Decatur mayor, local leaders tout clean energy investments in the state

Originally published in Decaturish

Decatur, GA — Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett and local leaders, including DeKalb Commissioner Ted Terry, celebrated the federal investments being made in Georgia related to clean energy during a press conference on April 11 at the Decatur Recreation Center.

Georgia has been allotted about $83 million in federal funding through the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Local cities and counties like Decatur and DeKalb County haven’t received federal funds yet, but can apply for grants through various agencies like the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the state Environmental Protection Division and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

According to a press release, these investments will improve energy efficiency, accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy, and lower energy costs for Georgia families with the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP).

“I am thrilled to celebrate these historic federal clean energy investments that will advance our plans to cut pollution, lower our operational costs, and lower energy costs for our communities,” Garrett said in the press release. “Decatur has ambitious sustainability goals to meet in the coming years, including a total transition to clean energy for our municipal and community buildings, and weatherization efforts that reduce energy usage are key to meeting our targets and making our communities more resilient to a changing climate.”

Decatur is developing a comprehensive strategy to utilize federal funds, mobilize the community, and implement clean energy measures. The city of Decatur recently adopted its clean energy plan, which sets goals for the city to transition away from fossil fuels and toward a resilient, renewable future.

“This document, Decatur’s Clean Energy Plan, is intended to guide Decatur’s energy transition and address the city’s contributions to the climate crisis while also improving living conditions and addressing equity issues,” the executive summary of the plan states. “This plan describes a path to a Clean Energy Future while facing an aggressive goal and conditions outside of Decatur’s control.”

When the city was working on the 2030 Strategic Plan, climate action became a top priority.

“Acting on a key recommendation of the city’s clean energy plan, the city is working to create a community energy fund to complement the available federal funding to support low and moderate income households and their ability to take advantage of these programs,” Garrett said during the press conference.

Every year during the city’s Martin Luther King Service project, volunteers do minor repairs on homes of seniors and part of that includes weatherization.

“We want to expand that program and also work with our land trust to be able to make sure we’re meeting the needs in the community that don’t have access to the funding for putting in insulation or replacing systems and those kinds of things. We’re using the time now as grants are being released [to see] what are we a city eligible for,” Garrett said.

During the press conference, speakers highlighted how federal funding will address the needs of communities with access to fewer resources.

“Today, we’re shining a light on a critical component of Georgia’s plans to significantly reduce our energy consumption, and create a lifeline for many through efficient, effective home weatherization,” Terry said in the press release. “The expansion of programs like WAP, which help low-income families reduce their energy bills, will have a profound impact on those communities that are on the front lines of a housing crisis and facing increasing costs to cool and heat their homes.”

Weatherization is a key aspect of the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Terry said during the press conference.

“It’s the process of making homes and buildings more energy efficient, which in turn reduces the amount of energy required to heat and cool them,” Terry said. “It’s achieved through a combination of very basic things, including sealing air leaks, insulating walls and attics, and upgrading the heating and cooling systems. The benefits of weatherization are numerous. For one, it saves homeowners money on their energy bills.”

He added that weatherization reduces one’s carbon footprint and creates jobs as it requires skilled professionals to carry out the work.

“Finally, it’s not just about saving money or reducing our impact on the environment, it’s also a matter of social justice,” Terry said.

Local funding through DeKalb County and the American Rescue Plan Act has gone toward weatherizing homes in Clarkston and South DeKalb. The Empower Clarkston program, which is run through the Tekton Training Center, has been expanded with help from the county’s APRA funding.

“The program is aimed at training refugees from the immigrant community as well, and communities that have been impacted by COVID-19,” said Malek Alarmash, program manager at Tekton Training Center. “The training program focuses on trade skills and includes specialized trainings such as the Empower Clarkston program.”

The 14-week program is centered around green construction and efficiency training, which includes identifying and addressing energy needs and plumbing issues. In 2021, the Empower Clarkston program trained 15 people and assisted 15 homeowners.

“The program’s impact was demonstrated through data which showed a significant reduction in power bills and amounting in approximately $700 in energy savings per year. This represents a significant cost savings of more than 33%,” Alarmash said.

Tekton will be working on 20 homes in DeKalb and has been recruiting trainees and homeowners to participate in the Empower Clarkston program.

The Rev. William Flippin Jr., added that weatherization is a critical tool in fighting climate change, and it improves the wellbeing of communities by reducing greenhouse pollutants.

