A couple weeks ago I was screamed at by a jaywalker that I dared to lightly tap tap my horn at. I was turning left from a complete stop at the light on commerce, onto W Ponce in front of cvs. A guy walking (maybe stumbling) out of taco mac didn’t feel like walking to the cross walk (maybe to his illegally parked car at cvs) refused to hurry across the street. I rolled down the window of my minivan to ask what his point was and he yelled that it was a residential street and I should slow down. I informed him that it was actual the street that my residence was on and I was not speeding and he should watch out. I was totally dumbfounded by his attitude. it was dark and beginning to rain, it was difficult to see him, and he was the one that was in the wrong and could have been killed. Amazing. Maybe some people should be hit and taken out of the gene pool.

        3. Decatur Police do ticket cars violating crosswalks regularly. It happens quite often on Trinity between the courthouse and Callaway Building and I have witnessed stings on Ponce by Starbucks and Church at Sycamore. The dreaded Officer Lindsey writes crosswalk tickets with regularity. And I have also seen cars that happened to be driving in front of a police car blow a crosswalk and immediately get blue-lighted.

      2. Good for the police and even better for the pedestrians! There was a serious pedestrian accident at that intersection around a year ago if memory serves me right.

    1. Not sure it’s the closest, but my family loves Nakato on Cheshire Bridge Road. Benihana on Peachtree is also good.

      1. Nakato must be doing something right. In a town where many restaurants last nanosceonds, it’s been there for decades.

    2. if i’m not mistaken another japanese hibachi style place has opened on the other side of where Edo was, facing n. druid hills road.

    3. Fuji Ya in the Northlake area (on Lavista near 285) has an hibachi style area, as well as sushi and American-style Chinese food. It’s an affordably priced, neighbor place with decent food and a laid back atmosphere.

  4. Speaking of traffic scofflaws, city of Decatur have been pulling in the dough over S. Candler Street. I’m not sure if it’s just a matter of people running the red lights or failure to navigate the new series of turn lanes. Either way, it’s fun to watch. Yesterday, four cars were popped in less than 30 minutes.

    1. I’ve been running up S. Candler in the mornings lately and I’ve always known that traffic was bad on this road but I’ve seen some crazy s*** in the morning, including, on two occasions, cars crossing the double yellow to pass cars going 30 to 35 because, I guess, they wanted to go 45 to 50. It’s bad enough that I’m starting to get nervous being on the sidewalk on that road.

      So, if DPD wants to take a closer look at S Candler, I’m all for it.

      While we’re talking about violations, anyone heard of drivers getting popped for failing to give bikes the required 3 feet?

      1. Yeah, they recently drastically changed the turn lanes on that stretch. This is why I wondered on the Candler eye on the street thread if the design boards also included concret islands to prevent the inevitable major head-on collision. I give it a few weeks before it happens. Any of your government website-savvy people able to pull up the project?

  5. In the Tree Lovers vs. Tree Haters thread, I had floated the idea of trying another Free For All Happy Hour this afternoon. Smalltowngal said she was a maybe but that this was not a good week for her. It turns out to be not quite so good for me either now. I’m game for trying it again soon, though. Next Friday is probably a good time for me if there is any interest. Perhaps we can even entice DTR out of his self-imposed exile or lurker status. I’m thinking 6:00 at either Trackside, Twain’s, Mac McGee’s or the Belgian bar at Brickstore.

    If you are interested and at least a “maybe”, you can reply with your choice of venue. Since Rebeccab (or was it cubalibre?) mentioned that it might be viewed as a little shady to meet some random guy from the internet at a bar, spouses, significant others and/or bodyguards would also be welcome. Hell, if we do it at Twain’s, bring the kids even and I’ll keep them busy letting them play with my darts!


    1. FFAHappyHour: Not a bad idea, but a serious threat to the main purpose of the internet (slandering people anonymously)! 😉

      Also, regarding the stop sign mentioned above. I think most of us have been in this area long enough, and have observed enough traffic stops there, to be pretty cognizant of the need to come to a full stop. Regardless of it being counter intuitive to the purpose of a dedicated right turn lane, “it is what it is.” Lawrenceville Hwy. feeds a TON of traffic onto N. Druid Hills, and there are too many vehicles turning left onto Clairmont for that lane to be controlled by a yield sign.

