Comments on: Ann Arbor DDA: We’ve Been Good Stewards it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: David Cahill David Cahill Tue, 12 Mar 2013 00:48:54 +0000 The only solution is dissolution.

By: John Floyd John Floyd Mon, 11 Mar 2013 23:25:58 +0000 Liberalnimby,

It is a stretch to call what came out of A2D2 as “the zoning laws we’ve agreed to as a community.” More like, “Zoning laws rammed down the throat of the community”. The present outcry over 413 Huron – and revulsion over The Varsity – do not indicate that most people had any idea what council was up to. My exposure to A2D2 had the same flavor as the recent Connecting William Street “process”: the existence of public forums looked mainly like cover for pre-determined outcomes.

As to Mr. Hathaway, your characterizations of his behavior and attitude suggest that you are not at all familiar with his actual work. I myself am not aware of anyone who has behaved more civilly, more rationally, more respectfully, more gently persistent in the face of the amount of dissembling, disrespect, and deliberate mis-information displayed by the DDA crew. Will kept the focus on process and ideas. As he was unafraid to confront inappropriate behavior, he never used that as an occasion for character assaults on or the mocking of individuals (unlike some who comment in public from time to time…).

Many of us would do well to follow his example – starting with me. Partly as a result of watching Will, I have undertaken a renewed commitment to civility and respect when disagreeing with people (I have a ways to go).

I’m not aware of any “council members who are overtly whipping this irrational “more parks” contingent into a frenzy”. There are only 11 council members: which one has been demagoguing The Mob into oral foam? Looks to me like people are bringing their own passion to this debate, without the help of anyone on council.

Eco Bruce,

The word “Develop” can apply to parks, as well as to buildings. If the intent from the start was simply to advocate the maximum floor space possible (that is, to “Develop” downtown, in the sense that the DDA seems to use that word), what was the point of public input? Indeed, it takes no process at all to simply say “Build baby, build”. What was the point of having any process at all? Having created process, and sought public input, what was the point of leaving most public input out of the final report?

By: Timothy Durham Timothy Durham Mon, 11 Mar 2013 20:15:05 +0000 Thanks Vivienne. I think the point I wanted to make was: the TIF money (all of it) would be better spent on brownfield and existing building renovation. Seems to me that these projects, like CWS, would get done without giving up city revenue to this unelected star chamber who seem to scorn public sensibilities.

Recently, the AAHC got a $300k grant from the DDA. Thanks, but AAHC claims they are short $14.5 million to complete needed capital improvements:


“Locally, the Ann Arbor Housing Commission’s own study found $14.5 million in deferred capital needs, which equals $40,374 per unit.

But the commission is getting less than $500,000 a year from HUD to invest in capital improvements, or about $1,224 per unit. At that rate, Hall said, it would take 33 years to address today’s needs, assuming no other repairs are needed in the future.”

By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Mon, 11 Mar 2013 16:50:48 +0000 Re (11) Washtenaw County has a brownfield authority [link] and TIF funding is used for these projects, including for projects within the DDA district. I don’t have a good source to confirm this, but it is my impression that the DDA gives up its harvest of TIF when that occurs within its district. I believe that a recent project on South University made use of brownfield funding.

By: Timothy Durham Timothy Durham Mon, 11 Mar 2013 13:15:07 +0000 In most places, TIF is used to re-develop brownfields. If the DDA were engaged in that, I think it would be easier to support. Downtown Ann Arbor is already enough of a draw to not need this sort of prodding.

If everyone (who actually knows what the DDA do) were behind the actions of the DDA, that would be one thing but most engaged citizens seems to see the DDA as self-perpetuating tool of out-of-town developers.

I voted in the DDA survey as well and the three choices were all slightly different variations on the same theme- large buildings. Voting for the smallest set hardly represented my view on what should be done but obviously NOT voting is not seen as any sort of protest. 2000 votes?

Density can be increased with the same sort of buildings we have along Main Street- retail at street level with 2-3 floors of apartments above. Look how fast those apartments get gobbled up when they come on the market. And they are future-proof. Walking up 2-3 flights of stairs in a blackout is doable (people take for granted an endless, unbroken, fresh flow of cheap electricity), walking up 14 floors is not. That was not an option offered.

There’s nothing mystical about how the buildings that people in Ann Arbor LIKE were built. We still have the technology, but if the lots are offered to out-of-town developers, they will max out those lots in the cheapest possible way.

By: Carol Carol Mon, 11 Mar 2013 01:55:00 +0000 Will Hathaway and jack Eaton are not Screamers. Neither are Vivienne Armentrout or Libby Hunter. They are persons willing to identify themselves. They make very cogent statements. Respect that and listen.

By: Will Hathaway Will Hathaway Sun, 10 Mar 2013 23:49:13 +0000 I am not sure how to interpret Eco Bruce’s question. The DDA began its process with a survey to which anyone could respond. I completed the survey once. I don’t recall how the DDA controlled for multiple responses. Usually online surveys seem to have a built-in screen for people who are trying to respond more than once. The survey had around 2,000 responses – a number with which the DDA expressed great satisfaction. The survey was designed to channel responses toward what Vivienne describes as “maximum building height and mass.” Despite the flaws/biases designed into the survey, the responses were strongly pro open-space. There were other steps in the process and the DDA encouraged people to participate at each phase. I am not aware of anyone taking unfair advantage.

By: Jack Eaton Jack Eaton Sun, 10 Mar 2013 23:02:59 +0000 Members of the DDA Board seem to think the Council resolution to clarify the DDA’s TIF calculation and to modify certain matters related to DDA governance somehow make the DDA a political punching bag, I disagree.

I believe the resolution is an appropriate search for the middle ground. Many of us believe that it is well past time to dissolve the DDA. It has accomplished the goal of revitalizing the downtown and seems only to seek more TIF revenues and seems to pursue an agenda at odds with voter wishes.

I recognize that others support the actions of the DDA that address matters well beyond the downtown area. Should the DDA be the entity that makes important affordable housing decisions? Should the DDA be funding projects outside its identified area of authority? Should the DDA be authorized to spend money generated by the ever increasing parking fees?

Stephen Kunselman has not proposed dissolution. Instead, he is looking at changes that will mildly restrain the DDA. I think his resolution is a good start. If his actions moderate the authority of the DDA, perhaps it will be unnecessary to completely dissolve the DDA. If the changes are not adopted or if they are unsuccessful, we may need to take a look at pulling the plug on the DDA.

By: Libby Hunter Libby Hunter Sun, 10 Mar 2013 22:48:52 +0000 After conversations about the DDA with friends, neighbors, and acquaintences over the last few years, I’ve come to some conclusions.

It seems that many Ann Arbor residents have no knowledge of what the DDA does, and many have not heard of it.

Here are some opinions I’ve heard from people who have an actual understanding of the current DDA’s role:

–an unelected body should not be making policy

–it’s main function is to push development for development’s sake

–many Michigan towns with serious economic problems and dead downtowns need DDA’s – not Ann Arbor

–the DDA wants to encourage changes like those that are stripping the downtown of its character

–the DDA is taking taxes which should be used for the real needs of the city’s residents, and administered by the city council (only)

Thank you Will Hathaway for shedding light on “the determined bunch who are very invested in their fantasy of downtown Ann Arbor…” I can imagine how empowered that bunch is by our largely unengaged citizenry.

By: Eco Bruce Eco Bruce Sun, 10 Mar 2013 20:10:28 +0000 Will,
If you say something ten times, does it count as ten votes for what you want downtown, or just one? Many of us participated in a single event during the public process. I absolutely felt like I was being listened to, and my opinion was counted. Once.

The whole process, as outlined in the Council resolution, was designed to bring development proposals to the City Council.

And yes, I am somewhat anonymous, mostly to avoid the personal attacks from those that don’t agree with me.