Friday, June 7, 2019

First Friday and Ypsi Pride tonight

Gentle readers, it is a beautiful late spring day. You should come to Downtown and Depot Town tonight to celebrate Ypsi Pride and the June First Friday. It will be tons of fun and all the cool kids will be there.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Ann Arbor City Council Preview: June 3rd 2019

Ricewood BBQ on opening day, 2016. Photo by Ed Vielmetti.

Gentle readers, are you ready for tonight's episode of #a2council? Take a peep at the agenda here. The evening kicks off with a 24 item consent agenda. Some highlights: a new Greenbelt purchase (CA-3) and Scio Church traffic calming (CA-18).

There are 4 public hearings tonight. PH-1 amends the zoning code to allow temporary outdoor activities at Briarwood. PH-2 is the rezoning of a township island. PH-3 is the long awaited food truck ordinance. It would allow food trucks in all zones except for residential. PH-4 is the site plan for Bristol Ridge, 2750 Pontiac Trail.

There are a couple of other zoning and development related items on the agenda tonight. C-1 would allow front porches within setbacks. C-3 is the site plan for the Brightdawn Development at 2805 Burton. In exchange for a denser zoning, the developer has offered to build 20 units for households at or below 80% of the area median income (AMI) and 20 for households at or below 60% of the AMI for a period of 99 years. Finally there is C-4, which is a PUD for the old DTE Gasworks which was between the Amtrak Station and the Huron River. The site plan (below) includes 4 residential buildings, a holte, and commercial building. It also includes a park with pavilion and amphitheater space as well as a trial along the south side of the river.

Make sure you tune in tonight at 7 to watch CTN's live stream and follow the blow-by-blow action on #a2council hashtag on Twitter.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

NPNA Yard Sale this Saturday

This Saturday is the first in June and that means it's time for the annual Normal Park Neighborhood Association multi house yard sale. In my (humble) opinion, this is the premier yard sale event of the season. This year looks like it will be great with at least 93 houses participating. This year is especially exciting because there will be a taco truck at the Senior Center in Recreation Park. Past years have featured bouncy houses and face painting.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Ann Arbor City Council Preview: May 20, 2019

Buckle up gentle readers, tonight's #a2councl could be a bumpy ride. Here's the agenda. The night starts off with a modest, 4-item consent agenda.

There are three public hearings tonight and PH-1/DS-1 is where the agenda starts to get a little spicy. The aforementioned public hearing/resolution is for the Northside STEAM Safe Routes to School Sidewalk Special Assessment. The plan is to fill sidewalk gaps around Northside School so that pedestrians do not have to walk in the street. The way the city pays for filling these gaps is by assessing property owners based on how much sidewalk is going to be built on their property. The city also has grant money to offset some of the costs. Many of the residents on Traver Road, who would be get sidewalks in this program are opposed this portion of Safe Routes to School program. Several residents have signed a petition in opposition to the Traver Road sidewalk assessment and are threatening to sue if it goes through. There is also a vocal group of residents who support the full implementation of the Safe Routes to School program who may be speaking at council tonight.

The other two public hearings are for fairly routine township island annexations. I don't imagine they will be too controversial.

Tonight's second chili pepper comes in a place where you rarely expect it: commission appointments. I think the last time there was a contested commission appointment was Al McWilliam's DDA Board appointment in October of 2013. This is a complex issue that probably deserves it's own article. The gist is that several members of council have announced they will oppose the Mayor's reappointment of members of the Transportation and Planning commissions arguing the need for a greater diversity of ideas. Several of these reappointments will pit the council factions against each other so we should see some sparks fly.

Tonight's third and final chili pepper is DS-3, Resolution to Adopt Ann Arbor City Budget and Related Property Tax Millage Rates for Fiscal Year 2020. There have been a couple of late breaking amendments [ED: it turns out that this is the normal process for the budget amendments to come in in this fashion.]to the budget that would, among other things, decrease funding from climate action and increase funding to hire more police.

Make sure you tune in tonight at 7 to watch CTN's live stream and follow the blow-by-blow action on #a2council hashtag on Twitter.

Friday, May 17, 2019

An interview with What's Left Left Ypsi on the occasion of their launch party

What's Left Ypsi recently published their inaugural issue. The paper is published by a collective based in Ypsilanti. I am very excited about the paper, and eager to see it grow. To celebrate the occasion of the What's Left Ypsi Launch Party, (May 18th, at Ziggy's, 6:30 - 8:30) members of the WL collective were kind enough to answer some questions about the paper and their vision for local journalism in Ypsilanti. What follows is that interview.

Damn Arbor: Could you tell me a little bit about what motivated you to start What’s Left Ypsi?

What's Left: We started what's Left Ypsi to account for the public media desert in Washtenaw County. Current, Concentrate and MLive primarily cater to local government and private sector issues and often fail to adequately address public interests in Ypsilanti. Among other things the lack of media coverage following last year’s local elections, the murder of Ray Mason, and the proposed International Village Development on Water Street, inspired us to create an outlet for local coverage of what’s going on in Ypsilanti. What’s Left is a community response to a community need.

DA: What are your goals for the paper?

