Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Ann Arbor Democrats to Debate Building Limits

3. April 2006 • Dale Winling
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The Ann Arbor Democratic Party will meet this Saturday in the Palmer Commons, part of the Life Sciences complex on the U-M campus. Old West Sider Lou Glorie has proposed a resolution calling for a four story building limit for this Saturday’s meeting of the Ann Arbor Democratic Party; Planning Commission Chair Jennifer Hall and U-M College Democrats Chair Libby Benton are sponsoring a resolution calling for suspension of Dem actions in the summer months while students are away. The full agenda is available on the Ann Arbor Dems webpage.

Arbor Update will report on AA Republican actions if notified, as well.

ANN ARBOR CITY DEMOCRATIC PARTY RESOLUTION SUPPORTING A FOUR STORY LIMIT FOR FUTURE BUILDING
CONSTRUCTION IN ANN ARBOR

WHEREAS, Ann Arbor is one of the most livable cities
in the country, with diverse neighborhoods featuring
mainly low-rise homes and apartments that would be
compromised by out-of-scale developments that threaten
the health and safety and general welfare of its
residents, as well as the integrity and sustainability
of its neighborhoods, and

WHEREAS, taller structures will:

(a) obscure sunlight, reducing natural light and
radiant heating,
(b) increase demands on the presently inadequate
infrastructure supplying electric power and water,
(c) strain an already inadequate sanitary sewer
system,
(d) overwhelm both historic buildings and sites of
historic significance,
(e) create wind tunnels when streets are “canyonized”
by high-rise development,
(f) add to traffic congestion and the worsening of air
quality through increases in vehicle use by
inhabitants of taller structures,
(g) increase traffic congestion adding to the hazards
confronting pedestrians, cyclists and the disabled
when attempting to use crowded streets, and

WHEREAS, plans to exceed legal height limits have
impacted the affected neighborhoods, and has
necessitated extraordinary volunteer efforts on the
part of residents to prevent detriment to their local
environment, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED, that the Ann Arbor City Democratic
party supports a four story, for all new building
construction approved in Ann Arbor, and therefore

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that our City Party Chair,
Susan Greenberg, request in writing that the Ann Arbor
City Council, immediately act to pass ordinance(s)
setting the four story limit for future development



  1. The Ann Arbor Dems have jumped the shark.


       —Juliew    Apr. 3 '06 - 06:03PM    #
  2. Only if they don’t reject this so emphatically that the author of the resolution’s head spins.


       —Dale    Apr. 3 '06 - 06:08PM    #
  3. Can I suggest an amendment?

    “BE IT RESOLVED, that the Ann Arbor City Democratic party supports the purchase of 5,000,000 gallons of liquid mylar for the complete sealing of Ann Arbor using the world’s largest Seal-a-Meal™ machine to enable our town to retain it’s “near-mint condition” status. You know. For the trade shows.”

    And who was the jerk who took Ann Arbor out of its original packaging? Evil developers: I’m looking right at you!

    I’m also wondering which democrat stole Boulder’s copy of “How To Turn an Affordable College Town Into a Bastion for the Elite and Wealthy in Under a Decade”?

    I guess that Boulder doesn’t need it anymore anyways…


       —todd    Apr. 3 '06 - 06:08PM    #
  4. Par for the course, I guess… useless resolutions on international issues paired with elitist extreme NIMBYism.


       —Brandon    Apr. 3 '06 - 06:10PM    #
  5. Thanks for posting this, Dale! I expect another big crowd and more vigorous discussion.

    I don’t expect the resolution suspending Party meetings in the summer will pass. Although one purpose of Party meetings is to express Democrats’ views on the issue of the day, the other purpose is to beat Republicans.

    Since Dick DeVos and the Republicans are not taking the summer off, neither should we Democrats.


       —David Cahill    Apr. 3 '06 - 06:59PM    #
  6. Why don’t you all come? We who do not support this silly resolution would welcome your participation in helping us to defeat it.

