Cathy Woolard
Responses to the ThreadATL Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire, 2017
Parking question
ThreadATL: "The ubiquity of free/cheap parking is considered a threat to walkable cities and to the competitiveness of public transit. Are there parking-management strategies, or zoning changes, that you would put in place to decrease automobile dependence and increase walkability?"

Response...

The Atlanta BeltLine has demonstrated that a transit/pedestrian/bike oriented lifestyle is desireable and achievable in Atlanta. We are accelerating the expansion and connection of miles of new ped and bike paths. I plan to start construction of 5 new transit lines simultaneously so that we can start densifying transit corridors and begin to offer more housing at affordable prices on transit. Many residents will choose to orient their lives along these corridors where they connect to home, work and play. By building a more transit oriented city, we can reduce parking requirements. We can also institute a parking space tax that can help us build a trust fund for affordable housing as well as make the financial equation for transit vs driving more sustainable.

Invest Atlanta Question
ThreadATL: "As mayor, you’ll have significant control over Invest Atlanta. Luring companies through tax incentives and the issuance of bonds is a chance for us to invest in good urban design, walkability and the reduction of car dependence in our office developments. What can you do to guarantee this happens with Invest Atlanta projects?"

Response:

Invest Atlanta can set parameters for incentives that help us build a better city. We can set requirements for good design, affordable housing, retail and office spaces as well as reduce parking requirements for those seeking city incentives. We'll also be looking very hard at local jobs with liveable wages and benefits that are created with investments from the city. As Mayor, I will set the direction working with Invest Atlanta and work to gain support developing and enforcing the requirements with the Atlanta City Council.

Streetcar Question
ThreadATL: "After years of ridership and operational challenges, the City of Atlanta recently announced an agreement to transfer responsibility for the Atlanta Streetcar to MARTA. What specific additional steps should the City take to ensure the streetcar's long-term success?"

Response:

MARTA should have always been the operator of the Atlanta Streetcar - or better yet, transit on the BeltLine with MARTA as operator should have been the first streetcar line. But now that we have the downtown streetcar, we need to connect it to MARTA on the west side and to transit on the BeltLine. And then we need to build the other 4 lines I have proposed to build. In addition, I will work hard with regional leaders to develop the political consensus to ask the General Assembly to start funding transit operations in Atlanta and across the state. Georgia is the only state that doesn't fund transit ops and we can't remain competitive in the world without a more robust transit system.

Gulch Question
ThreadATL: "A large entertainment-focused development in the "The Gulch" of Downtown has been proposed, where there are also long-standing plans for a regional multimodal transit terminal. How will you ensure that this potential rail service can be integrated with development in the Gulch?"

Response:

The Gulch is not the optimal alignment for a multi-modal terminal that includes train rail. The Armour Yard area is the better location for that. But that said, I will find the best location for multi-modal transfer for MARTA, buses, and rail at the best price and get it done.

Bus Lanes Question
ThreadATL: "In the interest of improving transit coverage along major bus corridors and in other areas not served by heavy rail, do you support dedicated, transit-only lanes for buses, even if it means reallocating existing roadway space from cars?"

Response:

I do support transit only lanes for buses and streetcars. Even if it means reallocating existing roadway space from cars.

Small Retail Question
ThreadATL: "Economic challenges for brick-and-mortar retailers creates instability for neighborhoods when large “anchor” chains disappear, leaving blighted spaces behind. What policies will you seek to assure that developments include retail spaces that are not too large to be reused, in the event the large anchor tenant leaves?"

Response:

With each new suburban style mall or retail development, we interrupt the opportunity to build a transit oriented city. I'll work to make sure the new Atlanta rezoning project defines size and scale of commercial development so that it provides needed amenities for neighborhoods while helping us build more sustainable communities.

Preservation Question
ThreadATL: "New developments in our neighborhoods can result in the loss of buildings that hold cultural or historic significance. What policies would you support that would preserve the historical built identity of the city in the midst of new growth?"

Response:

I'm distressed at the loss of historic landmarks in Atlanta, particularly those that are part of our civil rights heritage. We lost a huge opportunity to use revenue from the car rental tax to fund aggressive renovations of historic buildings that are important to our history as well as to our future as a tourist and convention destination. I'll work with historic preservation organizations as well as communities to identify buildings and places that we should preserve and work to adopt historic status where possible and to secure the buildings in other ways when we can't.

Safe Walking to MARTA Question
ThreadATL: "Walking to a bus or rail transit station in Atlanta should be a thing that you want to do — not a dangerous chore that you do only when you have no other choice. How will you help the city partner with MARTA to strengthen pedestrian infrastructure around bus stops and rail stations?"

Response:

Where possible to redirect use of infrastructure bonds to ensure that we are making sidewalk connections to transit, I'll work to do so. Sidewalks are important to the "last mile" connections from work to transit to home and should be seen as important to our transit future. I'll also interested in exploring parking benefits districts where we increase/institute paid parking fees in neighborhoods that "host" a lot of on street parking for events, popular places like the Atlanta BeltLine, Piedmont Park and Grant Park, and around the Atlanta Dome and work with the neighborhoods to use those funds to pay for sidewalk upgrades in the community. I will also require that any new construction or renovation over a certain amount (to be determined with public input) requires sidewalks or sidewalk replacements as part of the buidling approval process.

Neighborhood Master Plan Question
ThreadATL: "The car-centric Fuqua development under construction at 17th Street and Northside Drive runs counter to the Loring Heights master-plan’s call for a walkable, neighborhood-focused center of activity in this property. How will you ensure that developments respect neighborhood master plans and the work that residents have put into them?"

Response:

We must rezone properties and be sure that we have very specific conditions that must be met for building in areas with master plans. We must work with our city attorneys to insure that master plans don't move forward for approval until we have defensible requirements in place. I will make sure that our planning and permits department understand that they must look and listen closely to the concerns and intent of community feedback and enforce it where legally possible, whenever possible.

Affordable Housing Question
ThreadATL: "How will you increase the availability and accessibility of good-quality new housing that is affordable for a variety of household sizes, including owners and renters?"

Response:

I'll work to increase the amount of revenue available to put skin in the game.
The parking space tax I mentioned earlier would provide a good source of revenue for this. We'll not sell tax payer assets like Turner Field, Underground, Ft. McPherson and the Civic Center site without ensuring that Atlanta is getting what Atlanta needs to provide housing choices for those without homes, at an array of family size and income as well as for senior citizens. We'll use land to stay in the deal and keep housing permanently affordable. I'll also work to ensure that investors who are holding housing pay taxes that reflect the cost of providing services when they bring down the value of entire neighborhoods and deprive us of important housing stock across the city. And we will bring forward a number of new policies which will allow us to require more affordable units in market rate developments by offering density bonuses, tax reductions for affordable units, and financial incentives only to those developments helping us meet our housing goals.

What say you, Atlanta urbanists? How does this candidate's response rate?
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