These are strange times. Ann Arbor City Council is having a meeting this Monday, but the conditions will be very different: we are using the Zoom application to meet virtually. At the beginning of the meeting, public comment will occur by the same procedure (limit of ten participants, 3 minutes each) via this same application. I have been told that during open comment at the end of our meeting, the standard 3 minute time limit for public comments may be reduced if too many participants request to join. We will also be holding City Council Caucus tonight via Zoom.
Sunday April 5th 7:00pm
Viewable online at: https://zoom.us/j/389552142?pwd=eHFFaUVZbFFrOCtYOHZ1SG1Ock5uQT09
Or call: 877 853 5247 (Toll Free) or 888 788 0099 (Toll Free), Meeting ID: 389 552 142
This is the official City meeting notice with Zoom instructions:
Monday April 6th 7:00pm
Broadcast live on CTN Cable Channel 16, ATT Channel 99, or online at www.a2gov.org/watchCTN
To speak at public comment (audio only) call: (877) 853-5247 -or- (888) 788-0099 and enter Meeting ID: 983 080 688
I want to thank everyone for reaching out to Council with concerns about local response to the pandemic.
In the last two weeks, you have helped us identify crowding in outdoor play spaces and in response, City staff have erected signage at various parks and playgrounds. The University of Michigan has been asked to monitor the activities in their campus outdoor spaces. I appreciate that there continues to be significant anxiety around outdoor activities. In response to concerns, CM Eaton and I biked (six feet away from each other) over to Island Park in the last week to observe — what we had been told was — crowding around an owl’s nest. We were relieved to see people following social distance recommendations.
Recently, you have also urged us to address housing issues and crowding among our homeless populations. These serious housing challenges — now public health hazards — are primarily being addressed at the County level. The County Administrator released a statement on 3/31/20 that can be found here:
There is more available funding at the County level and logistical planning primarily happens at the County level, but we are committed to doing everything we can at the City level, too.
On the topic of housing and what can be done at the City level: this week’s agenda includes a request from the Ann Arbor Housing Commission for additional funding to help residents in our City-supported affordable housing projects (see DC-3). I expect this to pass without controversy. Last week, I talked to state Representative Yousef Rabhi about a new idea for local municipalities to prevent evictions (I talked to Rep. Rabhi because the idea violates current state law). Please know that your Council Members are constantly asking questions about what is possible and what can be done. Also: we are forwarding your concerns and specific ideas to staff and others who are in the best position to consider them and act on them. We are as eager as you are to find solutions in the context of this crisis.
Your City staff have done incredible work under very difficult circumstances. The work of Council and the delivery of essential services continues, due to strong leadership from our City Administrator, Tom Crawford, and the flexibility and resourcefulness of our excellent staff.
COVID-19 City Updates
The latest COVID-19 Updates from the City of Ann Arbor are posted here:
From that webpage:
“To combat the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan, Governor Whitmer signed the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order. For at least until April 13th, all Michigan businesses and operations must temporarily suspend in-person operations that are not necessary to sustain or protect life, and all Michiganders must stay in their homes unless they’re a part of that critical infrastructure workforce, engaged in an outdoor activity, or performing tasks necessary to the health and safety of themselves or their family, like going to the hospital or grocery store.”
At this time, Larcom City Hall is closed to the public until Sunday April 13th. All parks facilities, including the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, are also closed and facility recreation events have been cancelled. Usage of City parks and natural areas is limited to only activities that do not involve direct contact with others, such as walking, hiking, running, and cycling.
At this time, there are NO changes to curbside waste or recycling pickup schedules. Compost collection resumes on April 6th, however only carts will be picked up (yard waste bags and bundled brush/limbs will NOT be picked up)
Some Boards and Commissions meetings may be cancelled, and some may be meeting electronically. The City is advising to check the online calendar for updates:
Enforcement of Stay Home, Stay Safe
This was released as part of a City news update on March 27, 2020
Following the announcement of the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order, law enforcement agencies have received many questions related to how citizens can report a business or individual that is violating the order. Originally, the public was directed to the Attorney General’s office. However, due to the overwhelming response, local law enforcement agencies are asking residents to report complaints directly by contacting 9-1-1.
