Elizabeth Nelson's City Council Blog

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I write a City Council newsletter with my summary of agenda items coming before City Council. Sign up to receive it first via email, or read it here later on this blog.

City Council Newsletter (Sept 4, 2021)

Hello neighbors!

Welcome to everyone who is new to this newsletter! Before every 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 agenda is fairly short, with two public hearings for ordinances at "second reading", two proposed ordinances for “first reading,” and approval of bylaws for commissions (Energy and Planning). I am sponsoring two resolutions on this agenda: DC-1 Resolution Directing the Energy Commission to Consider the Question of a Feasibility Study Regarding a Public Power Utility and DC-2 Resolution in Support of Good Food Procurement Policies.


Agenda item DC-1 asks our Energy Commission for a recommendation regarding a feasibility study for public municipal power, so that Council can consider the issue later this month. The idea of public municipal power is supported by both State Representative Yousef Rabhi and State Senator Jeff Irwin. I wrote more about DC-1 on my blog:

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/feasibility-study-for-a-public-power-utility-in-ann-arbor


At the link below, you can also find the legal road map, authored by attorneys from Olson, Bzdok & Howard, PC.

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/legal-road-map-for-public-electric-power-utility


Agenda item DC-2 was brought to me by a Ward 4 constituent who wondered about the City’s policies around food purchases. The city does not buy a whole lot of food, but the resolution in DC-2 is an opportunity to talk about the choices that we do make, e.g. food purchased for sale in vending and concessions at our parks facilities. In preparing DC-2, I had great conversations with city staff about what it might look like for the city to lead by example. If you’d like to learn more about “Good Food Policy”, below is a good article:

https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/purchasing-power

FEEDBACK ON HEALTHY STREETS

Since our last Council meeting, I have heard from a lot of residents who are frustrated and upset about the implementation of Healthy Streets, some of which impact neighborhoods in Ward 4. The South Main configuration, in particular, is identified as a “pilot” program, so your feedback is especially important.


Residents have emailed me and called me with the expectation that Council should be accountable to residents on issues like these traffic reconfigurations. I agree. However, on January 19, 2021, a majority of Council voted to exclude your elected representatives from this category of decision making. I wrote about it here:

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/council-responsibility


I am encouraging residents to communicate any concerns to the staff and appointed commissioners who have been tasked with making these decisions for the community:

  • rhess@a2gov.org (Raymond Hess, Transportation Manager)

  • transportationcommission@a2gov.org (Transportation Commission)

  • ebriggs@a2gov.org (Erica Briggs, Council liaison to the Transportation Commission)

This last week has been a tumultuous time, with the beginning of a school year for K-12 and university students. Though I have relatively less influence on these traffic decisions, I am still interested in hearing your on-the-ground observations as conditions settle a bit!



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COVID Emergency Rental Assistance

Anyone who is behind on rent or concerned they will be behind on rent should apply for COVID Emergency Rental assistance through Washtenaw County - this post has more information and a link to the County's website.

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/covid-emergency-rental-assistance


Barrier Busters

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:

https://www.washtenaw.org/2818/Barrier-Buster-Agency-Provider-List


Housing Access for Washtenaw County

Housing Access for Washtenaw County (HAWC) is Washtenaw County’s central intake for individuals and families who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness. If you are homeless or experiencing a housing crisis, please call HAWC at (734) 961-1999

http://www.housingaccess.net/


Coffee Hours

Sunday Sept 5th 3:00pm

I hold coffee hours Sunday afternoons at 3pm before City Council meetings. Now that Industrial Highway is open in both directions, I am returning to RoosRoast at 1155 Rosewood. We will be outdoors on the lawn.


If you can, please bring a chair - RoosRoast has very limited outdoor seating for customers and they prefer that our meeting not occupy it!



