Free-For-All Friday 6/27/14

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

Comments close on Monday.

122 thoughts on “Free-For-All Friday 6/27/14”

  1. Since it is the obvious joke…and someone HAS to say it….it might as well be me….

    Decatur: There’s an App for that!

    Now we all can carry on with our summer.

  2. Is anybody else creeped out by having your daily errands tracked via the new parking meters? Not sure I want some private company knowing when and where I parked my car, and selling that info to the highest bidder. Why can’t we just use numbered spaces like every other city on the planet….

    1. How do you mean tracking our moves? Do the new meters require personal information? IF so, are we not allowed to give our unexpired parking “receipts” (the slip that goes on the dashboard) to the guy waiting behind us for the space we are vacating?

    2. Want to be creeped out? Consider what information is being mined from your smart phone today, from that cute Facebook personality quiz your “friend” asked you to take. Cable boxes have had microphones in them for years. Let’s not even get into what can be done with smart LCD panels with built in cameras on your wall and your game console tracking who’s in your room, what they look at and when. Privacy? bwahahahahahahah!

    1. I’ve actually seen far fewer copperheads this year than most other years. The article you linked to quotes extensively from David Steen, whose blog Living Alongside Wildlife I’ve followed for a couple of years, and is excellent. Among several great points he makes, one of them, buried late in the article, is good to bear in mind: you are FAR more likely to be bitten while trying to kill a copperhead than while walking around minding your own business. In fact, I read last year that the most recent fatal copperhead bite occurred when the “victim” on a lark tried to open the snake’s cloaca to see what sex it was, and momentarily loosened his grip near the head . . .

      1. As much as I fear snakes, I’m also a big believer in live and let live, even for venomous varieties. Everything has it’s purpose, and it really depresses me to hear about people beheading snakes with shovels or otherwise indiscriminately killing them (my father-in-law seems to relish every opportunity to kill a snake, and they’re usually nonvenomous).

        So you’re preaching to the choir. I see a snake and the next thing that’s gonna happen is me getting as far as possible from it. I ain’t checkin’ for gender. Sounds like the snake you mentioned was just repaying one bad touch with another…

        1. HUGE co-sign. Plus, let’s all not forget snakes eat rodents–if there were no snakes, the rats would overwhelm us. I’m wary of but fascinated by snakes; rats, notsa much.

          1. This was the reason we were very pleased to discover a young possum living under the shed in our back yard: eats snakes, smaller rodents, roaches…All sorts of things I’d rather have nature deal with. Plus it’s fun to see him freeze in mid-waddle when the motion lights catch him on his nightly rounds.

          1. Except skeeters. And ticks–don’t forget ticks, as one of the most creepy, least useful critters on this planet. (I’m sure some etymologist will come along & tell me I’m wrong, & why, but unless/until that happens, this is my story & I’m stickin’ to it!)

            1. No, I think an etymologist would simply tell you “tick” is from Old English ticia, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch teek and German Zecke.

              1. Heh! Of course. (But nice passive-aggressive way to tell me I should’ve said “entomologist”, Ms. Cross.) 😛

            2. Hey, someone has to spread lyme disease.

              Also, “Want to give each other a tick check?” is actually a line that’s worked for me in the past.

    2. I have friends (Slightly OTP on the north side) who have found at least 6 in the past few weeks. They live on a wooded lot with a nearby creek.

    3. There was a photo just a day or two ago on reddit (r/atlanta) of a Copperhead snaking along a sidewalk in Inman Park.

  3. Just wondering what kind of permit would be needed to try out a weekly Sunday ‘speaker’s corner’ on the square? Something like the one in London’s Hyde Park; on the steps of the old courthouse or the bandstand maybe.

    1. Would one be required? It’s public land. As long as the speaker was not monopolizing the area and did not interfere with others exercising their free speech right, I think anyone could do it today. Of course, the speaker would not be allowed to harass the public, be lewd, or otherwise engage in disorderly conduct.

      1. Having a PA or stage might require some type of permit but you’ve got every right to jump atop a soap box and speak yo’ mind!

