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Dharma's Council Newsletter, June 1, 2024

Neighbors,


City Council meets on Monday, June 3rd at 7pm. Council also has a work session on Monday, June 10 at 7pm, the topic of which is findings from the Trunkline Transfer Study that Council commissioned at the end of 2022. The motivation for the study was to look at the feasibility of the City taking over MDOT's Ann Arbor roadways (this includes North Main Street, Huron, and Jackson) in order to implement safety and accessibility changes that MDOT has not historically prioritized. The study looks at the cost and benefits of transferring control to the City. Council will need to consider these as we decide whether to proceed to the next steps, which would be identifying which trunklines we would like transferred and approaching MDOT with a proposal.


Here are some additional updates before my preview of our agenda.


Ann Arbor African American Festival Today

It's time to remember the contributions of Black business leaders to our City by gathering for the annual African American Festival in Ann Arbor’s Historic Black Business District. The festival runs all day today, June 1, until 8pm at 4th and Ann St. and features live music, dance, food, and handmade goods.


Summer Ban of Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers Begins Today

To improve emissions, human health, and quality of life, in December 2023, the City of Ann Arbor enacted a new citywide requirement to phase out the use of gas-powered leaf blowers. That phase-out begins today, June 1, with a summer ban on them (electric can be used) until September 30. Gas-powered leaf blowers can be used again starting October 1. This seasonal pattern will be in effect until January 1, 2028 when the use of gas-powered leaf blowers will be prohibited at all times in Ann Arbor.


Transitions are often challenging. I've been very impressed with the responsiveness of the Ann Arbor-based lawn care company that I use. In their communications with customers, they've focused on their rootedness in our community, saying "following this new law is not merely a requirement for us – it’s a source of pride." They are ready to go today with a new fleet of electric leaf blowers, which includes new charging infrastructure. They see going fully electric in their business as a long-term goal and are also deploying a fully electric mowing team to begin understanding what would be needed in the future. I'm grateful to see an Ann Arbor business embrace the values of its community with such an innovative spirit. 


Ann Arbor Flag Designs Ready for Public Input

The City of Ann Arbor plans to redesign the city flag, and the public is invited to review and vote on their favorite design concept, all of which were submitted by residents. This effort is intended to encourage joy and civic pride in the community. You can see the 5 finalists and vote for your favorite here: https://tinyurl.com/55674cba.


A2Zero Week, June 9-14

In June 2020, the City's plan to achieve a just transit​ion to community-wide carbon neutrality, known as A2ZERO​, was unanimously adopted by City Council. Each year, the Office of Sustainability and Innovations organizes A2ZERO Week to commemorate the passing of the plan and to celebrate the work done by the City and our many collaborators in the sustainability space.


Activities include Bikeway Tours with Human Electric Hybrids, a Net Zero Homes Tour, film screenings, a Climate Trivia night, and many other activities. You can find details and a full listing here: https://tinyurl.com/3hkf46ux.  


Ward Four Neighborhood A2ZERO Party, June 12th

Join my Ward 4 Council colleague, Jen Eyer (unfortunately I will not be able to attend), representatives from Ann Arbor’s Office of Sustainability and Innovations, A2ZERO Ambassadors, and VegMichigan as we celebrate A2ZERO week in Ward 4! This family friendly event will take place June 12th from 5-6pm at Allmendinger Park. This is an opportunity to have a tasty treat, work on a family emergency preparedness plan, learn more about what is happening to help our community become carbon neutral, and uncover ways to advance sustainability in your home. All are welcome to join this free event.


City Council Meeting, Monday, June 3 at 7pm


Agenda Highlights

  • Resolution to Order Election, Determine Ballot Question for Charter Amendment for Approval of the Park Maintenance and Capital Improvements Millage for 2025 through 2044 (CA-7). Our City's current Parks millage is set to expire at the end of this year. The millage funds cover approximately 40% of the Parks budget and funds both Parks maintenance as well as capital improvements. With more than 2,000 acres of parkland, 157+ parks, and multiple recreation facilities, Ann Arbor's Parks system is both vast and an important component of what makes this such a great place to live. We also know that Parks have significant capital improvement needs, with the cost of both maintenance and improvements increasing. This resolution would place on the November 2024 ballot renewal of the current millage, at the same rate, for a period of 20 years.

  • Resolution to Approve Entering into a Six-Month Negotiating Period for the Possible Sale of the 415 W. Washington Site (CA-9). In April of 2023, City Council approved a conceptual plan (in the form of a PUD) for the City-owned lot at 415 W. Washington, across from the YMCA. The approved plan, after extended public engagement around what should happen with the blighted property, includes 157 units of housing (15% of which must be affordable) in a net zero-ready building, and the construction of a portion of the Ann Arbor Treeline trail. Staff entitled the project through the PUD, assuring the minimum goals of the community were part of the zoning approval and development regulations. After that approval, staff worked to find a local development team that would be able to provide additional items above what was approved in the PUD, specifically additional affordable housing and sustainability related improvements. They approached Ann Arbor developer 4M, and now seek Council approval to enter into a 6-month period of negotiations around a purchase agreement with 4M. In the letter of interest from 4M, the developers express commitment to the required items in the PUD as well as to building a micro-grid, developing a carbon-neutral building, and providing not only the 15% of units at 60% AMI and below, but the remainder of the housing units at 80-90% AMI (in other words, below market rate). We have before us an opportunity to transform this long under-utilized property into housing that meets the needs and and some of the most ambitious values of our community.