City Council Regular Meeting

Tuesday Sept 7th 7:00pm

Note that this meeting is on a Tuesday because of the Labor Day holiday on Monday. My summary of the meeting agenda is posted below in this newsletter.

https://a2gov.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=829778&GUID=73DEE47F-11A7-4118-BB24-7AC9D3F27A61



City Council Work Session

Monday Sept 13th 7:00pm

This is a Council work session for "Water System Facilities Planning", presented by Brian Steglitz.

https://a2gov.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=829793&GUID=2039499C-EF4A-41EB-BDA3-4E7E9E064064


From the presentation in the Legistar link:

Sufficient time has passed since 2016 to warrant revisiting the recommendations from the 2015 Study. With new water quality challenges surfacing, such as PFAS and Cryptosporidium, and a newly elected Council, this work session will re-present the recommendations from 2015, seek Council members’ feedback and answer their questions on the proposed recommendations.

Following this work session, staff will be providing a resolution for City Council’s consideration on the path forward for rehabilitating the City’s water treatment plant.



Note that Council is still meeting "virtually" using the Zoom application. Video feeds of Council meetings are broadcast on CTN and YouTube. Public comment is audio only using dial-in numbers. Please check the Legistar link 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/

City Council Voting Chart for Aug 16, 2021

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/city-council-voting-chart-for-aug-16-2021


Late-June Storm Event Analysis Zoom Meetings (Sept 1 & 8, 2021) The City will hold the second meeting on Wednesday, Sept 8th at 2pm.

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/late-june-storm-event-analysis-zoom-meetings-sept-1-8-2021

Football Game Day Street Closures and Parking Restrictions

Today is the first of seven planned University of Michigan football home games. The City has enacted street closures and parking restrictions near the stadium on game days.

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/football-game-day-street-closures-and-parking-restrictions

Natural Area Preservation Workdays and Events in September

Natural Area Preservation (NAP) has many volunteer events planned for September in various City parks.

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/natural-area-preservation-workdays-and-events-in-september

City Seeks Artists for Water Treatment Plant Mural

The City is seeking an artist to paint a mural in a stairwell of the Ann Arbor Water Treatment Plant Administration Building. The award will provide $17,000 for the work, which shall be completed by November 2022 or earlier. The first application deadline is Oct. 31st.

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/city-seeks-artists-for-water-treatment-plant-mural

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.

https://www.a2elnel.com/a2council

http://a2council.com

Council Meeting Agenda 9/7/21

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 at my official City email: ENelson@A2gov.org

The full agenda (including a link to the latest published PDF agenda) can be found on the A2Gov Legistar website:

https://a2gov.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=829778&GUID=73DEE47F-11A7-4118-BB24-7AC9D3F27A61

Ann Arbor City Council Tuesday Sept 7th (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: https://www.youtube.com/user/ctnannarbor

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 (21-1584) Agenda Response Memo and eComments - September 7, 2021

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 (21-1485) Resolution Appointing Members to the Hayden House Historic District Study Committee

The following people would be appointed to the Hayden House Historic District Study Committee. This committee was established by Council resolution on Aug 2, 2021.

  • Patrick Patillo

  • Jennifer Ross

  • Beverly Willis

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 (21-1395) Resolution to Approve the Purchase of Ice Control Salt through the Michigan Delivering Extended Agreements Locally (MiDEAL) from the Detroit Salt Company for Early Fill ($57,340.00) and for Seasonal Backup Supply ($191,800.00)


CA-2 (21-1451) Resolution to Authorize a Purchase Order to Carrier & Gable, Inc. for Traffic Control Materials and Supplies ($423,500.00)


CA-3 (21-1452) Resolution to Authorize a Sole Source Purchase Order to Yunex Traffic LLC for Siemens Traffic Control Products in the Amount of $367,000.00


CA-4 (21-1397) Resolution to Approve a Purchase Order with Trojan Technologies for Replacement Parts at the Wastewater Treatment Plant ($200,000.00)


CA-5 (21-1439) Resolution to Approve Amendment No. 3 to the General Services Agreement for Electrical and Instrumentation Support Services with Utilities Instrumentation Service, RFP #19-23, Filter Pipe Gallery Flood Rehabilitation Project ($176,117.87, Contract Total $1,736,117.87)