        1. Rival is right. This happens on college campuses all the time. It is totally legal.

          However, setting something physical up might require a permit. Any amplified sound will require a permit. I’ve seen “restaurants” (we don’t have bars, right?) in Decatur have their outside guitarist shut down due to lack of permit.

          But yes, Reverend Jim could come to Decatur and scream “fornicators!” from the gazebo and it would likely be legal. He comes to Georgia Tech a lot less than he used to …

  4. Does anyone know if it’s legal when heading south on East Lake under College to make a U-turn to get to College quicker? I see it a lot and it looks dangerous to me. A safer way to get there is to just turn right and go around the Marta station.

    1. There should be a no U-turn sign there. I have seen people sit there for 2 min holding up traffic when they could have looped around quicker.

    2. As I understand it, it’s not a U-turn because it doesn’t send you back down the same road in the opposite direction. It’s a *very* hard left turn and is perfectly legal.

      1. If you end up on the same street, isn’t it a U-turn? When you start your turn, you are on East Lake. When you finish your turn, you are on East Lake. The lanes are just separated.

        1. As I see it, turning onto a different street (the spur up to College) keeps it from being a U-turn, but I get where you’re coming from. But even if whether or not it’s a U-turn is subjective and unclear, it doesn’t really matter if U-turns are legal, right?

    3. Actually, U-turns, in general, are legal in Georgia. Here is the code section:

      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.

      1. There should definitely be a No Left Turn sign at that intersection. I got a laugh when I saw a pick-up truck last week approach the red light from the tunnel, bear right onto Park Place, hang a fast u-ey, and turn right back on to East Lake to beat the light. Of course, I ended up right behind him at the 2nd Avenue stop sign.

        How about all the people who cut through the Burger King lot at Memorial and Columbia?

        1. If there were no left turns, there’d be no way to enter the AT&T parking lot from that direction. Can’t imagine they’d be agreeable to that. It’s just a normal left turn.

    4. Ok, I’ll be the aggresive one – what exactly is dangerous about it? Based on the responses here, it seems that people are upset that they have to wait a moment or two until the intersection opens.

      Of course this will all be solved once GDOT upgrades the McD and Candler insections ;>)

      1. I have sat through that light twice b/c someone was inconsiderate enough (i) to not turn right in an effort to save approx. 7 seconds or (and most importantly) (ii) to not pull up five feet so the traffic jam he/she is creating can get by. It rarely is only a moment or two.

        It also isn’t clear when traveling north on East Lake if the right lane is permitted to go under the bridge. Visually, it doesn’t appear so but everyone does it. There will be a wreck there one day b/c someone who isn’t familiar with that intersection drives “straight”, meaning although they start in the left lane before the light, they end up in the right lane on the other side of the intersection. A little striping would go a long way.

        1. +1 for the comment about the other direction.
          It really looks like the right lane splits and the left lane goes straight, and it’s not until you crest the hill untill you realize that they both go straight. Lanes lines might help, as would some signage.

          Anyone know if there are public accident stats for intersections?

        2. Funny you mention this intersection. We almost got in a bad car accident there last night. Lady in front of me (after sitting behind her at the red light) neglected to put on her left hand turn signal and then proceeded to brake in the middle of the intersection when she realized she had to make a hard left. We were behind her and came within a centimeter of hitting her. Had 2 small kids in the car and we were banged up due to slamming on brakes.

          Signal People!!

          1. I hate to say it, but based on the speed limit on that road (and thus the speed at which you were likely traveling) and the admitted proximity with which you ended up to this car…whether she signaled or not you were following too closely and not paying enough attention. If you were doing 25 or 30 and following at the appropriate distance while maintaining proper lookout, you should have been able to brake normally without having to slam them on even if that’s what the car in front of you did.

    5. A related question…when heading north toward College on East Lake, the road splits at the light. One takes you right up to College, the other takes you down under the bridge. When that light is red and you want to go right, do you have to wait until the light is green? Or would it be a right on red?

      I have the same dilemma at Atlanta Ave. and W. Howard. If I cross the tracks and I want to take a right on Howard (I’m facing Thinking Man), can I take a right on red?

      1. I think based on where the stop line is for the East Lake light, the street up to College works more like a fork, so I always stop and wait for the green.

