Monday, April 30, 2012

Dunwoody Marketplace - Critical Mass

I called it.  I SO called this one....

From Dunwoody Patch:  Dunwoody Green Market Seeks New Home

From the article:

The U.S. Postal Service has told the Dunwoody Green Market that it needs the parking lot where vendors operate on Wednesdays eight months of the year and that the market will have to find a new home.
The financially troubled agency is closing the Dunwoody Carrier Annex at 4444 North Shallowford Road and is moving those operations to the Dunwoody Post Office. That move will begin on Friday, May 18, according to a supervisor at the North Shallowford Road address who referred further questions to the main Atlanta Post Office. Officials at the main branch did not return a call requesting comment.

Back in August 2011 - almost 9 months ago - I posted this article:

From the blog post:

US Post Offices are by definition federal land. City ordinances don't apply. So while the DGM is in the Post Office's good graces, the market opens every Wednesday - legally. 
How lucky do you feel existing at the whim of the Feds? I wouldn't. The USPS can revoke its permission at any time. They can close that location and sell the land, which they routinely threaten to do.
The land isn't going to be sold, but it is going to be used by the rightful owners.  The article from Patch goes on about how vendors were told casually by federal employees that they are going to be evicted in just under three weeks and that city officials are taken by surprise.  You can moan and complain to the sky about how slimy and uncouth that (lack of) legit communication is.  You'd be right.  But here's the problem:  the USPS has every right in the world to do so.  The DGM has been operating at the feds' pleasure and pleasure time is up.  IMHO, no one has any right to be surprised.

So the recommendation from August 2011 is more urgent than ever:  a landlord or other entrepreneur has a huge incentive to open a permanent community marketplace where the farmers, artisans, other businesses can pay a proportional rent and set up shop weekly.  The blog post above had the complete list of advantages.

So what have we learned here?

  • Don't rely on the feds or other government agency to just *give* you what you need to run your business.  The USPS scenario is Exhibit A.  The land the DGM was camped on was considered a long-term solution rather than a short-term stopgap.  Big mistake.  Always have a plan in place for long-term land/property use.  If your Plan B involves continued squatting, you're setting yourself up for scrambling again and again.
  • Take your business sense seriously and work accordingly.  Microbusinesses, home businesses, family farms, artisans, other sole proprietors, are all part of the legitimate business community and all have a legitimate role to play in the economic development of Dunwoody.  If you want Dunwoody and your customers to take you seriously, you have to act the part.  Get a license.  Pay your share of taxes.  Find a venue that can accommodate the amount of business you conduct.  Pay your rent to the landlord, if it isn't you.  Or buy the property you want to operate from.  DGM has been dragging their feet on this one and now they're in a panic.  Will history repeat itself or will a permanent market be established?  Stay tuned.

I'm a little concerned about DGM proprietors discussing their future in terms of "we'll just see where we land".  How about "let's decide where we will go"?  I don't know of any successful business plan that leaves their location up to the four winds and the good will of government.  Even food truck operators have a route and location plan mapped out in advance.  Choose a location, negotiate a price, and work to build it.

Although I prefer to have as few strings as possible attached to free enterprise, the City of Dunwoody government can play a role in acknowledging the contributions uber-small businesses make to the community.  I can't imagine too many people would be upset if Dunwoody provided city-owned land for a market.  (I can think of a spot on North Shallowford that's open at the moment.)  Conversely, the City also has to hold these businesses responsible for paying their share of revenue just like any other business.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

New Additions to Our Family!

Mr. & Mrs. Brown Thrasher of Briers North announce the recent hatching of four two chicks in their lovely, spacious nest inside the Duncans' backyard rose bush.  Mrs. Brown Thrasher would like to state that she will give the stink eye to anyone visiting while she is warming the babies.

Mom & Dad are gathering food.

If you look really closely and at the right angle, you can see one of the parents in their nest  

What?  What did you think a "new addition" meant??

*No one touched or disturbed the chicks.  The first picture was pure luck when I held my camera phone over the rose bush and hoped for the best.  The one below was trying to get a shot of the adult on the nest from the side.  Mom is back on the nest (with stink eye) and a handful of birdseed was tossed in the area so there's no danger of the adults leaving.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

BOLO - Neighbor accosted this morning

A neighbor just posted an alert to our neighborhood messaging list.

This morning, his wife took his child to school and she was followed back to the neighborhood.  Instead of returning home she went down an adjoining cul-de-sac.  The person following her blocked her in with his truck and verbally accosted her.  He got out of his truck and so she dialed 911.  (And was routed to Gwinnett county because she was on a cell phone.  Always specify you're calling from City of Dunwoody when you have to use your phone to call for help.)  He eventually took off.

