Standing out from the crowd of candidates, Matthew Charles Cardinale has released a 180 Day Plan: a progressive agenda consisting of fourteen drafted ordinances that, if elected, he will introduce in his first 180 days. These include ordinances for affordable housing, the environment, criminal justice reform, public participation in local democracy, and more.
The full plan is available here, included in Cardinale’s “Job Application.” (see pages 6 through 42)
These ordinances are intended to demonstrate Cardinale’s policy imagination; his focus on legislative solutions; his ability to address problems large and small; and his familiarity with the City of Atlanta Charter and Code of Ordinances.
It’s somewhat easy to have ideas about general concepts! Being a legislator, though, is about identifying ways to bring about positive social change through the enactment, revision, and repeal of specific legislation. “You think you have an idea until you try to write it down!” Cardinale says.
Cardinale has printed many booklets entitled, “My Job Application in Support of Seeking Your Vote,” and is distributing the booklets while going door to door to meet the voters of District 3.
The fourteen draft ordinances–which are not exhaustive of Cardinale’s ideas for Atlanta or District 3–are as follows:
- Repeal of “Other DC-6” –
- Currently, on the books of Chapter 106, is a provision that purports to make it a crime to simply be physically present in a known drug area within the City’s Drug-Free Commercial Zones. Such a provision is unconstitutional and opens up the City to false imprisonment claims. In 2007, the City, under the leadership of Councilman Ivory Lee Young, repealed “DC-6” or the former Disorderly Conduct 6, a similar provision.
- Repeal Crime of “Moving Household Goods at Night” –
- Yet another ordinance reminiscent of Atlanta’s Jim Crow past, the ban on moving household goods at night, has got to go.
- Repeal Crime of Monetary Solicitation in Multi-block Zones –
- Atlanta repealed its unconstitutional panhandling law in 2012, and then turned around and reenacted the unconstitutional portion. While Atlanta has properly established time, place, and manner restrictions on panhandling (such as within ten feet of an ATM), the First Amendment does not allow cities to create entire geographic areas where panhandling is not allowed. The City of Atlanta needs to start caring about the Federal and State Constitutions!
- Exempt Homeless Youth from Curfew Laws
- Atlanta lacks enough shelter beds for our homeless youth population. Currently, our laws leave open the possibility of arrest of a homeless child or teenager simply for being homeless and unsheltered during the nighttime hours. This proposal will create exemptions for homeless and emancipated minors.
- Allow Public Comment Sign-up until Commenting Starts
- Currently, the Code of Ordinances requires that the public comment sign-in sheet be closed at the start of the Full Council Meeting at 1 p.m. However, because of Proclamations, public comment often does not start until 2 p.m., creating an unnecessary barrier and inconvenience to the public. This ordinance would allow sign-up for public comment until the public comment portion of the meeting starts.
- Require Disclosure of Rental Rates by Residential Lessors
- Under this ordinance, residential lessors (“landlords”) would have to provide the City with the rental rates for the apartments they are renting, once per year, as part of the business license renewal process. This will help the City make sure it is collecting the correct amount of taxes, and help implement the City’s annual Housing Inventory (drafted by Matthew and adopted in 2017). It is important to know how many units of affordable housing exist in Atlanta, in order for the City to set affordable housing goals and so that we can track our progress.
- Eliminate de facto “Poll Tax” in Initiative/Referenda Petitions
- It is outrageous that the City’s current ordinance for citizen-led petition drives for Initiatives/Referenda requires that Atlanta residents who wish to sign a petition to show that they have paid their property taxes. Initiatives and Referenda are where legislative proposals can be proposed by voters and put on the ballot for voters to consider. This proposal would remove the property tax payment documentation requirement because it is akin to a “Poll Tax.”
- Create Emergency Council Committee on the Environment
- Of the seven Council Committees, not one has the priority of protecting the environment. It is time–due to our environmental crisis–that we put the environment at the forefront of our policy decisions. This proposal would create an eighth Council Committee with jurisdiction over all matters related to environmental protection.
- Protect Tenants from Retaliation for Housing Code Complaints
- Our Code of Ordinances needs stronger protections for individuals–especially residential tenants–who make code enforcement complaints under the Housing Code of 1987. If a lessor retaliates against a tenant for complaining to any branch or division of the City of Atlanta, then the City should be able to assess a monetary penalty.
- Reduce Signature Requirements for Initiatives/Referenda
- Currently, the signature burden for citizen-led petitions for Initiatives/Referenda is too high. The current requirement is for fifteen percent of the eligible voters in the prior election. This proposal would reduce the requirement to fifteen percent of the actual voters in the prior election.
- Allow Public Opportunity to Comment on all Agenda Items
- Currently, Committee Chairs have the discretion to only allow one opportunity for public comment during each Committee Meeting. This proposal would require that Committee Chairs allow the public to comment on each legislative item on the agenda, at the time the item is heard.
- Require Sign Language Interpreters at Council Meetings
- The City of Atlanta must do more to remove barriers to democratic participation on behalf of residents with disabilities. We can’t wait for our residents to come to us and ask for accessibility. This ordinance would require an American Sign Language interpreter at Council Meetings.
- Create Public Banking Study Committee
- Cities and states across the country are currently exploring the possibility of launching public banks. With a public bank, the City of Atlanta could harness the power of “fractional reserve lending,” which banks enjoy, to issue smart, non-speculative, low-interest loans to support investments in solar panel installations, affordable housing developments, new grocery stores and small businesses, and other public policy priorities, without having to always resort to higher-interest municipal bonds.
- Revise Beltline Affordable Housing–Deeper Affordability
- This proposal would revise the existing Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning (affordable housing requirements) for the Beltline Overlay District to provide for deeper affordability. First, the proposal would allow developers to comply with the current requirements by providing fewer affordable units at a deeper level of affordability for each unit (0 to 30 percent of the Area Median Income). Second, the proposal would require, for larger multi-family developments, to include a mix of units at all levels of affordability (0 to 30, 30 to 60, 60 to 80 percent AMI) within each project’s affordable unit set-aside.