        The one facing Thinking Man, next to the Valero, is definitely a legal right on red.

        1. Scott, this doesn’t seem consistent with your statement that this is a “normal left turn” when going southbound. If that were true, then it should be a normal right turn when going north, and we should be able to go right on red. Right?

          1. I’ll leave the final word to the traffic engineers and the lawyers but, the way I interpret it is based on the location of the stop line. Heading south, the stop line is adjacent to two left options: a 90 degree one into the parking lot or a hard one onto the spur up to College. But the northbound stop line is only adjacent to one turn: the one into the parking lot. So that’s how I’ve always treated them, even with a Decatur officer directly behind me, and it’s never been an issue.

    6. “I see it and it looks dangerous to me.”

      I see it, and it looks like a good way to get to College Ave. Why must we make this turn illegal just because it looks dangerous? How many accidents have actually occurred here? Do we need a law for every traffic movement that looks dangerous? Do we need to funnel all of our cars onto big, wide, “safe” streets that limit turns, so we can go faster? Do we need signs everywhere, telling us what way to choose to go? Is that really how we want to think about our transportation alternatives? Is that really how we want to think about our lives?

      1. It is the high number of cars that have to make what you are calling a u-turn into a 3 point turn that make it dangerous. Backing up into the middle of an intersection at the crest of a hill – crazy! Add to that the people who occasional come DOWN that one lane FROM College and you have yourself a chaotic intersection at times!

        1. If you can’t make this turn you should not be driving. I’ve taught 4 kids to drive. They all were able to make that manuever with ease the first time they tried it and every time thereafter.

        2. Do we need a law to prevent the 2 or 3 per year (total guess, which I’m sure your input is too) 3-point turns that happen there? They might seem dangerous, but they don’t seem to cause accidents.

          What benefit do people get out of forcing a law and a new sign on us? Most drivers can avoid a car stopped in the road because, you know, it’s in our nature to avoid accidents. Sure accidents happen, but you’re not going to legislate them out of existence.

          Another option would be to eliminate some of the concrete on that road, slim it down, which would force people to drive slower, which would give drivers more time to see things like cars in the road, which would make it safer, and still allow people to use the shortest route up to College if they wish.

  5. Has anyone tried to walk down Ponce lately? East or West? In some cities catwalks are constructed to keep sidewalks open, here the sidewalks AND the streets become construction zones. I don’t get it, in our ‘walkable’ city.

    1. +1

      The work at Fellini’s is a huge safety hazard. At 6 a.m. the other day, I saw a man in a wheel chair whizzing down Commerce to try and make it to the sidewalk entrance at the bottom of the hill. The cars coming through the instersection must have thought I was crazy when I stood in the right lane signaling for them to move over.

      I support all of the improvements going on, but the City could intervene and require an attempt to keep sidewalks useable.

      1. I heard that the incident a few weeks back when a FAVE kid on a bike was hit by a car was contributed to by the crazy barricades that extend out several feet onto Oakview at the former Chateau Daisy construction site. And the amount of road taken up on the Commerce curve behind Artisan is ridiculous. Seems to me that the development department has once again put in place some ridiculous requirements for these projects.

  6. Has anyone paid the transaction fee for using the new parking app? I had to accept that I would have to pay a fee if I used the app in order to load it, but I couldn’t find the fee described anywhere during the process (percentage? flat fee?).

  7. As the late Lewis Grizzard was fond of saying: watch out for the cottonmouth water rattlers.

  8. I know that this has been asked a dozen times but never seem to need it at the time but can someone provide a reference for gutter cleaning? mine are over due and beginning to create a problem.


  9. Huge oak limb just fell across my whole backyard, and King Tree is short-staffed this week, any recommendations for another tree service to get it out of there? No damage to the house fortunately. Money is relevant because my homeowners policy does not pay without structural damage.

  10. Can anyone recommend a lawn mower repair person who would come out to my house and replace a belt on my riding mower?? Thanks!

  11. Question for any police or law friendly types: When the driveway of a house crosses the sidewalk, who has right of way? If a car is backing out, and someone’s walking down the sidewalk, which takes precedence? Is the car expected to wait for people to pass on the sidewalk or are those on the sidewalk expected to wait for the car to back out?

