I write this issue from Marietta Coffee Company after casting my early vote!

Since we have reduced multiple weeks of early voting to just one, make a plan to vote and expect some lines. Personally, it took me about 15 minutes.

Click here for the live map that shows the expected wait times at each early voting location.

We had a brief hiatus from the A Better Cobb Newsletter. Part of it was to enjoy the week with family and another part was just to take a step back and appreciate how far we’ve come.

In short, if you haven’t seen yet, the transit vote that we have been hyping up for a few weeks went way better than expected.

You know, the transit vote where we were hoping for a 3-2 result?

Well, it was 5-0.

Five. Freaking. Zero.

It seems small, but this is a big deal. We can go around and say “unanimous and bipartisan” as we get support and feedback for next steps.

You can watch the 30 second video of the vote above. It happened so fast and without discussion that we were honestly shocked.

Thank you to the entire group of supporters who came out and joined us! We had a solid group of 10 of us there, which far outnumbered any possible opposition.

You can watch my public comment below.

A group of us met in late October with a focused strategy on getting this vote passed and we were successful!

So now, our work is just getting started and we will be meeting in the near future to discuss our strategy for 2023 and beyond! Stay tuned.

Commissioner Meeting Notes

Overall, the meeting lasted about 3 hours. Here’s a recap of my notes:

  • Cobb’s Election Mishaps. There was shock and frustration as the county election officials briefed the Commission on the failure to count all of the votes in a Kennesaw city precinct before the votes were certified. After the error was realized and all of the votes were counted, the winner changed. Yikes!
    • For the record, in the last issue, I showed a graph showing turnout dropping as precincts had a higher share of Democratic voters. Well, the one outlier in the image below was Kennesaw 3A where the missing votes were from. You can see it in the highlighted precinct below.
  • Commissioners voted unanimously to not approve annexation attempts into unincorporated Cobb County by Marietta and Powder Springs related to developments of more single family homes. The annexation will now go to an arbitration process to determine the outcome.
  • Commissioners also discussed and approved the legislative agenda for the county. Highlights included:
    • Transportation: Maintain Local Maintenance & Improvement Grant Funding
    • Transportation: Support the Major Mobility Investment Program- the $10B program to add managed lanes to I-285 and I-75 and encourages the incorporation of transit elements such as BRT
    • Transportation: Commissioner Gambrill requested that we add allowing automatic speed indicators to issue traffic tickets beyond their current allowance in school zones. I know this might be controversial, but I’m a huge fan of this in making sure our streets our safer.
    • New Cities-Requests that any legislation to create a new city should be introduced only after a signed petition of at least 10 percent of registered voters in the proposed city’s jurisdiction and include no changes to the boundaries of the proposed municipality.
    • Evictions process-Cobb supports revisions that preserves landlords and tenants rights (Chair Lisa Cupid actually responded earlier to public comment about evictions with a reference to the county lobbying the state for better tenants rights legislation)
    • Mental health reform-The County requests more funding, access, and support for managing and responding to the mental health crisis.
  • Did I mention Commissioners voted 5-0 to start preparation for a transit referendum in 2024? Yeah, that happened!

So what now? Transit next steps

At the next Commissioners meeting, on Tuesday December 13th, there will be an item on the agenda to approve the necessary funding for planning and preparing the referendum. Here’s my take on where we are:

  • Cobb County staff will likely use the transit plan from the Comprehensive Transportation Plan as the starting point
    • Although this plan would be very helpful in moving transit forward, there was a lack of regional connectivity that connects Cobb to Atlanta and the rest of the region.
  • Although mayors throughout the county were against an HB 930 bill in 2022, they are now starting to show support for a referendum in 2024 especially if the money raised specifically helps mobility within their cities.
  • A network of businesses and organizations will likely form in the near future to start bringing people together to support a future referendum.
  • There has been a lack of strategy for what voters will approve. This will need to change by bringing together a political coalition of support and some polling.

Strategic Plan Meeting Recap

Tyler and I attended the District 4 townhall for the Strategic Plan. It was a very engaging conversation and was probably one of the few meetings where the crowd was overwhelmingly progressive.

In the future, we want Cobb County to be described as a “diverse, welcoming, progressive” county. We’ll take that!

One of the highlights of the meeting was the “Continue. Stop. Start.” exercise everyone participated in. We were asked what we want the county to continue, stop, and start doing. I got some interesting responses when I suggested we “continue growing” and “stop suburban sprawl”;)

There are two more Strategic Meetings planned.

  • District 1: Thursday Dec 8th @ 6PM at Kemp Memorial Library
  • District 2: Thursday Dec 15th @ 530PM at Boy Scouts Area Council

If you haven’t please complete the online survey ASAP!

Unified Development Code

The county is currently undergoing the process to put together a Unified Development Code. This is important because there are currently multiple-often contradictory-documents that guide the zoning and development of the county.

As the county simplifies and makes these codes consistent, it is also an opportunity to provide feedback for improved, more sustainable developments.

This will be a multi-year process, but the first two meetings will be next week:

  • Monday, Dec 5th @ 6:30 PM at North Cobb Regional Library
  • Tuesday, Dec 6th @ 6:30 PM at Switzer Library

More information can be found here.

Bike Network Updates

A few updates on the bike network front:

  • Construction continues on the Cheatham Hill Road/Burnt Hickory Road bike trail project near Kennesaw Mountain Park. The entire trail is expected to be completed in early 2023 and I’m hoping the county does a celebratory ribbon cutting event like they did for a new road…
  • Speaking of ribbon cuttings, subscriber Beth W. attended the ribbon cutting for a new Bike Share location at the Battery! This is the 8th bike share location in the Cumberland area which has over 38 miles of trails! Find more information on the Cumberland Trails website!
  • Still waiting on updates for Connect the Comet, Noonday Creek Trail Extension, and Austell-Powder Springs trail.

Upcoming Events

As mentioned earlier, there are multiple opportunities to attend and participate in important conversations.

  • Unified Development Code Meeting: Monday, Dec 5th @ 6:30 PM at North Cobb Regional Library
  • Unified Development Code Meeting: Tuesday, Dec 6th @ 6:30 PM at Switzer Library
  • Strategic Plan Meeting (District 1): Thursday Dec 8th @ 6PM at Kemp Memorial Library
  • Board of Commissioners Meeting: Tuesday, Dec 13th @ 9 AM at County Commissioners Meeting Room
  • Strategic Plan Meeting (District 2): Thursday Dec 15th @ 530PM at Boy Scouts Area Council

Let us know if you’re going to any of those meetings!

Podcast Recommendation

Replacing the typical News & Updates section, I wanted to highlight a podcast I have been listening to that I HIGHLY recommend.

Modeshift is a podcast focused on how we can reduce our dependency on cars and find others ways to get around.

Here’s a good recap of the series.

Here is the link to the popular podcast sources: Apple, Spotify, Amazon

I highly recommend starting with Episode 6: A Car Light Version of the US. It’s almost like they are talking directly about Cobb County and it includes some great insight from GT’s own Ellen Dunham-Jones

I’ll be referencing this podcast often in the future and I’d love to get your take on it!

‘til next time!