CA-6 (21-1455) Resolution to Approve Amendment No. 1 to the Professional Services Agreement with Fishbeck, for Water Treatment Professional Engineering Services ($350,000.00 Contract Total $850,000.00)


CA-7 (21-1499) Resolution to Ratify an Emergency Purchase Order to E.T. MacKenzie Company for Plant Effluent Water Leak Repair at the Wastewater Treatment Plant ($40,000.00)


CA-8 (21-1399) Resolution to Approve a Construction Contract with Commercial Contracting Corporation for the WWTP Clear Well Improvements Project ($1,335,000.00, ITB 4680)


CA-9 (21-1414) Resolution to Approve Amendment No. 1 to the Professional Services Agreement with Orchard, Hiltz & McCliment, Inc. d/b/a OHM Advisors for the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) Clear Well Improvements Project, RFP No. 19-13 ($208,000.00 Amendment, $341,036.00 Contract Total)


CA-10 (21-1426) Resolution to Approve a Construction Contract with Z Contractors, Inc. for the Replacement of Sequoia No. 1 and Sequoia No. 2 Sewage Lift Stations, ITB No. 4670 ($732,777.00)


CA-11 (21-1415) Resolution to Approve Amendment No. 3 to the Professional Services Agreement with Hubbell, Roth & Clark, Inc. for the Lift Station Replacement Project, RFP No. 18-35 ($141,666.00 Amendment, $422,924.00 contract total)


CA-12 (21-1429) Resolution to Approve a Professional Services Agreement with NTH Consultants, Ltd. to Design the Access Bridge Replacement Project at the Wastewater Treatment Plant, RFP No. 21-17 ($290,172.00)


CA-13 (21-1467) Resolution to Approve a Professional Services Agreement with ATC Group Services LLC for Environmental Services at 2000 S. Industrial Highway and to Appropriate Funding in the Amount of $60,000.00 from the Water Supply System Fund Balance (8 Votes Required)


CA-14 (21-1558) Resolution to Endorse the Reallocation of Funds within the General Fund to Support a More Robust Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Program in the City of Ann Arbor


CA-15 (21-1486) Resolution to Approve a Purchase Order to Michigan Supreme Court State Court Administrative Office for Judicial Information System Costs for FY 2022 ($44,625.00)


CA-16 (21-1552) Resolution to Approve Street Closure for 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony on Saturday, September 11, 2021


CA-17 (21-1556) Resolution to Approve Street Closing for the Ann Arbor SPARK Tech Talk and Mobility Row on Friday, October 8, 2021 from 6:00 AM until 8:00 PM

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 (21-1253) An Ordinance to Amend Sections 5.25, 5.33, 5.37.2.B, 5.37.2.C, 5.37.2.F, 5.37.2.G, 5.37.2.I, 5.37.2.L, 5.37.2.P, and 5.37.2.S Of Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code) Of Title V of The Code of The City of Ann Arbor (Outdoor Lighting) (ORD-21-23)

Amendments to the City’s Outdoor Lighting ordinance will further regulate illumination after sunset and before sunrise. Amendments reference color spectrum management, glare, illuminance, and specific standards for “light trespass” on neighboring properties. Illustrations define and regulate appropriate “shielding” of luminaires.


PH-2/B-2 (21-1264) An Ordinance to Amend Section 5.16.6 of Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code) of Title V of The Code of The City of Ann Arbor (Home Occupations) (ORD-21-24)

Amendments to the Unified Development Code would more specifically regulate Home Occupations, in light of how and where work from and out of homes is increasing. Regulations ensure that these uses do not have adverse impacts on neighboring properties, infrastructure, and safety. The occupation can consume no more than 25% of gross floor area of a dwelling unit and is limited to a maximum of 2000 square feet in an Accessory building. There can be no more than 24 client visits per day with hours of operation limited from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Heavy vehicles (more than 10,000 pounds) may not be regularly parked on-site.

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 (21-1253) is the same as PH-1 above.

B-2 (21-1264) is the same as PH-2 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 "first reading". If approved, the ordinance will be voted on at a subsequent Council meeting ("second reading"), where it will also be subject to a public hearing.

C-1 (21-1258) An Ordinance to Add Sections 10:147 and to Amend Sections 10:1c, 10:90, 10:97, 10:146, and 10:149 of Chapter 126 (Traffic) of Title X of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (Personal Mobility Vehicle)

New ordinances would regulate the operation of “personal mobility devices” (e-scooters, bicycles, e-bikes, and skateboards) in the City of Ann Arbor. In the roadway, these devices will have the same rights and duties as motorists. On sidewalks and at crosswalks, they must yield to pedestrians. Such devices should be parked in the manner that would be legal for a bicycle and they may also be parked on a highway or street where parking is allowed for motor vehicles. Personal mobility devices can be seized and impounded by the city.


C-2 (21-1512) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 107 (Animals) of Title IX (Police Regulations) of the Ann Arbor City Code

Violation of any city ordinance related to animals - birds, bees, chickens, ducks, dogs and other animals— will be subject to a fine of no more than $500. Violation of city ordinances related to poisoning animals, harming wild birds or their occupied nests, trapping animals, and owning a vicious dog shall be misdemeanors, subject to a fine (no more than $500) or imprisonment of not more than 90 days, or both.

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 (21-1543) Resolution Directing the Energy Commission to Consider the Question of a Feasibility Study Regarding a Public Power Utility

The Energy Commission is directed to consider the question of a feasibility study for a public power utility at their next meeting (9/13/21). Council asks the Commission to offer a recommendation in time for consideration at the next regular Council meeting (9/20/21). See https://www.a2elnel.com/post/feasibility-study-for-a-public-power-utility-in-ann-arbor for more information.


DC-2 (21-1562) Resolution in Support of Good Food Procurement Policies

The City Administrator is directed to collect data on food purchases (by type and vendor) across all city departments. This data will be used to develop a plan for improved food procurement policies in collaboration with the Washtenaw County Food Council, the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, others in local food production, and City service area staff. The City Administrator will submit a report of recommendations (including cost) to Council before February 1, 2022.


DB-1 (21-1427) Resolution to Approve Revised Bylaws of the Energy Commission

The Bylaws of the Energy Commission were approved (without amendment) at their meeting on 7/13/21. The fifteen members of the Commission (including two youth and two members of City Council) will continue to advise Council on all energy matters including energy efficiency, renewable energy, clean energy, as well the A2Zero plan and related climate action plans.


DB-2 (21-1506) Resolution to Approve Revised Bylaws of the Planning Commission

Revised Bylaws of the City Planning Commission substitute terms: “Comprehensive Plan” replaces “Master Plan” and “members of the public” replaces “citizens.” Revisions also reduce attendance requirements: commissioners may now miss up to six meetings over 12 months (the previous standard: four meetings over 16 months). Where previously, the Chair was required to report excessive absences to Council, proposed revisions allow discretion (“may” rather than “shall”) and direct that the Chair report excessive absences to the Mayor, only.


DS-1 (21-1443) Resolution to Waive Sidewalks at the Racquet Club of Ann Arbor (RCAA), 3010 Hickory Lane

As part of a larger improvement project (installation of a larger pool pump house), the Racquet Club of Ann Arbor (3010 Hickory Lane) seeks to waive the City requirement that they install sidewalks along Geddes Avenue and a portion of Hickory Lane south of their main entrance. This waiver was previously granted in 2015 during a site plan review. Staff reports that installation of sidewalks here will likely involve the relocation of utility poles, hydrants, fences and trees, as well as require retaining structures across most of the distance. The Transportation Commission opposes the waiver.


