Welcome to everyone who is new to this newsletter! Before every Ann Arbor City Council meeting, I write up my own summary of each agenda item and try to pull details that I think are most relevant to understanding them. My hope is that these summaries can help residents keep track of what City Council is doing. For issues that matter to you, I encourage you to follow links (next to each agenda item) to the City’s Legistar website, where you can find all the background information.
This week’s agenda includes six public hearings: three ordinance amendments at second reading, two rezonings of property, and a site plan. Agenda item C-2 is the first reading of an extensive amendment to City contracting policies in response to City Charter amendments approved by voters last month. For anyone interested in studying that issue more closely, I highly recommend viewing the “redline” version posted in the Legistar item:
Earlier this week, local landlords withdrew their lawsuit regarding both the Early Leasing Ordinance and the Fair Chance Ordinance. MLive wrote about it here:
I sponsored both of these ordinances, aimed at protecting renters from predatory and discriminatory practices. Earlier this month, a judge denied the landlords’ request for a preliminary injunction, which would have immediately suspended enforcement of the ordinances. The end of this litigation is a relief, but there is still significant work to be done in strengthening tenant protections; tenants report many different strategies now being used to circumvent the Early Leasing Ordinance, especially.
In other news, MLive published an article this week highlighting the head of our Parks Department, Colin Smith, who is retiring in January.
Colin Smith has been particularly kind, thoughtful, and generous with his time whenever I had an idea or question related to the Parks department. His competence and dedication will be missed! You can watch an interview I did with Colin in May 2020:
I am looking forward to the next two weeks at home with my family, without any scheduled school or work commitments. I hope that you and your family are finding time to be together in these last couple weeks of 2021!
COVID Emergency Rental Assistance
Anyone who is behind on rent or concerned they will be behind on rent should apply for COVID Emergency Rental assistance through Washtenaw County – this post has more information and a link to the County’s website.
Residents in need of financial help during this crisis (e.g. to avoid eviction, pay utility bills, cover emergency medical expenses) can find resources at this link:
Housing Access for Washtenaw County
Housing Access for Washtenaw County (HAWC) is Washtenaw County’s central intake for individuals and families who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness. If you are homeless or experiencing a housing crisis, please call HAWC at (734) 961-1999
Sunday Dec 19th 3:00pm
I hold coffee hours Sunday afternoons at 3pm before City Council meetings. This week I will be holding them on Zoom. Please email me for a link: contact@A2ELNEL.com
City Council Regular Meeting
Monday Dec 20th 7:00pm
My summary of the meeting agenda is posted below in this newsletter.
A2ELNEL.com Website Updates
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 Dec 6, 2021
This was the last regularly scheduled Council meeting.
Monthly Winter Curbside Compost Collection begins Jan 3, 2022
The City will collect curbside compost carts during the first weeks of January, February, and March 2022.
A2ZERO Ambassador applications due Jan 18 (Program starts Feb 2022)
The third cohort of the A2ZERO Ambassador program will begin in Feb 2022, and the City is looking for 30 participants. Applications are due Jan 18, 2022.
Ann Arbor Recognized as a Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community
Ann Arbor was designated a Gold-level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, having previously earned a Silver-level in 2009, 2013, and 2017.
A2COUNCIL Updates (A2COUNCIL.com)
For anyone interested in understanding and analyzing the recent work of Council, I have created a resource at A2COUNCIL.com with summaries of issues and direct links to City documents. For each City Council meeting since November 2018, you can find links to the City’s Legistar website, CTN’s YouTube video, and links to my newsletters and voting charts. I have listed agenda items of interest from each meeting, along with articles I’ve written and articles published on MLive.
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.
Ann Arbor City Council Meeting
Monday Dec 20, 2021 7:00pm
The full agenda (including a link to the latest published PDF agenda) can be found on the A2Gov Legistar website:
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-1 (21-2265) Agenda Response Memo and eComments – December 20, 2021
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 (21-1992) Appointments – Confirmations
These appointments from the Mayor were presented at the previous meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting.
- Katherine White – Board of Review
- Ryan Dibble – Board of Review
- Alice Owings – Board of Review 2
- Patti Smith – Recreation Advisory Commission
- Nicholas Crowe – Recreation Advisory Commission
- Kurt Svoboda – Recreation Advisory Commission
MC-2 (21-2262) Nominations and appointments for December 20, 2021
These appointments from the Mayor are being presented at this meeting, and will therefore be voted on at the next Council meeting.
- Alexa Nerdrum – Employees’ Retirement System Board of Trustees
- Beverly Willis – Historic District Commission
- Megan Brovan – Transportation Commission
- Suzette Wanninkhof – Transportation Commission
- CM Jen Eyer – Economic Development Corporation
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 (21-1966) Resolution to Approve a Contract Change Order No. 2 with Utility Metering Solutions, LLC for Water Meter Replacement Project ($607,753.30 increase, total contract $3,863,098.30)
CA-2 (21-2061) Resolution to Approve a Professional Services Agreement with NTH Consultants, Ltd. for the Barton Dam Right Embankment Remediation project (RFP 21-21) ($589,405.30)
CA-3 (21-2114) Resolution to Approve a Contract with DLZ Michigan, Inc. to Provide Professional Engineering Services and Construction Oversight for the Rehabilitation of the Bandemer Park Bridges ($39,946.07)
CA-4 (21-2013) Resolution to Approve the Purchase of Heavy Equipment/Truck Tires and Tire Repair Services from Tredroc Tire Services LLC (MiDeal; Not To Exceed $100,000.00)
CA-5 (21-2137) Resolution to Approve the Purchase of Heavy Equipment/Truck Tires and Tire Repair Services from Shrader Tire & Oil (Omnia Partners; Not To Exceed $90,000.00)
CA-6 (21-2198) Resolution to Approve the Purchase of Real Property Located at 730 Madison Place in Fee Title for $300,000 Plus Costs Not to Exceed $20,000 and to Appropriate Funding from the Solid Waste Fund Balance ($320,000) (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 (21-1794) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code), Zoning of 32.6 Acres from R3 (Townhouse Dwelling) to R4B (Multiple-Family Dwelling), Mill Creek Townhomes Rezoning, 3002 Chelsea Circle, (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays) (ORD-21-34)
A parcel of 32.6 acres at 3002 Chelsea Circle would be rezoned from R3 (Townhouse Dwelling) to R4B (Multiple Family Dwelling) to allow for infill development of apartment buildings. Current zoning allows for the development of ten housing units per acre and the new zoning will permit up to fifteen housing units per acre.
PH-2/DB-1 (21-1866) Resolution to Approve Mill Creek Townhomes Site Plan, 3002 Chelsea Circle (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays)
Approval of this site plan will allow the building of 383 dwelling units and 669 parking spaces with a 5,000-square foot community center at 3002 Chelsea Circle. This development will not fully comply with Electric Vehicle (EV) parking requirements but this site plan was granted a variance by the Zoning Board of Appeals. See re-zoning of PH-1
PH-3/B-2 (21-1814) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code), Rezoning of 0.61 Acres from PUD (Planned Unit Development District) to PUD (Planned Unit Development District), Casa Dominicks Development PUD Zoning and Supplemental Regulations, 800, 812, 814 Monroe, 705 Oakland, 700, and 706 Tappan (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 0 Yeas and 8 Nays) (ORD-21-35)
The PUD zoning of Monroe and Tappan (“Casa Dominicks”) would be modified to delay closure of a curb cut that is recommended in the Supplemental Regulations. Supplemental Regulations were written in 2010, as requirements to be implemented with a site plan for expansion. That expansion never took place, but a site plan was required as part of licensing for a provisioning center on the property. The curb cut currently provides access for a residential tenant. At first reading (11/15/21), the PUD was amended to require the removal of all impervious surface currently used as parking.