      1. Yeah, I get the anonymity issue. That’s not an issue for me since pretty much everyone who knows me knows that I’m J_T here. And since I changed my gravatar to the dogs, I’ve even had random people on the street recognize me. I’m OK with that because, even when I’m being snarky or what could be perceived as confrontational, it’s still really me and not some online persona.

        There would be no requirement for anyone attending to reveal their online moniker. That said, I’m sure it would become a game of trying to figure out who you are. Anyone truly paranoid of being outed as a DMer should probably stay far away. If anyone wants to express interest but is worried about doing so publicly, you can email me privately (jeffreylell @ gmail dot com) and put DM in the subject line. Our old Republican friend can attest to my discretion 😉

        No, I don’t expect to actually get a huge turnout. But I did get one taker last time and it was a fun time. And really, I’ve got nothing to lose except the possibility that I sit alone drinking a good beer for an hour. It could be worse…

        1. At the risk of sounding super creepy (or I have too much time on my hands at work….), you went to Neshaminy HS?? My fiance graduated there in 2000 and we now live in Decatur. Small world, eh?

          1. It’s true. Class of 1990. I’m sure you found that info on the all-knowing internets but just for a minute let me indulge in the thought that you mentioned my name to your fiancee who then said “Oh my God, for reals? (because that’s how I imagine anyone who graduated as recently as 2000 talking)”, and then of course went on, “He was the smartest, funniest and just all around coolest guy to *ever* graduate from Neshaminy! There are awards named after him! We are not worthy to even live in the same town as that guy!”

            Yeah, anyway, I’m sure it was the internet. I transferred to Neshaminy junior year and had 660 people in my class, most of whom said “who the hell is that?” when they called my name at graduation. I know a bunch of Penn Staters down here but I don’t think I know a single other Neshaminy grad in the area. Small world indeed!

            1. Oh, it was definitely the former of your stories…. I think he mentioned an “Excellence in Snarky Communications with Highest Honors” award or something… sound familiar?

        2. I wouldn’t mind a happy hour at all, but you might regret giving my son your darts. I’d love for Parker to come. She cracks me up!

    2. Oh, planning something a whole week in advance. I just don’t roll like that! Post again next Friday morning, but I’m a definite maybe depending what time you fire things up or how long it lasts. Could be a good lead-in to the next day’s wine crawl in Oakhurst, which I did plan in advance, so I guess I do roll like that sometimes.

    3. I would offer our recently cleared lot and fire pit as an place to share growlers and wine, but think the venue might skew the attendance.
      Seriously though, my husband just recently suggested doing a DM masquerade ball sometime, think we would definitely buy tickets to that. Folks could keep their masks on all night or not. maybe as a fundraiser for decatur’s trees?

  6. Has anyone donated a car fairly recently? Any tips to offer? I’ve been goggling and it is more daunting than I had anticipated… thanks

    1. It’s been a few years but the St. Vincent del Paul Society made it very convenient. Filled out paperwork and left the keys with the mechanic who gave me the bad news about the car’s hopes and dreams and they came and towed it away and sent me the charitable donation forms. Nice and easy.

      1. Avoid at all costs Kars for Kids. Scam artists who take your car and then do not send the required letter citing its value, which you *really* want to hold onto for tax purposes.

    2. WABE will take it, too. I think they’ll come get it. (No experience, just hear them say it on the radio.)

      1. That’s the confusing part – some organizations auction your car through a broker, and the broker ends up getting most of the money. I was wondering if anyone has experienced that…

    3. We donated ours to WABE – fill out the online form, and they come pick it up, and send you a tax donation receipt in the mail. Easy peasy.

    4. I donated my 16-year-old Buick to the Breast Cancer Society several months ago. They use a local towing service; they came and got it the same day, sold it at auction, and sent me (via email) a tax receipt for my 2011 taxes.

    5. Hmm… I think I deleted this so I’ll try again. I donated my old Buick to the Breast Cancer Society a few months ago (I called the 800 number on their website). They use a local towing service that came and got the car the same day I called, sold it at auction, and sent me (via email) a tax receipt that I can use for my 2011 taxes.

