Park Fee Waiver for Charitable Work: Initial OK

The Ann Arbor city council has given initial approval to a change to the city’s ordinances so that the charitable distribution of goods for basic human needs could be conducted in city parks without incurring a fee for park use. The proposal is not restricted to downtown parks, but the idea originated from an issue that emerged in connection with Liberty Plaza, which is a downtown park.

The council’s initial approval came at its Nov. 7, 2013 meeting. Ordinance changes require an initial approval, followed by a second approval at a subsequent meeting.

The recommendation for the ordinance change came from the city’s park advisory commission at its Sept. 17, 2013 meeting. This broader policy change comes three months after the Ann Arbor city council waived all rental fees for the use of Liberty Plaza during a one-year trial period, based on a PAC recommendation. That city council action came at its July 15, 2013 meeting.

The Liberty Plaza fee waiver was approved in response to a situation that arose earlier in the spring, when the city staff considered applying fees to the hosting of Pizza in the Park at Liberty Plaza – a homelessness outreach ministry of a local church.

The proposal recommended by PAC on Sept. 17, and given initial approval on Nov. 7, would amend Chapter 39, Section 3:6 of the city code. [.pdf of revised ordinance language]

It would be a permanent fee waiver for this specific purpose – the charitable distribution of goods for basic human needs – but it would still require that organizations get a permit to use the park, and follow permitting procedures, including clean up obligations.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow.