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, Council has an especially long consent agenda, two public hearings, and a few resolutions that have prompted some public discussion. The most significant item on our Consent Agenda is a new collective bargaining agreement with the Ann Arbor Police Officers Association (CA-22).
At the bottom of this newsletter, I’ve written about the street closure agenda items and I also have an update on my housing resolution, DC-4 (See my “Additional Thoughts” section below).
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:
Virtual Coffee Hour
Sunday Sept 20th 3:00pm
As we move into a new school year, I am again holding coffee hours on Sunday afternoons before scheduled City Council meetings. These will be “virtual” meetings held via Zoom. Please email me for a link: email@example.com
Sunday Sept 20th 7:00pm
We have been holding Council Caucus on Sunday nights before Council meetings since March 2019. All Council Members are invited to participate. During the COVID-19 crisis, we are holding Caucus via Zoom. Please check the Legistar link below for the latest information
Monday Sept 21st 7:00pm
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.
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/
I maintain a list of posts related to current/recent Ward 4 construction projects:
City Council Voting Chart for Sept 8, 2020
This was the most recent “regular” City Council meeting.
City Council Voting Chart for Sept 14, 2020
This was a Special Session to decide next steps in the search for a City Administrator. Council voted unanimously to hire Tom Crawford.
Free Wood Chips for Residents Begins Sept 19th
The City is making free wood chips available to residents at five locations.
Churchill Downs Park Stormwater Basin Project Walkthrough Sept 24th
There will be a public walkthough of the Churchill Downs Park Stormwater Basin project site planned for construction in 2021
Gelman Litigation Settlement Joint Public Hearing Sept 24th
There will be a joint Q&A session via Zoom about the Gelman 1,4-dioxane Plume Litigation Settlement Agreement.
Fall Leaf Operations Season at Compost Facility to Begin Oct. 12th
Bags of fall leaves can be dropped off at the Ann Arbor Compost facility beginning Oct 12th.
Granger Rd closed from South State to Packard (Aug 19 – Oct 3)
Granger Avenue is closed to through traffic in both directions between South State Street and Packard Street.
Poll Workers needed in Washtenaw County
Cities and Townships in Washtenaw County are recruiting individuals age 16 and older to serve their community as Poll Workers during the November 3, 2020 General Election.
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.
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 Sept 21, 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 (20-1434) September 21, 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
There are no board or commision nominations from the Mayor on the agenda at the time of this newsletter was published.
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 (20-1006) Resolution to Approve a Purchase Order for Annual Maintenance and Support of the Sympro Investment and Debt Management Software for FY2021 ($25,593.22)
CA-2 (20-1333) Resolution to Approve a Purchase Order for Multi-Year Enterprise Agreement with Microsoft Corporation and CDW Government, LLC ($445,419) (8 Votes Required)
CA-3 (20-1281) Resolution to Approve the Attached Quote with CDW Government, LLC for Renewal of Adobe Subscription Licenses and Related Services ($36,663.70)
CA-4 (20-1196) Resolution Authorizing Sanitary Sewer Capital Recovery Charges for 3076 Geddes Ave. ($25,954.00)
CA-5 (20-1197) Resolution Authorizing Water Capital Recovery Charges for 448 Huntington Pl. ($20,971.00)
CA-6 (20-1296) Resolution to Execute a Commitment Letter for up to $587,500.00 for a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant Application for Purchase of Conservation Easements
CA-7 (20-1302) Resolution to Approve a Memorandum of Agreement between the City and the Federal Aviation Administration for Navigation, Communication and Weather Aids Located at the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport
CA-8 (20-1147) Resolution to Approve a Land Lease between the City and the Federal Aviation Administration for the Air Traffic Control Tower Located at the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport
CA-9 (20-1280) Resolution to Approve a General Services Agreement for Electrical and Instrumentation Support Services with Utilities Instrumentation Service, Inc. for the Wastewater Treatment Services Unit, RFP #20-28 ($90,000.00)
CA-10 (20-1204) Resolution to Approve a Purchase Order with Trojan Technologies for Replacement Parts at the Wastewater Treatment Plant ($101,000.00)
CA-11 (20-1200) Resolution to Approve Amendment #1 to the General Services Agreement with Margolis Companies, Inc. for the Purchase, Delivery and Planting of Trees along City Street Rights-of-Way ($160,775.00)
CA-12 (20-1084) Resolution to Approve a Contract with the Michigan Department of Transportation for the Fuller Court Sidewalk Gap Project ($147,019.00)
CA-13 (20-1268) Resolution to Approve an Agreement with the Michigan Department of Transportation for the Fuller Street Culvert Replacement Project ($186,560.02).
