Councilmembers Mary Norwood, Amir Farokhi and Dustin Hillis confer at Monday’s first in-person Atlanta City Council meeting in more than two years. (Photo courtesy Atlanta City Council Office of Communications)

The Atlanta City Council held its first in-person meeting at city hall on Monday since the onset of the pandemic two years ago.

Councilman Alex Wan helped set the mood for the body’s return by reciting the opening lines of Adele’s hit song “Hello,” while Council President Doug Shipman commented that it was “nice to be back in chambers and see members of the public in-person” again, and praised city staff for keeping things running virtually over the last two years.

The council also paid tribute to radio host Silas “SiMan Baby” Alexander, who passed from pancreatic cancer last week.

Items approved during Monday’s meeting include:

• Two resolutions authorizing the city to contract with two private companies – Russell Landscape and Ed Castro Landscape – to assist the Department of Public Works with the collection of yard trimmings at a cost of up to nearly $1.3 million. The resolutions were earmarked as “emergency procurement agreements” as the city continues to struggle to pick up yard waste due to staffing shortages.

• A 180-day moratorium on the acceptance of any new rezoning applications, building permits for new construction, and other related permits for certain specified uses within the Upper Westside Improvement District Master Plan. The Upper Westside Improvement District Master Plan was adopted on Nov. 1, 2021. The Department of City Planning is working on zoning legislation to create a new overlay district to implement the vision and recommendations set forth in the masterplan. The moratorium will maintain the status quo while the zoning process is being completed.

• A resolution urging the Atlanta Police Department to establish a take force that would include other metro Atlanta law enforcement agencies to coordinate a response to burglaries targeting the local film industry rental and production companies.

• An ordinance authorizing a donation in a total amount not to exceed $4,500 from the Council District 11 and District 2 carry forward accounts and the Council President, Council District 8 and District 6 distribution accounts for the maintenance of the Xernona Clayton statue project.

• A resolution requesting the City Auditor conduct an assessment and accounting of the funds spent with Minority and Female Business Partner Vendors.

• A resolution expressing the Council’s support for Senate Bill 403 to enact the Georgia Behavioral Health and Peace Officer Co-Responder Act to establish a collaboration between law enforcement and behavioral health specialist to decriminalize mental health.

• An ordinance authorizing the mayor or his designee to apply for and accept an Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, Brownfield Revolving Loan Fund Supplemental Grant in an amount not to exceed $5 million on behalf of the Department of City Planning.

• A resolution to establish a task force for the purpose of promoting engagement in quality arts and cultural programming within District 12.

• A resolution appointing Council members Byron Amos, Liliana Bakhtiari, and Alex Wan to serve as representatives on the City of Atlanta – Atlanta Public Schools Joint Committee.

• A resolution requesting that the Georgia General Assembly grant municipalities the authority to deploy audio cameras for the purpose of enforcing the state law governing the noise produced by vehicles, OCGA Sec. 40-8-71. This item was immediately adopted.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.