Editor’s note: This “Live Updates” coverage of the Ann Arbor city council’s Sept. 2, 2014 meeting includes all the material from an earlier preview article published last week. The intent is to facilitate easier navigation from the live updates section to background material already in this file.
The council’s first regular meeting in September was shifted from Monday to Tuesday in order to accommodate the Labor Day holiday.
The Sept. 2 agenda is relatively light and is dominated by land use and development issues, several of them related to the Ann Arbor housing commission’s (AAHC) extensive plan to renovate many of its existing properties.
In other significant business, the council will consider giving direction to the city administrator to negotiate operating agreements with transportation networking companies like Uber and Lyft.
And the council will consider authorizing up to a 15-year extension of the local development finance authority (LDFA), based on collaborating with a satellite arrangement in Adrian and Tecumseh.
Separate from site plan and zoning issues associated with the AAHC’s renovations, the council will also consider transferring $729,879 from the affordable housing trust fund to the Ann Arbor housing commission. The fund transfer would support the “West Arbor” portion of the renovation plan. That would leave a $850,920 balance in the trust fund. The trust fund’s current balance stems largely from the council’s decision late last year – on Dec. 16, 2013 – to deposit into the trust fund the net proceeds of the sale of the former Y lot.
Two projects associated with the West Arbor part of the AAHC plan appear on the council’s Sept. 2 agenda. First, the council will consider initial approval of rezoning for the 3451 Platt Road property – from R1C (single-family dwelling district) and R2A (two-family dwelling district) to R4B (multi-family dwelling district). That was forwarded to the council with a recommendation of approval from the planning commission. However, commissioners postponed consideration of the site plan for the five-building, 32-unit project, amid concerns about the site’s location in the floodplain and stormwater management. The site plan may be able to “catch up” to the zoning approval – because the council will need to give the rezoning a second and final approval at a meeting following the Sept. 2 session.
Second, the North Maple Estates site plan, which requires just one council vote, will be considered on Sept. 2. The rezoning required for the AAHC project – a 4.8-acre site at 701 N. Maple Road – has already been given final approval by the city council, at its Aug. 18, 2014 meeting. The zoning was changed from R1C (single-family dwelling district) to R4B (multi-family dwelling district). The site plan, which was shifted to the Sept. 2 agenda, calls for demolishing 20 existing single-family homes – the public housing complex known as North Maple Estates – and constructing an eight-building, 42-unit apartment complex with a total of 138 bedrooms.
A non-AAHC land development item on the council’s Sept. 2 agenda is final approval of the rezoning of property necessary for an expansion of the Gift of Life Michigan facility on Research Park Drive. The rezoning would change 6.55 acres from O (office district) and RE (research district) to ORL (office/research/limited industrial district). The site plan, which also appears on the Sept. 2 agenda, calls for building a three-story, 40,786-square-foot addition to connect two existing buildings at 3161 and 3169 Research Park Drive, which are owned and occupied by the nonprofit.
Even though the council rejected one proposed change to its taxicab ordinance at its Aug. 18 meeting – which would have regulated all drivers for hire in the city – initial approval was given to another change in the part of the ordinance that regulates rates. So the council will be giving final consideration to that change on Sept 2. The change would establish certain parameters to mitigate possible negative consequences to the setting of a very high maximum allowable taxicab rate, under which taxicab companies might eventually compete. Those parameters include a requirement that a taxicab company commit to a single rate annually and that the rate be advertised in a vehicle with signage in letters one-inch tall.
As an alternative to requiring all drivers for hire to be registered with the city and to affix commercial plates to their vehicles, the council will consider whether to establish operating agreements with companies like Uber and Lyft. The council’s Sept. 2 agenda includes a resolution that would direct the city administrator to negotiate operating agreements with transportation network companies (TNCs) in lieu of developing a local law. The resolution does not define in specific terms what a TNC is.
In other business on Sept. 2, the council will consider a large contract with Ultimate Software Group, worth $250,000 for payroll software to cover the period as the city transitions to NuView, a different software system. Another large contract to be considered by the council on Sept. 2 is with Northwest Consultants Inc. for $930,822 – to do design work for the Stadium Boulevard reconstruction project from Kipke Drive to Hutchins.
A smaller contract to be considered by the council, as part of the consent agenda, is with Hinshon Environmental Consulting Inc. for additional facilitation services for the technical oversight and advisory group (TOAG). That group is overseeing and coordinating multiple wet weather-related projects in the city. The $10,000 contract amendment would bring the total contract value to $35,000.
The council will also consider the confirmation of several nominations to boards and commissions, including a reappointment of John Splitt to the board of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority. It would be Splitt’s third four-year term on the board.
This article includes more detailed information about many of these agenda items. More details on other agenda items are available on the city’s online Legistar system. The meeting proceedings can be followed Tuesday evening live on Channel 16, streamed online by Community Television Network starting at 7 p.m.
The Chronicle will be filing live updates from city council chambers during the meeting, published in this article below the preview material. Click here to skip the preview section and go directly to the live updates. The meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
Affordable Housing Fund Transfer
The council will be considering a $729,879 transfer from the affordable housing trust fund to the Ann Arbor housing commission to support the “West Arbor” portion of the AAHC’s renovation plan. That would leave a $850,920 balance in the trust fund. The trust fund’s current balance stems largely from the council’s decision late last year – on Dec. 16, 2013 – to deposit the net proceeds of the sale of the former Y lot into the trust fund.
By way of background, in 2012 the city was accepted into a new rental assistance demonstration program, known as RAD, offered by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The program allows residents in selected housing units to receive rental assistance through long-term Section 8 subsidy vouchers that are tied to the buildings, rather than individuals. The RAD program also enables entities like the AAHC to partner with private-sector developers on housing projects – something the AAHC couldn’t previously do. The Ann Arbor city council gave necessary approvals in connection with the RAD program at its June 3, 2013 meeting. Financing for the RAD program is primarily through low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC).
According to the memo accompanying this item, out of the $16,564,370 project budget for West Arbor, low-income housing tax credits and permanent debt are expected to cover $14,091,491. That leaves a gap of $1,472,879. The AAHC has secured $50,000 from Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) and $293,000 from a Community Challenge Planning Grant. So the AAHC has requested up to $729,879 in capital funding support from the Ann Arbor housing trust fund for the West Arbor portion of the RAD conversion.
A project included in West Arbor is the Lower Platt Road project, which will entail demolishing four 5-bedroom units – because of their current placement in the floodplain – and constructing 32 townhomes and a community center. A second project included in West Arbor is North Maple Estates, which currently offers 19 units. All those units would be demolished and replaced with 42 townhomes.
The final component of West Arbor is the renovation of the four 3-bedroom units known as the North Maple Duplexes.
AAHC: 3451 Platt Road Rezoning
The council will give initial consideration to the rezoning that’s necessary for the Lower Platt portion of West Arbor: from R1C (single-family dwelling district) and R2A (two-family dwelling district) to R4B (multi-family dwelling district).
The planning commission sent the rezoning request for the 3451 Platt Road property to the city council with a recommendation of approval – in a vote taken at its Aug. 6, 2014 meeting. However, commissioners postponed consideration of the site plan for the five-building, 32-unit project, amid concerns about the site’s location in the floodplain and stormwater management. The postponement is supposed to allow time to address staff concerns regarding the impact on natural features.
Zoning and site plan approval must ultimately be given by the city council. However, the zoning approval will require two votes by the council at two separate meetings – because changes to the zoning code are actually changes to a city ordinance. So the site plan’s delay would not necessarily delay the project, as long as the site plan is put in front of the council for consideration by the time the council takes a second vote on the rezoning.
The site includes a property currently owned by AAHC, as well as an adjacent parcel that’s being purchased by the city on behalf of AAHC.
The project calls for demolishing four single-family homes and one two-family building, and constructing a 32-unit apartment complex with five buildings, 61 parking spaces, a playground, and a community building. The new apartments will include: 8 one-bedroom units; 12 two-bedroom units; 6 three-bedroom units; 2 four-bedroom units; and 4 five-bedroom units.
Two of the proposed buildings would be in the floodplain, which raised concerns from city staff. The AAHC is working to address those concerns – possibly by eliminating or reducing the number of buildings in the floodplain. It had been expected that the AAHC could address the issues raised by city staff so that the site plan could return to the planning commission at its Aug. 19 meeting – but that didn’t happen. Nor is it on the planning commission’s Sept. 3 agenda. [.pdf of planning staff report] [.pdf of June 28, 2014 citizen participation meeting report]
This project is part of major renovations and improvements the AAHC is making to its low-income housing inventory. For background on the AAHC process of renovating its properties, see Chronicle coverage: “Public Housing Conversion Takes Next Step.”
