Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Ann Arbor City Council Preview: September 7, 2021

 


Gentle readers, tonight is a rare Tuesday edition of #a2Council. Here's the agenda and here's the excellent A2AF episode about the meeting. 

The evening kicks off with middling, 17-item consent agenda. Of note, CA-17, a resolution to approve street closings for the Oct. 8th Tech Trek. 

There are two public hearings on the docket this evening. PH/B1-1 is an update to the UDC that would mandate Dark Skies friendly outdoor lighting. This seems like an easy way to help mitigate our impact on our wild friends. PH-2/B-2 is the second reading of an update to the home occupation rules. This is generally in a good direction, but does not go far enough. Scott Trudeau wrote about this and you should probably read it. 

There are two ordinance first readings on the agenda. C-1 adds rules for personal mobility vehicles using city streets and sidewalks. This includes ebikes, and scooters as well as electric assist pedicabs. Molly explained this really well on the A2AF episode. C-2 is an update to the rules around animals. It includes prohibitions of some new types of traps among other things. 

Elsewhere on the agenda, we have DC-1 asking the energy commission to recommend council do a feasibility study for a municipal utility company. This seems like it could be really interesting. Another interesting item is DS-1. Here the Ann Arbor Racquet Club is seeking a waiver that would exempt them from building a required sidewalk. This seems complex, the work they are doing is minor, and having to build the sidewalk would be expensive. They they were granted a waiver when doing more substantial construction in 2017 and that was probably a mistake. Personally, I think sidewalks on both sides of the street are a must unless you ban cars from that street. I don't think the city should grant this waiver. Hopefully the city can come to a creative solution with the Racquet Club. 

As always, gentle reader, I am probably forgetting some very important items here. What agenda items are you most looking forward to seeing. I am guessing that tonight will be another late night around the virtual council table. Hopefully we will see you there. The CTN stream starts at 7 pm. Make sure you follow the action on the #a2council hashtag.


Monday, August 16, 2021

Ann Arbor City Council Preview: August 16, 2021

 


Gentle readers, it's council night in Ann Arbor. Here's your agenda. Here's the Ann Arbor AF podcast episode about this council agenda. 

The evening kicks off with a moderate, 18-item consent agenda. Road closures are back. CA-2, CA-3, and CA-4 are all street closures. 

There are two public hearings on the docket this evening. PH-1/B-1 is for the fur ban ordinance. PH-2/B-2 is on the conversion therapy ban. 

There are 7 resolutions on the agenda this evening. One of the big items is DC-4. This is a resolution to approve the recommendations of the Council of the Commons regarding activation of the Library Lot. Check out Scott Trudeau's article on this. They also took a deep dive into this in the A2AF episode. But basically, this resolution would direct the administrator to develop programing for the Library Lot, among other things. . Personally, it feel like perhaps the multiple committees that are in charge of the Library Lot could handle this work load. There's a lot to get into here, and this could be the evening's spicy chili. 

As always, gentle reader, I am probably forgetting some very important items here. What agenda items are you most looking forward to seeing. I am guessing that tonight will be another late night around the virtual council table. Hopefully we will see you there. The CTN stream starts at 7 pm. Make sure you follow the action on the #a2council hashtag.


Monday, August 2, 2021

Ann Arbor City Council Preview: August 2, 2021

 


Gentle readers, tonight is the first August meeting of #a2Council. Here's the agenda. Also, make sure you check out the A2AF episode about tonight's meeting. 

The evening kicks off with a respectable, 19-item consent agenda. CA-1 is exciting. It's allocating money from the sidewalk gap millage to fill several sidewalk gaps. CA-6 and CA-7 are road closures for Taste of Ann Arbor and UM Football Games respectively. 

There's only one public hearing on the agenda. PH-1/B-1 is (hopefully) the final public hearing on the rental housing ordinance. 

There are are four ordinance first readings on the docket tonight. C-1 is on an streetlight ordinance that would implement dark sky friendly rules for street lights going forward. C-2 is on an update to home occupations. This is a liberalization of the current rules, but probably doesn't do enough. For a deep dive, check out Scott Trudeau's article. C-3 is a ban on conversion therapy in Ann Arbor. C-4 is a ban on selling fur in Ann Arbor. As I noted on twitter, there are a lot of antiquated scientific names in Ann Arbor's endangered species ordinance. 