    And, as to the resolution to suspend meetings in the summer, that is out of respect for the students who won’t be here. They should be part of the process, and to ignore them, when it is they who have provided us the space for the last two meetings, and who want to be part of what we do, is disrespectful to their efforts.

    Sitting in meetings in the summer is NOT going to help Democratic candidates – we should be out campaigning. For example, the county Dems have asked for help this Saturday and next getting petition signatures at the Farmers Market for Granholm and Stabenow. To me, that is a lot more productive than discussing meaningless resolutions.


       —Leah    Apr. 3 '06 - 07:06PM    #
  7. But, Leah, obviously, if we don’t pass resolutions supporting moratoria on development in Ann Arbor, if we don’t pass resolutions opposing the obvious “health and safety” threat of five-story buildings, if we don’t pass resolutions objecting to vaguely frightening but unspecified changes to historic districts, then DeVos has already won!

    Come on, Leah – keep your eye on the ball, here!

    More seriously, I think it’s fair to be concerned about holding meetings in the summer – I seem to remember certain residents, just two summers ago, saying, “Let’s pass a couch ban during the summer, so that it’s in place when the students come back.” With such open anti-participatory attitudes in place, I don’t think anyone can be blamed for being suspicious. I expect Granholm, Stabenow, Greden-or-Warren, and whomever else will have dedicated campaign organizations devoted to beating the Republicans. Claiming that a locally focused group which seems so far to be more concerned with David Cahill’s quality of life than with the State Republican Party is as urgent as these dedicated campaign organizations? Well, I’ll need some supporting arguments.

    I’m not necessarily going to condemn summer meetings – the town doesn’t come to a standstill, after all. Considering that in the past, though, students (for example) have been openly and unashamedly told that they have no right to Ann Arbor’s business, I’d hope that the earlier agenda item, “Formation of a committee to study civic involvement and citizen access,” leads to some insight on the ways in which all residents can be incorporated into the process.


       —TPM    Apr. 3 '06 - 07:26PM    #
  8. Please tell me this is a joke. Please tell me that the Democrats in Ann Arbor are not this stupid.


       —JD    Apr. 3 '06 - 07:33PM    #
  9. Hey, TPM – it’s really hard to keep one’s eye on the ball when there is so much nonsense going on!! :-)

    Seriously, meetings don’t elect candidates, hard work in the field does. That means going door-to-door, listening, and making sure your supporters get to the polls or have an absent ballot. All else is a waste of time.

    JD – I am a Democrat, and I am not this stupid. The person who introduced this resolution has never done anything for the local Democratic Party that I know of.


       —Leah    Apr. 3 '06 - 07:50PM    #
  10. Leah wrote: “The person who introduced this resolution has never done anything for the local Democratic Party that I know of.”

    On the Dems website, all the resolutions except for the one abour 4-story heights seem to be attributed to someone. Just curious, who submitted that one?


       —HD    Apr. 3 '06 - 08:11PM    #
  11. Lou Glorie


       —Leah    Apr. 3 '06 - 08:15PM    #
  12. I hope this is just an example of an outlier and not what the party is about.


       —JD    Apr. 3 '06 - 08:20PM    #
  13. It’s certainly what a very vocal faction of the party is about. And that faction vigorously maintains that it represents the views of all fine and upstanding Democrats, right Dave? (People who hang out here are dismissed as “planners” and their sycophants, all of whom are guilty of being in bed with Big Development). Given this state of affairs, any observer who manages to see through the noisy Dems. misty talk about “quality of life” could certainly be forgiven for jumping to the conclusion that the Ann Arbor Democrats are merely Plutocrats in disguise.


       —Parking Structure Dude!    Apr. 3 '06 - 08:39PM    #
  14. Leah,
    Thanks for the answer and thanks also for not doling me out a deserved dope-slap for asking (original post by Dale: ” ... Lou Glorie has proposed a resolution … ”).


       —HD    Apr. 3 '06 - 08:56PM    #
  15. This is horrendous. HORRENDOUS. This just makes me ill. I hate that this faction of the party is so vocal. Good God. Has all sanity disappeared?!