The AAHC Platt Road project is different from a Washtenaw County-owned property at 2260 and 2270 Platt Road, the former location of the county’s juvenile center. That site is also being considered for affordable housing.
North Maple Estates
The council will consider the site plan for North Maple Estates on Sept. 2. This Ann Arbor housing commission project calls for demolishing 20 existing single-family homes – the public housing complex known as North Maple Estates – and constructing an eight-building, 42-unit apartment complex with a total of 138 bedrooms.
The rezoning of the 4.8-acre site at 701 N. Maple Road already has been given final approval by the city council at its Aug. 18, 2014 meeting. The zoning was changed from R1C (single-family dwelling district) to R4B (multi-family dwelling district).
The project is another part of the major renovation effort being undertaken by AAHC on several of its properties. The site is on the west side of North Maple, between Dexter Avenue and Hollywood Drive. [.pdf of staff report]
The units in the eight-building, 42-unit apartment complex are proposed to have a total of 138 bedrooms. The units range in size from one bedroom to five bedrooms.
The project will include a playground, community building and 73 parking spaces. According to a staff memo, the buildings will be located along a T-shaped driveway that connects to North Maple Road and Dexter Avenue. The drive extends northward toward Vine Court but does not connect with that street. There would be a new connection to Dexter Avenue through the remaining, undeveloped length of Seybold Drive.
Gift of Life Expansion
At its Sept. 2 meeting, the council will consider giving final approval to the rezoning of property necessary for an expansion of the Gift of Life Michigan facility on Research Park Drive. The rezoning would change 6.55 acres from O (office district) and RE (research district) to ORL (office/research/limited industrial district). At the same meeting, the council will also consider the site plan for the project.
The proposal calls for building a three-story, 40,786-square-foot addition to connect two existing buildings at 3161 and 3169 Research Park Drive, which are owned and occupied by the nonprofit. According to a staff report, the additional space will accommodate offices, a special events auditorium and “organ procurement suites.” The nonprofit’s website states that the Gift of Life is Michigan’s only federally designated organ and tissue recovery program. Cost of the expansion project will be $10.5 million.
The city planning commission recommended approval of the rezoning at its July 1, 2014 meeting. City council action to give initial approval of the site plan came at its meeting on Aug. 7.
The project would reduce the four existing curb cuts to Research Park Drive to three, connecting one of the loop driveways to an existing driveway at the east end of the site. A parking lot at the back of the site will be expanded by 38 parking spaces. Two alternate vehicle fueling stations are proposed in parking spaces near the main entry, with the driveway at the center of the site providing access for ambulances. A new shipping and receiving facility will be located on the northeast corner of the site.
Taxicab Meter Rates
Even though the council rejected one proposed change to its taxicab ordinance at its Aug. 18, 2014 meeting – which would have regulated all drivers for hire in the city – initial approval was given to another change in the part of the ordinance that regulates rates. So the council will be giving final consideration to that change on Sept 2.
The change would establish certain parameters to mitigate possible negative consequences to the setting of a very high maximum allowable taxicab rate, under which taxicab companies might eventually compete. Those parameters include a requirement that a taxicab company commit to a single rate annually and that the rate be advertised in a vehicle with signage in letters one-inch tall.
The vote by the taxicab board to recommend the ordinance change came at its July 24, 2014 meeting.
These issues were also discussed at three monthly meetings of the taxicab board prior to that, on April 23, 2014, May 22, 2014 and June 26, 2014. Representatives of the taxicab industry at those meetings advocated for the establishment of a very high maximum – not tied to gas and insurance prices. They feel it’s one mechanism that would allow them to compete with ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.
The proposal to regulate all drivers for hire, which the council rejected, was also intended in part to allow taxicab companies to compete with Uber and Lyft on an even playing field. Taxicab drivers are already regulated by the city.
Regarding fare regulation, the city’s current structure already allows for establishing a maximum rate to be adopted by the city council. Currently the maximum rate in Ann Arbor is $3 to get in, $2.50 per mile, and 40 cents per minute waiting time. Those maximum rates were last adjusted upwards three years ago, on May 16, 2011, in response to gas prices that had nudged past $4 per gallon. At that time, the taxicab board indicated it did not anticipate considering another rate change until the gas prices were over $5 for at least two consecutive months.
So the taxicab board’s thinking is not being driven by gas prices, which are currently between $3.75 and $4 in the Ann Arbor area. Instead, a possible increase in allowable fares is based on concern that the taxicab industry in Ann Arbor might not be able to survive unless taxis are allowed to charge more.
At its Aug. 28, 2014 meeting, taxicab board members recommended the following maximum rate schedule for eventual consideration by the council, which could appear on the council’s agenda as soon as Sept. 15: $10 to get in, $5 per mile and 40 cents per minute waiting time. In addition, a $1 surcharge could be applied for each passenger over three passengers.
At the council’s Aug. 18 meeting, Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) – who also serves as the city council’s representative to the taxicab board – asked rhetorically if the taxicab board should be disbanded. At its Aug. 28 meeting, taxicab board chair Michael Benson announced that he’d received an email from board member Eric Sturgis, who indicated that he would be resigning from the board – because he’s moving to Jackson, Mich. It has historically been difficult to find residents willing to serve on the taxicab board.
Drivers for Hire: Uber/Lyft Operating Agreement
The ordinance change rejected by the council on Aug. 18, 2014 would have required all drivers for hire to be registered with the city, to have commercial plates on their vehicles, and to maintain insurance commensurate with commercial plates. And the absence of commercial plates on a vehicle that’s observed being used for picking up or dropping off passengers would have provided a reason for a traffic stop by Ann Arbor police. At the taxicab board meetings over the last few months, representatives of the taxicab industry argued that the state statute regulating limousines already gives the city the ability to enforce against Uber and Lyft drivers.
At the taxicab board’s Aug. 28 meeting, representatives of the taxicab industry lamented the fact that they had not attended the council’s Aug. 18 meeting to advocate for regulating all drivers for hire through a city ordinance. Representatives of Uber and Lyft numbered over 50 people at the council meeting, some of whom addressed the council during public commentary time.
Ward 3 city councilmember and taxicab board member Stephen Kunselman indicated at the board’s Aug. 28 meeting that there might be a possibility that one of the five councilmembers who voted against the ordinance at first reading on Aug. 18 might bring it back for reconsideration.
The 5-5 vote totaling 10 on the 11-member body stemmed from the absence of Margie Teall (Ward 4). Voting for the regulation of all drivers for hire were Kunselman, Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1), Jack Eaton (Ward 4), Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) and Mike Anglin (Ward 5). Voting against the change were mayor John Hieftje, Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Jane Lumm (Ward 2), Sally Petersen (Ward 2) and Christopher Taylor (Ward 3).
At the council’s Aug. 18 meeting, during deliberations on the rejected ordinance change, Briere indicated that she’d concluded as early as April of this year that an operating agreement – instead of a local ordinance – would be the right approach. Taylor indicated he had been working with Briere to come up with that kind of approach.
The resolution to be considered by the council on Sept. 2 would direct the city administrator to negotiate an operating agreement with established transportation network companies (TNCs) and to bring an agreement to the council for approval by the second council meeting in October, which is Oct. 20.
The elements to be included in the operating agreement are specified in an attachment to the resolution as follows:
Operating agreement principles include:
- Company will provide a minimum of $1M in liability insurance coverage for the driver, vehicle and passengers and any other injured parties, from the moment a driver is linked with a passenger to the moment the passenger releases the vehicle.
- Company will conduct the following at no cost to the city: background checks for each driver-applicant prior to allowing their participation. This background check will include a criminal background check, including a check for multiple relevant jurisdictions; a review of the applicant’s driving record; a mechanical inspection of the vehicle by a licensed inspector. The results of this data collection will be made available to the City for any driver / vehicle combination approved for participation in the company.
- Company will not allow participation by a driver / vehicle combination if the driver has any felony conviction; any conviction for DUI; more than 2 moving violations in any calendar year or more than 4 moving violations in a six-year period, with no more than 4 accumulated points in any calendar year.
- Company shall ensure that all driver vehicles pass an annual, mutually agreeable safety inspection conducted by a licensed mechanic.
- Prior to participation in the program, drivers shall go through a driver-education program that provides training in customer service and improves familiarity with local streets and local traffic conditions.