DC-1 is an amendment to council rules that would allow public commenters to still call in once council returns to meeting in person. This is good. DC-2 is a super spicy chili. This is a motion to reconsider the motion to part ways with Administrator Crawford. I don't know what the utility of bringing this back is. It just seems like an opportunity for certain CMs to re-air the same grievances they aired last meeting. DC-3 is a resolution to make a charter amendment to allow ranked choice ballot on the November ballot. DC-4 and DC-5 are resolutions to order ballot questions for the charter amendments approved at the last meeting. 

As always, gentle reader, I am probably forgetting some very important items here. What agenda items are you most looking forward to seeing. I am guessing that tonight will be another late night around the virtual council table. Hopefully we will see you there. The CTN stream starts at 7 pm. Make sure you follow the action on the #a2council hashtag.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Ann Arbor City Council Preview: July 20, 2021

 


Tonight is a special Tuesday edition of #a2council and friends, it looks like it'll be a spicy one. Here's the agenda. There's also a good A2AF episode on the agenda, but it was recorded before the biggest agenda item dropped. 

The evening kicks off with a short, 8-item, consent agenda. CA-3, CA-4, and CA-5 are street closures for Sonic Lunch, student move-in, and the Ann Arbor Marathon, respectively. 

There are two public hearings on the agenda tonight. PH-1/B-1 is on the second reading of the early rental ordinance. This would increase the amount of time a tenant can live in a rental property before the landlord can start showing that property. PH-2/DB-1 is on the site plan for the proposed hotel at 300 West Huron. Take a listen to the A2AF podcast, Jen and Molly have a good discussion of this project. 

Further down the agenda, we have C-1 first reading of a further modification of the rental agreement ordinance. DC-3 is a resolution to add a charter amendment question to the November 2021 ballot. This would allow the city to take overall quality into account when awarding contracts. DC-6 is a resolution to approve proposed timeline for doing the new city attorney. 

Finally we get to the spiciest chili of the night. DC-7 is a resolution to make an investigation into alleged inappropriate comments from city administrator Tom Crawford public. It is also to conclude the employment of Administrator Crawford. I am sure we will be hearing a lot more about this tonight. 

As always, gentle reader, I am probably forgetting some very important items here. What agenda items are you most looking forward to seeing. I am guessing that tonight will be another late night around the virtual council table. Hopefully we will see you there. The CTN stream starts at 7 pm. Make sure you follow the action on the #a2council hashtag.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Ann Arbor City Council Preview: July 6, 2021

 


Exciting news gentle reader, tonight we get a special Tuesday edition of #a2council. Here's the agenda. Great news, A2AF is back from vacation, so make sure you check out their podcast episode on the city council meeting. 

The meeting kicks off with a short, 11 item consent agenda. CA-4 is a for purchasing Duo multifactor authentication software. Nice.  CA-6 is exciting. It's applying for a $7M grant from the DNR to purchase the old DTE Gasworks and clean the site. CA-10 is approving amendments to the Washtenaw Regional Resource Management Authority Articles of Incorporation. 

There are three public hearings on the docket tonight. PH-1/B-1 is on the second reading of TC1, Transit Corridor Zoning. Very exciting to see this moving forward as it has been mentioned in the Comprehensive Landuse Plan for almost two decades. This would allow greater density along corridors that are well served by transit and get rid of parking minimums. This is a really important step for providing more housing that isn't car dependent and will help Ann Arbor reach its ambitious housing and climate goals. PH-2/B-2 is an ordinance to amend the Planned Project Site Plan Modification section of the Uniform Development Code. PH-3/B-3 makse some important modifications to the Independent Community Police Oversight Commission. There is a good discussion of this on the A2AF podcast, which you should check out. 

There is one ordinance first reading on the agenda this evening. C-1 gives tenants a right of first refusal for the first 180 days of their lease. It also makes it so that landlords cannot start showing a property for the first 210 days of a lease. I think this is good. It'll give renters some time (and a winter) in their homes before they have to decide if they want to renew their lease. 

On to the resolutions. DC-1 is a resolution to establish an Council Ethics Rule 12 hearing for CM Hayner for his repeated use of slurs. DC-2 is a resolution to build a 24 MW solar array on the city landfill. 

Finally we have DS-1, a resolution to approve the bylaws of the Council of the Commons. There is something that bothers me about this. These bylaws would give two private groups, the Community Commons Initiating Committee and the Library Green Conservancy nominated by the Library Green Conservancy, the ability to each appoint two of their members to the Council of the Commons. Personally, I just don't think it is appropriate to have private groups, with closed membership, appointing members to city boards and commissions. It is undemocratic. I hope this part gets changed. 

