Comments on: Aug. 18, 2014: City Council Meeting Preview it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: Hillary Handwerger Hillary Handwerger Mon, 18 Aug 2014 23:43:39 +0000 I can probably document more than $20,000 in damage to property and vehicles that happened this past year.

Along with creating a regulation prohibiting the feeding of deer, lets revoke the dogs on leash requirement– and give us a chance!

By: DrData DrData Mon, 18 Aug 2014 15:21:31 +0000 It looks like you could start a new business called “Chronicle Consulting” which produces $20,000 reports for the city of Ann Arbor, the DDA, the Ann Arbor Public Schools and more. It would be so much more efficient. And, the reports would be top notch.

By: Dave Askins Dave Askins Mon, 18 Aug 2014 15:06:04 +0000 As a follow-up to the deer crossing signage question, I inquired with city traffic engineer Les Sipowski about the conditions under which the city can place deer crossing signs.

From Sipowski’s reply email:

Warning signs are not as strictly regulated as regulatory. I put the one on Huron Parkway when I’ve heard reports of deer chewing on our prairie greens on the median and crossing. I decided to do this due to higher speeds (40mph) of Huron Parkway, and relatively common events. I rejected similar requests on residential streets as drivers should be prepared to react to residential traffic events, speeds are lower, and we do not have crashes on record.

We do have one more on Dhu-Varren (35 mph).

So it sounds like we have two such signs citywide. (I didn’t include Dhu-Varren in this morning’s survey.)

By: Dave Askins Dave Askins Mon, 18 Aug 2014 13:59:50 +0000 Ed, my criticism is not that “nobody has said anything about what they think success looks like.” It’s that the council has not done so. If fewer deer-car crashes is what success looks like, that implicates that a statement of the problem includes something like: “There are too many deer-car crashes.” Fine. So what is the geographic scope of that statement? And what would be a number that is not “too many”? Or do we implement a deer extermination program and keep killing some every year, no matter what?

Assuming those questions can be answered, it’s not obvious that the most efficient way to reduce deer-car collisions is to cull the deer herd. Looking at the map, the density of deer collisions inside the city is exactly where you might predict – along high-traffic arteries in close proximity to large natural/open areas: Plymouth, Huron Parkway, Glazier, Fuller. If our goal is to reduce deer-car accidents, then the first thing I would think to ask is: Do we have any deer-crossing signs along those corridors?

To answer that question, I took a spin this morning up Plymouth to Huron Parkway, south on Huron Parkway to Washtenaw, back up Huron Parkway to Glazier, and took Glazier and Fuller back into town. I counted one such sign – at Hubbard & Huron Parkway. That one sign was very close to the gateway sign for the University of Michigan North Campus – so I think it might actually be placed on UM property. It’s entirely possible I missed some signs – as my eyes are old, my mind tends to drift as I pedal along, and it was before morning coffee. (I spotted two yellow-diamond golf-cart crossing signs, which I initially mistook for deer-crossing signs…those clubs seemed like they could be antlers.) More seriously, it might be the case that there are warrants that have to be met before placing such signs, and it’s just not possible to place those signs within the city. (Inquiry made.)

If the council can’t manage to come up with a clear statement of what success looks like, and commit to that statement in its resolution that allocates $20,000 to develop a plan, then their action will be tantamount to saying,”Success looks like: Looking like we’re doing something.”

By: Edward Vielmetti Edward Vielmetti Sun, 17 Aug 2014 17:29:06 +0000 Dave, success looks like less deer-car crashes; you did your map, it’s clear that it’s a map of failures.

Success might also mean tasty venison stocking the larders at Food Gatherers.

By: Dave Askins Dave Askins Sun, 17 Aug 2014 16:47:53 +0000 About deer. The council’s previous direction to the city administrator to deliver a report on various options for deer management – followed by the delivery of that report, plus the broad political support that some type of action enjoys (e.g., Washtenaw County commissioners) – could be fairly analyzed as the city council taking action in a measured, moderate step-wise fashion.

So it’s now an “easy” vote to appropriate $20,000 to develop a plan – a plan that the resolution on Monday’s agenda indicates is supposed to be endorsed by the community. It’s an “easy” vote in favor – because: (i) it’s only the creation of a plan, which will require additional city council approval; and (ii) the plan will be community-endorsed.

That punts the actual controversy down the road – which will come when the council is asked to approve the deer management plan.