PH-4/B-3 (21-1923) An Ordinance to Amend Sections 2:25, 2:26, and 2:38 of Chapter 27 (Water Service) of Title II of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (ORD-21-36)
An ordinance amendment will create an “Opt out” provision for properties that are not equipped with a device that allows automatic or remote reading of a water meter. Where the public services area is not able to install, repair or replace a meter, water may be cut off or property owners may be assessed a surcharge under an “opt out” provision. Rules and regulations governing requests, eligibility, and requirements for opt-outs from the automatic remote reading device requirement will be established by the administrator of the Public Services department.
PH-5/B-4 (21-2043) An Ordinance to Repeal and Replace Chapter 113 (Regulation of Use of Model Glues) of Title IX (Police Regulations) of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (ORD-21-38)
An ordinance amendment updates the list of substances considered intoxicating agents, clarifies that operating a motor vehicle while under their influence is a violation whether or not they were ingested legally, and updates pronouns for gender neutral language.
PH-6/B-5 (21-2068) An Ordinance to Repeal and Replace Chapter 115 (Weapons and Explosives) of Title IX (Police Regulations) of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (ORD-21-39)
An ordinance is repealed and replaced to add Juneteenth and Indigenous Peoples Day to the list of referenced national holidays, add forfeiture of a firearm to penalties, incorporate state law and International Fire Code (IFC) definitions, and update pronouns for gender neutral language.
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 (21-1794) is the same as PH-1 above.
B-2 (21-1814) is the same as PH-3 above.
B-3 (21-1923) is the same as PH-4 above.
B-4 (21-2043) is the same as PH-5 above.
B-5 (21-2068) is the same as PH-6 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 “first reading”. If approved, the ordinance will be voted on at a subsequent Council meeting (“second reading”), where it will also be subject to a public hearing.
C-1 (21-1752) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code) Zoning of .4 Acres from TWP (Township District) to R1B (Single-Family Dwelling District), 559 Riverview Drive (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 9 Yeas and 0 Nays)
A 0.4 acre parcel at 559 Riverview Drive will be rezoned from Township to R1A. The parcel was recently annexed into the City. The proposed zoning is consistent with the adjacent zoning, the surrounding land uses, and the City’s Comprehensive Plan.
C-2 (21-2060) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 14 (Purchasing, Contracting and Selling Procedure) of Title I of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor
Consistent with ballot proposals approved last month, City ordinances will be amended to reflect changes in the City’s procedures for contracting and purchases. A set of criteria aimed at achieving “best value” will be used to makes purchases and contracts over $75,000. Additionally, City Council is empowered to sell “surplus” property by the same standard. From the amended ordinance: “City Council retains the right to dispose of City real and personal property in a manner that provides the best value to the City, with or without competitive bids, in City Council’s determination.”
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 (21-2202) Resolution to Appoint Joshua Meisler, Cynthia Harrison, Nathaniel Graulich, and Randy Milgrom to the Independent Community Police Oversight Commission
These appointments are from CM Ramlawi and CM Song, who serve on the Independent Community Police Oversight Commission, and CM Nelson and CM Radina, who serve on the Human Rights Commision. These nominations were made at the previous meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting.
- Nathaniel Graulich – Independent Community Police Oversight Commission
- Cynthia Harrison – Independent Community Police Oversight Commission
- Joshua Meisler – Independent Community Police Oversight Commission
- Randy Milgrom – Independent Community Police Oversight Commission
DC-2 (21-2171) Resolution to Approve a Professional Services Agreement with Carahsoft Technology Corp. for Contract Lifecycle Management Software and Appropriate $297,002.37 from the Information Technology Fund Balance (8 Votes Required)
A three year professional service agreement for a “contract lifecycle management system” will cost $297,002.37. This software system will establish a consistent process for creating and managing contracts across all service areas and departments of the City. The cost of this system will be paid from the Information Technology fund balance.
