Ann Arbor OKs Possible Park Use Fee Waiver

Charitable distribution of goods for basic human needs can now be conducted in Ann Arbor 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, a downtown park.

Final approval for the ordinance change to allow this fee waiver came during the Ann Arbor city council’s Nov. 18, 2013 meeting. The council had given initial approval to the ordinance change on Nov. 7. The final vote followed a public hearing on the issue that drew about a dozen people speaking in support of the waiver, including several associated with Camp Take Notice. Several dozen others attended the meeting to support the waiver as well.

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 now approved by council on Nov. 18, amends Chapter 39, Section 3:6 of the city code. [.pdf of revised ordinance language]

The ordinance change provides a permanent fee waiver for this specific purpose – the charitable distribution of goods for basic human needs – but it still requires 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: [link]