News Briefs: Westside Park affordable housing; Kemp ends bar capacity rule; MARTA to resume all bus routes

A rendering of the future Westside Park.

An ordinance requiring affordable housing in new neighborhoods around Westside Quarry Park was approved by the Atlanta City Council on March 15. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms proposed the ordinance ahead of Microsoft announcing its nearby 90-acre campus and the park, which contains the city’s newly-completed reservoir, nearing completion. “With our new Westside Quarry Park opening soon, it is of the utmost importance that surrounding neighborhoods have quality, affordable housing,” Bottoms said in a statement. “Our Westside communities and legacy residents are the bedrock of our city, and our administration will take the necessary actions to ensure development is carried out in a thoughtful, inclusive manner.” The Westside Park Housing Affordability Overlay applies to areas around the new park—including Grove Park, Center Hill and Carey Park. The affordability requirement applies to both rental and for-sale housing—a first for Atlanta.

Bars in Georgia no longer have to adhere to capacity limits after new guidelines issued in an executive order by Gov. Brian Kemp went into effect on March 16. Bars and nightclubs have been limited to 35% capacity, which was mostly ignored judging by frequent social media posts of clubs teaming with people. The new guidelines put bars and nightclubs on par with restaurant requirements of social distancing, while now permitting service at standing tables and counters. Employees must continue to wear masks while customers should follow an establishment’s requirements on face coverings.

MARTA says it will resume service on all 110 of its bus routes April 24, more than a year after suspending most of them due to the pandemic. On April 20, 2020, MARTA began a reduction of bus service, which was pared down to 40 routes — some existing, some new and some with extra service. At the time, MARTA said its bus ridership had plunged by 40% in the first month of the pandemic. The transit agency also struggled with social distancing precautions and crowding of vehicles. MARTA has since restored some service and is currently operating 53 bus routes. For more details, see MARTA’s website here.