On the University of Michigan campus last Sunday, Aug. 25, a group of students organized as the Mixed Use Party convened their regular monthly meeting.
Zoning scheme proposed by Mixed Use Party overlaid on a speaker icon. (“Art” by The Chronicle.)
The meeting was held in Angell Hall, and first on the agenda was discussion of a possible revision to the city’s noise ordinance. The ordinance revision – which was subsequently adopted into the party platform at the Aug. 25 meeting – would address the question of who is assigned responsibility for a violation.
Under the current city code, if the person responsible for the noise can’t be determined, a police officer has the discretion to deem the renter of the property (or also the property owner, or the occupant) to be responsible. Mixed Use Party members are concerned that the current code could create a scenario where the occupant of a property could be subjected to higher tiers of the allowable fines, based on noise ordinance violations of previous occupants.
Under the Mixed Use Party proposed ordinance revision, if the person who planned the noise-related activity can’t be determined, then it’s the occupants of the space where the activity is taking place who are responsible. And if that can’t be determined, then the responsibility would default to the property owner.
The basic kind of issue – appropriate assignment of responsibility for an infraction – was addressed three years ago by the Ann Arbor city council, but for a different ordinance. The city’s code on allowable storage of solid waste was amended by the council in 2010 – to restrict somewhat the ability of landlords to require tenants to pay fines associated with improperly stored trash.
Candidates affiliated with the Mixed Use Party will be contesting Ann Arbor city council races as independents in three of the city’s five wards. Sam DeVarti will be running in the Ward 3 race against incumbent Democrat Stephen Kunselman. DeVarti was the only one of the three Mixed Use Party candidates at the Aug. 25 meeting, which was sparsely attended.
DeVarti is a student at Eastern Michigan University, while the other two candidates are UM students. Jacyln Vresics is contesting the Ward 1 race along with incumbent three-term Democrat Sabra Briere and independent Jeff Hayner. In Ward 2, Mixed Use Party affiliate Conrad Brown will be on the November ballot with incumbent independent Jane Lumm and Kirk Westphal, who won an uncontested Democratic primary.
In Ward 4, Democratic primary winner Jack Eaton is unopposed in November. Ward 5 incumbent Democrat Mike Anglin faces no competition on the ballot, but resident Thomas Partridge is a declared Ward 5 write-in candidate.
Other aspects of the Mixed Use Party platform are somewhat broader than the proposed changes to the noise ordinance. For example, the platform includes a reconceptualization of the city’s zoning scheme, reducing the number of non-public land zones to three broad categories: heavy industrial, mixed use and restricted mixed use.
A highlight of the Mixed Use Party tentative infrastructure plan – which has not yet been formally adopted as an element of the party’s platform – might include selling Ann Arbor’s public parking system and using the proceeds to fund road repair, among other infrastructure. The infrastructure plan was discussed at the Aug. 25 meeting, but possible action was left for a future meeting.
More detail on noise and trash below the fold. [Full Story]