“Legislation that expands and makes these energy efficiency efforts accessible to all is the inclusive and expansive approach that we need to meet the climate change challenge,” Flippin said.

In addition to highlighting the tangible benefits realized in these laws, speakers also urged federal leaders to further expand on them to reduce carbon pollution.

Raid at proposed public safety facility site exposes barriers, booby traps and trespassers

By News Staff
March 27, 2023 at 5:34 pm EDT

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Just days after county officials issued an order for the public to stay away from the area around the site of the proposed Atlanta public safety training facility, authorities say they’ve found barriers, booby traps, and trespassers on the land.

On Monday, DeKalb County police and surrounding agencies executed a raid to clear the site at Intrenchment Creek Park of trespassers.

The DeKalb County police chief said Monday’s raid uncovered something that was cause for grave concern – fentanyl.

“We actually found something that we’ve never found before, several vials full of fentanyl,” said Chief Mirtha Ramos.

Dekalb County Commissioner Ted Terry, told Channel 2 investigative reporter Ashli Lincoln, the right to peacefully protest at the site of the new public safety training facility was taken away.

“The concern is, we’re pushing the free speech zone, too far away,” Terry said.

County leaders said the park that is home to several walking and biking trails is no longer safe to the public and has been the site of recent violent protests.

Terry said while he doesn’t agree with the violent protest, he thinks County leaders should work to provide a peaceful protesting zone.

“Will there still be the ability to still have peaceful protest,” he said.

A DeKalb County parcel map shows six parcels listed that are impacted by this order. However, Terry said the park’s entrance — which is the old South River Trialhead — is not a listed parcel on the order.

DeKalb County told Channel 2 Action News that since 2021, the former South River Trailhead has not been publicly owned and is not a DeKalb County park.

The county said the park is now owned by Blackhall Real Estate Phase II, LLC.

Because this is private property, DeKalb County said they are not aware of any judicial order that says the privately owned BlackHall Property must remain open to the public.

DeKalb County police said two people were arrested, three persons left voluntarily, and one vehicle was towed following Monday’s raid.

DeKalb commissioner pushes for more local spending on transit

DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry says the county should consider investing more local transit dollars to take advantage of available federal funds (Emil Moffatt/WABE)

Originally published in WABE

Last year’s federal infrastructure law will mean hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade public transportation in metro Atlanta.

But the plan also expands opportunities for projects that improve transit equity.

DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry told WABE’s “All Things Considered” this week he’d like to see a transit referendum placed on the ballot this fall for the county’s voters.

“Even if it’s a quarter-penny,” Terry says, local investment would make DeKalb eligible for more federal dollars.

“The longer we wait, the higher possibility that we miss out on really what we think of as a once-in-a-generation level of funding that can I think really catalyze a lot of economic development and job opportunities,” said Terry. “And with that we can address affordable housing and environmental issues at the same time.”

He says some loan programs available as part of the infrastructure plan require as low as a 20% match from the cities or counties seeking them.

“Right now we don’t have a local match available to meet those demands,” said Terry. “So what I’m really hoping we’ll be doing over the next several months is to consider: what is our local transit funding formula?”

He says increasing public transit in South DeKalb, adding more bus routes, as well as free rides for seniors and disabled individuals, can help improve transit equity in the county.

“We have a lot of metrics that the transit folks are looking for,” said Terry. “They’re looking for underserved populations, they’re looking for equity issues. We know that in South DeKalb, they’ve been paying for MARTA for 40-plus years now, but haven’t received the type of investments that would be commiserate with that sales tax money.”

Terry says long-term projects that could improve mobility in DeKalb include heavy rail, light rail, bus rapid transit and transit that uses managed lanes on 285 and I-20.

“It would become a reality sooner if we get the local funding in place,” he said.

South River Watershed Alliance, DeKalb Commissioner seek order to stop ‘Cop City’ construction

Originally published in Decaturish

DeKalb County, GA — A DeKalb County Commissioner has joined with the South River Watershed Alliance and a member of an advisory committee overseeing the construction of a police training center to seek a restraining order to stop construction on the site.

The Atlanta Police Foundation is constructing an 85-acre police/fire training facility located in DeKalb County’s South River Forest, called “Cop City” by activists. The location has historically been the Old Atlanta Prison Farm site.

The project will cost approximately $90 million. The area will feature a burn tower; space for high-speed chases, a helicopter pad, a shooting range, and a mock village.  One-third of the bill will come directly from taxpayers, and the other two-thirds will come through the Atlanta Police Foundation, a collection of private non-profits who financially support APD in various ways. The land will be leased to the Atlanta Police Foundation for $10 per year. 

