A rapper who plays a cop on TV, a Grammy winner, a former boy band member, an Olympic gold medalist and a mayor show up in a video.

No, that’s not the set up to a joke. It is the line-up for Duluth’s new video where the announcement of its community preference survey is unveiled.

The video was released earlier this month on YouTube and features cameos by rapper and “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” star Ice-T; singer, dancer and former “American Idol” judge Paula Abdul; former NSync member Lance Bass; and Olympic gold medal gymnast Gabby Douglas using a messaging app called, well, Cameo. Mayor Nancy Harris also appears in the video.

“Hello Duluth, it’s me, Paula Abdul, let me start by saying you all look so beautiful tonight,” Abdul said in her part of the video. “Now, let’s take a look at what standards are most important to you when it comes housing variety and maintenance. May 2021 bring all of you so much love, success, happiness, joy, laughter, abundance and prosperity. Love to all of you.”

The Cameo app allows people to hire a celebrity for a small fee to record a video where the celebrity recites a message. The going rate for a message from Ice-T, for example, is $450, while a video from Douglas costs $500 and the going rate for video messages from Abdul and Bass are $399 and $249, respectively.

In the fall/winter of 2020, many of you participated in our Community Preference Surveys. This series of surveys was designed to help City leaders plan for Duluth's future.

Along with help from a few celebrity guests, mayor Nancy Harris would like to share the results of those surveys with you now.

For a more detailed recap of the results, please visit: duluthga.net/surveyresults

As far as the results are concerned, the survey showed, in the housing and residential area, Duluth residents prefer to see: more one-story ranch style homes; less town homes and apartments that do not have yards; more variety in housing styles and price ranges; more code compliance officers; more sidewalks; better street and sidewalk maintenance; and better enforcement regarding yard and home exterior maintenance.

In the “higher standards” category, which Douglas introduced, residents said they wanted more proactive code enforcement; less cars parked on streets at night or for extended periods of time; better follow up on repeat code violators; more sidewalks and sidewalk connections in public areas; more redevelopment or repurposing of existing empty storefronts; more variety for recreational options; improvements at city parks, with new materials and new parks and green spaces; and better monitoring of commercial property maintenance.

“I know all about high standards from my many years in the Olympics and it seems that Duluth just keeps on raising theirs,” Douglas said.

Ice-T then appeared in the video to discuss land uses.

“Are you having issues with parking in your neighborhood? That’s messed up,” the rapper and actor said in the video. “Let’s see what you all think are the problem areas and what the city is going to do to address them. I want to know. Let’s do that right now.”

Similar to the results from other sections, the land use section of the survey showed Duluth residents want less apartments and townhomes as well as more sidewalks, more redevelopment of existing spaces and more parks and green spaces. Residents also identified only two reasons why they feel it would be acceptable for people to park on streets int he city. One is because people are attending a gathering. The other is because the vehicle’s owner is performing maintenance on it.

Bass then introduced the section on medians and road shoulders.

“Bye, bye, bye to the days unsightly medians and litter and hi, hi, hi to improved landscaping and clean roadways,” Bass said.

According to the city, 58% of respondents said Duluth’s quality of life was improved by having medians while 45% said they thought existing medians in the city compare “favorably” to other nearby cities and 69% said the grass shoulders along Duluth’s roadways are well maintained. Additional results showed 36% of residents said small trees are needed on Duluth’s medians, while 30% said they wanted to see ornamental grass, 25% said they wanted wildflowers and 9% said no improvements were needed.

In response tot he survey, city officials said in the video that they will: increase the number of code compliance officers; “reimagine” the city’s parks and recreation program; monitor problematic parking areas and handle issues on a case-by-case basis; increase the number of temporary workers hired to do trash pick up; improve regulation of townhomes and driveway length and street width requirements; do street maintenance projects such as better street lighting, a repaving program, landscaping improvements on Pleasant Hill Road and median improvements on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard.

“We have looked at your feedback, we have studied the input and we are already putting things into action,” Harris said in the video.

City officials also said in the video that the survey results can be viewed at DuluthGA.net/SurveyResults.

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I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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