As always, gentle reader, I am probably forgetting some very important items here. What agenda items are you most looking forward to seeing. I am guessing that tonight will be another late night around the virtual council table. Hopefully we will see you there. The CTN stream starts at 7 pm. Make sure you follow the action on the #a2council hashtag.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Ann Arbor City Council Preview: June 21, 2021

 


Gentle reader, it's #a2Council Night in Ann Arbor. Here's the meeting agenda.


The evening kicks off with a substantial, 24-item consent agenda. CA-10 is a resolution for Healthy Streets. This includes some great things including reconfiguring some major streets for safety. I am personally excited for the permanent bike lanes this would add to Packard between Carpenter to Eisenhower. CA-20 is the contract for AAPD sergeants and lieutenants. I really wish council would facilitate a public discussion about police contracts before they end up on the consent agenda. CA-23 is a resolution to increase the DDA budget. The DDA had asked for this previously, but it was left out of the FY 22 budget. I would not be surprised if this got pulled. 

There is one public hearing on the agenda tonight. PH-1/B-1 updates the non-discrimination ordinance to ban discrimination based on race-based hair discrimination. Glad to see this going forward. 

Elsewhere on the agenda we have C-1 an ordinance to amend the rules governing the ICPOC.  DC-4 is a resolution to amend and extend the recycling contract with Recycle Ann Arbor. Gentle reader, I am going to be honest with you, I remember this being sticky in the past, but I forget why. 

As always, gentle reader, I am probably forgetting some very important items here. What agenda items are you most looking forward to seeing. I am guessing that tonight will be another late night around the virtual council table. Hopefully we will see you there. The CTN stream starts at 7 pm. Make sure you follow the action on the #a2council hashtag.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Ann Arbor City Council Preview: June 6, 2021


 Gentle readers, it's Council Night in Ann Arbor. Here's the agenda. Excitingly, there is a ton of housing on the agenda. Make sure you read this deep dive on the housing agenda items by Scott Trudeau. On to the agenda.

The evening kicks off with a deep, 29-item consent agenda. CA-26 and CA-29 are both allocations from the affordable housing millage. It's nice to see these start to get used. 

There are 4 public hearings on the agenda tonight. They are all on important agenda items. PH-1/B-1 is on the update to the ADU ordinance. This would allow AUDs in many more areas. You can read more about my ADU thoughts here, but the TL;DR here is that ADUs are good. PH-2/B-2 is the conditional rezoning for the Valhalla project. Again, I think this is a good projet. It would put 485 mid-rise apartments and townhouses on a lot at the corner of South Main and Scio Church. Expect to hear a lot of ridiculous opposition to this (e.g. does DTE have enough electrons to power the development). PH-3/DB-1 is the Valhalla site plan. And PH-4/DB-2 is on adopting the Towards Vision Zero transportation plan. Again, this is good. 

Further down the agenda we get to the ordinance first readings starting off C-1, which would amend the rental ordinance and increase the amount of time before a landlord can pressure tenants to renew their leases. Seems good. C-2 is an amendment to the anti-discrimination ordinance to prevent race-based hair discrimination. Definitely good. C-3 is super exciting. It's the first reading of an ordinance to have a new TC1 Transit Corridor district. It would allow more density along transit corridors. And finally C-4 would amend the Unified Development Code. 

Finally we get to the resolutions. DC-2 is a resolution to establish a PILOT study committee. DC-6 is one of the spicy chilies on the agenda. It is a resolution asking CM Hayner resign. I don't really have time to go into this one. But here's a (paywalled) Mlive article that covers some of the issues. 

As always, gentle reader, I am probably forgetting some very important items here. What agenda items are you most looking forward to seeing. I am guessing that tonight will be another late night around the virtual council table. Hopefully we will see you there. The CTN stream starts at 7 pm. Make sure you follow the action on the #a2council hashtag.


Monday, May 17, 2021

Ann Arbor City Council Preview: May 17, 2021

 

Gentle readers, tonight is budget night. Per city charter, #a2council must approve thee FY 22 at their meeting this evening. Here's the agenda. If you want a deep dive into the agenda, make sure you check out the latest episode of the A2AF Podcast

Let's dive in. The evening kicks off with a merciful, 9-item consent agenda. There were murmurs that CA-5, the Lockwood payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) might get pulled, because there is more PILOT stuff on the agenda. 