    For the love of GOD. I’m one of those people who supported the idea of a moratorium just to get council to get on the ball and create some standards and guidelines and actually plan. But I was willing to listen to people who disagreed with me.

    And I think taller buildings downtown, as long as they’re in scale with the surroundings, would be swell.

    This 4 story rule would be disastrous for the U, the hospital, and most right-thinking people in this town.

    So folks want an expansive greenway downtown in addition to teeny tiny buildings? That’s nonsensical.


       —Young OWSider    Apr. 3 '06 - 09:20PM    #
  16. One reason to have summer Dem meetings is to make sure that Council doesn’t pull any fast ones while the students are away – like Leigh Greden’s couch ban.

    Leah Gunn doesn’t want summer meetings. And Leah Gunn is Leigh Greden’s campaign manager for State Rep.

    So – what is Leigh going to pull if, as his campaign manager wants, the Dems don’t meet over the summer? Inquiring minds want to know!


       —David Cahill    Apr. 3 '06 - 09:31PM    #
  17. Found this discussion

    relating building heights, density, Lou Glorie, and Paris, France.


       —HD    Apr. 3 '06 - 09:38PM    #
  18. HD—
    Thanks so much for that discussion. Other than referring to Lou as a “he”, I thought it was interesting.

    Like I said, I’m open to learning more, and the bit about Paris is really something. Who knew? Of course, Ann Arbor’s no Paris, but it would be good to see some more studies about this. Does Ann Arbor have the space to create the density we’d like with 4-6 story buildings? How does this affect the hospital or the university?

    I know that Santa Barbara, CA, has building limits, and it hasn’t seemed to hurt them that much.


       —Young OWSider    Apr. 3 '06 - 09:50PM    #
  19. Ann. Arbor. is not Paris (not least because there is no authoritarian prefect to plow boulevards through residential areas, much as we would like to). If we can’t replan the downtown, we are not going to be able to touch the neighborhoods and other areas where these 4-6 story buildings are supposed to go.


       —Dale    Apr. 3 '06 - 10:06PM    #
  20. Isn’t Ann Arbor the Paris of Michigan? : )

    Yeah, I figured there’s more to this 4-6 story thing than meets the eye, but I found the bit about Paris and density pretty interesting.


       —Young OWSider    Apr. 3 '06 - 10:08PM    #
  21. The bit about population density of Paris would be interesting if it were true. According to Wikipedia, it’s estimated density in 2004 is 24,672 per squre km. That’s a bit less than that of Mahattan in 2000.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manhattan


       —Jin Kim    Apr. 3 '06 - 11:24PM    #
  22. Jin Kim is correct. The buildings referred to were constructed mostly in the 17th – 18th centuries, and comprise the historic center of the city of Paris. And ALL the buildings are of uniform height, except for structures like Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower. (Lou once said that the Eiffel Tower is 2 stories high – well, I have seen it, and it’s more like 52 stories.) Once you get out of the historic center (which still exists because, unlike London and Berlin, it was not bombed in WWII) the office buildings and apartment houses soar. The so called “density” of Paris is a myth, and I am glad to have it put to rest. It is, however, the greatest city in the world, and I don’t think we should be so presumptuous as to compare Ann Arbor to it – let’s stick with Madison and Boulder. The height restriction in Boulder is a disaster – the average price of a home is $500,000 and they aren’t THAT great! Do we want that here? A city only for the elite?


       —Leah    Apr. 3 '06 - 11:32PM    #
  23. I don’t see the kind of demand for housing that would create a Boulder-type situation for AA if we adopt height limits.

    And I remind people of the Broadway Village Haiku:

    Ann Arbor has trees
    Buildings four stories or less
    Let us see the sky


       —David Cahill    Apr. 4 '06 - 12:28AM    #
  24. Some good, bad, and ugly Lou Glorie quotes:

    I’m thinking that if the Calthorpe study is done correctly, the city can move forward with a coherant [sic] vision that has had enough involvement from the citizens. (source)

    I agreed with this then and now.