- Drivers shall not accept passengers except through the ride-sharing mechanism provided by the Company.
- Company will provide requested data to the City about accidents and incidents with passengers, as well as a report on customer satisfaction and safety ratings.
The resolution does not appear to define explicitly what a TNC is – and seems to allow for the possibility that an existing limo company could seek to operate under such an agreement without complying with the state statute on operation of limousines.
The resolution also leaves unspecified the intended term of the agreement – although deliberations at the council’s Aug. 18 meeting indicated that the intent of such operating agreements in other Michigan municipalities was to implement a temporary basis under which Uber and Lyft could operate, while the state legislature establishes a legislative framework under which such companies could operate.
The resolution does not direct the city administrator to provide for any explicit penalties that the city could impose on a TNC for failure to adhere to the operating agreement. The enforcement mechanism that the resolution seems to contemplate is for a TNC to provide certain kinds of data to the city upon request.
The resolution does not direct the city administrator to impose any requirements on the public accessibility of data provided by TNCs to the city. If a company were to come to an agreement with the city that data and information would be provided to the city, but only upon the condition that it not be disclosed to the public, then that data would be exempt from disclosure, even under a request made under Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act.
Extension of LDFA
The council will consider a resolution on Sept. 2 that would move ahead with a 15-year extension of the local development finance authority (LDFA). The LDFA – branded as one of about a dozen LDFA SmartZones statewide – is funded through capture of public school operating millages within the geographic areas of the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti downtown development authority districts. In actual fact, however, no capture is made of the Ypsilanti school taxes.
The LDFA contracts with Ann Arbor SPARK to operate a business accelerator, which is meant to move start-up companies in the tech and biosciences sectors more quickly to a stage in their development when they are generating revenue from paying customers and adding jobs. Separate from the LDFA business acceleration contract with Ann Arbor SPARK, the city of Ann Arbor has historically engaged SPARK for business attraction and retention services. However, this year the $75,000 annual contract with SPARK was tabled by the council – in a vote taken at the council’s June 16, 2014 meeting. It’s expected at some point to be taken back up off the table for consideration. By council rule, it will be considered demised if it’s not considered before a lapse of six months.
The extension – which would still need approval from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation – depends on establishing a relationship between the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti SmartZone and some other “satellite” LDFA. So the Sept. 2 resolution designates Adrian/Tecumseh as that satellite. The council’s resolution specifies the following as findings:
- That the selection of the Adrian/Tecumseh LDFA as a satellite provides unique characteristics and specialties through its public and private resources including the location of Adrian College, Siena Heights University and Jackson College within its TIF District and the opportunities for research partnerships and student/young entrepreneur involvement. In addition partnership with another multi-jurisdictional LDFA provides opportunities for shared experiences.
- That the selection of the Adrian/Tecumseh LDFA as a satellite provides regional cooperation and collaboration benefits to the LDFA and the Cities of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti with joint focuses on technology (including expanding green technologies and agricultural technology) and entrepreneurial services.
- That the selection of the Adrian/Tecumseh LDFA as a satellite provides value and support to the LDFA by strengthening existing collaboratives, making available a new/expanded technical assistance and support through its Innovation Center at Adrian College, and agricultural and manufacturing resources.
In connection with the extension, revisions to the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti SmartZone TIF (tax increment financing) plan and development plan are being undertaken. Drafts of revisions are attached to the council’s Sept. 2 agenda item. Revisions appear to address concerns that have been raised about the current arrangement – to some extent by Ann Arbor city councilmembers.
Those concerns include the fact that TIF is not currently allowed to be spent outside the TIF district in the city of Ann Arbor; further, no TIF funds can be expended in Ypsilanti – inside or outside its TIF district – because no actual tax capture revenue is generated for the LDFA in that area. The revisions would allow TIF revenue to be expended anywhere in the entire cities of Ann Arbor or Ypsilanti.
In addition, the revisions specify in greater detail that TIF revenue can be used to pay for high-speed communications infrastructure. Specifically mentioned as eligible expenditures is the “installation of technology related infrastructure assets, i.e. fiber lines, nodes, or work spaces.”
The LDFA extension comes in the context of lingering questions about the impact on school funding of the LDFA tax capture. In FY 2013, the total amount captured by the Ann Arbor SmartZone LDFA was $1,546,577, and the current fiscal year forecast is for $2,017,835. About the same amount is forecast for FY 2015.
The LDFA captures Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS) operating millage, but those captured taxes don’t directly diminish the local school’s budget. That’s because in Michigan, local schools levy a millage, but the proceeds are not used directly by local districts. Rather, proceeds are first forwarded to the state of Michigan’s School Aid Fund, for redistribution among school districts statewide. That redistribution is based on a per-pupil formula as determined on a specified “count day.” And the state is supposed to “reimburse” the School Aid Fund for the taxes captured by some SmartZones in the state.
Questions raised in the last few months have centered around whether the School Aid Fund is “reimbursed” by the state’s general fund for the taxes that are captured to fund the Ann Arbor SmartZone LDFA – because the wording of the state statute is based on the term “reimburse.”
It turns out that the school taxes captured by the Ann Arbor SmartZone are not required to be “reimbursed” to the state School Aid Fund – which diminishes the amount of funding for public schools statewide. That’s a conclusion based on a reading of the LDFA statute and confirmed to The Chronicle by communications staff in the Dept. of Treasury and the MEDC. However, it’s not clear that “reimbursement” is even a useful way of framing the question – notwithstanding the wording of the state statute. That’s partly because tax capture from those LDFAs to which the state statute does apply are not “reimbursed” in the sense that the word implies – with a specific calculation done and a transfer of money (or an adjustment to the legislature’s appropriation) made based on that calculation. From an Aug. 7, 2014 staff memo: “… the reimbursement language really only served as language of intent.”
Based on subsequent inquires made by city of Ann Arbor financial staff with state officials, it appears that the setting of the statewide per-pupil allowance each year proceeds along a separate track from replenishing the School Aid Fund – which receives significant revenue from sources other than local school operating millages. It appears it’s not possible to establish a 1-to-1 relationship between local school operating taxes that are captured by LDFAs and money that flows into the School Aid Fund from various other sources that might be analyzed as “compensating” for the capture.
In any case, city staff have concluded that LDFA tax capture has not had a negative impact on Ann Arbor’s local school funding.
Appointments to Boards and Commissions
Appointments to the city of Ann Arbor’s boards and commissions are typically handled in a two-step process: (1) the mayor announces the nominations at a council meeting; and (2) the council votes on the confirmation at the next meeting of the council. The procedure is grounded in the city charter.
At the council’s Aug. 21 meeting, Anna Ercoli-Schnitzer was nominated to fill a vacancy on the commission on disability issues. Tamara Burns and Dick Mitchell were nominated to be reappointed to the design review board. Sofia Franciscus was nominated to fill the vacancy on the planning commission due to Paras Parekh’s resignation. And John Splitt was nominated for reappointment to the Downtown Development Authority board.
3:05 p.m. The staff responses to councilmembers’ questions about agenda items are now available. [Sept. 2, 2014 staff responses to questions]
4:29 p.m. Tonight only five people appear to be signed up to talk in the 10 slots for public commentary that are available at the start of the meeting. Kai Petainen is signed up to talk about the LDFA extension. Alan Haber is signed up to talk about the park advisory commission’s recommendation for redevelopment of Liberty Plaza, which is an attachment to the clerk’s report. And three people are signed up to talk about the direction to the city administrator to negotiate operating agreements with transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft: John Heed, a representative of SelectRide; and Michael Benson and LuAnne Bullington, who serve on the city’s taxicab board. (Benson is chair of that group.)
6:52 p.m. Jane Lumm (Ward 2), Jack Eaton (Ward 4), Sally Petersen (Ward 2) and mayor John Hieftje have arrived.
7:04 p.m. We’re still missing Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) and Margie Teall (Ward 4).
7:07 p.m. Call to order, moment of silence, pledge of allegiance.
7:07 p.m. Roll call of council. Margie Teall (Ward 4) and Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) are absent.
7:08 p.m. Approval of agenda.
7:09 p.m. Chuch Warpehoski (Ward 5) is adding an agenda item DS-4, which will take up the Ann Arbor SPARK contract off the table from a previous meeting. A separate vote will be taken at the time the council reaches that agenda point.
7:09 p.m. Outcome: The council has approved the evening’s agenda as amended.
7:10 p.m. Communications from the city administrator. City administrator Steve Powers reminds the council of the Sept. 8 work session with the DDA on parking issues, starting at 7 p.m.