There are two public hearings on the docket this evening. PH-1/B-1 is on the new emergency ordinance that would cap third party delivery fees (e.g. Doordash, Grubhub) at 15%. PH-2/DB-1 is a township island annexation on South Main. 

DC-1 through DC-4 are appointments to various commissions. DC-5 is the big item of the night: approval of the FY22 budget. This will probably be the longest item of the night. DC-6 is a resolution to make Juneteenth a City holiday. And finally, DC-7 is a resolution to study PILOTs. 

Of course, there is also the elephant in the room: Jeff Hayner's latest controversy. I don't really have time to go into this, but rest assured, this will come up at tonight's meeting. 

As always, gentle reader, I am probably forgetting some very important items here. What agenda items are you most looking forward to seeing. I am guessing that tonight will be another late night around the virtual council table. Hopefully we will see you there. The CTN stream starts at 7 pm. Make sure you follow the action on the #a2council hashtag.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Ann Arbor City Council Preview: May 3, 2021

 


Gentle readers, tonight is the first #a2Council meeting of May, 2021. Here's the agenda and here's the A2AF episode covering the agenda. 

The evening kicks off with a modest, 14-item consent agenda. Of note, CA-14, Healthy Streets 2021. This includes temporary neighborhood slow streets for the summer, as well as permanent improvements on South Main and Packard. Both components of this are really exciting, unfortunately this needs 8 votes to pass and there were some murmurs of opposition at the Caucus meeting last night. This should pass unanimously, but I hope it at least has 8 votes. 

Tonight's agenda is stacked with 10 public hearings. PH-1 and PH-2 are routine township island rezonings. PH-3 and PH-4 are the second reading of changes to the rules around short term rentals. PH-5 is on a change to stormware rates. PH-6 is a public hearing on a ~200 sq ft addition to 614 S. Ashley. The city should change whatever rule elevates something this trivial to the level of policy. City Council does not need to waste time with this. PH-7, PH-8, and PH-9 are on adjustments to various fees. PH-10 is a big one. It is the public hearing on the FY22 budget. 

C-1 is a new ordinance that would cap the fees that 3rd party delivery companies could charge restaurants in Ann Arbor at 15%. DC-1 is a resolution to improve council effectiveness, performance, and communication. It allocates $20,000 for hiring professionals to help council in these areas. DC-2 supports SB 352, a Michigan senate bill that would allow municipalities to set some of their own firearm regulations. DC-3 is a resolution that requests MDOT do something about the M14 bridge over the Huron River. To whit, in one 24 hour period recently, there were 3 semi-truck crashes on that bridge. DC-5 is a resolution to approve amendments to council rules. And finally we have DC-6. This is a resolution to have a community conversation about "Palestinian People and Palestinian-Americans." I don't have a ton to say about this and the history of it and how it will be divisive. I will say this, if #a2couincil is in the business of facilitating community conversations, why not do one on politicians attacking journalists with homophobic slurs? Why not have one on police violence?

As always, gentle reader, I am probably forgetting some very important items here. What agenda items are you most looking forward to seeing. I am guessing that tonight will be another late night around the virtual council table. Hopefully we will see you there. The CTN stream starts at 7 pm. Make sure you follow the action on the #a2council hashtag.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Safety in the time of Surveillance


Tomorrow, April 29th, at 7 pm, there is going to be a great presentation on the dangers of facial recognition surveillance. You can register for the event here. This event is being sponsored by some really great orgs: Interfaith Coalition for Peace and Justice, Bend the Arc Jewish Action: Greater Ann Arbor, CryptoParty Ann Arbor, Liberate Don’t Incarcerate, Survivors Speak, Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights. 

Facial recognition technology, especially when used by police is bad. It increases racial disparities in an system that is already rife with them. For example, at least two Black men in Detroit have been arrested and charged with crimes they did not commit based on false facial recognition "matches." According to this BuzzFeed article, the Ann Arbor Police Department has used Clearview AI, a despotic facial recognition software company, for between 51-100 searches. 


 In my humble opinion, Ann Arbor City Council should ban the police department from using any facial recognition software. If you'd like to learn more, make sure you check out Safety in the time of Surveillance tonight at 7pm. You can also learn more by checking out Ban the Scan A2