While all aspects of the executive order are to be followed and law enforcement is interested in will respond appropriately to reported violations, callers are being asked to report only those behaviors that pose a credible and serious risk to public safety and that may exacerbate community spread.
Public safety leaders from each agency within Washtenaw County, including the Ann Arbor Police Department, have aligned response protocols to include the following:
- Upon calling 9-1-1, dispatch will relay the complaint to local police agency.
- Each agency will determine the severity of the violation and respond appropriately.
- Initial response will focus on education in order to gain compliance with the order.
- The intent is not to arrest, but enforcement action will be taken as deemed appropriate.
Local COVID-19 Information and Links
City of Ann Arbor COVID-19 Updates
Washtenaw County COVID-19 Updates
State of Michigan COVID-19 Updates
Ann Arbor Public Schools are closed through the end of the school year
School district homepage: https://www.a2schools.org
School district COVID-19 Updates: https://www.a2schools.org/COVID-19
Ann Arbor District Library branches are closed indefinitely
Library homepage: https://aadl.org
Library COVID-19 Updates: https://aadl.org/covidclosure
University of Michigan – all classes delivered remotely, students advised to move home
University homepage: https://umich.edu
University COVID-19 Updates: https://coronavirus.umich.edu
A2 COVID-19 Interview Videos
I appreciate that members of our community are struggling in different ways right now. Residents have different strategies for coping and adjusting to this new reality. I’ve been working on a project to explore the personal experiences of our community. I’m interviewing people I know (who are willing to share) and recording what they say. You can find my interviews as blog entries on my website, and also on my YouTube channel:
Link to my YouTube channel:
Link to all A2 COVID-19 articles on my website (videos + transcripts)
Individual links to each interview:
Home Sewn Face Masks and 3D Printed Face Shields
My husband and I are involved in projects to sew and 3D print personal protective equipment for anyone who continues to work in public places or healthcare facilities. If you sew, you can get involved sewing face masks. If you have a 3D printer, you can get involved printing face shields. Information about how:
The Ann Arbor Sewing Center is collecting sewn face masks for St Joseph’s hospital, and has links to the approved pattern. With the recent CDC advisory for everyone in public to wear a fabric face mask (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html) there will be increased demand. The website is here:
Operation Face Shield Ann Arbor is an amazing local group of people 3D printing parts face shields – anyone with a 3D printer is encouraged to print parts and drop off in several locations around Ann Arbor. More than 2000 shields have already been printed, assembled, and delivered – but the need is rising. For information about this project, visit the “Protect MI” website:
Direct link to the “Operation Face Shield Ann Arbor” Facebook page:
Maker Works of Ann Arbor is also fabricating PPE, as well as assisting the groups above. They have a web page with information, along with a newsletter for makers interested in assisting with the COVID-19 crisis:
In addition to writing this newsletter, I post updates to my website with my perspectives on how issues were resolved at City Council and details on how Council voted at each meeting. I also post information about meetings and issues that affect Ward 4 residents, along with news that affects all city residents.
You can see a listing of all my posts here: https://www.a2elnel.com/blog/
City Council Voting Chart for Mar 16, 2020
Council Meeting of 3/16/20 – Local State of Emergency
My follow-up post after the previous Council meeting of March 16, 2020.
City Council Newsletter (Mar 28, 2020) COVID-19 Updates
This is the newsletter I sent out last week with additional COVID-19 information and links.
Washtenaw County Tenant Information and Resources
Information about the status of evictions and eviction cases during the COVID-19 emergency, important legal rights during this time, and how to get additional legal help and assistance with back rent.
Reliability of City Drinking Water
An important update from the City Administrator about the safety of City drinking water.
Curbside Compost Collection Begins April 6th (Carts Only)
Curbside collection of compost waste begins April 6th, although yard waste bags and bundled brush/limbs will not be serviced at this time.