CA-14 (20-1208) Resolution to Authorize a Purchase Order to Carrier & Gable, Inc. for Traffic Control Materials and Supplies ($401,500.00)
CA-15 (20-1282) Resolution to Authorize a Sole Source Purchase Order to Siemens Mobility, Inc. for Eagle Traffic Control Products in the Amount of $314,000.00
CA-16 (20-1283) Resolution to Approve the Installation of Traffic Calming Devices on Fernwood Avenue (Packard Street to Lorraine Street) ($152,435.00)
CA-17 (20-1284) Resolution to Authorize Professional Services Agreements with Orchard, Hiltz & Mccliment, Inc. (OHM) for $187,000.00 for Streetlight Replacement and Asset Management.
CA-18 (20-1323) Resolution to Approve the 2020 Pavement Asset Management Plan Update
CA-19 (20-1326) Resolution to Approve Change Order No. 1 with Cadillac Asphalt LLC for the 2020 Street Resurfacing Project (ITB-4260, $8,899,300.00) in the amount of $230,418.69 and to Appropriate $73,000.00 from the Alternative Transportation Fund, $152,435.00 from the Local Street Fund, and $60,000.00 from the Downtown Development Authority (8 Votes Required)
CA-20 (20-1346) Resolution to Approve the Purchase of Ice Control Salt through the Michigan Delivering Extended Agreements Locally (MiDEAL) from the Morton Salt, Inc. for Early Fill Supply ($61,150.00)
CA-21 (20-1347) Resolution to Approve the Purchase of Ice Control Salt through the Michigan Delivering Extended Agreements Locally (MiDEAL) from the Detroit Salt Company for Seasonal Backup Supply ($210,720.00)
CA-22 (20-1383) 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
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/DB-1 (20-1297) Resolution to Approve the Wade Annexation, .4 Acres, 559 Riverview Drive (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 9 Yeas and 0 Nays)
A house on .4 acres at 559 Riverview Drive will be annexed into the city. The Wade Annexation is within the City’s water and sewer service area. Proposed R1B zoning is consistent with the adjacent zoning, surrounding land uses and the adopted Northeast Area Plan.
PH-2/DB-2 (20-1332) Resolution to Approve 841 Broadway PUD Site Plan and Development Agreement, 841 Broadway (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 1 Nays)
PUD Site Plan and Development Agreement for 13.8 acres at 841 Broadway. The development will include 96 attached residential units (in four 6-story buildings with 2-story attached parking deck), 8200 sq. ft. of retail, 5600 sq. ft. of restaurant uses, 148 room hotel, and a minimum of six contiguous acres of public open space.
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.
There are no ordinance second readings at this Council meeting.
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 (20-1321) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code), Rezoning of 12.8 Acres from PL (Public Land) to PUD (Planned Unit Development District), Veridian at County Farm PUD Zoning and Supplemental Regulations, 2270 Platt Road (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 0 Nays)
An area of 12.8 acres at 2270 Platt Road would be zoned as a Planned Use Development. The Veridian at County Farm PUD District would be primarily detached single-family, two-family, multiple-family and townhomes (attached single family dwellings). A minimum of 15% of the dwelling units will be affordable.
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 (20-1320) Resolution to Appoint Elizabeth Lillard to the Greenbelt Advisory Commission
This nomination is from CM Grand, who serves on the Greenbelt Advisory Commission. This was introduced at the last Council meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this meeting.
- Elizabeth Lillard – Greenbelt Advisory Commission
DC-2 (20-1389) Resolution Declaring that the Investigation and Arrest of Individuals Involved with the Personal Use, Growth and Possession of Entheogenic Plants, Including Those Scheduled at State and Federal Levels, be the Lowest Priority for the City of Ann Arbor
The Mayor and Council would urge the County District Attorney to cease prosecution of people for crimes related to use of Entheogenic Plants or plant based compounds. The City would declare investigation and prosecution of crimes related to entheogenic plants as the lowest priority in the City.