The council’s approach to this problem, while measured and stepwise, is not – in my view – informed by some basics of public policy consideration. Recall that the city council, at its December 2012 retreat, seemed really receptive to the facilitator’s general advice on public policy issues, which was to think about two key questions: (1) What is a clear statement of the problem? and (2) What does success look like?

I think it goes without saying that the deer management plan – like any kind of public policy proposal – should be “community-endorsed.” But surely having and implementing a community-endorsed deer management plan is not an adequate answer to the question: What does success look like?

The council should be directing the city staff to develop a deer management plan that is designed to achieve success. But what does that mean? It’s the city council’s job as a policy-making body to define success. But the Aug. 14 report on options does not really provide enough information to define a metric for success. I don’t think it’s a deficiency of the report, but a deficiency on the council’s part in directing the creation of the report.

Some ideas for answering that basic question can be gleaned from the report. But at this stage we should have more than just some ideas for possibilities about what kind of success a deer management program is supposed to achieve.

Before spending $20,000 on the development of a plan, the council should be able to answer the following types of questions. What is the geographic scope of our definition of success – city, county, region? Is success defined in terms of number of deer-vehicle accidents, complaints from residents about damage to gardens and landscaping, damage to public property, or simply the number of deer within the geographic scope? If success is defined in terms of the measured deer population, what is that number? [E.g., From the Aug. 14 report: "City of Jackson have a deer population density goal of 15 deer per square mile."]

The Aug. 14 report estimates the cost of a program that would take 40-50 deer at about $25,000. The Michigan DNR report cited above indicates that in 2012 there were about 6,600 deer taken in Washtenaw County. I’m somewhat skeptical increasing the local deer harvest by less than 1% is going to have a meaningful impact on some metric of success – regardless of how it is defined. But I’m certainly open to being proven dramatically wrong. That proof would, however, require a clear answer to the question: What does success look like?

By: Jeff Hayner Jeff Hayner Sun, 17 Aug 2014 15:43:00 +0000 It has been pointed out by my wife that “Too Bad” does not convey the right sentiment. What I really mean to say is, “Why should we all be asked to pay for the resolution of this problem, if our other concerns about land use and contributing causes continue to go unheard?”

By: Jeff Hayner Jeff Hayner Sun, 17 Aug 2014 15:24:46 +0000 Wow thanks Dave – as you saw in the report the DMU overlays allow increased harvest, but Washtenaw County looks like it does it’s fair share of deer hunting even without this. I don’t think this “deer problem” is going to be solved by increasing the harvest. This “deer problem” is a people problem. Hopefully there will be a broad conversation at council about the role human population growth and land use in Washtenaw County play in this. It’s only going to get worse as we continue to allow development of natural areas, no matter how low-quality they seem to us; to wit: Nixon Road/Toll Brothers, Northfield Township/Biltmore, north Pontiac Trail. Heck, the new Traverwood Apartments construction has already displaced a herd; I have photos of a herd walking across the initial grading and site work near “Peeper Pond” at dusk a few months back.

The roaming habits of deer are simple to understand. Want to see deer in the City? Go to an open body of water at dawn or dusk. Why so many accidents on Whitmore Lake Road? The deer are crossing from the water on the west to bed down in the field margins on the east, at dusk. Same goes for Huron Parkway, or Green, even Barton Drive has active deer crossing in the evening, running along the river bank. It is a genetic memory at work here, a natural lifestyle we have disrupted with our development. We simply don’t value natural areas in the city, the greenbelt acquisition has been paltry, and all land “inside the ring” seems to be fair game for dense development, with no consideration given to the benefits of the natural state or agricultural value of the land. Got deer? Too bad.

By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Sat, 16 Aug 2014 20:01:35 +0000 Here is the website of the group who are promoting a deer management plan. Their name is Washtenaw Citizens for Ecological Balance.

By: Dave Askins Dave Askins Sat, 16 Aug 2014 16:13:46 +0000 I’ve mapped out some of the data in the report that Jeff Hayner cites. [2012 data on deer taken] [map] [For Lower Peninsula only. Generally, the DNR's "Deer Management Units" correspond to counties. But in three instances in the Lower Peninsula, there's not a 1-1 correspondence. So I've parceled out the DNR numbers to their corresponding counties, in one case arbitrarily assigning 25% of the DMU numbers to each of the four counties overlapped by the DMU.]