7:10 p.m. Public commentary. This portion of the meeting offers 10 three-minute slots that can be reserved in advance. Preference is given to speakers who want to address the council on an agenda item. [Public commentary general time, with no sign-up required in advance, is offered at the end of the meeting.]
7:13 p.m. Kai Petainen is speaking about the LDFA extension. He is focusing on the jobs claims that have been made by Ann Arbor SPARK. He says that SPARK and LDFA are not telling a consistent story. He asks if it’s worth spending $58 million on 700 jobs. He asks if many of the jobs that have been created would have been created even without the existence of SPARK and the LDFA. [.pdf of Petainen's remarks]
7:14 p.m. Alan Haber is talking about the World Day of Peace. He’s talking about the importance of gathering the community. He’s supporting a proclamation later on the agenda that would recognize World Peace Day. [Teall and Taylor have now arrived at the meeting.]
7:17 p.m. John Heed is speaking against negotiating an operating agreement with Uber and Lyft, arguing that they operate in violation of state law. He gives insurance requirements as an example of the competitive playing field not being level. The operating agreements would simply shift responsibility, he says. Having a new business model does not make anybody above the law, he says.
7:21 p.m. Michael Benson is chair of the taxicab board and a resident of Ward 2. He was in Beijing during the last council meeting and couldn’t attend. He characterizes the transportation industry as in a state of flux due to a variety of factors. He’s speaking against establishing operating agreements with TNCs, arguing that they fall under the state’s limo statute. He says that the proposal that the taxicab board had made would be broad enough to cover the market, however it evolved. He points out that the city had issued a cease-and-desist order, which means that the city’s view is that Uber and Lyft are operating in violation of the law. He asks that the council reconsider the ordinance they rejected, and allow a public hearing on the question by allowing it to go to a second reading. [.pdf of Benson's remarks]
7:24 p.m. LuAnne Bullington says she’s not speaking as a member of the taxicab board, but as a citizen who knows something about transportation. A limo is licensed by the state, and a taxi is licensed by a local municipality. It’s not possible to regulate taxicabs outside of the city, she says. She says that Uber is really a $17 billion taxicab company that the state and the city of Ann Arbor can’t regulate. She notes that a court in Frankfurt, Germany had issued an order against Uber that Uber is simply ignoring.
7:24 p.m. Communications from the council. This is the first of two slots on the agenda for council communications. It’s a time when councilmembers can report out from boards, commissions and task forces on which they serve. They can also alert their colleagues to proposals they might be bringing forward in the near future.
7:24 p.m. Jack Eaton says that a meeting on the Packard Square development has been canceled and will be scheduled for a later time.
7:28 p.m. Mike Anglin is talking about the Sept. 21 World Peace Day proclamation. He says that it was added late, but he wanted it to appear on this council’s agenda. He also points to the F-3 communication from the park advisory commission, which is attached to the agenda. Anglin says that voters had overwhelmingly said they wanted additional parks in the downtown. Because the council had voted to designate part of the top of the Library Lane parking structure as a public park/plaza, it was important to start holding events there. The World Peace Day event is something that there can’t be any equivocation about, he says – as everyone agrees there should be peace in the world. It should be made possible without establishing barriers. He’s referring to the requirement that an insurance policy be in place. [The DDA's policy on use of public parking facilities for events includes an insurance requirement.]
7:30 p.m. Sumi Kailasapathy says that as she was walking in, Ray Detter had told her that there was a light agenda. She said that although the agenda is light, she had a heavy heart because it is the last day of The Ann Arbor Chronicle. She’s now talking about the beheading of journalists in the Middle East and relates her own experience growing up in a civil war in Sri Lanka. She’s talking about the importance of documenting history. She’s sending her salutations and thanks to The Chronicle.
7:32 p.m. Sabra Briere is talking about the design charrette on the Platt Road site. It was hosted by Washtenaw County, which owns the land. The county board of commissioners was interested in how the public wanted to see the site developed if it included housing. The results of the charrette are now up on the website, Briere says. If the county determines that affordable housing is appropriate, she hopes the city will be able to cooperate in that effort. She encourages people to look into that and to communicate to the county.
7:35 p.m. Jane Lumm is announcing the year-end dog swim at the Buhr Park pool on Sept. 3-4. Educational efforts will be made at the event about the dog licensing requirements. She’s thanking Kailasapathy for her comments about The Chronicle and wishes us a happy 25th wedding anniversary. She’s describing The Chronicle as public servants who have helped improve the community with an emphasis on open and transparent governance. She’s extending her sincere thanks and says The Chronicle will be missed.
7:36 p.m. Hieftje says there are some spectacular athletes at the dog swim. He tells late-arriving councilmembers that the SPARK contract has been added to the agenda to be taken up off the table.
7:37 p.m. MC-1 Confirmations. At the council’s Aug. 21 meeting, Anna Ercoli-Schnitzer was nominated to fill a vacancy on the commission on disability issues. Tamara Burns and Dick Mitchell were nominated to be reappointed to the design review board. Sofia Franciscus was nominated to fill the vacancy on the planning commission due to Paras Parekh’s resignation. And John Splitt was nominated for reappointment to the Downtown Development Authority board.
7:37 p.m. Eaton is asking that John Splitt’s nomination to be separated out from the others.
7:38 p.m. The council has confirmed all the nominations except for that of Splitt, which is being considered separately.
7:39 p.m. Stephen Kunselman says he won’t support Splitt to a third term. Eaton also says he won’t support it, and he wants to explain why. He says that The Chronicle has consistently reported on various problems with the Open Meetings Act and a compliant development plan, and he thinks that those problems stem from confirming the same people over and over again.
7:40 p.m. Kailasapathy also says she won’t support Splitt’s confirmation. She wants people who will take TIF (tax increment finance) spending seriously, and not treat it like “Halloween candy.” New people will look at things with fresh eyes, she says. She says it’s not personal.
7:42 p.m. Petersen says she’ll support Splitt and says she knows him to be an independent thinker. When she traveled with the DDA to New York City, he’d made an extra effort to get to know her. She says that Splitt represents the State Street area of the downtown.
7:44 p.m. DDA board chair John Mouat is asked to the podium by Margie Teall (Ward 4). She asks him if the DDA board members are “slackers.” Mouat is saying there is a steep learning curve on the DDA. Teall asks if there is any review of the OMA on staff. He allows that it’s been brought up as a point of discussion. It’s probably something that the DDA should look at, he says.
7:48 p.m. Kunselman is asking Mouat about the raises that Susan Pollay received as executive director. Mouat says he doesn’t feel comfortable answering that question. Kunselman says he wasn’t planning to go into detail. He’s reviewing The Chronicle’s reporting about those raises. Kunselman is now talking about the requirements of the DDA statute. He says he’s looking for new DDA members who will each year work on the TIF plan. Mouat points to the joint working session on Sept. 8, which would be a better occasion for this discussion, he says.
7:49 p.m. Anglin is comparing the compensation of DDA staff to city staff. Anglin says he’s voting against Splitt’s reappointment because he wants to see the DDA step up and provide police in the downtown.
7:51 p.m. Kailasapathy responds to Mouat’s remarks about the learning curve. The DDA’s institutional memory is not as good as it should be, she says. Kailasapathy is talking about Kunselman and The Chronicle’s retrieval of some DDA records from the Bentley Library. She wondered why long-term members of the DDA had not remembered these things.
7:53 p.m. Lumm thanks those who have said they will vote against Splitt’s appointment. She says that city administrator Steve Powers had demonstrated a courageous vote when he voted against Susan Pollay’s raise this year. However, Splitt was entitled to another term, Lumm says. Splitt has worked hard, she adds, so she will support his appointment.
7:55 p.m. Hieftje says there are membership criteria for members of the DDA. Splitt is a downtown business owner and lives in the DDA district, he says. He gives a breakdown of the mix of the DDA board in terms of thirds, based on their length of service.
7:55 p.m. The council has confirmed the nominations of John Splitt to a third term on the DDA board on a 7-4 vote. Dissenting were Kailasapathy, Kunselman, Eaton and Anglin
7:55 p.m. MC-2 Nominations. Tonight Sam Callan is being nominated to the building board of appeals. The vote on his confirmation will come at the council’s next meeting.
7:55 p.m. Public Hearings. All the public hearings are grouped together during this section of the meeting. Action on the related items comes later in the meeting. Four public hearings are scheduled tonight: one on the Ann Arbor Housing Commission’s North Maple Estates site plan; two on the Gift of Life project (one for the rezoning and the other on the site plan); and one on the changes to the taxicab rate ordinance.
