Welcome to everyone who is new to this newsletter and subscribed this week! 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 meeting agenda is very full and includes many topics: appointments, sidewalks, developments, water/sewer/stormwater rates, as well as the FY2021 budget.
Ward 4 Virtual Coffee Hours
Ward 4 Council Members are hosting a virtual coffee hour this Monday (tomorrow, May 18th) at 9 a.m. via ZOOM. If you would like to chat with CM Jack Eaton or myself, send one of us an email to get the link (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com)
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:
Residents interested in the temporary closure of their local residential streets, for the benefit of pedestrians and cyclists, can use this link to recommend locations:
Caucus and Council Meeting Information
Sunday May 3rd 7:00pm
We have been holding Council Caucus on Sunday nights before Council meetings since March 2019. During the COVID-19 crisis, we are holding Caucus via Zoom. Please check the Legistar link below for the latest information.
Monday May 18th 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.
Broadcast live on CTN Cable Channel 16, ATT Channel 99, or online atwww.a2gov.org/watchCTN
Local COVID-19 Information and Links
City of Ann Arbor COVID-19 Updates
Washtenaw County COVID-19 Updates
State of Michigan COVID-19 Updates
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 May 4, 2020
Housing Theory & Housing Facts
There’s a lot of talk about development and housing – look at the record of what’s been approved and rejected.
Submit Requests for Street or Lane Closures during COVID-19 Pandemic
As directed by Council, the City has begun a “Healthy Streets Program” to temporarily close residential streets to non-local motor vehicle traffic to provide adequate space for people to move around their neighborhood while physically distancing. There is an online form to make closure requests.
Street Resurfacing Update May 4, 2020 (Ardmoor, Avondale, Barnard, Glen Leven, Normandy, Woodland)
Phase 1 of the local street portion of the citywide 2020 Street Resurfacing Project for portions of the following streets: Ardmoor Avenue, Avondale Avenue, Barnard Road, Glen Leven Road, Normandy Road, and Woodland Drive. Please see post for details.
2111 Packard Redevelopment Citizen Participation Meeting May 26th (via Zoom)
Citizen Participation meeting as required by City Ordinance for the 2111 Packard Redevelopment Project.
City Launches Online Access to Planning and Building Records and Permits
Plans and permits filed with the City as far back as 1930 are now available online.
Help Select Ann Arbor’s New “I Voted” Sticker Designs
Ann Arbor residents are being asked to select their favorite entries in the “I Voted” sticker design contest. Voting closes May 31st.
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.
A2 COVID-19 Interview Videos (A2COVID19.com)
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.
New A2 COVID-19 interviews since my last newsletter:
Community Services Administrator Derek Delacourt
City Clerk Jackie Beaudry
Water Treatment Manager Brian Steglitz
Development Consultant Luke Bonner
Governmental Consultant Kirk Profit
State Representative Yousef Rabhi
Link to all A2 COVID-19 articles on my website (videos + transcripts)
Link to my YouTube A2 COVID-19 playlist
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 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 May 18, 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-1 (20-0667) May 18, 2020 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 (20-0539) Appointments – Confirmations
This is a list of the Mayor’s appointments to City boards and commissions. These nominations were presented at the last Council meeting, so will be voted on at this Council meeting. All nominees are reappointments except as noted.