Boards and Commissions Applications
Membership on Ann Arbor Boards and Commissions is constantly changing as terms end and appointees step down. We need you! You can find openings at the following link (or contact me directly) https://a2gov.granicus.com/boards/w/fe6c5e22e6f4a331/vacancies
A reminder about a few city resources:
A2 Fix It This is an online system for alerting the city to problems in your neighborhood (e.g. potholes, graffiti, garbage pickup). This is the city’s preferred method for hearing your complaint so they can direct appropriate staff to address it. I’m happy to hear from you, too, but city staff tell me that the online A2FixIt system is actually the quickest and fastest way to get a response to the problem. Information about A2FixIt (and explanation of more urgent issues and appropriate numbers to call) is here:
City News and Announcements This is a helpful link to updates on events and opportunities in Ann Arbor through City Hall:
City Department Updates If you have specific interests related to the city’s work, e.g. construction projects, deer management, recycling, you can subscribe to receive emailed updates on various topics found here:
Ann Arbor City Council Meeting Agenda
Below is my summary of some issues on the City Council Agenda this week, with links to more information about each of them. If you have comments about any of these issues, feel free to email me.
The full agenda (including a link to the latest published PDF agenda) can be found on the A2Gov Legistar website:
Ann Arbor City Council
Monday Apr 6, 2020 (7:00pm)
City Council meetings are broadcast live by CTN on Comcast (channel 16) and AT&T (channel 99). They are also streamed live on YouTube and Viebit:
Questions to the Agenda
In preparation for a Council meeting, Council members can ask questions of staff about scheduled agenda items. Questions must be submitted by noon on the Wednesday before a Council Meeting, and answers are returned the next day (Thursday) by 5pm.
AC-4 (20-0504) April 6, 2020 Council Agenda Response Memo and eComments
This agenda item has a PDF attachment with all questions raised by Council Members, and the answers provided by staff.
Communications from the Mayor
MC-1 (20-0392) Nominations – Confirmations
This Mayoral appointment was introduced at the last Council meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting.
- Timothy Durham – Housing Board of Appeals
Below is the list of items included on the Consent Agenda. If no one on Council specifically requests that an item be pulled for discussion, the whole of this list will be approved in a single vote. I encourage you to look at this list and offer suggestions to me about anything you would like to see pulled for discussion.
CA-1 (20-0355) Resolution Authorizing Water Capital Recovery Charges for 1 Maple Village Ct. ($2,696.00)
CA-2 (20-0356) Resolution Authorizing Sanitary Sewer Capital Recovery Charges for 1 Maple Village Ct. ($5,982.00)
CA-3 (20-0299) Resolution to Accept and Appropriate Michigan Indigent Defense Commission Grant Award, Approve Grant Contract, and Reallocate Local Share ($393,530.00) (8 Votes Required)
CA-4 (20-0346) Resolution to Accept a Donation of Park Land at 3380 Nixon Road (The Annex, formerly Woodbury Club Apartments) from BRE Nixon Road Associates, LLC (8 Votes Required)
CA-6 (20-0259) Resolution to Approve the Attached Quote with CDW Government, LLC for Additional Microsoft Licenses and Related Service, and Appropriate Associated Funds ($188,529.16) (8 Votes Required)
CA-7 (20-0414) Resolution to Approve a Purchase Order for Annual Maintenance and Support of TRAKiT System to Superion, LLC, a CentralSquare Company for FY2020 ($52,042.66)
CA-8 (20-0439) Resolution No. 3 Establishing a Public Hearing for the Proposed Fuller Court and Nixon/Traver Sidewalk Gap Project
CA-9 (20-0440) Resolution No. 3 Establishing a Public Hearing for the Barton Drive Water Main Replacement and Resurfacing Project Special Assessment (District 55 – Brede to Pontiac)