DS-2 (21-1254) Resolution Authorizing Summary Publication of Ordinance 21-23 - An Ordinance to Amend Sections 5.25, 5.33, 5.37.2.B, 5.37.2.C, 5.37.2.F, 5.37.2.G, 5.37.2.I, 5.37.2.L, 5.37.2.P, And 5.37.2.S of Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code) of Title V of The Code of The City of Ann Arbor - Amendments to Outdoor Lighting Regulations

With Council approval, amendment of the Unified Development Code (see PH-1/B-1) will be summarized to spare expense while satisfying publication requirements.


DS-3 (21-1265) Resolution Authorizing Summary Publication of Ordinance 21-24 - An Ordinance to Amend Section 5.16.6 of Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code) of Title V of The Code of The City of Ann Arbor - Amendments to Home Occupations

With Council approval, amendment of the Unified Development Code (see PH-2/B-2) will be summarized to spare expense while satisfying publication requirements.

Additional thoughts…

I also published this on my website:

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/2022-campaign-announcement



This week, I was contacted by Ryan Stanton (MLive) and he asked me about my plans for the 2022 election cycle. Some of you may have seen this article:

https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2021/09/ann-arbor-mayors-seat-could-be-up-for-grabs-in-2022.html


The article is behind a paywall, so for those who cannot see it, a relevant part:

City Council Member Elizabeth Nelson, one of Taylor’s critics, said she has considered running for mayor, though she’d rather support state Rep. Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor, who also is thinking about it. “I enjoy being a Council Member and I would very much enjoy being a Council Member if Yousef Rabhi was our mayor,” Nelson said, adding she would enthusiastically support Rabhi. “He is absolutely the kind of leader that we need in our city.” If Rabhi doesn’t throw his hat in the ring, Nelson said she’ll look at the candidate pool and think seriously about running.

I can formally announce here: I will be a candidate for election in 2022 and I look forward to campaigning next year. I intend to run for re-election as a Ward 4 Council Member. I would contemplate running for Mayor only if I see no other capable candidate in that election. Ann Arbor deserves a mayor who is committed to the goal of leading - rather than dividing - our community.


I believe in the power of local government to be most responsive and most accountable to voters. In an educated and compassionate community like Ann Arbor, local leaders can make policy that is sensible, data-driven, fair, and equitable. This newsletter is a reflection of my core belief: when residents are both informed and engaged, it pushes local leaders to make better decisions.


I am inspired by residents and advocates who help us identify problems, promote better solutions, and urge us to think about issues in a different way. E.g. On this week’s Council agenda, I am sponsoring two items (DC-1 Resolution Regarding a Public Power Utility and DC-2 Resolution in Support of Good Food Procurement) that were prompted by advocacy from local residents. Both resolutions are consistent with established City policy, in support of sustainability goals. I am excited about what can be accomplished when we are listening to each other and focused on finding common ground.


In my 2018 campaign, I enjoyed hundreds of conversations with you and your neighbors, learning about local concerns and talking about city policy. In 2018, I was also the victim of dark money attack mailers, orchestrated from Lansing by the then-business partner of a current member of City Council. Next year’s elections are likely to be very similar to those in 2020: tens of thousands of dollars will be funneled into Ward 4 from outside the ward, outside the City, and from political action committees. This money will fund campaigns with highly paid consultants, personal attacks, and coordinated negative messaging.


I believe our local campaigns can and should be local: driven by the time and commitment of candidates, supported by local residents who have a vested interest in our local politics. In wards small enough to walk every street, local campaigns are an exciting opportunity for positive, genuine connections and serious discussion of issues. In the next year, I look forward to meeting as many of you as I can, explaining the work I have done since 2018, and hearing what you care about!


Thank you to everyone who has read my newsletters and reached out with feedback or questions. Your perspectives inform my decision making. If you appreciate my work on Council and support my continued service as an elected leader in Ann Arbor, I ask you to please consider donating to my campaign at the link below!


https://www.a2elnel.com/donate



Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!

Elizabeth Nelson

ENelson@A2gov.org


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