    The Calthorpe report, being a document heavy on the platitudes and light on specifics is largely a waste of the paper I printed it on. (source)

    I differ (viewing the Calthorpe document as the constructive directions it is, not the detailed map of specifics Lou appeared to desire), but respect that everyone is entitled to their opinion. The “waste of paper” bit was a bit harsh, though.

    This report being useless may as well be sent to the recycle bin… Please don’t waste any more of our time and money with this nonsense. (source)

    It’s useless now? One paragraph later Lou goes from critique to full on Calthorpe animosity. But now I begin to understand where she’s coming from; the Calthorpe report didn’t align itself with her views and is therefore garbage. The next logical step, of course, is to make an end run to legislation which would nullify the bits of Calthorpe Lou especially despised.

    We need an authentic community forum on design standards and then the codification of these standards by council to make any plan for our future something beyond an exercise in civic silliness. (source)

    The jab (again) at Calthorpe aside, and we’ve come full circle with the community forum/citizen involvement theme. For a split second I once more find myself agreeing with Lou…but then I reread this:

    BE IT RESOLVED…that our City Party Chair, Susan Greenberg, request in writing that the Ann Arbor City Council, immediately act to pass ordinance(s) setting the four story limit for future development

    Did I miss the city-wide mailer or news announcement? At what community forum was the consensus made upon a four story limit? Citizen involvement would be requesting Council to hold discussions and hearings on the specific matter of building height limits – this route taken by Lou is a disgusting backdoor stab to enforce her personal take on downtown development on the entire community, and is contrary to her previous sentiments.

    I look forward to Lou’s comments here.


       —FAA    Apr. 4 '06 - 12:57AM    #
  25. “According to Wikipedia, it’s estimated density in 2004 is 24,672 per squre km. That’s a bit less than that of Mahattan in 2000.”

    Note the linked to article compares Paris to “New York City”, not to Manhattan. So it’s not quite fair to compare the city of Paris against the most densely populated part of the city of New York. Manhattan is a bit smaller than Paris too, I think—and I think some of the arondissements (which are all smaller than manhattan) do have much higher densities than manhattan as a whole….

    On the other hand, when people think about “New York” and “building heights”, it probably is Manhattan they’re thinking about. And New York covers much more area than Paris. So the linked-to essay is cheating too.

    Where is the “four story” thing coming from, though? In every picture of the typical downtown paris building I’ve seen, they look like they have at least 6 or 7. Are people playing games with story heights here?


       —Bruce Fields    Apr. 4 '06 - 02:59AM    #
  26. Whfew, I don’t know where to start. Perhaps a response to the always divinely comedic Leah’s “I’ve seen the Eiffel Tower and it is more than 2 stories”. Clever Girl, indeed it is. It is in fact a 986 ft tall three story bldg. The point about number of stories and building height was made by Leon Kreis to support his view that while the number of stories should be limited, heights should not, because this would allow for changes of elevation in the roof and sky lines, but prevent dominance of the human environment by corporate skyscrqapers…And about Paris density. You can go with Wikipedia or UCLA on that I don’t care. The point is still made that significant density can be achieved with standards and limits. But back to Leah’s muddlings…Some highrises were built in Paris in the early 70’s and were not a success with the public, hence the restrictions in height. She reports there are lots of tall buildings outside of the center. Yes darling, that’s La Defence, not Paris. That’s where they decided to stash the high rises. It’s a ghetto for international corporate cultlure. And if you want a really good example of how high rises can fuck a place up, just try to cross the street in that neighborhood. C’est vraimment la zone ca! As for what have I done for the city dems?I haven’t done a damned thing IF you define the city party as Leah and her little DLC alcolytes. But if you define the party as the citizens who want to see the democratic process (ie:democracy) rescued from the “stream-lining” Leah and her alies are i the process fo steam-rolling through, well Leah, as one of the “noisey people”, I’m doing everything I can. I thought I would be coming to this site and conceeding that the commentators here have made some good points, but I got here and found the level of discourse best described as “kindergarten sandbox” I would like to see some real reasons, based on something other than urban-planning myths, for why height limitations are unworkable. I’m a bit surprised to find eastern-block, uber utilitarian sounding imperatives as though Ann arbor had just been blitzkrieged. We don’t have huddled masses waiting to get in (in fact the mayor and council just shipped some of our unrich out to Ypsilanti). There are three slignificant condo projects in the works at the moment. With the Michigan economy doing not so well, I’m wondering whose interests are being served by putting development on growth hormones. Wouldn’t it be prudent (a lamentably out of vogue word) to see if the projects already underway succeed(they have good reservation rates, but reservations are not sales). As to the claim that “High” is the only way to achieve “affordable”, I want you to consider this: NYC started a building boom in the 80’s. This did not increase affordable housing. Quite the opposite happened. Much of the workforce who had been protected by rent control found their buildings sold out from under them and then had to pioneer places like Williamsburg and now Astoria. It was only two years ago that they managed a much publicized success of finding some housing on the lower East side for some nuns and others among the unrich.


