Comments on: Couch Ban Smolders; NanoBio Taxes Abated it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: Dave Askins Dave Askins Mon, 27 Sep 2010 02:05:41 +0000 Re: “Dave, what was the vote outcome on the tax abatement question? I assume that it passed, but I don’t see it in the story.”

Yes, it passed. When there are actual votes on an issue, we aspire to record the outcomes explicitly at the conclusion of the relevant section [Outcome: The council voted to approve XYZ with dissent from so and so.] – which we did not achieve in this instance. I’ve inserted the fact of the vote in favor in the text.

By: Steve Bean Steve Bean Sun, 26 Sep 2010 19:29:31 +0000 Dave, what was the vote outcome on the tax abatement question? I assume that it passed, but I don’t see it in the story.

“[Peralta] noted that there was not a lot of local “vaccine talent” in that specific area of expertise and that they had needed to hire from out of state. He indicated that the MEGA program [Michigan Economic Growth Authority] was incentivizing NanoBio to hire those employees, around 32 of them over the next five years, and bring them to Michigan.”

“Stephen Rapundalo (Ward 2) spoke in support of the tax abatement, saying that by any measure NanoBio is a huge success story.”

Granting a tax abatement–no matter how “relatively small”–to a business as a reward for being successful is an inappropriate use of city funds.

By: Dave Askins Dave Askins Tue, 14 Sep 2010 12:57:02 +0000 Re: [3] and accounting for the drop in numbers;

Mark Supanich, who spoke against the ordinance, did note the decrease in numbers over time. In my recollection, but not reflected anywhere in my notes, someone — either Supanich, or the housing inspector, Rita Fulton, or possibly a councilmember, or also possibly nobody — speculated that the decrease in couch fires might be attributed to increased awareness and outreach, educational efforts.

It’s too bad, I think, that a decision was made to put the ordinance change in the chapter on public nuisances. If the case for the ordinance is based on risk of fire, then let’s please put it in the chapter on fire prevention, as it was proposed in 2004. If it’s based on the idea that porch couches are visually offensive [like graffiti], or somehow pose some safety risk to the public [like refrigerators with doors left on front lawns than a kid could wander into, close the door and suffocate], then let’s put the ordinance change in the chapter on public nuisances.

It certainly doesn’t help the clarity of case for the ordinance change to have Christopher Taylor over on Arborblahg insisting that he’s not motivated by aesthetic considerations, while Bob Snyder back at a spring caucus — who’s been perhaps the most vocal resident in support of a couch ban — spoke about the fact that it’s fine for the city to legislate aesthetics, if that’s what it takes to get couches off porches, and while the city staff presentation includes the claim that “they look bad.” Granted the staff presentation included the “look bad” statement as a foil along the lines of “Yes, they look bad, but the real reason to legislate against them is because of the fire risk.” Still, it’s a muddled message that’s being presented.

Apparently, the greater range of different city staff who are authorized to issue citations for nuisance violations might be part of the rationale to proposing the ordinance in that chapter, instead of the fire prevention chapter. But while on paper, you can show greater numbers of staff authorized to enforce nuisance violations [community standards officers, plus people like the stormwater and floodplain coordinator] as opposed to fire prevention violations, I suspect that in practice, those “extra” enforcers make little difference. Speaking with Craig Hupy — head of systems planning — last night at the working session, he said that he’d made just one code citation in all his years at the city. That was one where someone was illegally tapping into a fire hydrant.

Fire safety officials aren’t even currently authorized to make citations for nuisances. So as a part of this proposed ordinance change, fire safety officials are being given increased authority to enforce nuisance codes.

By: Murph Murph Tue, 14 Sep 2010 12:17:47 +0000 Was there any explanation for the appx. 75% drop in annual fires “with origins in upholstered furniture” between the 2000-2005 period and the 2007-2009 period? That’s a dramatic and sudden change in numbers. I’d hypothesize one of: a change in how fires were accounted for, a change in code/inspection procedures that led to prevention of these fires, or an increased awareness coming out of the 2004 debate that led to behavioral changes by residents.

Any indications given that would support any of these?

By: Dave Askins Dave Askins Mon, 13 Sep 2010 01:59:32 +0000 Re: [1]: Thanks for the heads up on the attendance — Higgins was absent.

Houses that front Adare, which have Adare addresses, aren’t on the roll. Only properties with Washtenaw Ave. addresses are on the special assessment roll. Here’s the complete list, with the amount to be assessed: [link]

By: Sam Offen Sam Offen Mon, 13 Sep 2010 01:42:59 +0000 Dave, Do I understand correctly that the homes on Washtenaw which face the street will be assessed, but the homes which back to Washtenaw and face streets like Adare will not be assessed?

Also, you’ve got Marcia Higgins both present and absent from the meeting. Nice trick if you can do it.