  • Resolution to Approve a Right-of-Way License Agreement with Pheenix USH LLC for the Operation of Dockless Electric Micromobility Devices in the City of Ann Arbor (CA-13). This resolution is to approve a Right-of-Way License Agreement with Pheenix (aka "Spin") for the operation of scooters and ebikes in the City. Some of you may have read that Spin declared bankruptcy; they have emerged from that by being acquired by another company. This agreement is similar to our prior agreement allowing for the operation of the same number of scooters and ebikes. The new agreement, however, provides an opportunity to negotiate terms that target the safety of people who use the devices, which Council Member Briggs and I have discussed. I plan to introduce an amendment at the meeting that will shorten the terms of the agreement staff put on the agenda, allowing operations to continue while City staff develops an amended agreement that Council can consider in a few months.

  • Resolution to Approve an Amendment to the Professional Services Agreement with Elevate Energy for Administration of the Residential Rebate Program to Include Funding for Rebates ($4,250,000.00) (CA-31). The City is poised to begin offering a residential rebate program for the purchase of solar, battery storage, energy efficiency, air source heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, electric panel upgrades, and eBikes. Right now, the City plans on an initial design that reserves 50% of the available funding for income qualified households (those making 120% of the area median income or less) with the remaining 50% of rebate funding available to any resident in Ann Arbor, until annual funds are expended. This resolution authorizes disbursements of a total of $4,250,000 over the next 2.5 years to Elevate Energy, as the City’s Residential Rebate Program Administrator, subject to annual limits ($450,000 in FY24; $1,900,000 in FY25, and $1,900,000 in FY26) for release to approved applicants as initially outlined in the table below.


  • 732 Packard PUD Zoning District and Supplemental Regulations (PH-1). This is a proposal for a development in Ward 4. Approval will rezone 12 lots in the block bounded by Packard Street, South State Street and Arch Street with a combined total of 55,507 square feet fromC1A/R (Campus Business Residential) to PUD (Planned Unit Development) and adopt Supplemental Regulations to allow a high-rise, multiple-family building including sustainability features and required affordable housing. The plan is to develop a 14-story high-rise building with 376 apartments aimed at students. (this is the second reading, and you do not need to sign up in advance to make public comment on this item).

  • An Ordinance to Amend Sections 4:60 and 4:61 of Chapter 49 (Sidewalks) of Title IV (Streets and Sidewalks) of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (ORD-24-12) (PH-2). This is the second reading of an ordinance to change our sidewalk snow removal ordinance. The changes come in response to resident concerns that we have received over several winters regarding timely clearing of sidewalks, particularly on stretches that appear to be perpetually ignored despite our current ordinance. It increases fines and differentiates between single-family (R1), two-family/duplex (R-2), townhouse (R3) zoning districts and multi-family residential (R4), which includes apartment buildings and apartment complexes, making fines larger for multi-family residential and property not zoned residential. As amended in the first reading, the fines for a single-family dwelling, two-family dwelling, or townhouse dwelling unit located on a non-residential zoned parcel shall be the same as R1 residential property. It also allows Community Standards to send 24-hour notices, use email, and issue infractions to an “owner’s agent” which should lead to faster response times for rental units owned by an out-of-state entity. (this is the second reading, and you do not need to sign up in advance to make public comment on this item). Sponsors: Cornell, Akmon, Briggs, Ghazi Edwin.

  • Resolution in Support of Boosting State Investment in Public Transit (DC-2). In response to Governor Whitmer's proposed budget allocation of only $221M in Local Bus Operating (LBO) funds for FY 2025 (the lowest state reimbursement rates in decades), this resolution urges the State Legislature to increase its LBO funding in FY2025 to at least $285 million to maintain state reimbursements levels to AAATA (The Ride) and other transit agencies. This is the amount needed in order not to move backwards on transit and potentially force cuts to local bus service. Sponsors: Ghazi Edwin, Briggs, Akmon

  • Resolution Directing the Appropriate Use of Facial Recognition Technology (DC-3). The use of facial recognition technology in law enforcement has been criticized for both misuse and technical shortcomings. It has been found to disproportionately misidentify people of color and women, leading to false arrests. The technology has also been disproportionally used on Black suspects. There are currently no federal regulations on the use of facial recognition, leaving it up to local communities to grapple with the hazards of its use. This resolution asks the City Administrator to work with the Police Chief to enact a policy to limit facial recognition technology's use in local law enforcement and to use extra caution when making criminal charging decision in cases where the technology has been used as part of a law investigation. Sponsors: Ghazi Edwin, Harrison, Watson.


Please reach out if you have questions, concerns, or thoughts on any of the agenda items. Email: DAkmon@A2gov.org | Phone/text: 734-492-5866

 

You can also communicate your thoughts via:

  • eComment

  • Email City Council: CityCouncil@a2gov.org

  • Comment at the meeting (remote or in person): Call the City Clerk's office at 734-794-6140 beginning at 8 a.m. on the day of the meeting to reserve a public speaking time. NOTE: you do not need to reserve time to speak during a "public hearing (PH)" item.


How Council Voted

The Ann Arbor Voting Charts Project is a community-maintained record of voting history for City Council. 



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