       —Lou    Apr. 4 '06 - 03:17AM    #
  27. I regret that I will not be able to be there due to an already scheduled commitment. However, I call on all Democrats who value downtown density to attend the meeting and vote down this proposal.

    Where did the cute picture come from?


       —Larry Kestenbaum    Apr. 4 '06 - 03:21AM    #
  28. Stepping back from this debate a bit, when I talk to people who are worried about downtown density, it seems many people are worried about Ann Arbor becoming nothing but generic high-rises. Honestly, that’s not something I want either. There are a lot of architectural gems and great local businesses located in 2 story buildings, and these really do promote a livable downtown environment. At the same time, I believe we do need more density, which will entail some taller buildings. It seems to me one compromise might be to look at a street as an ecosystem. One street filled with eleven 10-story buildings really wouldn’t be too pleasant or in scale with Ann Arbor, but a street with a range of heights from existing 2 story to new 8-10 story buildings would be interesting, and would increase density. I’m not a planner so I won’t try to turn that into suggested development guidelines, but I thought I would interject this idea as food for thought. The people I know who are interested in increasing density downtown have no intention of tearing down existing well-used and loved 2-story buildings and replacing them with ugly 12-story buildings, but I’m not sure how well that has been communicated.


       —Lisa Dugdale    Apr. 4 '06 - 03:55AM    #
  29. Lou,

    Why stop at 4 stories? According to you, most of Ann Arbor is made up of “low-rise homes”, most of which are two stories or less. If we have 4 story buildings, that’s TWICE the height of 2 story homes and FOUR TIMES the height of single story homes. Just think of the negative impact on those single story homes to be overwhelmed by the shadows cast by the MONSTER 4 STORY buildings! No, we can’t have that. If the Dems really want to save Ann Arbor, we need a two story limit on all buildings. That will ensure that no building in town ever suffers the indignity of being made to feel inferior by a neighboring structure. I can feel the peace already.


       —John Q.    Apr. 4 '06 - 04:09AM    #
  30. Lou is obviously upset at the many possibly poignant, but certainly flippant remarks made about her and her proposal on this thread. Perhaps we can grant her an opportunity to vent and let some of the hyperbole of her posting go without comment in an effort to seriously discuss the possibilities of density with and without height restrictions.

    It is already clear that most regular contributors disagree with her. Maybe we can go with that assumption and move on to more productive conversation?

    Probably not, but I thought it was worth a shot.


       —Scott TenBrink    Apr. 4 '06 - 04:14AM    #
  31. I found the photo somewheres on the internet; it’s not an image I took.

    Building height limits and other such restrictive measures ring terribly hollow when there is no effort to develop the non-downtown areas more responsibly.

    The community came out in force at every Calthorpe workshop and public hearing and the last AA Dems meeting to demonstrate that we want greater density downtown and that we support the Calthorpe recommendations for density and environmentally sensitive development, which can be achieved using downtown parking lots and a few other innovative but by no means difficult measures.