WL: What’s Left Ypsi aims to engage Ypsilanti residents and give everyday community members a forum to express issues that are important to them. We want to provide an opportunity for Ypsilantians to participate in gathering the information we need as a collective. It is important to know what is happening behind closed doors in order to share the power necessary to achieve equity, liberation, and self-determination. We strive to feature under-represented public voices and to create a space to deeply explore issues that impact Ypsilanti directly. In the face of rampant income inequality, racial inequity, housing unaffordability and discrimination, we hope to challenge the traditional narrative that because of its liberal/progressive values everything is alright in Washtenaw County.

DA: You have decided to do a print version of he paper. Why?

WL: Sitting with a paper and drinking morning coffee or tea is just so nostalgic—people long to hold a newspaper in their hands. Beyond that, we made a print version so that What’s Left will be as accessible as possible to folks who don't have internet access or that sort of savviness. We will continue to provide free print copies of the paper in locations throughout town. What’s Left’s website will be updated between issues, and features an option to listen to audio versions of many of the articles. In these ways and more, a focus on accessibility is a driving force behind What’s Left.

DA: In your first issue you had everything from obits, to horiscopes to a city council news ticker. Do you hope to have other types of coverage in the future?

WL: In terms of coverage, we plan on always being eclectic and well-timed. We ask for submissions and suggestions from community members in our paper, on our website, and at our events. We hope that folks look forward to getting the latest copy and can depend on walking away feeling informed about local topics of interest while also enjoying the read. We included the City Council Ticker section so people have a way to keep up with the happenings of Ypsi’s City Government, with the hope that residents will be encouraged to engage their local representatives. In Issue 2 we will have an updated City Council Ticker, and plan to continue to feature this section. In future issues we hope to include more photos, street reporting, features/interviews with individuals in the community, creative writing, reviews, memes, and anything else readers might like to see and/or contribute. We so appreciate all the feedback that we’ve received so far! What’s Left hopes to bring more community voices to the table and encourages readers to contact us regarding stories that they would like to see covered.

DA: Is there anything else you would like to add?

WL: We are a team of over 20 people who have volunteered to create Issue 1 of What’s Left. Join us at our launch party to celebrate with us and learn more about the paper!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Sneak Peak of Welcome to Commie High tonight at Cinetopia

Welcome To Commie High – Trailer for Cinetopia Sneak Preview from 7 Cylinders Studio on Vimeo.

Regular readers of Damn Arbor may know that I am a proud Rainbow Zebra. 7 Cylinders Studio's Donald Harrison has been working with several students from Community High School to produce a documentary about my alma mater. The documentary looks super cool and if you are interested, you can check out a sneak peak tonight at 6:30 at the Michigan Theater. You can buy tickets here. The Community High School Jazz Band will be playing in the lobby. More importantly, apparently the movie includes a track from my high school ska band. I knew we would make it big someday.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Ann Arbor City Council Preview: May 6th, 2019

The Ann Arbor Water Treatment Plant

Gentle readers, after three long weeks, it's finally time for #a2council. The full agenda is here. The night kicks off with a 22 item Consent Agenda. CA-1 through CA-6 are various street closings. CA-8 target="_blank" is $800k to recoat the Geddes Street Dam, which was improved in 2014 and creates Gallup Pond. CA-19 is for the instillation of an RRFB at a crosswalk.

There are 10 public hearings on the agenda tonight. PH-1 and PH-2 deal with the Brownfield Plan and Site Plan for 309 N. Ashley. PH-4, PH-5, and PH-6 are on water, sewer, and stormwater rates. These are for 6%, 7%, and 13% rate increases, respectively.

C-2 amends the ADU ordinance and would allow ADUs in more areas. C-4 is first reading of the food truck ordinance, and would allow food trucks in all zones that are not residential. DC-5 is a resolution asking the EPA to consider the Gelman Science's Dioxane Plume for Superfund Designation. Finally, DC-6 is a resolution directing Administrator Lazerus to revise the water rate structure from four tiers back to three tiers. We have written about this previously. Broadly speaking, the fewer tiers in a water rate structure, the more lower users end up subsidizing higher users.

Make sure you tune in tonight at 7 to watch CTN's live stream and follow the blow-by-blow action on #a2council hashtag on Twitter.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Celebrate May First Friday in Ypsilanti

Gentle reader, tonight is the first friday in May and that means there are a ton of stores hosting musicians and/or art exhibits. You can find out about all the events here. First Fridays are a great way to see what's new in Ypsi. Make sure you check out the new playground in Riverside Park.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

What's Left Ypsilanti: a new newspaper for the city

What's Left Ypsilanti just launched its inaugural issue on April 28th. This newspaper has everything you could want: political cartoons, horoscopes, and importantly, #YpsiCouncil coverage. I for one am very excited to see this development and look forward to seeing where WNY goes in the future. It is always nice to welcome new members to the Ypsi-Arbor media landscape.

If you'd like to learn more about What's Left Ypsi, the paper is hosting a launch party on May 18th at Ziggy's.

Spin scooters are here

At the April 15th #a2council meeting, the city entered into a deal with Spin, Inc. a wholly owned subsidiary of Ford Motor Company. Bird scooters are no longer welcome in the city. Here's my question: how does a Spin scooter compare with a Bird in terms of range and speed? Will one of these bad boys get me back to Ypsi?