  7. I wanted to post a question or note for discussion today about the City of Decatur’s permitting, engineering and zoning process. First I want to say I am a big fan our city as well as smart growth, I also have a background in construction so this is not my first rodeo. That said I have found the process of securing a building permit in the city of Decatur very challenging. There does not appear to be a very clear process. They have a check list (that is not complete), they also have a varied array of internal politics and personalities (that is not a bad comment but just an observation). The Engineering or storm water process makes no sense to me. They ask us to detain or even clean water then just dump it right back out on the streets to get dirty again?? This makes no sense and is just tossing good money after bad. Make us help clean the problem in the streams or put money to filtration at the inlets but on a small single-family lot it is just crazy! Those of you reading this, if you have not done a renovation or new construction in Decatur may not have an understanding of the challenges and property right limitations that really exist in Decatur. I poste this partly because of the tree discussion tomorrow. The whole development process in the city is just too hard! Thoughts welcome, I could be wrong or just frustrated so I would be interested to hear other thoughts

    1. So, as a home owner that acted as my own contractor for renovating our house in winnona park, I can say that the permitting process was one of the most bizarre experiences with local government that I’ve ever had. I had to return several times to the office to revise our plans and provide additional information. While one might reasonably say that this is understandable since i’m not a professional, i sat in the office with several contractors there for the second and third time as well, along with a poor women who was trying to get the required permit for retiling her bathroom (yes, technically, this would need to be permitted).

      The hardest part of the process was that I would be told that they would not issue the permit yet but in some cases, be pretty vague as to what the issue is. Partly I get that they don’t want to actually do the design work, but there was a surprising amount of guess work on our part (this had to do with stairs that were not up to code but were not part of the project and would have required a huge structural change to bring up to code).

      Oddly enough, I’ve had two people tell me that they’ve had difficulty getting permeable driveways approved, with in one case, the solution being that they just gave up and put in concrete, seemingly not what the city wants to encourage in terms of storm water control.

      1. More good reasons for keeping the gubment away from tree-cutting permits. The tree itself would be sawdust by the time they made a decision. As for tiling a bathroom, you won’t ever catch me trying to get a permit for something like that.

      2. You need a permit to retile your bathroom? I’ve never heard of that, but then again I’m new here. I think I’d rather have not known that. But thanks. 🙂

        1. I think you have to get a permit for work that exceeds a certain dollar amount. Of course, if you are disorganized and wind up hiring your contractor to do several smaller projects one after the other instead of one big one, that wouldn’t be an issue. 😉 That’s what I remember a neighbor saying a few years ago.

          1. It is based on a dollar amount and I don’t recall the amount but I remember it being ridiculously low AND it is based on what a contractor would charge–even if you are doing the project yourself. So, say the limit is $1,000 and the contractor would charge $1,002 but you were not going to hire a contractor because you could do the job for $250 in materials. Still need a permit.

            1. $1,000 is what I remember, and my neighbor’s contractor’s estimate just barely hit that threshold. With no plumbing or electrical systems involved, it was difficult to understand why the City would need to mix in.

    2. While I agree, based on extensive personal experience, that the permitting process is exceptionally inefficient and “weird” here, the intent of it is noble, and as such we should embrace it, rather than get all self-important about it.

    3. Glad you brought this up. I have been permitting construction in metro Atlanta for years as well. Recently, we’ve begun working more in Decatur and find the process challenging as well, but our permits have gone smoothly and the city has been helpful, although somewhat vague and almost contradictory in their answers as I was trying to wrap my head around the storm water ordinance. I really share your philosophical questions about the effectiveness and fairness of the current storm water ordinance; particularly as it relates to larger lots in Decatur. The storm water detention and water quality requirements required of homeowners who wish to utilize their larger lot can cost an easy 15-20K; yet don’t address the city’s storm water issues in a comprehensive manner. I feel certain most people don’t understand how the code affects their property rights/ maximum lot coverage allowances, etc.. I know I’m surprised…… I also think the city may be open to a broader conversation about this issue.

  8. Went to park in the lot next to” Sammiches and Stuff” last night, and noticed a sign stating the new parking rates for that lot. They were outrageous! $10 for an hour ?? This is not NYC. Needless to say, nobody was parking there. What gives?

  9. Ooooh…. love the new edit/delete feature! Neat! Sorry if it’s not really new to everyone else, I just noticed it for the first time today!

  10. Has anyone had their bathroom tile and tub reglazed? Pros and cons versus all out replacement? Cost comparison? Any recommendations for folks who perform this work? Thanks!

    1. We had the tub at our old house reglazed and talked about doing the tile, but never got around to it. It set us back around $250 I think. New tile and tub? We got a quote for that…it was about 20k to do the whole bathroom.