DC-3 (21-2249) Resolution to Approve the Employment Agreement with Atleen Kaur as City Attorney
An employment contract with Atleen Kaur will hire her to serve as the Ann Arbor City Attorney, starting April 11, 2022. For more about Ms. Kaur, see my “Additional Thoughts” section below.
DC-4 (21-2256) Resolution to Approve the City’s Participation in the Settlement of the National Prescription Opiate Litigation
The City of Ann Arbor will participate in a settlement of national prescription opiate litigation. Per the settlement, three pharmaceutical distributors and one manufacturer will pay up to $26 billion over 18 years, which will be distributed to state and local governments. The state of Michigan expects to receive up to $800 million. Ann Arbor’s participation means that the City would receive funds for abatement of the opioids epidemic, e.g. treatment and prevention.
DB-1 (21-1866) is the same as PH-2 above.
DS-1 (21-1952) Resolution to Approve New Advanced Metering Infrastructure Opt-Out Fees and Amend the Public Services Area Rules and Regulations
A set of new fees and regulations will be established for utility customers who wish to opt-out of the city’s current automatic remote meter reading equipment. Two options for opt-out are proposed. Option 1 would relocate the meter transmitter unit to an outside location; customers would be charged $115 as a one time fee (homeowners would be required to install an exterior wire to accomplish this). Option 2 would permit the removal of the meter transmitter unit; customers would be charged $399 as a set up fee for installation of reading display equipment outside of the home, plus a $58 quarterly meter reading fee. See also PH-4/B-3
This week, I am most excited about agenda item DC-3, an employment contract with Atleen Kaur for the job of Ann Arbor City Attorney. Ms. Kaur comes to us with an impressive resume, that includes work on behalf of a company that needed to negotiate terms of compliance with the Department of Justice. When an auto company was charged with anti-trust violations, Ms Kaur helped them resolve those issues as well as establish protocols to maintain compliance moving forward. She explained in her interview:
In 2010, the [Department of Justice] raided some of the automotive companies in Michigan for anti-trust violations. One such company was looking for a lawyer that could help them through the DOJ process and through the ensuing litigation and also to build up a compliance program… I started as a senior attorney at a manager level and by the time I left that company I had progressed to their general counsel and vice president of the legal and compliance department. That gave me the opportunity to enter a company that was in the middle of a crisis, in chaos, and to use my skills to guide them through the DOJ process… to – at the same time as defending them – also counsel them on how to make things better going forward.
Our City government will certainly benefit from Ms. Kaur’s experience dealing with crisis and implementing standards. I am reassured, also, by her understanding of and commitment to building a healthy and functional relationship with Council as a client. From her interview:
The client is the beneficiary of legal advice. The department’s job is to do the very best it can to provide excellent advice. An attorney plays several roles. When you are considering a decision, when you are considering different courses of action, your attorney is your counselor. Your attorney is talking to you about options, the risks associated with those options, alternative paths. When you have taken a decision, your attorney is your advocate. If your attorney has to, she will defend you or advocate for your position on the basis of the law. I think the client is the beneficiary of what we will do, the department is the provider of excellent legal services, that’s the roles that they will play.
Sometimes the law is clear, it’s a yes or a no. Sometimes the law is less clear and it is open to interpretation. When the law is open to interpretation, then it is the job of the attorney to assess the different ways that it could be interpreted and what the risks associated with that might be and by risk I mean the risk of a legal violation but also of negative PR and also the probability of that risk happening. You assess all of that and you provide a fair and honest legal opinion to your client and the client makes the decision.
Whoever you select for this position, I think this position needs to be able to build the trust with Council that it is an equal partnership, that the legal advice is well-researched and sound and free of any personal agenda but really with just the thought of the betterment of the City and the City has chosen you as representatives of itself. I think that’s what this position should do, in addition to being a good leader for the department, to help bring us to that point.
If you are interested in watching the whole of Ms. Kaur’s interview, it is posted to the CTN YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/wVst-5-2NVg
Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!