CA-10 (20-0441) Resolution No. 3 Establishing a Public Hearing for the Barton Drive Water Main Replacement & Resurfacing Project Special Assessment
CA-11 (20-0391) Resolution for Approval of Amendment No. 2 to the Professional Services Agreement with LG Design, Inc., for Professional Engineering Services for the Water Treatment Plant UV Disinfection System Project ITB No. 4568 ($53,920.00)
CA-12 (20-0412) Resolution to Approve an Amendment to the Progressive Design-Build Agreement with J. Ranck Electric, Inc. for Phase 2 of the Water Treatment Plant SCADA System Modernization Project and Appropriate Water Supply System Fund Balance ($4,126,502.79) (8 Votes Required)
CA-13 (20-0210) Resolution to Approve the Purchase of Vehicles from Berger Chevrolet (Mi-Deal Contract $327,790.00) and to Amend the Fleet and Facility Unit FY 2020 Budget ($180,706.00) (8 Votes Required)
CA-14 (20-0243) Resolution to Approve a Contract with True Colors Industrial LLC for the Hangar Roof Recoating Project at the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport and to Appropriate Funding from the Airport Fund Balance ($186,000.00) (ITB #4613 – $169,175.00) (8 Votes Required)
CA-15 (20-0390) Resolution to Approve a Contract with Matzak Inc., for the Fuel Tank Replacement Project at 2000 South Industrial Highway (ITB – $149,400.00) (8 Votes Required)
CA-16 (20-0303) Resolution to Approve a Professional Services Agreement with CDM Smith Michigan Inc. for Hydraulic Modeling Services ($33,808.00)
CA-17 (20-0431) Resolution to Approve a Purchase Order for Annual Maintenance and Support of Assetic Predictor Software to Assetic, Inc. for FY2020 and FY 2021 ($50,000.00 Annually)
CA-18 (20-0447) Resolution to Approve Administrative Consent Order for Sanitary Sewer Overflows with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy ($45,000.00)
CA-19 (20-0216) Resolution No. 1 – Prepare Plans and Specifications for the Proposed South Main Street Sidewalk Gap Project – Special Assessment District #62, and Appropriate $115,000.00 from the General Fund Balance for the Design of the Project (8 Votes Required)
CA-20 (20-0304) Resolution to Approve a Contract with the Michigan Department of Transportation for the Plymouth Road Improvement Project ($409,402.00)
CA-21 (20-0305) Resolution to Authorize Professional Services Agreements with CTI and Associates, Inc. (CTI) for $55,000.00; Materials Testing Consultants, Inc. (MTC) for $250,000.00; Professional Service Industries, Inc. (PSI) for $115,000.00; Testing Engineers & Consultants, Inc. (TEC) for $130,000.00; and TTL Associates Inc. (TTL) for $85,000.00 for Construction Materials Testing Services.
CA-22 (20-0328) Resolution to Reallocate $100,500.00 from the Resident-Driven Sidewalk Gap Filling Program to the Barton Drive Improvement Project and the Jackson Avenue Sidewalk Gap Project (8 Votes Required)
CA-23 (20-0432) Resolution No. 2 for the Jackson Avenue Sidewalk Gap Elimination Project – Westover Avenue to Park Lake Avenue – South Side of Jackson Road – Special Assessment District No. 61
CA-24 (20-0359) Resolution to Approve a Construction Contract with Anglin Civil, LLC for the Bird Road Retaining Wall Project, ITB No. 4611 ($207,330.00) and Appropriate Funding for the Project ($306,000.00) (8 Votes Required)
CA-25 (20-0383) Resolution to Approve an Agreement with the Downtown Development Authority for the Design of South State Street and North University Improvements ($396,752.00)
CA-26 (20-0361) Resolution to Authorize Amendment No. 3 to the Tetra Tech Engineering Services Agreement to Sample and Test Wet Basements in High Risk Areas in Ann Arbor for 1,4 Dioxane and Appropriate Funds from the Risk Fund Fund Balance ($40,323.00) (8 Votes Required)
Anyone wanting to comment on these issues may speak for 3 minutes, without having specifically reserved time. Issues subject to public hearing will also be up for a vote by Council later in the meeting.