    I’m assuming those on the sidewalk have right of way but had never really thought that much about it. Anyone?

    1. Ya know, sometimes in life “who has the right …” is irrelevant. For the pedestrian it’s not worth the loss.

    2. Related question: Is it legal to park in a driveway such that the sidewalk is blocked? Neighbor does this consistenly, forcing pedestrians into the street. Can they be cited or should I just egg them?

      1. Call DPD non-emergency number and ask for an officer to come out and take a look. A few $30 tickets might get their attention.

      2. From the COD code of ordinances:

        Sec. 86-4. Sidewalks not to be obstructed for more than 30 minutes.permanent link to this piece of content

        No obstructions shall be placed on any sidewalks in the city for a period exceeding 30 minutes.

      1. I’m all for sidewalks and walking etc etc. But if my car is in my driveway and that means you have to walk your little butt around my car in my driveway, then tuff.

        1. If your car is blocking a sidewalk, then you’re not in your driveway. And if you don’t believe that, then I hope that you are Bo’s neighbor so that you can take it up with DPD 😉

            1. Your “driveway” may appear to go all the way to the street. But if it crosses a sidewalk, you do not have a right-of-way to block it. You are wrong. You don’t have to believe me, but you are. Sorry.

              1. Dearest, I may be wrong in the progressive dictatorship of Decatur. But if I am loading cars in my driveway to avoid having family and friends park on the street and my bumper is over your precious sidewalk, tuff.

                1. Heh. You can get as indignant as you want, but you’re violating both state and local law. I don’t have the cites handy, but it is ILLEGAL. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you if one of your neighbors gets fed up enough to call the police about it.

                  And I don’t particularly care about your “precious sidewalk”, it’s just funny that you’re arguing about right and wrong and your entitlement to do as you please when I’m simply pointing out that the law disagrees with you. Carry on…

                  1. From the COD code of ordinances:

                    Sec. 86-4. Sidewalks not to be obstructed for more than 30 minutes.

                    No obstructions shall be placed on any sidewalks in the city for a period exceeding 30 minutes.

                2. Normally I wouldn’t bother, but the obnoxious tone of your posts have convinced me to report sidewalk blockers from now on. Keep on fighting the power though!

                3. If you replace your driveway, you’ll learn about the apron, where your right of way ends vs the city row, etc. Long story short, your claim ends before the sidewalk.

                  On a side note, I always find it interesting that people chime in when complaining about cars blocking the sidewalks, but if you mention the numerous tree limbs, bushes, etc blocking the sidewalks, crosswalk signals, etc, crickets.

                    1. Using an electric polesaw ($99 on Amazon), it literally takes minutes to trim low hanging branches that get in pedestrians’ way. The same goes for bushes, some of which have made the sidewalk on W Howard virtually impassable for many. It’s amazing how many snarl at me when I clean my yard. Besides looking nice, it’s also a safety matter.

                      The city could enforce maintaining its sidewalk right-of-way (either via residents or itself), but city hall doesn’t even trim back the branches that constantly cover the pedestrian crossing signals outside their own building. All we get is a pointless phone app and rights-reducing tree ordinance based on a lobbying group and the mayor’s personal vendetta against his neighbor. Yay.

                    2. I don’t disagree with you that this should be done and that city rules should be promulgated and enforced. But in terms of complaining, quicker results are likely with asking someone to move their car a few feet than with asking them to go to Home Depot, buy an electric polesaw, whatever that is, an extension cord, etc., and then keep up with trimming. I used to get annoyed with sidewalk maintenance when I walked around with my little kids but I kind of gave up hoping in certain areas.

                    3. I know you’re just playing the devil’s advocate. W Howard doesn’t have the street parking / blocked driveway problems I experienced at the house I used to rent, which can get tight and be frustrating. But not maintaining your space is not only a matter of safety and taking pride in your property and community, it’s just plain lazy, especially when it’s so easy. Alexandria, VA, for example, cuts back the trees around its public right of way, why can’t they here? A clean, convenient space promotes walkability. It’s like filling pot holes in a road.