DC-3 (20-1400) Resolution to Extend Resolution R-20-194 – Resolution to Approve Downtown Street Closures for Restaurant and Retail Use During the Time of Mandated Physical Distancing and Resolution R-20-302 – Resolution to Extend Resolution R-20-194 – Resolution to Approve Downtown Street Closures for Restaurant and Retail Use During the Time of Mandated Physical Distancing
This amends the resolution (6/1/20) that permits the closure of certain streets so businesses are able to use the street for seating and sales that comply with social distancing requirements during this pandemic period. It will extend for the duration of the state-issued restrictions on gatherings in public places (or at the discretion of the City Administrator). This amendment extends the permitted street closures until November 1, 2020. The street closures are approved as “special event” permits for street closures at locations on Washington, Main, Liberty, Detroit, Maynard, State, S. University, and Church.
DC-4 (20-1417) Resolution to Partner with The University of Michigan to Provide Emergency Shelter in Ann Arbor
This resolution directs the City Administrator to arrange meetings with the University of Michigan (before 11/1/20) to discuss the potential use of campus housing for emergency, temporary shelter possibly as soon as this winter. Plans would be made in anticipation of the possibility that UM housing might be vacated for an extended period of time if there is a resurgence of COVID-19. Other cities (e.g. Boston and a suburb of San Francisco) have partnered with local universities to make use of vacated campus housing.
DC-5 (20-1418) Resolution to Conduct a 2020 Budget Priorities Citizen Survey to Inform Development of the City’s FY22 Budget and FY23 Financial Plan
The city would spend $14,000 on a Budget Priorities Citizen Survey, similar in scope and content to what was conducted prior to the 2018 budgeting process, with the expectation that results would be available in December or January. The 2018 survey solicited feedback from 2000 residents on spending in 57 specific budget categories (for each category, asking respondents whether they would increase, decrease or keep spending about the same amount). It also collected citizen feedback on quality of life factors and considerations, as well as on City of Ann Arbor local government performance.
DC-6 (20-1419) Resolution to Approve Outdoor Seating and Live Entertainment for Zal Gaz Grotto, 2070 West Stadium Boulevard, until October 31, 2020 as Special Event
Zal Gaz Grotto at 2070 W. Stadium Blvd. will be permitted to have outdoor seating and live entertainment until October 31, 2020, in accordance with standards for a Special Event Sale. Typically, outdoor seating would be permitted under Temporary Outdoor Sales, but space restrictions (10% of business’ floor area) are an obstacle during this pandemic. Zal Gaz Grotto has interior space of 6000 sq. ft. and plans for an outdoor service/entertainment area large enough to accommodate fourteen 4-person tables and a stage on evenings Friday through Tuesday (until 10 p.m.) and mid-day on Saturdays.
DC-7 (20-1430) Resolution to End the Healthy Streets Initiative Outside of the Downtown
This is an adjustment to one of several programs that have limited vehicular traffic on streets in the city. The pilot program “Healthy Streets” is an experiment of reconfiguring roadways for 90 days in order to make room for additional pedestrian and non-motorized traffic. As planned, the 90 days would expire on November 29. If approved, this resolution would end the experiment early (October 1) on three major thoroughfares: S. Main, Broadway/Swift, and Packard. No other elements of the “Healthy Streets” or “Slow Streets” programs are impacted by this resolution.
DC-8 (20-1428) Resolution to Approve and Accept a Grant from the Center for Tech and Civic Life for the City’s Safe Voting Plan Application and Appropriate Funding ($417,268) (8 Votes Required)
The City will accept a grant for funding the City’s Safe Voting Plan (November 2020 election). This would appropriate funding of $417,268 for the public purpose of planning and operationalizing safe and secure election administration. Funding will cover an additional “client seat” for a high speed absentee ballot tabulator, application for absentee ballots, postage for any new ballot applications, staffing and extended hours for the City Clerk’s office (and satellite office), ballot drop boxes, marketing materials, and bonus pay for election inspectors during the pandemic.
DB-1 (20-1297) Resolution to Approve the Wade Annexation, .4 Acres, 559 Riverview Drive (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 9 Yeas and 0 Nays)
This is the same as PH-1 above.
DB-2 (20-1332) Resolution to Approve 841 Broadway PUD Site Plan and Development Agreement, 841 Broadway (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 8 Yeas and 1 Nays)
This is the same as PH-2 above.
This week, I got a lot of email in support of agenda items DC-3, and DC-7. I also have an update on my housing resolution DC-4.
STREET CLOSURES & HEALTHY STREETS
Agenda item DC-3 would extend downtown street closures to help local businesses that are using outdoor space for social distancing during this pandemic. There is broad public support for helping our local businesses, who have reached out to Council to tell us how much they depend on these street closures for their economic survival. I expect this agenda item to pass without much controversy.
In contrast, agenda item DC-7 is a response to public feedback about a few experimental street closures that have been less successful: Broadway/Swift, South Main, and Packard.