PH-1/B-1 (20-0244) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Ann Arbor Unified Development Code), Rezoning of 0.6 Acre from C2B (Business Service District) to C3 (Fringe Commercial District), MSGCU Rezoning, 2151 West Stadium Boulevard (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 6 Yeas and 0 Nays)
The property at 2151 West Stadium (the parcel south of Bell’s Diner) was previously zoned C-3 (Fringe Commercial District) and C-2B (Business Service District). Developers petitioned for re-zoning of the C-2B portion (0.6 acres) for a special exception use under C-3, to allow for construction of a credit union with drive-thru service. The Planning Commission approved this 6-0 and found it to be consistent with the adjacent zoning, the surrounding land uses, and the City’s Master Plan.
Ordinances – Second Reading
In order to amend the city code, Council must vote to approve the change, via ordinance, at two Council meetings. The following proposed ordinances were approved at a previous Council meeting, and are also subject to a public hearing as listed above.
B-1 (20-0244) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Ann Arbor Unified Development Code), Rezoning of 0.6 Acre from C2B (Business Service District) to C3 (Fringe Commercial District), MSGCU Rezoning, 2151 West Stadium Boulevard (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 6 Yeas and 0 Nays)
This is the same as PH-1 above
Ordinances – First Reading
In order to amend the city code, Council must vote to approve the change, via ordinance, at two Council meetings. The following proposed ordinances are being introduced for approval. If approved, the ordinance will be voted on at a subsequent Council meeting, where it will also be subject to a public hearing.
C-1 (20-0450) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Zoning), Rezoning of 0.20 Acre from C1B (Community Convenience Center District) to PUD (Planned Unit Development District), The Garnet PUD Zoning and Supplemental Regulations, 325 East Summit Street (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays)
A PUD project on a 0.2 acre property at 325 East Summit Street will allow construction of a four-story, ten unit condominium building with eleven parking spaces. This development previously requested re-zoning from C1B (Community Convenience Center District) to C1A (Campus Business District) with conditions (9/16/19). Petitioners were asked to bring it back as a PUD proposal, with additional public benefit. This new PUD proposal includes a park contribution of $6,250, street tree escrow, an on-site stormwater management system, testing of sump pump discharge water, and the PUD contribution to the City affordable housing fund in the amount of $317,331.
C-2 (20-0492) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 112 (Non-Discrimination), Sections 9:150, 9:151, 9:152, 9:156, and 9:157, Title IX of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor To Clarify Definition of Source of Income, Add Ethnicity as a Protected Class, and Add an Exception Allowing Discounts for Veterans
See my “Additional Thoughts” section below
Motions and Resolutions
The following agenda items are motions and resolutions, which are approved or rejected in a single meeting. Agenda items marked “DC” are proposed by Council members, items marked “DB” are proposed by City boards and commissions, items marked “DS” are proposed by City staff.
DC-1 (20-0413) Resolution to Appoint Tom Crawford to the Downtown Development Authority
City Code provides that either the Mayor or City Administrator shall be a member of the DDA. As Interim City Administrator, Tom Crawford would be appointed to the DDA
DC-2 (20-0438) Resolution Directing the Planning Commission to Create a Transit Supported Development District
Planning Commission would be directed to consider designation of transit- supported zoning districts to increase housing density and options along major corridors. In such districts, the commission is asked to consider increasing allowable Floor Area Ratio (FAR) density, decreasing and/or eliminating parking requirements for new development along transit corridors, requiring mixed use, decrease height and increasing setbacks near pre-existing residential areas, and evaluating development aspects, such as sustainability measures, affordable housing, and public open space – as either requirements or incentives.
DC-3 (20-0478) Resolution to Approve Ann Arbor Housing Commission Eviction Prevention and Emergency Response Request for Assistance and Appropriate $200,000.00 (8 Votes Required)
The Ann Arbor Housing commission requests $200,000 to anticipate likely future evictions due to loss of income, food security for homebound households, and response to a possible outbreak of COVID-19 at congregate settings (e.g. Miller Manor & Baker Commons) with high risk households.