- Greg Farris – Airport Advisory Committee
- Theresa Whiting – Airport Advisory Committee
- Allison Buck – Ann Arbor Public Art Commission
- Jonah Copi – Ann Arbor Public Art Commission
- Mike Allemang – Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority Board
- Kyra Sims – Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority Board
- Paul Darling – Building Board of Appeals
- Kathryn Levasseur – Building Board of Appeals (new appointment)
- Shannon Gibb-Randall – City Planning Commission
- Wendy Woods – City Planning Commission
- Matthew Solomon – Commission on Disability Issues
- Richard Mitchell – Design Review Board
- Tamara Burns – Design Review Board
- Molly McFarland – Downtown Development Authority
- Darren McKinnon – Downtown Development Authority
- Elizabeth Collins – Elizabeth Dean Fund Committee
- R. Donald Wortman – Elizabeth Dean Fund Committee
- Anthony DiGiovanni – Employees’ Retirement System Board of Trustees
- John Beeson – Historic District Commission
- Amanda Carlisle – Housing and Human Services Advisory Board
- Anna Erickson – Housing and Human Services Advisory Board
- Anna Foster – Housing and Human Services Advisory Board
- Thierry Batalonga – Housing Commission
- Pamela Meadows Dent – Human Rights Commission
- Judah Garber – Human Rights Commission
- Michael Psarouthakis – Human Rights Commission (new appointment)
- Ruth Kraut – Park Advisory Commission
- Praveena Ramaswami – Park Advisory Commission
- Holly Parker – Public Market Advisory Commission
- Lisa Young – Public Market Advisory Commission
- Molly Kleinman – Transportation Commission
- Bradley Parsons – Transportation Commission
- David DeVarti – Zoning Board of Appeals
- Julia Goode – Zoning Board of Appeals (new appointment)
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 (20-0544) Resolution to Approve a Purchase Order with MicroSurvey Software, Inc. and Leica Geosystems, Inc. for the Purchase of a Replacement of a Crash and Crime Scene Mapping System ($40,032.10)
CA-2 (20-0624) Resolution to Approve April 23, 2020 Recommendations of the Board of Insurance Administration
CA-3 (20-0514) Resolution to Approve Professional Services Agreements with Fishbeck for $500,000.00, Stantec Consulting Michigan Inc. for $500,000.00, and Tetra Tech of Michigan, PC for $500,000.00 for Water Treatment Professional Engineering Services, ($1,500,000.00) (RFP #20-18)
CA-4 (20-0546) Resolution to Approve the Purchase of Street Sign Posts, Sleeves, and Bases from Unistrut ($27,620.00, ITB #4622)
CA-5 (20-0495) Resolution to Approve Fiscal Year 2021 Fee Adjustments for Public Services Area – Engineering, Public Works, Systems Planning, and the Fleet and Facilities- Airport Unit of the City Administrator’s Office
CA-7 (20-0636) Resolution Adopting the Living A2Zero Ann Arbor Carbon Neutrality Plan
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 (20-0450) 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) (Ordinance No. ORD-20-11)
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.
PH-2/DB-2 (20-0582) Resolution to Approve The Garnet PUD Site Plan and Development Agreement, 325 East Summit Street (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays)
The site plan for “The Garnet” at 325 East Summit Street (see PH-1/B-1) would be approved with conditions. The developer will include 23 bicycle parking places and a green roof. They will also make a $6,250 contribution to parks and, if needed, take action in response to sump pump water discharge testing results. Planning commission approved this site plan in a vote of 8-0.
PH-3/B-2 (20-0482) An Ordinance to Amend Section 2:64 of Chapter 29 (Sewer Rates) of Title II of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor
Sewer rates would increase by 6.5% (starting July 1 2020) and are projected to increase revenues to the Sewage Disposal System by $1,964,736.00. Allocation of fees would slightly decrease user charges and increase the portion allocated to capital expenditures and debt on prior capital expenditures.
PH-4/B-3 (20-0487) An Ordinance to Amend Section 2:63 of Chapter 29 (Water Rates) of Title II of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor
Water rates would increase by 6.5% (starting July 1, 2020) and are projected to increase revenues to the Water Supply System by $753,362.00. Additional revenue would be used for capital expenditures required to maintain and rehabilitate the water infrastructure, both at the water treatment facility and in the distribution system.
PH-5/B-4 (20-0488) An Ordinance to Amend Section 2:69 of Chapter 29 (Stormwater Rates) of Title II of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor
Stormwater rates would increase by 11% (starting July 1, 2020) and are projected to increase revenues to the Stormwater Disposal System by $1,250,132.00. Additional revenue would be used for capital expenditures required to maintain and rehabilitate the stormwater infrastructure, including lining and other major capital projects associated with the aging infrastructure in the City.