The details posted to the list were:

Red Chevy pickup truck
GA plate # BQ706Q

Man was wearing camoflage/army fatigues.

Dunwoody PD has been notified. If you see this person and/or their truck steer clear of them, because they obviously don't have both oars in the water.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Opportunity Knocking: Is Dunwoody "Camera Ready"?

It looks like the few film shoots in Dunwoody may not just be lucky flukes.  A film crew working on a project tentatively titled "Trouble With the Curve" borrowed Dunwoody High School during spring break.  Earlier this year, a project titled "Parental Guidance" used a home on Vermack for some of their shots.

Then Channel 2 aired this:

I know someone out there is going to criticize Mike and City Council for establishing "film guidelines".  I don't believe that it's a bad idea to have fees and use guidelines in place.

When I was in college, certain parts of my urban campus at Boston University were regular locations for scenes from "Spencer for Hire".  The first couple of times you saw the film crew set up, it was cool - you got to see all the techies and what happens behind the scenes.  If you were lucky you got a glimpse of Robert Urich or Avery Brooks at work.  Some students made pizza-and-beer money working as extras.

But that's just a couple of times.  After a while you got used to it.  Then finally the time came when you were late for class in a rainstorm, and you had to walk an extra half-mile because the film crew blocked off your usual route.  Or commuter students got screwed out of their assigned parking lot because craft services and actors' trailers were camped out there.  Then the whole thing just got old.

So when a community actively courts  the film industry, you also have to take measures to keep the circus inside the ring.  City Council is voting whether to approve the Film and Video Policy (with fees, natch) to ensure that film crews understand and stay within the boundaries of activity that are required for a peaceful neighborhood.  (For now - said "boundaries" and everything else that falls under 'zoning' is up for discussion as part of the rewrite project.)

For the most part, the policy is fair.  You don't realize how intrusive a film crew can be until you encounter one while having "one of those days".  You've got your standards in here - your application requirement, anything that has to be reviewed by a county-based service, insurance and liability, etc.  I would recommend cleaning up the vague terminology regarding "hardship" and "practical solution" in that section.  It leaves a lot of room for interpretation based on individual taste instead of a reliable standard to operate by.  Fertile ground for the local jerkoff to draw a line in the sand for a chance at a little payola.   The phrase that lets the city slide on its 5-day response time without penalty, or without benefit to the applying production company seems slimy.

Would these ordinances be in force if the film crew is working on county property, as opposed to city or private property inside city limits?  The last film project (with Eastwood and Timberlake) took place at Dunwoody High, so it was the school system and the county who had the authorization to issue a permit and permission to use the site, not the City.  Would Dunwoody itself have been able to enforce any ordinances under these circumstances?

In one of the previous examples, ("Parental Guidance") the work took place in a residentially-zoned home.  If the homeowners receive compensation from the production company for the use of their home as a set, do they risk being penalized for commercial activity in a residence?  Is this another "don't ask, don't tell" scenario that is so common in Dunwoody today?  If so, that could put a wrench in the City's film dreams.  The policy acknowledges the possibility of filming on private property, but is silent on the compensation or "commercial use" issue.  Major contradiction, folks.   Very obvious one, too.

While on the residential subject, the policy states that no permits are necessary except for "...guns in display of the public; public nudity; special effects such as fire, explosives, or pyrotechnics;  nondomestic animals; or
filming outside the hours permitted by the City’s Noise Ordinance."
Hel-LO!!  Production vehicles parked in the street!  Random bitching and moaning about traffic and parking will crescendo!  Even if there's no "filming" on the street, there is going to be some serious parking.  Sounds permit-worthy to me, if for nothing else than having police on hand to prevent collisions.

When the policy passes and becomes the law of the land - then what?  Is there going to be active marketing to Hollywood et al for locations?  Or a more passive approach that relies on word of mouth?

Georgia rolled out the "Camera Ready Communities" initiative as part of their own marketing to the film industry.   This program identifies contact people by county - not by city - to be liasons to assist interested film companies in setting up shop.  I'd like to think DeKalb County would have some sort of partnership with Dunwoody, for communication if nothing else.  My cynical side kicks in when we remember how much DeKalb just loooooooooooooves Dunwoody.

It wouldn't take much to replicate the county-by-county program at the city level.  Identify a contact person who will be familiar with ordinances and permitting, and that has a comprehensive understanding of Dunwoody's neighborhoods, facilities, features, etc to assist with location scouts.