DC-4 (20-0505) Resolution to Revise 2020 Council Calendar
On March 16, 2020, three work sessions were cancelled, due to uncertainty around Council’s ability to meet during the COVID-19 pandemic. On 3/18/20, Governor Whitmer authorized electronic meetings of public bodies. By this resolution, an April 13 Work Session is added back to the calendar, to discuss the Carbon Neutrality Plan.
DC-5 (20-0507) Resolution to Recognize Outstanding Contributions and Service to the City of Ann Arbor by Ethel “Eppie” Potts
Eppie Potts served for 11 years on the Zoning Board of Appeals, 6 years on the Ann Arbor Planning Commission; and worked for years on several master planning committees and workgroups, including the R4C/R2A Zoning District Study Committee. In addition to having been awarded Preservationist of the Year, Ms. Potts worked with the Preservation Alliance, Friends of Allen Creek, the Citizen’s Association for Area Planning, the Alliance of Neighborhoods, the League of Women Voters, and the Ann Arbor Potters Guild.
I have received some emails (and I expect to receive a few more) asking me to support DC-2, which would direct the City Planning Commission to explore the idea of special zoning districts for transit-oriented development. This is an interesting topic to come up now, when public engagement and public debate is more difficult and, arguably, much more pressing issues are being raised every day.
At least one of my colleagues has expressed an additional concern: this idea is not time-sensitive and it is brought forward by a planning commission that lacks Council representation. It has now been seven months since Council voted not to re-appoint the current liaison to the Planning Commission (9/3/19) and nine months since that Council liaison’s term expired (6/30/19). During this time (despite the unusual circumstances), Council has continued to do the necessary and time-sensitive business of considering projects and developments: in the last seven months, Council approved eight developments and negotiated additional benefits for a PUD on this week’s agenda (see C-1). I do wonder if agenda item DC-2 is the right thing to be talking about at this time.
Agenda item C-2 is of particular interest to me as it addresses some issues that will perhaps be even more important now, during these uncertain economic times. I am co-sponsoring it, as a Council liaison to the Human Rights Commission. The details of this ordinance amendment were being sorted out just as I joined the HRC and I was excited to see it come together.
Background: the City currently has a non-discrimination ordinance, one that protects people from discrimination based on
- actual or perceived age, arrest record, color, disability,
- educational association, familial status, family responsibilities, gender expression, gender
- identity, genetic information, height, HIV status, marital status, national origin, political
- beliefs, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, source of income, veteran status,
- victim of domestic violence or stalking, or weight
See this link for more information:
The proposed change would add to this list the category of “ethnicity,” defined as an identity that is “socially distinguishable from other groups” (e.g. nationality, religion, or language). It seems that every new national crisis opens a window for discrimination and prejudice against ethnic groups— the current COVID-19 virus is no exception, so I’m pleased that we are doing what we can, locally.
Another important change proposed: the amended ordinance would very particularly describe how “source of income” cannot be used to discriminate. Currently, calculations of income create a disadvantage for people who need housing assistance in order to pay rent. Targeted rent subsidies— if counted as a dollar-to-dollar reflection of income— are easily under-counted as evidence of a person’s ability to afford market-rate housing.
It works like this: rent is understood to be an expense that should take up not much more than about a third of your total income. In order to prove you can afford $1000 in monthly rent, you typically are expected to prove that you have about $3000 in monthly income. If you make $2400 a month, the estimate would be that you can only afford $800 in rent. With $200 in rent assistance, someone who earns $2400 a month should be able to afford an apartment that costs $1000 ($800 + 200), but that person’s calculated monthly income is likely to be too low to qualify: $2600 ($2400 + $200 subsidy).
This proposed change requires that landlords— in calculating income — multiply the amount of a housing subsidy by three, to address this problem. As a practical matter, this means that residents who receive housing assistance (from any federal, state, local, or nonprofit entity program) will not be at a disadvantage in finding housing at the price the assistance is meant to help them afford. I am very excited about this amendment and I am especially thrilled to be co-sponsoring it!
Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!