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Splish – Splash – Splost – Why I think T-SPLOST is important

By Mary Anne Walser, Realtor & Attorney, 404-277-3527, maryannesellshomes@gmail.com

ARRRGGGHHHH. Traffic. Lots and lots of traffic.  That’s what we face in Atlanta every day. Please consider voting “yes” for T-SPLOST, at the bottom of your ballot – and I hope that this blog post will help explain why I think it is important.

As a busy Realtor with clients all over the Metro, I am in traffic all day every day. And it’s not getting any better – only worse and worse and worse. With Metro Atlanta projected to grow by 2.5 million people over the next several decades, is there any hope in sight? Those in the know say that there is no way we can add that many residents if we keep DRIVING everywhere. Cities are not static – they are dynamic and everchanging, have life cycles of their own, and the “people” market corrects itself. Meaning that if traffic is unbearable, fewer people are going to move here and some who are here will move out.

Unfortunately, my job as a Realtor requires that I be in the car. And as one who drives ALL THE TIME, I know I’m biased, but I believe that traffic is the number one problem the Metro faces. If we don’t deal with the problem, Atlanta will start shrinking, not growing. We have to figure out a way to add more transportation capacity or risk losing lucrative business and losing great people.

So how do we get cars OFF the road? Some traffic relief is happening organically. Milennnials, more than prior generations, like walkability and rideability. More of them walk to work, bike, or take public transit, and they tend to favor those neighborhoods where this is possible. Witness The Beltline! The 22 mile loop around Atlanta is transforming the way we live in Atlanta.  The Beltline trail only accommodates walkers and cyclists – NO CARS. The largest portion of it that is finished is The Eastside Trail and it has increased property values near The Beltline by 26% on average. The hip new companies moving to Atlanta like MailChimp and Google Fiber have moved into Ponce City Market in no small part because it is ON The Beltline. Consider this – at Ponce City Market (“PCM”), there is only one parking space for every 2.5 people who show up there every day, showing that many who go there must indeed be walking, biking, or taking public transport (go to PCM any day and you can see for yourself – people arriving in all modes of transport).

But the organic densification is not enough; there are still many of us in the Metro very dependent upon our cars. At a recent panel before Urban Land Institute (“ULI”), a panel of transportation experts opined that T-SPLOST passage is absolutely necessary for providing some relief to our crazy traffic.  T-SPLOST stands for Transportation – Special Local Option Sales Tax. No one likes more or higher taxes! But we need money for traffic fixes, and this is the best we have got.  It would increase sales tax slightly and the money would go for projects designed to make moving around the Metro more manageable. T-SPLOST will be at the bottom of your November 8 ballot. A majority of those voting must vote “yes” for it to pass – so a failure to vote is effectively a “no” vote. Rusty Paul, Mayor of Sandy Springs, said that “if it doesn’t pass there is no opportunity available for the long term. If we can’t get people in and out, they go away.” SO PLEASE VOTE YES for T-SPLOST.

You might remember the T-SPLOST ballot from 2012 that did not pass, largely because many voters outside the city did not see how the proposal at that time would benefit THEM. The 2012 ballot was perceived as primarily benefitting only certain select areas.  In hopes of preventing a replay of 2012, this time around each city within the Metro has their own list of projects that will be funded so it’s no longer a battle of regionalism – each city benefits.

Google “T-SPLOST 2016 list of projects” and see what is in store for the county and city where you live. And give me a call to discuss if you’d like – I will be waiting in traffic. Somewhere. Hoping that T-SPLOST will pass.

Mary Anne Walser is a licensed attorney and full-time REALTOR, serving buyers and sellers in all areas of Metro Atlanta. Her knowledge of residential real estate and her legal expertise allow her to offer great value to her clients. Mary Anne s a member of the Atlanta Board of Realtors, the Georgia Association of Realtors, the State Bar of Georgia and the Georgia Association of Women Lawyers. Contact Mary Anne at 404-277-3527, or via email: maryannesellshomes@gmail.com.