House Bill 636 (click for information), the proposed city charter for the City of Brookhaven, passed the House Governmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday, February 7, by a vote of 9-5. It passed the full House of Representatives on Friday, February 17, by a vote of 101-57.
The bill is awaiting a hearing in the Senate State and Local Government Operations (SLOGO) Committee, which I anticipate will occur within the next week and a half.
Click here to view my presentation of HB 636 to the full House.
The House Governmental Affairs Committee passed an amendment to rename our community “Ashford.” This amendment was proposed at the behest of residents of one particular neighborhood. Needless to say, I do not support the amendment and will present a substitute version of HB 636 to the Senate SLOGO Committee that will restore the appropriate name of our community, Brookhaven.
In doing so, I will present historical evidence that the name Brookhaven has applied to a broad community – with its center of gravity in DeKalb County – for many decades. For example, here is a helpful article (click for link) noting that Murphey Candler Little League was first known as Brookhaven Little League when it started at Murphey Candler Park in 1958, complete with an opening day parade that began at Cherokee Plaza on Peachtree Road and ended at the park.
On a separate note, I recently met with a group of constituents from the Brookhaven Fields neighborhood who suggested that we change the structure of the Brookhaven city council to four single-district city council members, which yields a five-member city council when you count the at-large elected mayor.
They were concerned about the three at-large city council members that are provided in the version of HB 636 which passed the House of Representatives. As it stands now, there would be a seven-member city council comprised of three at-large council members who would be elected by the city as a whole but each reside in one of three districts, three district council members who would reside in each of the three districts and be elected only by the citizens who live in their particular district, and an at-large elected mayor.
I appreciated the meeting. The result of the meeting is that the substitute version of HB 636 that will be presented to the Senate will provide for a five-member city council comprised of four members elected from single-member districts and a mayor elected at large.
Click here to view the proposed four-district map. This map is intended to keep individual neighborhoods whole and avoid dividing them into more than one district. District 1 includes the Murphey Candler and Silver Lake neighborhoods. District 2 includes Ashford Park and Drew Valley. District 3 includes Historic Brookhaven, Brookhaven Heights, Brookhaven Fields, and Lenox Park. District 4 includes HillsDale, Pine Hills, and a portion of Buford Highway.
This new city council structure amplifies our individual voices and gives our neighborhoods real power over the future of our community. Each Brookhaven city council member would represent about 12,297 residents compared to the five DeKalb County commissioners who represent about 138,379 residents each, and the two super district commissioners who represent about 345,947 residents each. That’s 11 times and 28 times, respectively, as many residents as a Brookhaven city council member would represent.
On a final note, the proposed city limits had included Plaza Fiesta, the 57th Fighter Group Restaurant, and other commercial properties on the east side of Clairmont Road, across from Ashford Park and Drew Valley.
Representative Elena Parent, who represents that area, has proposed House Bill 1006 (click for information) to annex this and other territory down to I-85 into the City of Chamblee. Assuming that HB 1006 passes the General Assembly, the Brookhaven city limits will end at Clairmont Road. The city council map discussed above reflects this change.