    2. I have reglazed 2 old tubs, and had good results. I reglazed an entire bathroom (tub, tiled shower and walls with tile about half way up in the entire bathroom) for a few hundred dollars about six years ago to both clean up a nasty tub and change the colors of extremely dated (and ugly ) tiles. The glazing has chipped up a little around the drain, but for the cost compared to a complete reno, you can’t beat it. Everything else still looks like new

    3. Me too, and happy with it. The tub had to be done again about five years later. The glaze is not as strong as tile so chips happen easily–you have to be easy on it. The biggest advantage for me has to due with living in a one-bathroom house. Did not want to do without a bathroom for an extended time.

        1. I’d be interested in hearing about recommendations for bathroom glazing (tile and tub). Friends of ours told us it cost $800 to have their whole bathroom reglazed (much better than 20K!).

        2. It has been several years since we had our bathroom reglazed, but the Mrs. thinks the company was called Unique Refinishing.

            1. Just beware – it smells and you can’t use the tub for a few days. We had it done on a Tuesday morning, and then left town for the rest of the week. When we returned home, we were able ot bathe again – and kept the windows open and fans going to get the smell out.

  11. Has anyone else had lawn furniture stolen? I heard a few business in Oakhurst had there’s disappear in the last week or so. I think it was Tessitura, Fresche, and maybe Taj Ma Hound. Sounds like it’s being taken for the scrap metal value. Keep your eyes open for your neighbors.

      1. At the next Book Festival, I would pay good money for an hour with you and At Home in Decatur at Brick Store. I’m still laughing.

        1. I’m nonplussed. No one has ever offered me money for my company. But yes, I plan to be at the book fest, see you there.

          1. I was referring to the author auction they did last year. The money wouldn’t go to you. The offer still stands. Daren, are you listening?

        2. Color me flattered! It might take a margarita and chips to get me to break official anonymity.

            1. Well, good. But your original post is disturbing and I hope I have not diverted attention from it. I have not heard anything on my end of my street about thefts, But my sister in Fort Lauderdale had a beautiful bench grabbed from in front of her house. (A gift from her sons and a real work of art.) I despise the arrogance of that kind of theft.

              Maybe those of us on the hillier lots are more protected?

              I did once have a brick hurled through my dining room’s plate glass window. I’ve always wondered if it was an idiot prankster or a disgruntled employee. Either way, the guy had a heckuva arm.

                1. How do you think I live like this? Retired in my 40s, volunteering here and there, spending my days on neighborhood blogs?

              1. Thefts from unlocked cars in driveways or in front of houses reported from the north side this weekend. Not sure that’s anything out of the ordinary but the thefts have come to my attention.

  12. Wish they’d do away with the orange barrels all around the new mid-street pedestrian island in front of Agnes Scott. How are we supposed to see pedestrians among that forest of barrels?

  13. There seems to be a traffic/car theme going on. I am one of the multitude of Decaturites who drives a Pruis. I feel alot of aggression by other drivers. Way too close to my bumper and passing me, no matter my speed. Am I the only one?

    1. It’s all relative. I work every day in Dunwoody. The drivers there are not only aggressive — they’re armed.

          1. Thank you PC, saw your post late last night and was very relieved, and let the kids (who were very upset) know that they were mistaken.

  14. Registering for the after school programs at each elementary – how do you go about doing it? Is it online with the city website or do I go stand in line somewhere early on the 20th?

      1. I did but the lady that answered seemed unsure – she said online on monday but the instructions on the web says to show up at your school – not sure now…

        1. The web page ( is confusing, too. In one place it says register at your child’s school or DRC Animal Crackers and in another it says to go online. Given that it is a lottery (rather than the old camp out/stand-in-line registration), it really shouldn’t matter if you wait until after Monday to get clarification. You could also try emailing Clarie Miller who oversees the program.

  15. True, but you will be without your bathroom for even longer with a complete reno.

    Sorry wrong place. This was in response to Nubbs comment about the smell of glazing.

  16. What happened Sat. night around 9 pm in area near DHS stadium ? Heard a bunch of sirens then walked dog along Ponce and could see many flashing lights behind Watershed/Decatur Lock & Key.

  17. I’m a little late to the party. Should’ve posted Fri–now it’s Sun. Was wondering if anybody can recommend a good tree trimming service in Decatur and also a landscaping/lawncare service. Spring is almost here, and our yard needs some TLC!

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