PH-6/B-5 (20-0579) An Ordinance to Amend Section 9:42 of Chapter 107 (Animals) of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor
I worked with City Staff to develop this amendment, in light of increased community interest in home-grown food. Derek Delacourt (administrator of our Community Services Area) drafted a similar ordinance for Ferndale and helped draft this amendment. The Chicken/Duck Keeping ordinance would be amended to remove neighbor notification (which allows neighbor “veto” of a 6 bird permit) and eliminate the 2-bird permit (which did not require neighbor notification). Neighbor approval would still be needed to reduce property line setback requirements or in cases where the permit would issue to anyone living in a duplex. Birds are permitted in back and side yards when the owner is present. The number limit for all permits would continue to be 6 birds, roosters prohibited.
PH-7/DS-1 (20-0525) Resolution No. 4 – Confirming the Proposed Jackson Avenue Sidewalk Gap Project Special Assessment, District #61
Special assessment district would be established, assessing six property owners for $110,972.00 Jackson Avenue Sidewalk Gap Elimination Project (south side of Jackson Avenue, from Westover Ave. to Park Lake Ave.)
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 (20-0450) 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) (Ordinance No. ORD-20-11)
This is the same as PH-1 above.
DB-1 (20-0582) Resolution to Approve The Garnet PUD Site Plan and Development Agreement, 325 East Summit Street (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays)
This is the same as PH-2 above.
B-2 (20-0482) An Ordinance to Amend Section 2:64 of Chapter 29 (Sewer Rates) of Title II of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor
This is the same as PH-3 above.
B-3 (20-0487) An Ordinance to Amend Section 2:63 of Chapter 29 (Water Rates) of Title II of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor
This is the same as PH-4 above.
B-4 (20-0488) An Ordinance to Amend Section 2:69 of Chapter 29 (Stormwater Rates) of Title II of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor
This is the same as PH-5 above.
B-5 (20-0579) An Ordinance to Amend Section 9:42 of Chapter 107 (Animals) of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor
This 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 approval. If approved, the ordinance will be voted on at a subsequent Council meeting, where it will also be subject to a public hearing.
There are no ordinance first readings this Council meeting.
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 (20-0574) Resolution to Appoint Geoffrey Perkins to the Building Board of Appeals and the Design Review Board, Christiana Allen-Pipkin to the Commission on Disability Issues and Diana Cass to the Human Rights Commission (7 Votes Required)
This list of the Mayor’s reappointments to City boards and commissions requires 7 votes, because the nominees in this resolution are not residents of the City. These nominations were introduced at the previous Council meeting.
- Geoffrey Perkins – Building Board of Appeals
- Geoffrey Perkins – Design Review Board
- Christiana Allen-Pipkin – Commission on Disability Issues
- Diana Cass – Human Rights Commission
DC-2 (20-0583) Resolution to Reappoint Stefanie Stauffer to the Greenbelt Advisory Commission (7 Votes Required)
This nomination is from CM Grand, who serves on the Greenbelt Advisory Commission. This resolution requires 7 votes, because the nominee is not a resident of the City. This nomination was introduced at the previous Council meeting.
- Stefanie Stauffer – Greenbelt Advisory Commission
DC-3 (20-0594) Resolution to Appoint Rita Mitchell to the Environmental Commission
This nomination is from CM Bannister and CM Smith, who serve on the Environmental Commission. This nomination was introduced at the previous Council meeting.
- Rita Mitchell – Environmental Commission
DC-4 (20-0596) Resolution to Reappoint Robert Needham and Karie Slavik to the Environmental Commission
These nominations are from CM Bannister and CM Smith, who serve on the Environmental Commission. These nominations were introduced at the previous Council meeting.