7:55 p.m. PH-1 AAHC North Maple Road site plan
7:57 p.m. Thomas Partridge is speaking in support of this item, with the proviso that it should have adequate handicapped parking.
7:59 p.m. Ed Vielmetti is speaking in support of the site plan. He’s objecting to the copyright notices that are included on the various maps. Because they are planning documents that people might want to review, it’s important that the city include copyright notices that are appropriate for archival distribution.
8:02 p.m. Scott Betzoldt with Midwestern Consulting, Jennifer Hall of the AAHC and architect John Mouat are at the podium. They represent the project. Betzoldt is going first. He says that all the underground utilities will be replaced, and stormwater detention will be provided. Mouat says that his firm has worked with AAHC for over 20 years. He stresses three points. The buildings have been designed to be simple to maximize floor area. The mix of bedrooms is 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom, 3-bedroom and 4-bedroom units. He also notes that the units will be barrier-free. The building will also be certified as environmental friendly, he says, including 4×6 stud construction, which will allow for additional insulation.
8:04 p.m. Hall says that this is the first site to which the AAHC has been able to add units in over 20 years. She’s talking about the relocation plan for the current tenants. They’ll be able to move back to the site when construction is complete.
8:04 p.m. That’s it for PH-1.
8:04 p.m. PH-2 Gift of Life rezoning
8:06 p.m. Thomas Partridge expresses concern that there should be a requirement that the property be made accessible to public transportation as well as paratransit. All similar rezoning should have such a requirement.
8:07 p.m. That’s it for PH-2.
8:07 p.m. PH-3 Gift of Life site plan
8:08 p.m. Thomas Partridge reiterates the importance of making site plan approval contingent on adequate access to handicapped parking and public transportation.
8:09 p.m. That’s it for PH-3.
8:09 p.m. PH-4 Taxicab ordinance
8:12 p.m. Mark LaSarge of SelectRide is addressing the council. He’s arguing against pricing restrictions generally. He’s ticking through the costs of the taxicab industry. The city doesn’t determine prices for milk, he notes, and should not determine prices for taxicabs. He’s also arguing against the direction to the city administrator to negotiate operating agreements that the council will consider tonight.
8:16 p.m. John Heed says this should be passed, even though it will not solve all the problems. It will help the taxicab industry absorb “price shocks,” he says.
8:16 p.m. A woman introduces herself as a taxicab driver. She disagrees with the taxicab owners on the fare issue. But she agrees with them on the question of operating agreements with Uber and Lyft. Hieftje encourages her to relate her remarks to the ordinance on the agenda. She invites councilmembers to do a ride-along with her as she drives her taxi.
8:18 p.m. LuAnne Bullington is reviewing how the price structure would work. She asks councilmembers to support this ordinance change, because it gives taxicab companies flexibility. The taxicabs would simply have to post the rates, she concludes.
8:20 p.m. Rick Clark, of Amazing Blue Taxi, tells the council that he’d received a sad phone call from a customer, who would no longer be using his cab service – because she’s moving to California. She thanked him for the service. “An app is not going to care about people,” he concludes.
8:22 p.m. Thomas Partridge wants the maximum rates extended to cab-like services like Uber and Lyft. He calls for keeping Ann Arbor an affordable city.
8:23 p.m. Michael White, general manager for Uber in Michigan, speaks in support of the “deregulation” of taxicab rates. He says that the council’s focus should be on providing choice and safety. Uber provides choice and safety, he says. He’s available, if councilmembers have questions, he says.
8:26 p.m. Michael Benson, chair of the taxicab board, says that this ordinance addresses two problems – variable insurance and gas rates. The cost of doing business has to be weighed against the cost to the public. The ordinance requires posting the rates and allows a taxicab company to change its rates once during the year. This does not mean the taxicab board is in favor of complete deregulation, he says. The taxicab industry is different from others in that it operates solely in the public right of way. He encourages the council to approve the ordinance.
8:27 p.m. That’s it for PH-4.
8:27 p.m. Council minutes.
8:27 p.m. Outcome: The council has approved the minutes of the previous meeting.
8:27 p.m. Consent agenda. This is a group of items that are deemed to be routine and are voted on “all in one go.” Contracts for less than $100,000 can be placed on the consent agenda. This meeting’s consent agenda includes:
- CA-1 Street Closing: Oktoberfest Oct. 3-4, 2014 (W. Washington) requested by Arbor Brewing Company.
- CA-2 Street Closing: Oktoberfest Oct. 3-4, 2014, (W. Washington) requested by Grizzly Peak Brewing Company and the Blue Tractor.
- CA-3 Street Closing: Reception for UM President Sept. 5, 2014 (E. Washington btw. Thayer and Fletcher).
- CA-4 Contract Amendment with Hinshon Environmental ($10,000).
- CA-5 Approve a purchase order with Staples FY 2015 ($92,499).
- CA-6 PILOT for Avalon Housing 1010-1030 Arbordale Street.
- CA-7 Amend contract with Green Vision Lawn and Landscaping ($2,556).
- CA-8 Authorize contract with OPUS International Consultants, Inc. ($58,724) for Nixon/Green/Dhu Varren Intersection Improvement Study.
8:28 p.m. Councilmembers can pull items off the consent agenda for separate consideration. Tonight Briere has asked CA-6 and CA-8 to be pulled out for separate consideration. Taylor wants CA-2 pulled out.
8:28 p.m. Outcome: The council has approved the consent agenda except for the three items to be considered separately
8:28 p.m. CA-2 Street Closing: Oktoberfest Oct. 3-4, 2014 (W. Washington) requested by Grizzly Peak Brewing Company and the Blue Tractor.
8:29 p.m. This was considered separately to allow for recusal of Taylor because his firm represents the requestor of the street closing.
8:29 p.m. Outcome: The council has now approved CA-2 on the consent agenda.
8:30 p.m. CA-6 PILOT for Avalon Housing 1010-1030 Arbordale Street. Briere makes some remarks in favor of this item.
8:31 p.m. Outcome: The council has now approved CA-6 on the consent agenda.
8:31 p.m. CA-8 Authorize contract with OPUS International Consultants Inc. ($58,724) for Nixon/Green/Dhu Varren Intersection Improvement Study. Briere says that Ward 1 and Ward 2 councilmembers are delighted to see this item. She reminds city administrator Steve Powers that she’s grateful for the public participation component of the contract. Kailasapathy says that residents will definitely have a lot to say.
8:33 p.m. Lumm says, “Hear, hear,” to the comments that Briere and Kailasapathy have made. The “intersection” is problematic, she says.
8:34 p.m. Outcome: The council has now approved CA-8 on the consent agenda.
8:34 p.m. B-1 Gift of Life Rezoning. This is final approval of the rezoning of property necessary for an expansion of the Gift of Life Michigan facility on Research Park Drive. The rezoning would change 6.55 acres from O (office district) and RE (research district) to ORL (office/research/limited industrial district). The site plan, which also appears on the Sept. 2 agenda, calls for building a three-story, 40,786-square-foot addition to connect two existing buildings at 3161 and 3169 Research Park Drive, which are owned and occupied by the nonprofit. [For additional background, see Gift of Life Expansion above.]
8:35 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted without discussion to give final approval to the Gift of Life rezoning.
8:35 p.m. B-2 Taxicab Rate Ordinance. The council gave initial approval at its Aug. 18 meeting to a change in the part of the taxicab ordinance that regulates rates. This is the final consideration of that change. The change would establish certain parameters to mitigate possible negative consequences to the setting of a very high maximum allowable taxicab rate, under which taxicab companies might eventually compete. Those parameters include a requirement that a taxicab company commit to a single rate annually and that the rate be advertised in a vehicle with signage in letters one-inch tall. [For additional background, see Taxicab Meter Rates above.]
8:37 p.m. Kunselman says that staff has asked him to add an amendment – to set the date of enactment to be Oct. 14. He says he won’t bore everyone by repeating the sentiments expressed during the public hearing. He reviews how the ordinance would work, saying that it allows for the setting of a very high maximum. It would allow taxicab companies to start to compete with companies like Uber and Lyft that are competing unfairly. Lumm indicates her support for the change to the ordinance.
8:41 p.m. Hieftje says that he served on the taxicab board from November 1999 to November 2000. At that time, nobody heard much from the taxicab board, he notes. Kunselman says that he very rarely uses livery services. He said that the camaraderie among the livery service community should be taken note of. They’ve been around for a long time, he says. He’s known a number of taxicab drivers and talks about the stories they tell. He jokes that someone else on the council might want to serve as the council’s representative starting in November, when the council reassigns its board and commission appointments.