The debate over constructing the facility has become international news. Police officers shot and killed Manuel “Tortuguita” Esteban Paez Teran, 26, on Jan. 18 near the site, and a state Trooper was wounded during the incident, which has resulted in several protests.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that a member of the advisory committee helping to oversee the project, Amy Taylor, is appealing the county’s issuance of a land disturbance permit that would allow construction to move forward.

The South River Watershed Alliance and DeKalb Commissioner Ted Terry joined Taylor in filing a complaint in Fulton County Superior Court on Feb. 13 seeking to halt construction activities related to the training center.

Despite Taylor’s appeal, “Atlanta Police Foundation, Inc. refused to stop clearing the site,” the complaint says.

“Atlanta Police Foundation, Inc. claimed the site ‘is exempt from county zoning requirements altogether’ because it is ‘being developed for a public facility,’” the complaint says.

DeKalb County issued a land disturbance permit on Feb. 2. Taylor filed an appeal with the county’s zoning board of appeals on Feb. 6. To see the appeal to the county’s zoning board of appeals, click here.

“Amy Taylor appealed the planning director’s issuance of the land development permit because sediment discharges caused by clearing, grading, and excavating will violate state law,” the complaint says.

The complaint asks a judge to grant a restraining order to stop land disturbance on the site and to prevent any future disturbances while Taylor’s appeal is pending.

To read the complaint, click here.

Commissioner Ted Terry on Cop City

Atlanta and DeKalb County officials announced plans to move forward with building a $90 million Atlanta Public Safety Training Center at the site of a former Georgia state prison farm. Super District 6 Commissioner Ted Terry, who represents constituents where the facility is expected to be built, is calling for more transparency. He talks with Rose about the path forward.

Environmental impact of police training facility questioned by DeKalb commissioner

Originally published in The Champion

A stakeholder committee has helped shape the proposed police training facility on City of Atlanta-owned property in southwest DeKalb, but DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry said he wants more research and information on the property’s history and the environmental implications of the proposed development.

Terry recently presented proposed legislation to the DeKalb Board of Commissioners requesting an environmental impact study of the proposed development. The resolution was referred to the Planning, Economic Development, and Community Services committee, which tabled the resolution for 30 days at its July 26 meeting.

Terry said his proposed legislation would examine environmental implications to Intrenchment Creek and South River, noise issues, and other issues that have been discussed by protestors and local environmental activists.

Studies such as a phase two environmental analysis could reveal if there are environmental problems that could slow the development or cost taxpayers and investors more money, according to Terry.

The resolution states that the phase two study “would provide a more diligent review of potential environmental hazards that might yet be unknown, such as possible site contaminants, buried debris, and significant data gaps.”

“If you look at the areas where the prison farm was abandoned, to me it’s clear that there are more underlying environmental issues that deserve a deeper review,” said Terry. “I’d also like a little more effort to acknowledge the long history of the area.”

Terry said it’s important to do the research now because the development is already expected to cost $90 million. He added that the project is one government jurisdiction working in another government jurisdiction, so the development hasn’t been subject to the same regulations as a private development. A private development, according to Terry, would have more impact studies done and a more thorough community input process.

“The goal all along from my point of view was to replicate that citizen and stakeholder process,” said Terry.

The environmental implications related to Intrenchment Creek or South River and its watersheds could be more important than additional costs, according to Terry. Protestors have also mentioned the implications of cutting one of the largest urban forests left in the country.

“On one side, what’s concerning is if there will be additional costs associated with this … but are we making sure that if the site gets developed, that there aren’t any long-term environmental consequences of this land disturbance, understanding that there are decades and decades of history of letting that site degrade,” said Terry.

DeKalb officials said if approved, their study would investigate “a community member’s independent environmental assessment … which highlighted several areas within the entire Prison Farm site that are environmentally sensitive areas and contain vital habitat ecosystems that deserve to be considered in the overall assessment and conservation areas in the [Atlanta public safety training center] development plan.”

“We should be focusing on any development along South River or Intrenchment Creek,” said Terry. “Everything that we do there could put [the waterways] more at risk.”

The resolution adds that in the 2019 master planning process, the City of Atlanta amended its city charter to create a “South River Forest Park”, designated in an area that includes the land proposed for the development of the Atlanta public safety training center.