- Robert Needham – Environmental Commission
- Karie Slavik – Environmental Commission
DC-5 (20-0602) Resolution to Appoint Lisa Jackson & Jude Walton to the Independent Community Police Oversight Commission (7 Votes Required)
These nominations are from CM Ramlawi and CM Lumm, who serve on the Independent Community Police Oversight Commission, and CM Grand and CM Nelson, who serve on the Human Rights Commision. These nominations require 7 votes, because the nominees are not residents of the City. These nominations were introduced at the previous Council meeting.
- Lisa Jackson – Independent Community Police Oversight Commission
- Jude Walton – Independent Community Police Oversight Commission
DC-6 (20-0603) Resolution to Appoint Councilmember Ramlawi to the Local Development Finance Authority (“LDFA”)
CM Ramlawi would be reappointed as the Council representative on the Local Development Finance Authority (“LDFA”). This mayoral nomination was introduced at the previous Council meeting.
DC-7 (20-0623) Resolution in Support of the Medicare for All Act of 2019
The City of Ann Arbor formally expresses supports for the Medicare for All Act of 2019 (H.R. 1384 and S. 1129) and calls on our federal legislators to work towards its’ immediate enactment. Ann Arbor City Council expresses its’ enthusiastic support for State House Bill 6285, which establishes a Statewide single payer program known as “MI Care”, and encourages our state legislators to work towards its’ immediate enactment.
DC-8 (20-0665) Resolution Regarding FY21 Budget and Financial Recovery Plan
This is direction to the city administrator regarding budget adjustments doe to expected shortfalls in revenue. Among other recommendations (to be exercised at the discretion of the City Administrator): hiring freeze, consistent policies re: compensation/benefits to all employees across the organization, major new programs are discouraged until financial impacts are better understood, consulting contracts would be avoided, funding ensured for residents most impacted by the crisis, allocation and prioritization for recovery focused on basic services and generally guided by resident survey. Rebate proceeds received from the County Mental Health and Public Safety millage would be treated as unrestricted general funds, allocated annually in the budget process as part of the general fund.
DS-1 (20-0525) Resolution No. 4 – Confirming the Proposed Jackson Avenue Sidewalk Gap Project Special Assessment, District #61
This is the same as PH-7 above.
DS-2 (20-0561) Resolution to Adopt Ann Arbor City Budget and Related Property Tax Millage Rates for Fiscal Year 2021
This budget was prepared before the COVID-19 crisis. It anticipated $514 million in revenue and $468 million in expenditures and includes nine additional FTE’s (full time employees).
For a clearer understanding of budget plans moving forward (potential adjustments due to changed circumstances), please see the presentation from the 5/11/20 work session:
I’ve spent the last week reflecting on the amount of stress people are under lately. In my A2 COVID-19 conversations, everyone acknowledges how much our lives have changed, how our interactions with the world are now limited. Many outlets for personal connection have disappeared and this has an impact on all of us. Collaboration and mutual understanding is more difficult — and less intuitive — because we are physically separated, forced to communicate from a literal distance.
At the City, we are only just this week getting technical support together to resume all board and commission meetings. The stay-at-home order has put a lot of pressure on our IT department, who are working especially hard to transition all City meetings to virtual platforms. During the last two months, the suspension of these board and commission meetings prompted some confusion about how city business carries on via staff and Council. We are all adjusting to a new reality. Hopefully we can take a deep breath and help each other through it.
For the FY2021 budget, the City must react to significant changes in our economy these last two months. I urge everyone to take a look at the presentation offered last week in our May 11th Council work session for some sense of what the city faces in terms of budget shortfalls:
We are incredibly lucky to have Tom Crawford leading these conversations right now, because he understands our budget better than anyone else in the city (and led us through the last serious economic downturn as our Chief Financial Officer). Tom can offer us the clearest perspective on COVID-related impacts.
I appreciate everyone who has reached out to share your values and priorities with Council. We are surely making decisions in a very different context than we were one year ago.
Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!