                      FYI, for those who own a house and do their own yard work, an electric polesaw / chainsaw combo is a great, cheap investment, from trimming sucker branches to removing dead stuff. This Remington with great reviews costs $88:

                      www dot amazon dot com/Remington-RM1015SPS-Branch-10-Inch-Electric/dp/B007HLJRNG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1404139209&sr=8-1&keywords=electric+pole+saw

        2. We have the same situation as AMB–multiple vehicles, one driveway. (Specifically, three cars representing 10 year intervals in car buying.) Even worse, a shared drive–the other side also has three vehicles. Mornings can be interesting. Consequently, two of our vehicles are often parked on the street. I’m sure that neither the neighbors nor folks trying to navigate our street love that. But it’s legal, as opposed to blocking the sidewalk. Not sure which technique of handling multiple vehicles in small Decatur driveways is truly more inconsiderate.

          1. Not sure I’m getting this. Parking on the street contributes to walkability while parking across the sidewalk prevents it. How do you think on-street might be inconsiderate?

            1. Boy, I feel so much better now about our cars on the street! My thought was that we are narrowing the street which may annoy neighbors backing out of their driveways or looking for their own parking spots plus annoying through traffic. Many of the remodels have huge double driveways and two-three car garages so they don’t clutter up the street like we do. (Eventually, the 20 year old car will give out, teen will be out of luck, and we’ll spill out onto the street less, I promise.)

              1. I guess if the measure is how easily folks can get out of their driveway and zoom off to wherever it is they’re going, it might be viewed as inconsiderate. But if the goal is lowering speeds and putting buffers between people and moving cars for a safer street, your conscience should be clear. You might even qualify for a Merit Badge!

  12. Can anyone recommend the best way to get to the airport *early* (before MARTA runs). Considering Uber, limo or car service, and taxi. We’ll be a family of four with luggage. Wondering about cost, reliable service, etc. Thanks for any tips!

      1. I’m all for supporting local but SCREW Decatur’s Best.

        UberX is what I’d go with. The X fares are now 25% lower than in recent weeks.

        1. I have to agree. Decatur’s Best has always been a pain to try to schedule a pick-up with. They are never on time. The last time I tried, they did not show up at all. Thank God for Uber!

    1. Not sure if it’s true, but I just heard this weekend of someone from Decatur paying $120.00 to use Uber to get to the airport.

      1. I doubt that’s true. And if it is, it’s likely more due to user error than anything. Before you request a pick-up, you can get an estimate based on the exact pick-up and drop-off locations. I have never paid more than the estimate and what I have paid has usually been about a half (or less) than a taxi would cost.

      2. Second the “user error” likelihood. I suppose it would be possible if there were 4 people and they used the “black car” service. But even then it seems high.

      3. I paid $103 around New Years for a ride to the airport. Order an SUV and it is peak time, be careful. That being said, I took Uber home from Dunwoody on Saturday night and it was $24.

        I am a big fan of Uber, just buyer beware…

      4. Well, to follow up…I finally got around to downloading the Uber app and registering. A Black Car will cost $73-$95 to the airport, and an SUV will cost $96-$123. Uber has a no-tip policy, so that is the upper limit of what it will cost. Uber X, however, would only be $24-$33, but I doubt my family of four plus luggage will fit in a Camry, Altima, or Prius, which are cars that are listed for UberX. darn! Will now check the local car and limo services. I found one that has online instant quotes, gotta find that one again…

        1. Two Uber-X would still only be $66 max. I did that math in my head, in case anyone was wondering…and I was a journalism major!

        2. Wouldn’t a taxi be only around $45? Maybe I’m out of date. It’s true that you have to remind taxi services, e.g. Decatur Best, but I’ve never had them not show up if I call the day before and then again about an hour before as a reminder.

          1. The fact that you have to remind them to do their job is a problem to me. I’m not big on taxis anywhere, but, like others, my few experiences here were pretty bad. I also once tried to call for a taxi from Decatur to the airport on a rainy Sunday morning to avoid getting soaked, but after 3 companies said no, walked to the Marta station anyway. Can’t vouch for Uber prices (haven’t used them), but we’ll see with future competition.