Terry calls for studies on the area’s history

In the original resolution, Terry also called for “the idea of housing reparations,” for neighborhoods that have fallen victim to redlining or other actions that Terry said have impacted neighborhoods around the Old Atlanta Prison Farm.

Terry said the way the property has been used and cared for over the last several decades, including with what Terry called “redlining,” and potentially discriminatory separations of groups of people, should also require research and a “history and reconciliation and reparations committee.”

According to Terry, adding gun ranges and other loud activities to the site could further damage property values if the noise isn’t contained properly.

Terry said that since the Old Atlanta Prison Farm was abandoned from its original uses, the property has been ignored by local governments and police training on the property has gone somewhat unchecked.

“If the history and recognition reveal that there were actions taken by Atlanta’s government or DeKalb’s government that made these situations worse or turned the Starlight neighborhood into a place where land values were artificially depressed through de jure segregation, then there needs to be some accounting of that,” added Terry.

Depending on what is uncovered in the research, Terry said that there is a future where the public training facility moves locations.

“[A different site] is one future scenario. What if we get six months or a year down the land disturbance process, and it’s determined that the original site plan can’t be implemented due to issues that were discovered after the fact? Or that it’s going to cost more than expected? It’s always good—especially when taxpayer money is involved—that we do everything we can do to ensure the best quality project. Not just for the immediate future but for the long-term health of this ecosystem,” said Terry.

Advocates call for faster climate action as Georgia Power hearings begin

Originally published by WABE

This coverage is made possible through a partnership with WABE and Grist, a nonprofit, independent media organization dedicated to telling stories of climate solutions and a just future.

As long as it works, a lot of people don’t think much about electricity beyond paying the bill. Plug something in, flip a switch, it turns on. But how that power is generated can have big consequences — for people’s power bills and for the planet. 

There are lots of ways to make electricity: burning coal, gas, oil or wood; harnessing the power of the sun, the wind or running water; or using nuclear reactions. 

Georgia Power, the state’s largest utility, uses all of them. And beginning next week, state regulators will hold a series of hearings to decide which of those sources to increase and which to phase out, laying out where most Georgians will get their electricity for the next 20 years. 

“We have a diversified generation system in Georgia that gives us reliable, affordable and clean energy down the road,” said Bubba McDonald, one of the five Public Service Commissioners that will have the final say over Georgia Power’s Integrated Resource Plan, or IRP.

The utility plans for the future

The biggest changes Georgia Power wants to make are shutting down coal and adding solar. By 2030, the company plans to get nearly a third of its electricity from the sun, up from just 11% this year. 

“We are showing how we are growing the level of renewable energy in our state and responding to the fast-changing needs of our customers while also protecting the environment and the communities we serve,” said Georgia Power President and CEO Chris Womack.

Renewable energy — like solar and wind — is key, because burning coal, gas or oil creates the greenhouse gasses that cause climate change. Scientists say people everywhere have to quickly and sharply cut down on those energy sources to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Despite the new solar, Bryan Jacob of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy [SACE] said this plan isn’t good enough.

“The bad news is that Georgia Power has proposed as much fossil gas resource in this IRP as they did renewables,” he said.

While the proportion of renewables is going up, the company still plans to get a lot of its power from gas in 2030 — just as it does now. Jacob’s group is one of several hoping to change that.

Georgia Power’s plan is essentially a first draft. Before the Public Service Commission approves it, they’ll hear from environmental and clean energy organizations, consumer groups, companies that use a lot of energy and even a gas company.

Advocates push for changes

Along with calling for more energy from renewable sources, groups intervening in the IRP process plan to push for more energy efficiency programs and to raise other questions, not just about environmental concerns, but also about the costs to Georgia Power customers.

“While energy efficiency continues to be a least-cost resource, the utility is failing to pursue energy saving opportunities at levels that would bring the greatest value to customers,” said Forest Bradley-Wright of SACE.

The idea is that it’s cheaper to save energy than it is to make it. Georgia Power customers can lower their power bills by making changes that help them use less electricity: better insulation, more efficient heating and cooling systems, smart thermostats.

The utility’s proposal does call energy efficiency “a priority resource” and seeks to extend current energy efficiency pilot programs, but advocates said the company should do more.

“Georgia Power continues to lag national and regional peers in annual efficiency savings, which average two to three times higher than Georgia Power’s delivery,” Bradley-Wright said.

The power company’s plan also calls for more energy storage, which is vital for using more renewables. Solar farms, for instance, only generate electricity when the sun is shining, so it’s important to store the extra energy for use when it’s dark or cloudy.

