Dunwoody City Council Meeting January 9.
The short version: paranoia and hate mail campaigns win the day. Home based business owners can not expect any rights from this Council. Except for the right to pay taxes to the city.
The long version:
The first read of the home occupation amendment was converted to a "discussion" per Heneghan. He insisted that the council "slow down" on its recommendations regarding home business owner rights. I guess 10 months of discussion is moving too fast for him.
The neighborhood nazis have the ears of the council. Bonser related an anecdote about an "illegal" business causing traffic problems. She did not say if the people involved in the "illegal" operation were penalized in some way. Heneghan claimed that the sign ordinance in combination with this new ordinance will allow homes to have commercial signage. What the sign ordinance has to do with occasional customer contact was never made clear. Home based operations are not permitted to have signage, period. Shortal also shot down any expansion of home business owner rights. He also was skeptical of having a page of links to community organizations on the Dunwoody city government page. Deutsch explained that the Community Council wanted to streamline the process for home business SLUP applications. Nall asked questions that pointed out difficulties in the practical application of parts of the amendment. Thompson and Davis were silent.
There are some glaring contradictions in the "discussion".
Heneghan and Bonser are concerned with "unintended consequences" of allowing home businesses to visit with customers at home. They were not concerned, however, with the unintended consequences of allowing the same homeowners to raise farm animals in their backyards. The "needs" of a half dozen families indulging a hobby carry more weight than 500 families making a living. Hmmmmmm..............
Concerns were expressed regarding "deliveries" at odd hours of the night that would disturb neighbors. Concerns were not expressed about DeKalb Sanitation or the USPS making rounds as late as 9 PM the past few weeks. Double hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmms.............
The council expresses concerns about potential parking issues due to home based customer contact. The same council is not concerned about the inconvenience of street parking for any other reason. Especially when it is provided by the city as Joe Hirsch pointed out in his public comment. Triple hmmmmmmmmmmmms...........
The council is concerned for neighbors who may be "annoyed" by a home based business. The council is not concerned about home business owners being harassed by council members' friends in HOAs. Home business owners have no protection from accusations of "nuisance" that stem from a personality conflict or other frivolous source. If there is a conflict, the blame will always be placed on the business owner. I'm running out of hmmmmmmmmmms.
I have no hope that the "discussion" of this ordinance amendment is going to get anywhere. The general assumption is that all home business owners are careless, evil, and the perpetrators of all things uncomfortable. Any opinion defending a home business owner that did respect their neighbors was dismissed as an aberration. Several hundred business owners smeared with a handful of anecdotes with no supporting evidence and no chance for appeal. This is what Dunwoody calls "transparency in government." I give up.
I do not and will not advocate violating the law. However tonight's discussion made it clear that homeowners who work from home will not have any rights or protections afforded them. You can still apply for your SLUP if you insist, but you are subject to wholesale smear campaigns and whatever other tricks City Hall demands. I predict that most home business owners will default back to "don't ask, don't tell". The standard, per Bonser, is set by the scofflaws who do not bother to get licensed or pay their taxes. All others are judged by that lowest denominator.
Is it worth it for a home based business to obey the licensing laws?
I believe not. There are great expenses in time and effort with no support or positive acknowledgement from the city, and unchecked harassment from community activists.
Should every home based business obey the law anyway?
That's up to you.