Ann Arbor City Council Newsletter (May 31, 2020)

May 31, 2020 | Newsletter

Hello neighbors!

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 meeting agenda is fairly light but includes a range of topics: street closures and liquor license policies to support local businesses, the A2Zero Climate Neutrality plan, changes to our vegetation ordinance, and city water rates.

Ward 4 Virtual Coffee Hours
Ward 4 Council Members are hosting a virtual coffee hour this Monday (tomorrow, June 1st) 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 ( or

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

Council Caucus
Sunday May 31st 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.

City Council
Monday June 1st 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 are closed through the end of the school year
School district homepage:
School district COVID-19 Updates:

Ann Arbor District Library branches are closed indefinitely
Library homepage:
Library COVID-19 Updates:

University of Michigan – all Spring/Summer classes delivered remotely
University homepage:
University COVID-19 Updates: 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:

City Council Voting Chart for May 18, 2020

Budgets & Politics
We anticipate significant budget shortfalls in the coming year. I’ve written about the challenges facing us and the need for meaningful, fact-based discussion when we make tough budget choices.

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.

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 (

For anyone interested in understanding and analyzing the recent work of Council, I have created a resource at 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 (

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:

Director of Parks and Recreation Services Colin Smith

Real Estate Developer Mike Martin

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)

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 June 1, 2020 (7:00pm)
Electronic Meeting

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 (20-0776) A2 Zero Carbon Neutrality Plan Questions and Responses – May 27, 2020
This agenda item has a 60 page PDF document prepared by Tom Crawford and Dr Missy Stults answering Council questions about the A2Zero plan.

AC-2 (20-0777) June 1, 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 (20-0751) Resolution to appoint Carrie Leahy to the Local Development Finance Authority (7 Votes Required)
This reappointment from the Mayor is being presented at this Council meeting, and will therefore be voted on at the next meeting. 7 votes are required because the nominee is not a resident of the City.

  • Carrie Leahy – Local Development Finance Authority

Consent Agenda

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 (20-0646) Resolution to Approve a Five-Year Agreement with Dykema Gossett PLLC for Bond and Disclosure Counsel Services, and General Municipal Finance Advice

CA-2 (20-0587) Resolution to Accept a Fair Food Network Grant for the Ann Arbor Farmers Market for $35,000.00 and Appropriate Funds (8 Votes Required)

CA-3 (20-0647) Resolution to Establish a Project Budget for the Gallup Vehicle Bridge Replacement Project and Appropriate Funds in the Amount of $145,000.00 (8 Votes Required)

CA-4 (20-0745) Resolution to Change the Date for the Mayor’s Green Fair to Friday, August 14, 2020 from 3:00 PM until 11:00 PM

CA-5 (20-0307) Resolution to Approve a Five-Year Agreement with West Shore Services, Inc. for Repairs, Upgrades, and Maintenance to the Outdoor Emergency Siren System ($32,750.00)

CA-6 (20-0547) Resolution to Authorize Professional Services Agreements with Hubbell, Roth and Clark, Inc. (HRC) for $150,000.00; and AECOM Great Lakes, Inc. (AECOM) for $150,000.00 for As-needed Transportation Engineering Services RFP#20-08

CA-7 (20-0598) Resolution to Approve an Interim Right-of-Way License Agreement with Spin, Inc., for the Operation of Electric Scooters in the City of Ann Arbor

CA-8 (20-0626) Resolution Directing the City Administrator to Prepare Resolutions to Approve Ballot Language for a Street, Bridge, and Sidewalk Millage

CA-9 (20-0643) Resolution No. 1 – Prepare Plans and Specifications for the Proposed Boardwalk Drive Sidewalk Gap Project – Special Assessment District #63

CA-10 (20-0604) Resolution Authorizing Membership in the Michigan Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (MiWarn)

CA-11 (20-0606) Resolution to Ratify an Emergency Purchase Order Request to Belfor Property Restoration ($21,265.11) for Cleaning and Sanitation Services for Sanitary Sewer Backups.

CA-12 (20-0490) Resolution to Approve Bulk Chemical Purchases for the Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants of Sodium Hypochlorite (Olin – approximately $106,500.00/year), Hydrofluorosilicic Acid (Univar- approximately $23,800.00/year), Pebble Quicklime (Graymont – approximately $719,500.00/year) and Ferric Chloride (PVS Technologies – approximately $50,320.00/year) (estimated $830,620.00/year)

CA-13 (20-0620) Resolution to Award a Contract to C.A. Hull Company, Inc. to construct the Wastewater Treatment Plant 2020 Access Bridge Repair Project ($114,139.58) (8 Votes Required)

CA-14 (20-0759) Resolution to Approve the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the City of Ann Arbor and Ann Arbor Police Officers Association effective January 1, 2020 – December 31, 2022

Public Hearings

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 (20-0487) 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-2/DS-1 (20-0636) Resolution Adopting the Living A2Zero Ann Arbor Carbon Neutrality Plan
This plan was unanimously accepted by Council on 3/30/20 with the request for a funding plan and prioritization framework. Before our last meeting, forty pages were added to the original document and it is now on our agenda again for potential adoption. Seven over-arching strategies include use of renewable energy, conversion of all vehicles and appliances to electric, energy efficient buildings, 50% reduction in vehicle miles travelled, material use/reuse/disposal, resilience, and purchase of carbon offsets. Estimated cost for the plan is $1 billion over ten years. Questions and answers about this plan can be found at AC-1, above.