According to the proposal, Georgia Power aims to own and operate 1,000 megawatts of storage capacity by 2030.

“Georgia Power wants to do it all themselves. So the question is, if you do need all of this storage, how much is that going to cost? And would the cost for doing that be cheaper if you allow third party non-incumbents to develop that?” said Katie Southworth of Southface Institute, a sustainability organization that’s intervening in the IRP.

Southworth also raised questions beyond climate concerns about Georgia Power’s plans to keep relying heavily on gas. She pointed to volatile natural gas prices on the global market — a concern in the headlines lately due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — and to problems with gas-powered electricity in Texas following a devastating winter storm.

“Continuing to beat the drum that [gas] is reliable and affordable, will always show up, you know, we’re seeing in real time that in the last few years, that has not been the case,” Southworth said.

Local governments get involved

For the first time this year, cities and counties that have made their own clean energy commitments are getting involved in the IRP process, too. Atlanta, Savannah, Athens, Decatur and DeKalb, and Fulton Counties are all intervening together. 

“There’s only so much that the government, the local governments can do,” said DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry. He said local governments like his have the power to make some changes, like adding “our own electric vehicles, solar installations on government property, on fire stations, on libraries, on wastewater treatment plant lands.”

But Georgia Power is the only electricity provider in most of the state. If cities and counties can’t buy enough renewable energy from the utility, they can’t reach their goals.

Terry is optimistic about the process, because Georgia Power’s parent company, Southern Company, has announced the same clean energy goal as DeKalb County: net zero emissions by 2050.

“We all agree on the goal. Now we now need to get to the plan,” Terry said.

The PSC has a lot of power to shape that plan, which is updated every three years. Much of Georgia Power’s explosive increase in solar in recent years happened because the commission called for it. 

Several rounds of hearings are scheduled on Georgia Power’s Integrated Resource Plan over the next few months. The PSC will make its final decision at the end of July.

DeKalb County nixes plan to end marijuana testing of job applicants

Commissioners in a suburban Atlanta county rejected an official’s proposal to drop marijuana testing for some job applicants.

DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry last week proposed ending the tests.

But WAGA-TV reports the plan died in a committee meeting after no other commissioners supported it.

Terry’s plan wouldn’t have applied to police officers, firefighters or equipment operators. But he said his plan would have ended testing for about 2,000 of DeKalb County’s 6,000 positions.

“This was an effort to change an antiquated policy an outdated, war-on-drugs policy, that is unjust, unfair,” Terry said.

He argued that with marijuana becoming legal in some places, Georgia’s fourth most populous county should discontinue the requirement. He also argued that the policy could deter some job applicants.

“It also puts DeKalb County government at a disadvantage when it comes to attracting the best and brightest employees,” Terry said.

But others oppose the plan.

Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson said marijuana is still illegal in Georgia. In a statement, she noted that marijuana can impair “judgment, motor coordination, and reaction time.” She said employees under the influence of marijuana or alcohol may not be able to do their jobs.

In 2017, when Terry was the mayor of Clarkston in DeKalb County, the city lowered fines for those caught with less than a half-ounce of marijuana from $660 to $75.

Terry said he will continue trying to change fellow commissioners’ “outdated views.”

DeKalb ordinance would mandate safe storage of guns

By Tyler Estep, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A DeKalb County commissioner has introduced a local ordinance that would mandate the safe and secure storage of firearms, a measure he said would help address preventable gun deaths and stem the tide of violent crime.

Commissioner Ted Terry said he’s been working on the legislation for quite a while. But Tuesday morning’s public reveal came just a week after a Michigan teen allegedly used a gun purchased by his father to kill four classmates and wound several others at Oxford High School in suburban Detroit.

“This is a policy that works,” Terry said. “We have to do it across the country, but we’re not waiting. We’re taking action now.”

Terry’s commission district covers the western half of DeKalb, including parts of the city of Atlanta. Several other local officials — including state Sen. Elena Parent, Atlanta school board chairman Jason Esteves and incoming Atlanta City Council president Doug Shipman — joined him at the press conference announcing his proposal.

So did representatives from Moms Demand Action, a national advocacy group that pushes for stronger gun laws.

As written, the DeKalb ordinance would make it unlawful to store firearms where “a minor, at-risk person or prohibited person” could easily gain access. It would require that guns either be stored in a locked container or “secured by a device or mechanism, other than the firearm safety, designed to render a firearm temporarily inoperable.”