            Given how infrequently the Marta buses run and the intown popularity for Uber / Lyft services, I’m surprised we haven’t seen more private mini-bus companies pop up to frequently shuttle people between popular destinations or act as feeders through rail stations from underserved, popular neighborhoods (e.g. Virginia Highlands to L5P to Inman Park station to East Atlanta and turn around). The growing Westside also comes to mind. Given the short distance, they could offer frequent service for cheap. It’d be like the Chinatown shuttles between Manhattan, Flushing, and Sunset Park. Some of the DC Circulator routes also grew out of short shuttle routes, are now packed, and are encouraging more density along future streetcar routes that will replace them.

            1. Private mini-bus companies operate up and down Buford Highway and its offshoots in Doraville and Norcross. It would be nice to see more of that intown. But I can just imagine the uproar from so many of my fellow “real Decaturites” if they breached the C.O.D. borders…

              1. Why? Because they are not green? Because they have chickens? Or because they don’t carry guns? I can’t keep up with the latest in Decatur biases.

            2. Oh, I agree that taxis here are pitiful. I’m just not up on this Uber thing. It has a 1930s Facist sounding name. So what protection do you have if your Uber driver rips you off or steals your luggage or injures you in an accident? Or conversely, if they claim that you injured them with your heavy luggage or allergy-inducing perfume?

              1. ” It has a 1930s Facist sounding name.” — Seriously? It’s the German word for “about.”

                  1. Well, thank you. That’s what I thought, but doubted myself (not least because they made me take German at 8am my junior year, and I mostly sat in the back w/ a quart of coffee and a pack of cigarettes — yes, it was that long ago). So I checked Google Translate and got “about.” In the immortal words of Zonker Harris, “Don’t be Google.”

                  2. In this case, “über alles” means above everything or above all. As a preposition, the word “über” can mean over, but also across, atop, on, via, or even excess, e.g. Ãœbergewicht (overweight).

                    I was curious about the name origin and found that it was originally called ubercab (no Umlaut) with no explanation. My Holiday Inn-based guess is that they’re using the English language trend of attaching “über” in front of a word to denote it as super or extremely cool. You hear it in German sometimes, but not as much as here.

                    Complete sidebar: Germany is in the quarterfinal! Off to der Biergarten for Friday’s match!

              2. Great questions. Regarding protections against theft (fare padding or theft), it simply doesn’t happen. I wish I could back that up with stats, but I don’t know anyone who uses the service regularly who has such a story (and I know a lot of drunks who take a lot of Uber rides, me included).
                Also, your account is tied to your VISA card. VISA has all manner of customer protection services/insurance and you can contest any charge.

                Regarding protection against injury, I’m slightly unclear on how the whole “driver service” thing works with existing insurance coverages. Your own personal coverage applies in these situations as well.

        3. Heather: in the app, click on the person icon in the top left hand corner. Then click promotions and enter code kp6gm and you should get a free $30 ride. Have the spouse/partner download the app and enter the same code. Then, both of you call Uberx cars for airport — take two cars for $36. You’ll be hooked! We took 4 uber rides this weekend — all much cheaper and better (faster, cleaner) than a taxi.

    1. Do they plan on keeping both locations open long term or just during the construction on the site of the original?

      1. My guess is the the original branch in the big building will disappear when the lease runs out and the big sign is no longer on the building. The parking situation for the bank at that location is not likely to improve. When I was in there last week, half the offices and cubes were empty and there were three tellers working.
        When that bank was established, its legal headquarters was in Decatur in that building, but several years ago the legal headquarters was moved to Norcross.

  13. Agree with JoeBlow about the Uber service. I just got back from the Bay Area and used it a couple of times there, where the service is even better than here. One of those times was due to a minor travel emergency, and the Uber driver picked us up two minutes after requesting a car and quickly got us where we needed to be without needing directions. At a cost of less than ten bucks.
    I understand there is perhaps some unfairness in how the service is regulated (or not regulated) compared to taxis, but it’s hard for me to be sympathetic when almost every taxi experience I’ve had here has been deplorable.

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