8:41 p.m. Anglin echoes Kunselman’s appreciation of the taxicab industry.
8:42 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to give final approval to the revision to the taxicab ordinance, regarding the setting of rates.
8:42 p.m. Recess. We’re now in recess.
8:53 p.m. We’re back.
8:53 p.m. C-1 AAHC Platt Road rezoning. This is the initial rezoning approval for the AAHC’s Lower Platt Road project, which will entail demolishing four 5-bedroom units – because of their current placement in the floodplain – and constructing 32 townhomes and a community center. The zoning change would be from R1C (single-family dwelling district) and R2A (two-family dwelling district) to R4B (multi-family dwelling district). [For additional background, see AAHC: 3451 Platt Road Rezoning above.]
8:54 p.m. Lumm asks if planning manager Wendy Rampson is available. She is. Lumm asks about the delay in the site plan at the planning commission. Rampson explains to Lumm that a reconfiguration is being sought for some of the buildings.
8:54 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to give initial approval to the rezoning of 3451 Platt Road.
8:54 p.m. DC-1 SmartZone satellite agreement. This resolution would move ahead with a 15-year extension of the local development finance authority (LDFA). The LDFA – branded as one of about a dozen LDFA SmartZones statewide – is funded through capture of public school operating millages within the geographic areas of the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti downtown development authority districts. The extension requires an agreement with a satellite LDFA, which the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti SmartZone is making with Adrian/Tecumseh. [For additional background, see Extension of LDFA above.]
8:58 p.m. Petersen is reviewing the purpose of the resolution. [She's the council's representative to the LDFA board.] Petersen is reading aloud a statement in support of economic development generally. She’s addressing the possible objection that some councilmembers might have, given the mechanism for funding the LDFA – which is through tax increment financing. She’s inviting Eric Jacobsen, board treasurer of the LDFA, to the podium.
9:00 p.m. Jacobsen notes that the recruitment of a satellite LDFA is a state mandate as a condition of the extension. He’s reviewing the reasons for choosing Adrian/Tecumseh over Brighton/Howell. He says that no Ann Arbor tax dollars would be going to Adrian/Tecumseh.
9:03 p.m. Jacobsen notes that this is just the next step in a multi-step process. One of the next steps is to define a new TIF agreement. The LDFA is in the business of economic growth – helping start-up companies, not trying to get other companies to relocate here. It’s an ecosystem for entrepreneurs, he says. Ann Arbor can compete with Palo Alto and Austin, he says. He stresses that Ann Arbor SPARK is the LDFA’s contractor – and that SPARK executes on the directive that LDFA gives.
9:04 p.m. Jacobsen reports that the Ypsilanti city council has approved the agreement earlier tonight. Five other cities are applying for two possible extensions statewide, he says.
9:08 p.m. Kailasapathy notes that the revenue estimates for the 15-year period total about $58 million. She calls that a estimate conservative. She says her understanding is that something like $3-6 million will be spent in Ypsilanti, even though there is no TIF capture in Ypsilanti. CFO Tom Crawford says that there have been informal discussions with the MEDC, and there’s an interest by MEDC in seeing the money spent in Ypsilanti as well. Ann Arbor still comes out ahead, Crawford says. Kailasapathy says $58 million is a lot of money.
9:11 p.m. Kailasapathy is confronting the contention that the ecosystem will “wither away” without the extension. She notes the increase from $200,000 in the early years of the LDFA to $2 million now. She points out that the University of Michigan has a new entrepreneurial effort. Jacobsen says that he expects all the partners will work together.
9:12 p.m. Kailasapathy is now addressing the focus on job creation. How many jobs will be created in the next 15 years? she asks.
9:14 p.m. Crawford points to the draft amended TIF plan. After getting approval from the MEDC, the city would then need to enter into negotiations on the TIF plan with the MEDC. After it get passed, the city would be jumping into that feet first, he says. Kailasapathy calculates that it would be $80,000 per job created.
9:15 p.m. Jacobsen is saying for every job created in the tech field, another five jobs are created. So if it’s $80,000 per job, the return to the community is still very impressive, he says.
9:16 p.m. Lumm says she understands that the final TIF and development plans aren’t required until next year, but she’s happy the council has been provided with draft versions. Jacobsen reiterates that goals on job creation would come after the TIF and development plans are finalized.
9:19 p.m. Briere asks Jacobsen if he were to design the agreement, whether job creation would be a “decent” metric. Yes, he says. She asks him to explain how it’s a good metric. Stephen Rapundalo, an LDFA board member and former Ward 2 city councilmember, takes the podium. Growing businesses is the goal, Rapundalo says, and the jobs come as a result of that.
9:21 p.m. Briere says that it feels good to say that we’ll project a certain number of jobs created and then go back and check to see if that’s what happened. But that “recipe” makes her nervous, she says. How many dollars we spend to get how many jobs is not a good way to think about it, she adds. So she wonders what other metrics can be offered? Rapundalo says that the number of companies that are starting is one measure, as well as the amount of funding that they are receiving. Briere says she wishes the discussion was less focused on the specific number of jobs.
9:28 p.m. Eaton asks if we acknowledge that if the $58 million is captured, that the state does not reimburse the state’s School Aid Fund. Crawford explains that the foundation grant is determined by two components: the local millage funding and the state contribution. Local schools are not harmed through the tax capture, he says. Eaton asks if the state treasurer is making up the fact that the School Aid Fund is not reimbursed. Crawford explains the complexity of the School Aid Fund mechanism. Eaton is reiterating his concern about the impact on school funding. He also talks about the “fuzzy” job creation number. He wonders if the jobs that are created are really attributable to the activities of the LDFA. Crawford compares $4 million to $10 billion that the state contributes, so he says that tax capture has a negligible impact on school funding.
9:30 p.m. Kunselman wants to know what five cities are in the running for the two slots for the 15-year extension. Automation Alley, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo are named. Kunselman wants to know how unemployment rates in the cities compare. Ann Arbor has the lowest unemployment in the state, Kunselman is told. Now Kunselman wants to know what the options are for a five-year extension, if Ann Arbor is not selected for the 15-year extension.
9:36 p.m. Kailasapathy wants to see some of the taxes eliminated from capture – the school operating millage, because that’s the amount that is distributed from the state treasurer directly back to the school districts. Lumm expresses skepticism that Kailasapathy has characterized that accurately. Crawford confirms that’s right.
9:40 p.m. Briere ventures that the foundation grant level is set, and after that the state looks for where the money comes from to fund that grant level. Crawford is explaining that there are numerous factors. He is arguing that there is some return on the investment of the captured taxes, which generates greater revenue to the state and the local communities.
9:42 p.m. Anglin is now asking about the possibility of imposing hold-harmless requirements.
9:45 p.m. Kunselman says he appreciates all the commentary. He says that the LDFA is showing a lot of care and consideration in its willingness to work with the council – something he can’t say about every authority the council deals with. He still has a problem with the fact that the money is taken from schools. When he hears about the other communities that are in the running, because they have real need for job creation. Ann Arbor already enjoys the benefits of the economic engine that the University of Michigan provides. He wants to see Detroit and Kalamazoo get this benefit. So he won’t support the 15-year extension. He calls this greedy on Ann Arbor’s part. “We are in this as a state,” he says. “If Detroit doesn’t get better, we don’t get better.”
9:46 p.m. Teall agrees with Kunselman that everyone needs this. But Ypsilanti and Adrian/Tecumseh need this too, she says. The stronger this local region is, the stronger the state can become, she says.
9:48 p.m. Petersen is asking for clarification about who is still in the running. Houghton/Marquette already have the extension, she ventures. That’s right, confirms Crawford.
9:50 p.m. Lumm is explaining her reasons for supporting this. She hopes that LDFA and SPARK will listen to the concerns about the need for greater transparency. She remarks on the funding of fiber networks in the next 15 years as a positive. She says she does not believe that the capture of the school taxes has a negative impact on school funding.
9:53 p.m. Anglin says the council has not talked about the five-year option. Why is the 15-year plan preferable? he asks. He points to the rationale for excluding the Washtenaw Intermediate School District’s tax from capture and wonders why that exemption doesn’t apply to the AAPS operating millage. Good schools lead to good jobs, he says. He’s saying that local officials need to tell the state that they need to do better in their overall approach to funding state education.
9:54 p.m. Anglin says he’d like to see a smaller step taken – a five-year extension.
