This is an abbreviated version of my usual newsletter, due to an Ann Arbor City Council Special Session tomorrow night (Monday, July 27th). We have only one item on the agenda: the Affordable Housing Millage from last week’s meeting. That item was added to our agenda too late for my colleagues to submit questions about it, so tomorrow’s meeting will be the opportunity to answer questions and finalize the ballot language.
I wrote about this millage previously:
Since my last newsletter, I have gotten significant feedback from residents offering both support and sharing concerns. I am a sponsor of this proposal so obviously I see the value in putting it on the ballot for voters to decide in a large participation election. I believe that everyone in our community understands the value of funding housing and support for people who cannot afford a place to live. No one needs to be persuaded that there are housing needs and that funding would help us address them. Where it gets sticky is when we talk about the impact of increasing local taxes that are already very high and which (for some) represent a significant portion of housing costs.
I have heard from residents who are living on the edge of affordability in our town: they can barely afford to rent an apartment here and they see how adding a tax will simply translate into increased rent. It is true that many people in this town can easily afford to pay this tax. It is true that people with minimal or very low incomes will be helped by this tax. However, it is also true that some people with lower incomes will feel the burden of this tax and not see any help from it. That is precisely the conversation and debate that I expect to happen tomorrow night at Council. It is also the debate I expect that our community should be having between now and November.
I look forward to discussion among my colleagues at our meeting. I appreciate everyone’s willingness to engage in this issue thoughtfully!
Resources Of Note:
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:
City Council Special Session
Monday July 27th 7:00pm
This Monday, Council is meeting again using the Zoom application. The video feed will be broadcast on CTN and YouTube. As with the previous meetings, public comment will be audio only using Zoom. Please check the Legistar link below for the latest information.
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 have released 2020-21 school year plans
School district homepage: https://www.a2schools.org
Reimagine Learning 2020-21: https://www.a2schools.org/domain/4017
Ann Arbor District Library branches are re-opening in phases
Library homepage: https://aadl.org
Re-opening Updates: https://aadl.org/reopeningplans
University of Michigan – Fall classes to be delivered in variety of formats
University homepage: https://umich.edu
University COVID-19 Updates: https://coronavirus.umich.edu
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 July 20, 2020
Ann Arbor Affordable Housing Waitlist Website opens July 27th
The waitlist will open Monday, 7/27, at 1PM, with 8 Rental Units currently available
Churchill Downs Park Stormwater Basin Zoom Meeting Aug 12th
A public meeting previously scheduled for March has been rescheduled as a Zoom meeting.
New Lane Closure/Construction Notices
Street Resurfacing July 24, 2020 (Agincourt, Brampton Court, Covington, Dicken, Runnymede, Wimpole)
A construction notice was circulated to affected property owners/residents along Agincourt, Brampton Court, Covington Street, Dicken Drive, Runnymede Boulevard, and Wimpole Street regarding resurfacing work planned to begin July 30th.
Detour for Hill Street and South Division (July 29 – Aug 14)
Beginning 9 a.m. Wednesday, July 29, Hill Street will be closed to through traffic and northbound South Division Street traffic will be reduced to one lane. Details and map of the detour are included.
Previous Lane Closure/Construction Notices
South Main Street Intermittent Lane Closures (July 20th – Aug 19th)
Due to asphalt path construction, there will be intermittent lane closures on South Main Street (between West Eisenhower Parkway and Ann Arbor-Saline Road) starting July 20th
South Main Street Asphalt Paths Construction starts July 20th
Rehabilitation of the asphalt paths along South Main Street between West Eisenhower Parkway and Ann Arbor-Saline Rd will begin July 20th. A copy of the construction notice sent to affected residents is attached.
Boardwalk Drive Temporary Detour (July 20th – Aug 29th)
Boardwalk Drive (from East Eisenhower Parkway to Northerly End) will have traffic detours starting July 20th. A map of the detour is attached.
Boardwalk Drive (East Eisenhower Parkway to Northerly End) Construction starts July 20th
Boardwalk Drive (East Eisenhower Parkway to Northerly End) will begin major reconstruction on July 20th. A copy of the construction notice sent to affected residents is attached.
South Blvd Water Main Construction starts July 27th
Water main construction along South Blvd begins the week of July 27th – a copy of the construction notice sent to affected residents is attached.
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.
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:
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
Ann Arbor City Council Special Session Agenda
If you have comments about this meeting, 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 Special Session
Monday July 27, 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:
DC-1 (20-1096) Resolution to Order Election and to Determine Ballot Question for Charter Amendment for the 2021 Affordable Housing Millage (7 Votes Required)
A question would be added to the November 2020 ballot, asking residents to approve a new millage (1.0 mills) from 2021-2041 to fund building, maintaining, and acquiring housing permanently affordable to low-income households earning a maximum 60% of Area Median Income and social services to support those units. The millage would generate estimated revenue of $6,550,505 in the first year.
This year’s election season is coming to an end. I hope that everyone has exercised (or plans to exercise) their right to vote. The staff in our City Clerk’s office have a huge task ahead of them when it’s time to count these ballots! If you haven’t already mailed in your absentee ballot, I highly recommend delivering it in person to City Hall (the box is conveniently located in the vestibule at the very front).
For more information, visit the City Clerk’s page about elections:
This election season has been especially difficult for a lot of reasons. I think one of the bigger challenges this season has been our limited opportunities to engage with each other personally and face to face. Communication online is often more vicious and negative than the communication that would have happened in a shared space. Below are a few recent blog posts I’ve written recently which I think are relevant to the decisions we are facing now and in the near future:
Fact Check on Local Elections 2020
Independent Review Of Our Policing
Housing Theory & Housing Facts
Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!