Following reports of a house in Buckhead hosting yet another illegal party, one Atlanta City Council member is working with the mayor on crafting an ordinance amendment to address the problem throughout the city.
“Party houses in residentially zoned areas are illegal and must end,” District 8 Councilman J.P. Matzigkeit, who represents part of Buckhead, said in a news release. “This legislation is a critical piece to stopping party houses and preserving the quality of life for our neighborhoods.”
At the council’s July 1 meeting at City Hall, Matzigkeit introduced legislation in partnership with Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and her office to amend the city’s 1982 zoning ordinance to better regulate party houses, which are homes used illegally for large-scale commercial events that often cause public safety and quality-of-life problems for Atlanta neighborhoods.
The proposed law change comes after residents living near a home at 4499 Garmon Road in Buckhead reported of a party there June 29. The same house reportedly hosted similar parties in 2018 before a woman named Tasia, who would only give her first name and said she was in the process of purchasing it, promised she would not allow any more to take place there.
According to Fulton County property records, the house is owned by Adeyinka Adesokan and Paula Nelson, a couple who owned Family Dermatology, a medical practice that paid a settlement to the state attorney general’s office in 2016 for allegedly double-billing many patients. The Family Dermatology's website is down, and the couple could not be reached for comment.
Jim Elgar, the senior policy advisor and community affairs liaison for Matzigkeit’s office, said in a July 1 email to the media that the Garmon house’s owner was cited for the illegal party on that day.
“Gregory Pace of the city's planning department said the citation was handed to a woman who identified herself to inspectors as the organizer of Sunday night's gathering, one of several held over the past week,” Elgar said. “Atlanta police also issued a citation for a noise ordinance violation Sunday night. Pace said his inspectors were able to hand the citation directly to the woman, which is required by law. It is unclear what effect this will have on other possible gatherings, but this is an important step.
“Pace said cease and desist letters have been sent to promoters of an advertised July 27 event at the Garmon Road address. Police Major James ‘Barry’ Shaw said his officers have spent considerable time at the property over the past week. Major Shaw said his officers are mostly limited to enforcing noise and traffic violations. I am grateful to zoning and police officials for their pursuit of this matter and I appreciate the patience of neighbors as we have worked to address their concerns. Matters involving private property are often tricky. We will keep you posted as we learn more.”
Party houses have been reported in Buckhead and other parts of metro Atlanta at least over the past two years, as websites advertising them have sprung up (the site www.agoda.com is advertising the Garmon house as available for rent). A recent party house in Sandy Springs drew the ire of eight residents who spoke out against it at the June 18 city council meeting.
A Twitter feed titled “Stop the Garmon Party House” (http://bit.ly/304Jz95) has been set up to rally support for halting parties there. Also, on the website/mobile app Nextdoor, several residents posted comments about the latest party at that house.
“An illegal for-fee concert by Atlanta rapper YFN Lucci is being held tonight at 4499 Garmon RD NW,” Todd Fryburger said. “This despite owners being under a cease-and-desist order. Residents encouraged to call 911 to report. This is the 5th large party held at this property in the past week, bringing hundreds of cars into the area. Last night several “patrons” attempted to enter other homes in the neighborhood thinking it was the ‘party house.’ The level of incompetence as demonstrated by the Atlanta Police and Atlanta City Council member J.P. Matzigkeit is beyond measurement. Time to start a ‘Dump J.P.’ movement. I have reported this information to the police.”
Deanna Harris said, “Just drove through that area on my way home. Police are there and it looks like they are breaking it up. I could tell by all the cars leaving. One pulled out in front of me and I had to ride behind him for 1/2 a mile. From the smell, I think it was Cheech and Chong.”
Atlanta’s proposed ordinance amendment will also add a new definition to Section 16-29.001 that defines a “Party House” as “a single-family, two-family, or multi-family dwelling unit, including all accessory structures, which used for the purpose of hosting a commercial event. For this definition, commercial event includes parties, ceremonies, receptions or similar large-scale gatherings where the attendees are charged entry to the event, or the structure and its curtilage otherwise functions as a commercial recreation facility.”
In a news release, Bottoms said, “The proposed regulations are common-sense measures to ensure our neighborhoods are safe, friendly and livable for all who call Atlanta home. This is about ensuring accountability for unlawful party and event planners who create nuisance and disorder in our communities.”
According to the release, the zoning ordinance amendment will come after the public has had a chance to weigh in on the issue through one or more neighborhood meetings. The council will take its annual summer recess July 15 through 26, so it could be a month or more before those meetings take place and the council votes on the amendment.