You also have an opportunity for the Chamber and CVB to get into the act.  Include with the city packet a letter to the effect of:  "Welcome to Dunwoody Georgia.  We wish you success in your project while you film in our city.  Attached is a list of local enterprises that are willing and able to assist you with products and services you may be in need of during your stay."  Break them out by category:  Lodging, Transportation, Talent Agencies, Lighting and Staging, Catering, and any number of other skilled craft services.

The policy is only Step One.  In order to make Dunwoody "camera ready", City Hall has to ensure that knowledgeable pros are at the front desk when film companies accept their invitations.  If you're going to enact a policy at City Council, be ready to back it up with adequate city staff.  If City Hall is planning more than just a policy vote, it could be a win-win for everybody.  Don't make the mistake of throwing out a policy without the human resources and infrastructure to make it work in real life, outside Council Chambers where everything is hypothetical.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

UPDATE: Brook Run Vandalism - REWARD

Updated 4/17/2012:
Well, someone's going to collect the reward!
From The Dunwoody Crier via Dunwoody PD:

An anonymous tip led the Dunwoody Police to five juveniles that are responsible for the damage to the community garden at Brook Run Park last month.
All have been charged with criminal damage to property 2nd degree, a felony.

“Actions have consequences and as you get older the consequences become more severe. This is a great opportunity for parents to engage their teenager in a conversation about decision making that may help them make better decisions in the future” said Chief Billy Grogan in a statement.
Of the five juveniles, four are Dunwoody residents and one a Roswell resident. They have been released to the custody of their parents.
The garden was vandalized during overnight hours of March 30-31. A $1,500 reward was offered for information regarding the damage.
Contact Det. J. Maldonado at 678-382-6925 if you have any further information about this crime.

If, after their due process, these kids are found guilty of the crime (vandalism on this scale = felony = crime.  It's not "just mischief".)  I still say that a big part of their penalty is sweat equity reimbursing the garden staff for the damage, including Home Depot and Costco for their contributions.  If found guilty they should also be required to work in the garden, because clearly they don't know how much work it takes to raise vegetables.  That's something they should learn.  They should also take a course at the Nature Center about indigenous wildlife, to appreciate what they destroyed.

They should NOT have the option of their parents bailing them out or otherwise excusing them from the work it will take to pay back what they've done.

That is all.

From Dunwoody PD via Facebook:

DPD is investigating an incident of vandalism at Brookrun's Community Garden. Last night "hoodlums" pulled down the fencing, overturned planting beds, and trampled hundreds of dollars worth of flowers and vegetables. The suspects went as far as destroying bird houses and killing the bluebird eggs inside. Anyone with information please call DPD 678-382-6919.

(In short, someone destroyed hundreds of hours of work that our citizens put in.)

The Community Garden has offered a $500 reward for information leading to the capture of those responsible.  You can submit a tip anonymously here:

Thursday, April 12, 2012


From Dunwoody Police via Facebook

WANTED-CARLOS SANCHEZ ESQUIVEL for Forgery, 1st Degree (F). Esquivel scammed a 27 year old victim who had received traffic citations from the DPD; advising her not to show up in court because she was in the country illegally. Esquivel further stated that he worked as a translator for the courts, and that he would be able to take care of the citations. Esquivel obtained copies of the victim’s citations and gave her falsified court documents in return - charging the victim over $1,000.00 in false court and probation fees. Victim was subsequently arrested for failure to appear in court.

Anyone with information regarding this suspect or similar incidents is asked to contact Det. R. Delima at 678-382-6914 or

You may also leave anonymous crime tips online via SUBMIT A CRIME TIP:, or send an anonymous Text Message to C-R-I-M-E-S (2 7 4 - 6 3 7). Use the key word DPDTIPS at the start of your message.

For more WANTED persons, visit our webpage:

Monday, April 9, 2012

Gyro Gyro giveaway plus announcing lunch specials about this restaurant that Aha! Subscribers (including me) rave about! - The Aha! Connection

Gyro Gyro giveaway plus announcing lunch specials about this restaurant that Aha! Subscribers (including me) rave about! - The Aha! Connection

From the Aha Connection - a little restaurant in Dunwoody Point I pass every day on the school route is making a huge splash.  Gyro Gyro is getting rave reviews all around.

Like their FB page after your visit and you could win a (TBD) prize!

Now you have yet another reason to visit East Dunwoody.

Come on over to The Dark Side in 30360 - you know you want to!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Is Dunwoody Getting All of its Money For ChatComm?