Terry said that, in the absence of state or federal action, putting such an ordinance in place on the local level would play a part in addressing “the millions of children who are at risk from accessing unsecured firearms, or the hundreds of thousands of guns that are stolen out of vehicles that are funneled into the black market and used in violent crimes.”

The draft ordinance currently calls for a $500 fine for first-time violators. Options on the local level are limited and Terry said that, as much as anything, it’s about providing a basis for educating gun owners about the potential ramifications if they don’t properly secure their firearms.

“These are not radical acts,” said Liliana Bakthiari, who was recently elected to represent Atlanta City Council District 5. “This is common sense gun legislation.”

Parent — a Democrat whose state Senate district includes parts of the Avondale Estates, Brookhaven and Decatur — decried the fact that similar legislation she’s introduced at the state level has gone nowhere.

But the idea may be gaining steam on the municipal level.

Bakthiari said she and future colleagues are interested in proposing similar legislation in Atlanta. Esteves, the Atlanta school board chair, said that body adopted a resolution Monday night committing themselves to increase efforts at educating local parents about safe firearm storage.

Khalid Kamau, the mayor-elect of the city of South Fulton, was also at Tuesday’s press conference and said he plans to introduce his own safe storage ordinance once he takes office.

Terry’s draft ordinance, meanwhile, was formally introduced at a DeKalb County commission meeting later Tuesday morning. It will go through the commission’s normal committee process and won’t be discussed in earnest until the new year.

“The Georgia legislature has pre-empted almost everything when it comes to gun control, but is silent on safe storage legislation,” Terry said. “We welcome a legal challenge because it’s important to have those debates. But in the meantime we’re going to move forward.”

Leaders take on gun safety, secure gun storage at the local level

Originally published in The Champion

Members of local school boards, city councils, county commissions, and other leaders and elected officials gathered in Decatur recently to discuss gun safety and what changes can be made at the local level to ensure guns are stored properly.

DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry was joined by State Senator Elena Parent, Atlanta Public School Board Chair Jason Esteves, Atlanta City Council President-Elect Doug Shipman, Atlanta City Council-Elect Liliana Bakhtiari, South Fulton Mayor-Elect Khalid Kamau and members of the Moms Demand Action organization to announce their push for legislation and resolutions at all levels of government to require safe storage of guns.

“The [recent] Oxford High School shooting in Oakland County, Michigan highlighted the increased urgency to pass common sense gun safety measures. Police involved in this case say that the shooter used a gun he got from his parent’s nightstand which was unsecured. This tragedy and countless others we’ve endured are avoidable and we can start here at the local level by passing secure gun storage policies immediately,” said Terry.

While Terry said an introductory draft of local legislation for the proper storage of guns has been shared with DeKalb County’s public safety committee for review, Esteves announced that Atlanta Public Schools (APS) passed a resolution that requires school board members and the superintendent to work with organizations, families, and the city of Atlanta to “communicate and educate stakeholders on the great responsibility and need of safe storage of guns.”

“While as a school board we can’t pass gun legislation, we can certainly do what we can to ensure our parents and community members know and understand their responsibilities as gun owners,” said Esteves.

Bakhtiari and Shipman, both recently elected in the Nov. 30 runoff, said voters expressed concerns with gun safety and the uptick in gun violence throughout metro-Atlanta during their time campaigning.

“During this election, on door-steps, in forums and in small groups, people talked a lot about wanting to do something new to address our public safety issues,” said Shipman. “They would ask me about how we could do something about the proliferation of guns and gun violence. That question came up very often. I am excited to see that across counties, cities and school districts, we’re trying to address what voters have demanded in this past election, which is ‘find solutions and find new ways of dealing with this problem.’”

Terry said he expects a discussion about the proposed safe gun storage legislation in DeKalb County to occur by the end of the year. He said he has spoken with county commissioners and local leaders in Columbus, Macon, Savannah, Chatham, Athens, Clayton, Cobb, Gwinett, Newton, and Rockdale counties, all of whom “were interested in taking action locally in the absence of action taken at the state and federal level.”

“There might be legal challenges ahead but that’s OK, […] and we’re prepared to have that debate, but today, we have local leaders here in metro-Atlanta and across Georgia standing up and taking action,” Terry said.

According to Moms Demand Action and Everytown, two nonprofits that advocate against gun violence and are working in collaboration with APS and DeKalb County officials, gun owners can make their homes and communities safer by storing their guns locked, unloaded, and separate from ammunition.

Learn more about proper gun storage, secure gun storage devices and more at