The 2022 State of Buckhead Study notes crime remains a top concern for residents, with split on those who believe area is safe.
Livable Buckhead, the nonprofit organization that aims to enhance the community, recently released its 2022 State of Buckhead Study providing insight on the overall appeal and concerns of those who live and/or work in the community. Livable Buckhead last conducted its survey in 2020 and is using the latest results to gauge changes on key issues over the last two years.
The 2022 survey includes over 2,800 respondents with over 2,300 living in the area and about 1,300 who both live and work in Buckhead. The average age of respondents was 51.5-years old, 83 percent were white/Caucasian, and 96 percent are registered to vote in Buckhead.
Crime continues to be a key interest among respondents, according to the study. Half the respondents to the survey noted the most important issue Buckhead faces is crime/public safety, far ahead of any other issue. The study found the most significant “association” with Buckhead is crime/safety concerns with 11 percent of respondents ranking the issue as the top association with the area, down from 13 percent in the 2020 survey.
More homeowners and business owners in the area do feel safety has improved since 2020, the results show. In 2020, just 28 percent of respondents agreed or “strongly” agreed Buckhead is a safe place to live, but 41 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed in the latest study. However, a total of 43 percent stated they disagreed (23 percent) or strongly disagreed (20 percent) Buckhead is a safe place to live. While those figures are down 13 percent from 2020, the updated figure shows safety is still a prime concern among those living and working in the community. Twenty-one percent of respondents said the safety of the city was a motivating factor for moving to the neighborhood.
The Atlanta Police Department reported a 14 percent decrease in overall crime for Zone 2, which includes Buckhead, in 2022. The Livable Buckhead study found 62 percent of those surveyed felt increasing police presence could decrease crime.
A notable increase in positive sentiment among residents over 2020, the survey found, regarded government representation and responsiveness from the City of Atlanta. Just 25 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed Buckhead’s elected leaders were representing resident/worker interests well in 2020, but that figure rose to 39 percent for 2022. Twenty-four percent stated they disagreed or strongly disagreed, a decrease of 21 percent from the prior survey. Respondents also said Atlanta government is now more responsive to the primary issues concerning Buckhead, up from just 17 percent agreeing or strongly agreeing in 2020 to 36 percent for 2022.
Oher notable “beliefs” regarding Buckhead shows the majority of 2022 respondents think the area offers the best shopping, restaurants, schools/education in Atlanta, with 58 percent agreeing it is a “great place to raise a family.” The proximity to retail areas and restaurants was cited as the top reason for residents moving to Buckhead ahead of being closer to work, the community serving as a great place to raise a family and the prestige of the community. Among responses, the esteem of Buckhead ranked higher for younger residents, those aged 25-34 years, while those aged 35-54 prioritized the schools in the area.
Alternatively, a majority of respondents felt Buckhead was not pedestrian-friendly with nearly half disagreeing or strongly disagreeing the community offers the best festivals or annual events, or that it is “the home of the arts in Atlanta.”
Buckhead’s prestige again ranked as the top reason for business owners and companies to call the community home — nearly half of businesses noted Buckhead’s distinction as the driving factor for locating their business in the area. Other notable reasons for operating a company in Buckhead is its proximity to retail/restaurants and the availability of C-suite individuals, the historical significance of the community and the availability of office space, the study found.
Perhaps attributable to more people now working from home, companies put less emphasis on Buckhead’s accessibility to major thoroughfares as an appealing aspect, though 32 percent still noted it was a key factor. The survey found more workers in the area are using public transit or walking/biking to work versus 2020.
Among those who commute to Buckhead for work, 51 percent stated they would not be interested “at all” in using the Xpress regional community bus service if it were available in Buckhead, while just 18 percent responded they would be “very” or “extremely” interested in using the service.
The survey notes about 40 percent of respondents were “at least somewhat likely” to use the Buc free community shuttle service.
The study showed that most residents have a notable interest in two upcoming community projects — the HUB404 initiative and PATH400. About 66 percent of survey respondents said they would likely use HUB404, a proposed nine-acre park “capping” Ga. 400 in central Buckhead, with a similar level of interest in using PATH400, a 5.2-mile greenway connecting major neighborhoods, office and retail locations proposed by the Buckhead Community Improvement District and the PATH Foundation.
About half of residents and overall respondents shared support of the inclusion of carriage houses in single-family neighborhoods, and “nearly half opposed the idea of increasing housing density near MARTA transit stations.”
The nonprofit organization listed its recommendations for city leaders, policymakers and others based on the survey results. The group states Buckhead should continue “the focus of brand building” on its recent successes, such as driving the upscale appeal of the community, its desirability, proximity benefits and status as a good place to raise a family. To counter crime concerns, the group notes, statistics regarding reductions in crime, or specific initiatives aimed at doing so, should be a priority. Beautification and sustainability efforts should be highlighted, the group believes, along with the generation of volunteerism opportunities and awareness of the HUB404 and PATH400 projects.
The growing use of mass transit also shows a need to drive awareness of the Buc and Xpress, which could lead to longer-term opportunities, the study states.