Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Boardwalk Along Abercorn Street

Abercorn Street. It is a long road that starts on Bay Street and ends in another county. Savannah's two major shopping malls are situated along this street and there are hundreds of businesses which are adjacent Abercorn or one or two streets away. Places like Fresh Market, Publix, Garden State Tile, John B. Rourke, Mid Town Deli and so on.

I travel this street every day by car. I live only 3 miles away from the stores I just listed and yet if I wanted to ride my bike (save some money, pollute less) I would be taking a very circuitous route to get there (safety is my concern).

Let's say I wanted to walk there. Once out of the historic district, there isn't a sidewalk to be found.

What should be clear to everyone is that we have not planned our county's pedestrian and bicycle access very well. We built everything around our automobiles. I understand that but it is time to correct this.

I will champion the design and construction of a wide bicycle and walking path that will enable people to safely transit through Mid Town and the Southside from anywhere along Abercorn. It will be lighted. It will be protected and I am sure it will be well received and an added benefit to thousands of tax payers.

Think of Santa Monica's boardwalk where people walk, skate, ride and roll all the way up and down the Pacific Coast Highway. What a concept. We can do it.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Reassessments = Big Bucks

Did you get your reassessment notice from Chatham County? We did and one property (4 unit rental) was increased 40%. The 2007 value was $331,500, the new 2008 value is $554,500. The math is quite simple:

New City, County, and School annual increase in taxes (above last year's) is $3,768

Monthly property tax increase is $314

Divided by 4 apartments is $78 extra property tax per month

So the average apartment rental monthly rate before the County's new higher value was $800. Now it will become $878

I ask you, who is driving up the cost in the rental housing market? Specifically it is the Board of Assessors and indirectly it's Pete Liakakis because Pete is the Chairman and he and the commissioners appoint the 5 members of the BOA. 

Forget that the property value is set above fair market value, disregard the fact that the Savannah real estate market has been totally FLAT over the last 12 months, don't begin considering the $54,000,000 Savannah River Landing Tax Allocation district Pete Liakakis supported and got passed and please don't ask Pete why the size and cost of Chatham County has mushroomed under his term.

The facts speak for themselves. Pete Liakakis has not made more bike lanes and bike paths a priority. He has done nothing but ignore our CAT system (declining ridership increasing costs) and as to possibly supporting curbside recycling for unincorporated Chatham County he doesn't like the idea. Why? No money for it. 

Pete, if you are reading this please reread the first paragraph. You have a lot more money from me and many others. Where's it going Pete?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hit and Run: Bike Lanes Should Have Been Built A Long Time Ago

Two bicyclists were riding back home to Savannah from Tybee this past weekend and someone in a white Dodge Ram pickup hit them and drove off, seriously injuring both bicyclists. They were bicycling on U.S. 80, the only road out to the beaches of Tybee. There is no bicycle lane. That's not right.

One of the bicyclists, Matt Barrow ,is one of my tenants,  the other his girlfriend Stephanie Chiang. Matt is a nice young man, honest, forthright, and courteous. He also works hard and pays his rent right on time, he and his girlfriend didn't deserve this. Matt is doing a lot right like running a small business and reducing emissions and congestion by using his bike whenever possible.

The commissioner for this district, the 4th, is Pat Farrell. Pat doesn't think much about the environment (see my post on Islands Town Hall Meeting). He is also one of the commissioners who flew to Hawaii in 2005 at taxpayer expense right after being elected. He also routinely takes credit for projects (Islands police precinct, Charlie Brooks Park renovation) which were planned and funded and started under the prior commission 2000 -2004. I guess if a project finishes while Pat is in office, he likes to take credit for it.

There is plenty of money in SPLOST and other accounts that should be used to build bike ways and bike paths. But I have heard nothing from Pat Farrell in his 3.5 years on the commission about supporting bike paths and bike ways. Nothing. Of course he doesn't live on Willington Island or Tybee Island.

Pat Farrell has competition this November because he has sat silent while many people in district 4 have called for more bike paths and bike lanes. Voters this November will have choices and those voters who are not content because of higher property taxes and an inability to plan for the future of Chatham County will make a choice: the status qou, or, intelligent planning and that might very well include bike lanes.