When Dunwoody incorporated, the city government became entitled to taxes and fees collected at various levels to support their services.  That was reinforced when Dunwoody joined up with Sandy Springs and Johns Creek in their ChatComm 911 service.  One of the taxes collected by the phone company is supposed to be set aside for ChatComm, instead of DeKalb County 911.

The utilities have been slow to get on the stick and realize that Dunwoody is its own city (with three four zip codes) and the taxes they collect have to be redirected.  Last year, I received a polite letter from Georgia Power that boiled down to "Oops, we just realized that even though you're in the 30360 zip code and our database classifies that as Doraville and/or Unincorporated DeKalb County, you're really in Dunwoody and we have to collect some more money from you.  So don't freak out when you see your next bill."  Good enough, at least they realized the update on their own and didn't let the backlogged charges get out of control before correcting it.

I wish AT&T was equally sharp.  As I scaled that mountain of paper that is on my desk this time of year, I noticed that the phone bill still had DeKalb County listed as the recipient of 911 taxes.  Being a good Dunwoodian, I got on the phone to AT&T customer service to point out the discrepancy.  How hard could it be?  Google Maps can show you where the boundaries of the city are and the fact that my home address is inside of them.  No brainer, right?

Called customer service number.  Went through the "press 1 for...." maze.  Got to a representative.  Explained the incorporation and change in 911 services.  "Oh that's a billing question.  Let me transfer you."

Get to billing. Confirm my account number.  Explain the 911 services change.  Again.  "I don't have anything to do with that, I just take payments.  Would you like to make a payment?"  Not on the phone, thanks.  "I can transfer you to customer service."  I just came from there.  "Well I can't change that from here."  Looks like I'm going back to customer service then.

Back to voice mail jail.  Dialing to get to representative.  Ask for a supervisor this time because First Dude wasn't quite on the ball.  Representative stalls me and I go through the tax question.  Again.  "Hmmmmm...  let me try to enter it manually." D-U-N-W-O-O-D-Y.  "No, it isn't taking it.  The city is dictated by the ZIP code."  But my city has three four zip codes.  "I understand but they're going to have to adjust the database."  Who is "they"?  Who do I have to be transferred to?  "Well you can't just call them.  You have to go down to your local government and have a statement signed by the mayor confirming that you're in a new city."  I have to get the mayor to write a letter?  "Yes, or some elected official."  But you can see on any map website that this is a city and what the boundaries are and where my address is.  "That's the procedure."  Ummmmm...  I think I need to call back later.  CLICK.

For me, there is no difference - I pay the same $1.50 per month.  But the feasibility of the ChatComm conversion was based on the projection that phone taxes would be allocated to ChatComm and not siphoned off by the county.  How many taxes due to ChatComm are being lost because Dunwoody has three four zip codes, two three of which overlap with other municipalities?

If City Hall wants to collect all of the fees its entitled to, they're going to have to do some legwork.  AT&T at least isn't going to take the word of their customers or MapQuest.

(Thanks, Rick, for reminding me about part of 30350 being in Dunwoody.  That has to be worse - overlapping with another county in addition to other cities.)

UPDATE:  Terry Nall and John Heneghan forwarded this post to the City Manager's office when they read it and I received a very quick response from Kimberly Greer in Warren's office.  They did the legwork I suggested and it seems my experience was the exception rather than the rule.  I am very relieved that that is the case.  I still believe a full, regular audit of telecoms for ChatComm fees would be a good idea to make sure that these exceptions stay exceptions and don't become a regular feature.  Thanx, everybody!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Brusters Returns to Dunwoody!

Per the Dunwoody CVB--
Brusters Ice Cream is returning to Dunwoody Village.

All you parents with teens:  I hear a handful of summer jobs coming your way!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

New Online Real Estate Scheme - WARNING

From WSB Channel 2
Criminals have found a new way to victimize potential renters using legitimate MLS listings.
Crooks have taken photos and listings, posted legitimately on MLS and created fake "for rent" listings.  It started on CraigsList (which most people know is not the most trustworthy of classified ad sites) but has been extended to other known real estate sites like Zwillow.  The fake listing asks renters to send money in exchange for the (non existent) keys to the property for sale.  The renter gets ripped off, and the property seller has all kinds of people creeping around their property, thinking they can rent it.

Realtors out there take note:  have someone in your office do a search on all of your real estate listing addresses and make sure that everything that comes up is a legitimate listing, and not a fake "for rent".

Link to the Channel 2 news story.