9:59 p.m. Crawford clarifies that the WISD millage is not captured. Briere ventures that the rationale for not capturing WISD’s millage is that WISD doesn’t receive per-pupil reimbursements from the state. Briere also says that the reason the council is considering the 15-year extension first is that Ann Arbor is in competition with other cities – and if Ann Arbor does not win, then the five-year extension is the fall-back position.
9:59 p.m. Anglin says he will vote against this, because he wants the state legislature to do a better job funding schools.
10:00 p.m. Eaton is noting that the 15-year extension goes out 18 years from now, because there’s three years left on the current authorization. To date, the council has only seen “fuzzy” justification for the results, he says. Eaton would support a five-year extension but says that planning for 15 years in the future at this price tag is pretty speculative.
10:02 p.m. Petersen clarifies that the council is not voting on the 15-year extension – as that’s the purview of MEDC and the state treasurer – but rather on the inclusion of Adrian/Tecumseh in the application.
10:02 p.m. Lumm returns to the school funding question.
10:04 p.m. Kunselman is asking what the TIF capture would be in other cities that are competing for the 15-year extension.
10:06 p.m. Anglin is reading aloud the parts of the resolution that address the 15-year extension and asks: “Are we reading the same document?” Hieftje thanks Crawford for all the work he’s done and also the LDFA board. The LDFA has responded to questions from the council, he says. He’s convinced that local schools are not hurt by the LDFA – as the state will fund public schools the way it wants to.
10:08 p.m. Hieftje says that he disputes the idea that job creation would happen without the efforts of the LDFA. Ann Arbor might be the only city in the state of Michigan that can compete with Palo Alto, Hieftje says. So it’s important that Ann Arbor continue to do that. He says that it would be good for some of the LDFA money to be spent in Ypsilanti. This will “lift all boats,” he says.
10:10 p.m. Warpehoski is responding to the question Kunselman asked about the TIF capture of other cities, with data he Googled.
10:13 p.m. Warpehoski notes Pfizer’s departure and says that Ann Arbor’s economy is not bulletproof. He points to SPARK’s bootcamp and a resident who went through it, who has now started a business: 1000 Tools. Warpehoski is glad that kind of innovation is happening, he says. Even if after five years there are no jobs associated with that company, he thinks the impact is positive.
10:14 p.m. Taylor says it’s all pretty simple. There’s an opportunity to obtain a few million dollars for the benefit of Ann Arbor’s economy.
10:15 p.m. Taylor notes that 2,400 were lost when Pfizer left. That was not the only negative impact. Conversely, he says, adding jobs has additional positive impact beyond just those job numbers.
10:18 p.m. Briere says she likes to look at the resolution in front of her but she’d had to look at a lot more than that with this resolution. Briere says that the state does not attach as much importance to infrastructure and schools as it once did. But now it’s willing to invest in economic development, which might indirectly help revenues to fund infrastructure and schools.
10:19 p.m. Briere says there are three things that are important: (1) money will be spent in Ypsilanti; (2) it allows investment in Adrian/Tecumseh; and (3) spending on fiber networks.
10:20 p.m. Anti-Israel activists have arrived with signs. They attended the Ypsilanti city council meeting earlier.
10:20 p.m. Briere will support the resolution.
10:22 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted 7-4 to approve the agreements with Adrian/Tecumseh regarding the extension of the LDFA, over dissent from Kailasapathy, Kunselman, Eaton and Anglin.
10:22 p.m. DC-2 Transportation Network Companies (Uber/Lyft). Direct the city administrator to negotiate operating agreements. This resolution would direct the city administrator to negotiate operating agreements with transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft. This is being considered as an alternative to the ordinance considered, but rejected at the council’s Aug. 18, 2014 meeting, which would have required all drivers for hire to be registered with the city, to have commercial plates on their vehicles, and to maintain insurance commensurate with commercial plates. And the absence of commercial plates on a vehicle that is observed being used for picking up or dropping off passengers would have provided a reason for a traffic stop by Ann Arbor police.
10:24 p.m. Briere says that the resolution was the result of electronic collaboration among herself, Taylor and Petersen. The language had been run past city staff to make sure the principles in the resolution were principles from which the staff could negotiate. Public safety was one of the concerns she’d tried to address. This is an effort to regulate companies like Uber and Lyft, she says.
10:27 p.m. Kunselman wants to know if the insurance referred to is primary or secondary. Briere invites Kunselman to make an amendment to clarify. Kunselman declines, saying he plans to vote against this resolution.
10:30 p.m. Kunselman asks assistant city attorney Abigail Elias if the cease-and-desist order is still in effect. She states that she is not familiar with the order. Kunselman ventures that the direction to the city administrator undercuts the city attorney’s authority.
10:30 p.m. Kunselman reiterates that he won’t support this resolution.
10:32 p.m. Warpehoski asks what the goal is of having a company provide customer satisfaction data. Briere indicates that it’s kind of a proxy for safety data.
10:35 p.m. Warpehoski says his concern with this provision is twofold. Are we holding TNCs to an appropriate standard for public safety? Does that compromise proprietary information? he wonders. He asks that Powers interpret this flexibly so that private information is not compromised.
10:36 p.m. Petersen says that this is data that TNCs already collect. There should be a plan to use it, if the city is going to ask for it, she says. The operating agreement should include a plan to use the data once the city has it.
10:40 p.m. Petersen ventures that once an operating agreement is in place, the cease-and-desist orders would be rescinded. Hieftje appreciates the work that Briere, Taylor and Petersen have put into it and indicates he’ll support it. Warpehoski said that if the city hears complaints about racial profiling or access of helper dogs, that should be referred to relevant boards and commissions. He also says that a blanket ban on drivers with felony convictions is an overly broad requirement to place on TNCs. Someone who is convicted of embezzlement should not be precluded as a driver. So he wants to amend the principles to indicate that only relevant felony convictions would be considered.
10:40 p.m. Lumm wants to know what other cities are doing. Briere says it varies from community to community.
10:45 p.m. Lumm says she doesn’t have enough information to evaluate Warpehoski’s amendment. She wants the city attorney’s office to address these questions. Taylor says this issue can be evaluated when the council is presented with an actual operating agreement. Teall wants to know the difference between UberX and UberBlack. Kunselman is explaining the difference. UberX is the service where drivers use their personal vehicles, he says. Uber’s Michael White has again been invited to the podium. Limo companies offer rides through UberBlack to help fill their downtime, he explains. He is now explaining how UberX works.
10:46 p.m. White says that the insurance provided by Uber for UberX is for primary, commercial insurance.
10:49 p.m. Kunselman questions whether the cease-and-desist order can be rescinded unless the operating agreement results in compliance by UberX with the state limo act. He is worried about councilmembers’ liability for direction to rescind the cease-and-desist order. He says that he’ll vote against it.
10:50 p.m. The rest of the world is moving forward with regulation, Kunselman says. Those councilmembers who are going to “dance around the law, have at it, please!”
10:52 p.m. Lumm wants to know if there will be some kind of limit on the life of the operating agreement. Briere ventures that it will be limited in time.
10:54 p.m. Lumm asks for thoughts on the term of the agreement. Taylor says that he thinks something like two years, with a provision that material changes in state law could result in earlier termination.
10:55 p.m. Lumm asks for an amendment clarifying that inspection would be done by a state licensed mechanic.
10:57 p.m. Eaton is taking Kunselman’s question to heart about the potential conflict between the city attorney’s cease-and-desist order and this resolution. Eaton says that he thinks the city attorney should review this question. Assistant city attorney Abigail Elias notes that all contracts entered into by the city are reviewed by the city attorney’s office.
10:59 p.m. Elias explains to Kunselman her view that a request for a public opinion must be made by the council. Petersen wants to know what will happen to the cease-and-desist order. Hieftje indicates that will be decided in the future. Lumm quips that the cease-and-desist order is not causing Uber and Lyft to cease and desist.
11:01 p.m. Lumm is reading aloud her prepared statement in support of this direction to the city administrator to negotiate an operating agreement. She calls the principles robust and says they provide a good framework.
11:03 p.m. Warpehoski says that he’s forwarded the text of the city’s taxicab ordinance so that Lumm can compare the current resolution on felony convictions to requirements on taxicab drivers.
11:04 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted 8-3 to direct the city administrator to negotiate operating agreements with transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft, over dissent from Kailasapathy, Kunselman and Anglin
11:04 p.m. DC-3 Accept and allocate Michigan Supreme Court State Court Administrative Office Michigan Veterans Treatment Court Program Grant ($173,911). The grant would fund the veterans treatment court.