Council has passed several different measures to make street space available to (and safer for) pedestrians and cyclists. E.g. The “Slow Streets” program has closed many residential streets to all but local traffic. The “Healthy Streets” pilot programs (two programs: one downtown and one outside of downtown) have reconfigured city thoroughfares to eliminate vehicular lanes and create more space for pedestrians and non-motorized traffic.
Mayor Taylor and I cosponsored the Healthy Streets programs. The resolutions first came to Council on June 15th and it was passed at the July 8th meeting. The task of planning and implementing these programs was considerable, so the 90 day experiments of Healthy Streets did not actually begin until weeks later. There has been some confusion in the community about this timeline, misunderstanding and blaming about “delay.” Our staff invested a significant amount of time in planning for these road reconfigurations during a challenging period.
The “Healthy Streets” program outside of downtown was approved as a 90 day experiment and is scheduled to end on November 29. Agenda item DC-7 would end the experiment early (October 1) for only the three reconfigurations at Broadway/Swift, South Main, and Packard.
I’ve received a lot of email about the Healthy Streets program and these three streets in particular (Broadway/Swift, South Main, Packard). Cyclists have contacted me to complain that these reconfigurations have not achieved the intended goal, they are unhelpful, unpleasant, or dangerous. I have biked all three of them recently enough to experience the reconfigurations for myself. I can imagine how they were intended to function, in theory.
Decisions around issues like this often prompt people to email Council, but Council also receives more “official” advice and recommendations from the City’s Transportation Commission. Coincidentally, the Transportation Commission happened to meet earlier this week, the day after DC-7 was added to our agenda. Their discussion of DC-7 can be found here:
(CTN YouTube link, timestamp 1hr 48min)
The Transportation Commission was especially interested in public feedback regarding the street reconfigurations and asked several questions about the public input. City staff reported that public response was “majority opposed” and that support for this program was “far outnumbered” by negative feedback. I appreciate this commission’s curiosity about public opinion, the challenge of depending on indirect reports. As a practical matter, City boards and commissions do not benefit from as much direct resident input, because commissioners do not have publicized city email addresses. If you would like to offer helpful feedback to the Transportation Commission (that can at least be relayed by staff), messages can be sent to: TransportationCommission@a2gov.org
I look forward to discussion about agenda item DC-7 and I’m most interested in hearing about what kind of data we expect to collect from allowing the experiment to run the full length of time (through November).
UPDATE: MEETING WITH UM ABOUT HOUSING
I look forward to introducing agenda item DC-4 on this week’s agenda. Last week I wrote about it on my website:
In the last week, I have done more research about how other communities have made use of university housing to provide shelter to people in need. I’ve had conversations with staff from Sonoma State University (California) and the director of the Public Health Department in Boston, both of whom helped facilitate the public use of university campus housing in their respective communities. I’ve also gotten suggestions from local leaders about where and how such a program would be most useful, reassurances about plans already in place.
The original draft of this resolution lists several reasons why housing might be needed (e.g. the end of the moratorium on evictions, coming in December) but emphasizes capacity for shelter this winter. I plan to edit the resolution slightly to more strongly emphasize planning for a resurgence of the virus. I am told that under the current state of COVID risk, local resources are in place to provide shelter this winter that is safe, in spaces that are uncrowded. If conditions remain as they are now (i.e. there is no resurgence of the virus), our local support systems are prepared. We are ready for a winter season. For the purpose of providing non-congregant shelter, university housing would be less useful if it was only available on a short-term basis for the winter.
My resolution contemplates more than just the short season of winter— we face the possibility of a local outbreak serious enough that university housing would be vacated for an extended period of time. Under those circumstances – an outbreak that prompts the University to end in-person instruction – the need for housing would be significantly higher than now. In that case, university housing would be empty (and potentially available) for months, not weeks.
Suffolk University and Sonoma State University agreed to precisely such long-term arrangements with their respective communities this past spring, when it was clear that students would not be returning to campus for the remainder of the year. The Universities worked with local entities to repurpose empty campus housing for over four months; they arranged for the use of a dorms to provide housing for people in need from April to August (before students returned for the fall term).
My resolution proposes only that the City meet with the University of Michigan to discuss possibilities, options for “what if.” I’m optimistic that my colleagues will support the idea of a meeting. City staff report that it might take two or three months (or longer) to plan such an endeavor – if that’s true, there is even more reason to start talking sooner rather than later. I believe we should be more prepared (just in case) than we were in March.
Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!