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 (20-0487) 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-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 (20-0588) An Ordinance to Amend Sections 5.29.6 and 5.29.7, and Add a New Section 5.29.8, of Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code) of Title V of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (Code Requirements of Site Plans and Area Plans)
Amendment to the Unified Development Code would reorganize code requirements for area plans, site plans for administrative approval, site plans for special exception use, site plans for planning commission approval, and site plans for city council approval to a single new code section. None of the actual code requirements are changed.

C-2 (20-0766) An Ordinance to Amend Sections 3:16 and 3:17 of Chapter 40 (Trees and Other Vegetation) of Title III of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor
An ordinance regulating vegetation height would be amended to increase permitted height and expand the list of exemptions. Currently, only “a cultivated bed or planned natural landscape” may exceed the height of 12 inches on private property. As amended, the height limit would increase to 18 inches and the height limit would not apply to “vegetable or flower garden, pollinator garden, or rain garden.”

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.

DS-1 (20-0636) Resolution Adopting the Living A2Zero Ann Arbor Carbon Neutrality Plan
This is the same as PH-2 above.

DC-1 (20-0767) Resolution Regarding Water Rates
This resolution asks for a deferral of water rate increases for six months, to January 1, 2021, and during that interim period the rate structure would be re-assessed to consider: reducing the wide range of differing per-gallon charges within the residential customer class, tiering rates for the commercial customer class, and validity of cost-of-service charges given the actual usage experience subsequent to the re-structuring. This deferral would cost approximately $700,000 in City Revenue, and would be recovered in the January 1, 2021 increases.

DC-2 (20-0779) Resolution to Approve Downtown Street Closures for Restaurant and Retail Use During the Time of Mandated Physical Distancing
A $50,000 grant from the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) will fund the cost of installing, removing, and renting barricades for street closures downtown. This would happen in response to merchant and business associations in the City that are requesting the closure of certain streets so they are able to use the street for seating and sales that comply with social distancing requirements during this pandemic period. It will happen as soon as June 13 (and extend for the duration of the state-issued restrictions on gatherings in public places, or at the discretion of the City Administrator) during the following hours:

  • Fridays, 2:00 PM to 11:59 PM
  • Saturdays, 12:00 AM to 11:59 PM
  • Sundays, 12:00 AM to 8:00 PM

The street closures will be approved as “special event” permits at locations on Washington, Main, Liberty, Detroit, Maynard, State, S. University, and Church. A map is attached to the Legistar link for the resolution:

DC-3 (20-0780) Resolution to Approve Outdoor Sales, Service and Consumption of Alcoholic Beverages During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) has created a new application form for “Limited Permanent Outdoor Service Area Permission” so that local businesses can expand their serving area to achieve social distancing during the pandemic. The resolution would permit Ann Arbor on-premise liquor license holders to sell on city owned property adjacent to their premises including city streets if they have proper permission from the MLCC. 

Additional thoughts…

In my household, I have two children who are old enough to read the news and react to it, raise meaningful questions about what they see happening in the world. I assume that the conversations happening in my house are occurring among many other families. We’ve been talking a lot about power structures and the long history of protest against power structures in our country.

It is my hope that our community can avoid the more destructive civil unrest I see happening in other places. We have an opportunity to re-assess and re-evaluate our systems for maintaining public safety. Those conversations must happen throughout our community but especially among city leadership. I strongly support City efforts to increase transparency and accountability at all levels.

For anyone who does not know: Ann Arbor has a community (civilian) police oversight commission. You can read more about it here:

This commission was established right before I was elected to Council, but we did address a couple of issues around it soon after I was elected. Explanation of those issues can be found here:

Police oversight is an issue that I care about, I know that power cannot be left unchecked, transparency matters. I believe these are core principles shared by the Ann Arbor community, generally. It is hard to watch events unfold across the country and just outside of our city limits. We cannot close our eyes to what’s happening around us and now is an opportunity to articulate our values and demonstrate them. None of us want a local system of justice that is biased, unfair, and hostile to people of color.

Since arriving in Ann Arbor, our Police Chief Michael Cox has recognized the importance of (and focused on) community engagement and accountability to residents. I have been deeply grateful to Chief Cox for the lines of communication he has opened up between his department and Council Members. We have monthly meetings to get updates on his department, he makes himself available for Council Members to bring resident concerns to him.

If you’ve never met Chief Cox, you might be interested in watching a conversation I had with him recently:

I have received a few emails in the last two days, asking me about our local Ann Arbor Police Department’s commitment to de-escalation, whether or not this is explicitly a part of their training. Council Member Eaton and I have already scheduled a meeting with Police Chief Cox to meet in the coming week and we will be discussing this among other things.

Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me on this issue. I believe that Ann Arbor can find the space for passionate and thoughtful conversations about how to ensure that our Police Department reflects our values and ensure that our police oversight commission is empowered to bring transparency and accountability, and ensure that our residents (and visitors to our community) feel heard and respected.

Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!
Elizabeth Nelson