11:04 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to accept the Supreme Court grant.
11:04 p.m. DC-4 Community Events Funding Disbursements. The bulk of the community events disbursements were made at the council’s previous meeting. This one is an add-on for Community Works Plus ($1,000) to cover city costs for the African-American Festival Event scheduled on June 6, 2015.
11:04 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the community events fund disbursements.
11:04 p.m. DC-5 Resolution in Support of World Peace day on Sept. 21, 2014.
11:05 p.m. Anglin says that the only objection he’s heard so far is about insurance, but he ventures that no one would object to the overall intent of the resolution.
11:07 p.m. Warpehoski says this is an important commemoration worldwide. There will also be an event on the Diag, he says, and a demonstration on climate action. He says that he doesn’t see the resolution as a promise that the insurance question will be solved. He’s concerned about the appearance of a precedent.
11:08 p.m. Petersen asks city administrator Steve Powers about how a July 2012 event was handled. Powers doesn’t recall. For two more recent events, the city has required insurance: Dancing in the Streets, and the Barracuda street closure. That’s an existing city requirement, he says.
11:09 p.m. Hieftje appreciates Warpehoski raising the question.
11:09 p.m. Kunselman asks if Pizza in the Park carries insurance. Powers indicates that he’d have to check into that. Hieftje ventures that this issue will be figured out.
11:10 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted unanimously to approve the resolution calling for celebration of World Peace Day on Sept. 21, 2014.
11:10 p.m. DB-1 AAHC North Maple Estates. This vote is on the North Maple Estates site plan, which requires just one council vote. The rezoning required for the AAHC project – a 4.8-acre site at 701 N. Maple Road – has already been given final approval by the city council, at its Aug. 18, 2014 meeting. The zoning was changed from R1C (single-family dwelling district) to R4B (multi-family dwelling district). The site plan calls for demolishing 20 existing single-family homes – the public housing complex known as North Maple Estates – and constructing an eight-building, 42-unit apartment complex with a total of 138 bedrooms. [For additional background, see North Maple Estates above.]
11:10 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the site plan for North Maple Estates.
11:10 p.m. DB-2 Gift of Life site plan. This is the site plan that required the council to approve rezoning, which was completed earlier in the meeting. [For additional background, see Gift of Life Expansion above.]
11:10 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the Gift of Life site plan.
11:10 p.m. DB-3 AAHC Funding Request ($729,879) from the affordable housing trust fund. This resolution would transfer $729,879 from the affordable housing trust fund to the Ann Arbor Housing Commission. The fund transfer would support the “West Arbor” portion of the AAHC’s renovation plan. That would leave a $850,920 balance in the trust fund. The trust fund’s current balance stems largely from the council’s decision late last year – on Dec. 16, 2013 – to deposit into the trust fund the net proceeds of the sale of the former Y lot. [For additional background, see Affordable Housing Fund Transfer above.]
11:11 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the transfer from the affordable housing trust fund to the AAHC.
11:11 p.m. DS-1 Approve purchase order for Ultimate Software Group ($250,000). This is the city’s payroll software. The amount will cover a transition period as the city moves to NuView, a different software system.
11:11 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the purchase order with Ultimate Software Group.
11:11 p.m. DS-2 Approve a contract with Northwest Consultants Inc. for the Stadium Boulevard Reconstruction Project ($930,822). This is for the design work for the Stadium Boulevard reconstruction project from Kipke Drive to Hutchins.
11:14 p.m. Teall says this is really exciting. Councilmembers are reviewing the history of this project. Kunselman asks if the city is asking for an easement from the Ann Arbor Golf & Outing Club. Michael Nearing is explaining that there is a robust public participation component of the project. It will be discussed with the public and Ann Arbor Golf & Outing.
11:16 p.m. Nearing tells Lumm the staff will keep the council apprised of the project.
11:16 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to approve the contract with Northwest Consultants for the Stadium Boulevard design work.
11:16 p.m. Recess. We’re now in recess.
11:28 p.m. We’re back.
11:28 p.m. DS-3 Accept easement for sidewalk at 3947 Research Park Drive from American Honda Motor Co. Inc. This is a standard easement.
11:28 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to accept the easement.
11:28 p.m. DS-4 Ann Arbor SPARK contract ($75,000). This is the item that the council had tabled back on June 16, 2014 meeting. The first vote will be on the question of taking the item up off the table.
11:29 p.m. Outcome: The council has voted to take the item up off the table.
11:29 p.m. The question of the SPARK contract is now in front of the council.
11:31 p.m. Warpehoski proposes an amendment to include a clause on the scope of the contract to include additional metrics and direction for collaboration with Washtenaw County’s Act 88 committee. [.pdf of Warphehoski's amendment, as forwarded to the city clerk, who then forwarded it to media]
11:33 p.m. Warpehoski is now arguing for the contract.
11:33 p.m. Outcome: The council has approved amendment.
11:36 p.m. Kunselman proposes an amendment to adjust the amount down to $65,000. Teall asks why he’s proposing that number. Kunselman recalls the amount was $50,000 back in 2007. And other general fund needs have arisen, he says – like the need for a warming shelter. But he says that he’ll support the contract, even if the amendment doesn’t succeed.
11:37 p.m. Hieftje says that he wants to see the $10,000 stay in SPARK’s contract because that will make the “pie” bigger. Kunselman cites the Headlee Amendment as a reason that increased property values will not create the money that will be needed.
11:38 p.m. Kailasapathy recalls her question from earlier in the year about the contributions from other municipalities – less than Ann Arbor – so she’d be happy to see it reduced to $50,000.
11:40 p.m. Paul Krutko, CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK, indicates that this information is now available as a FAQ. The next-closest municipality in terms of contribution to SPARK is Pittsfield Township.
11:41 p.m. Kunselman ventures that when the county levies Act 88 money, it’s collecting Ann Arbor taxes, too. Krutko confirms that.
11:43 p.m. Eaton indicates that the county’s Act 88 collection provides $200,000 to SPARK. He asks how much of that is due to Ann Arbor taxpayers. Krutko said he’d have to get back to him about that.
11:43 p.m. Outcome on Kunselman’s amendment: The council has rejected the amendment reducing the amount to $65,000. It received support only from Kailasapathy, Kunselman, Eaton, and Anglin.
11:44 p.m. Lumm says the city of Ann Arbor is getting good return on its investment from the $75,000.
11:46 p.m. Outcome: The council has approved the $75,000 SPARK contract over dissent from Kailasapathy, Eaton, and Anglin
11:46 p.m. Communications from council. Presentation to The Ann Arbor Chronicle.
11:47 p.m. Public comment. There’s no requirement to sign up in advance for this slot for public commentary.
11:49 p.m. Kai Petainen is now addressing the council on SPARK. He says it was sneaky to add the item to the agenda late. He ventures that the state is playing favorites with Ann Arbor’s LDFA. He criticizes the fact that the assistant city attorney Abigail Elias had said she was not familiar with the cease-and-desist order.
11:52 p.m. Ed Vielmetti is addressing the council on several issues, including the topic of copyright notices that the city puts on maps. He says that Legistar makes it difficult to search for things. He says that given the fragile state of the press in this town, it would behoove the council to move toward closed captioning for meetings. The new website for the city is beautiful, he tells the council, but he notes that many of the links are now broken.
11:53 p.m. LuAnne Bullington expresses skepticism that the city administrator will be able to negotiate an operating agreement with Uber and Lyft in the short timeframe specified in the resolution.
11:57 p.m. Changming Fan says that thanks is not enough and action means the most. He is president of TiniLite, which he says is a small company based in Ann Arbor. He says that DDA board member John Splitt had spent two hours meeting with him, so Fan appreciated his support. “He is a good man,” even though he is older and is bald, he quips.
11:59 p.m. Alan Haber says he came back to give his appreciation. He hopes a creative approach can be found to deal with the insurance question for the World Peace Day event. He’s talking about a culture of peace and non-violence for the children of the world.
12:04 a.m. Michael Benson is addressing the councilmembers, thanking them for passing the taxicab ordinance on rates. He questions whether complaints about TNCs should be forwarded to the taxicab board – not the human rights commission or the commission on disability issues. He says he doesn’t appreciate the fact that the council killed the other ordinance proposal at first reading. The taxicab board had held off holding a public hearing, because it was felt that the council would be a better venue for that – which would have taken place at the second reading of the council.
12:04 a.m. Adjournment. We are now adjourned. That is all from the hard benches.