    This is an unfortunately contentious response to an incredibly innocuous and routine planning effort that the city should be going through every 10 years. The planning process should start with the downtown and proceed expeditiously to every area of the city. The only reasonable explanation I can find for these numerous and freewheeling objections is the one offered time and again by Todd Leopold—many people in this town will do anything to prop up their home values.

    I feel like circulating the email Doug Cowherd sent out to local preservationists touting the economic impact historic district protection has on housing—up to a 20% premium. Disgusting.


       —Dale    Apr. 4 '06 - 04:21AM    #
  32. My major concern with Lou’s position is the contrast between suggesting we “wait and see if current projects succeed” and declaring herself part of a group who “want to see the democratic process (ie:democracy) rescued from the ‘stream-lining’ Leah and her allies are in the process of steam-rolling through” in her post, and then submitting a proposal to “request in writing that the Ann Arbor City Council, immediately act to pass ordinance(s) setting the four story limit for future development.” The second seems like a proposal for steamrolling action by the democratic party. I’d like her to clarify how these statements work together.

    The article by C. H. Smith, “Downside to Density” (previously linked), argues that height is not required for density and that buildings with more stories do not always produce higher density. However, the author does point out that the greater density of height-restricted areas is a result of smaller apartment sizes, not lower building height. The author also notes that, “uniformly low-rise buildings are denser than high-rises surrounded by parking lots, open spaces or commercial (non-dwelling) areas.” To me this suggests that the problem with the high-rises is not the height, but the parking lots, open spaces, and commercial areas surrounding it. One would assume that low-rise buildings with the same surroundings would be equally, if not more, problematic.
    And, of course, a suggestion that open space and commercial areas should not be located near housing seems contradictory to the goals of downtown Ann Arbor.

    This article did bring to mind a problem we have of choosing one aspect (density), without committing to a decision on the other (livability). I felt that way when we passed the greenway proposal- voting for green space without committing to density. In a similar way, Lou’s proposal promotes low-rise density without addressing other aspects of design that would impact livability. I’m sure we can all agree that there is such a thing as poorly designed high and low rise buildings. Lou’s proposal limits the height without addressing the parking, open space, and other density determining factors. If simply allowing buildings to go higher would not necessarily increase density in a livable way, simply limiting building heights would do even less.

    But I don’t mean to single Lou’s proposal out in addressing only one part of the over all issue. I think it is a flaw of most of our planning guidelines that they are passed individually and perhaps we can change that in implementing the Calthorpe recommendations.

    Also, a question. Do developer’s automatically build to height limits? If we raise the limit to 10 stories, what is the likelihood that all new development would take full advantage of that limit? Would council then give preference to projects that make full use of the height and FAR limits?


       —Scott TenBrink    Apr. 4 '06 - 04:55AM    #
  33. YoungOWSider: “I know that Santa Barbara, CA, has building limits, and it hasn’t seemed to hurt them that much.”

    Maybe I’m misreading your comment here, and you’re just kidding. Your’e kidding. Right?

    Santa Barbara is the poster boy for ‘slow growth’development policies. They, like Boulder, instituted a near moratorium on all construction in the city…..with the only difference being that Boulder came to it’s senses and revoked the absurd laws, while Santa Barbara did not.

    What were the results of this little experiment? Well, read for yourself in an LA Time article that’s a few months old:

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-slowgrow6mar06,1,99017.story

    I think my favorite line is ” Many of these ripple effects could not have been foreseen 30 years ago”. Yeah, right. Like Ann Arbor, the fundamental laws of supply and demand don’t function in Santa Barbara. Gee, I wonder if UC Santa Barbara has grown at all in the last 30 years? Naaah. Probably not.

    FYI, the building height restriction started in 1972. When they realized that all this did was unecessarily eat up pristine coastal land, they decided to put in a building permit moratorium in 1990.

    Santa Barbara is now, according to Money Magazine, the most overinflated Real Estate Market in the nation. Median price for a home today? $1.1 million dollars. Hooray!


       —todd    Apr. 4 '06 - 08:28AM    #
  34. todd—
    When I said that about Santa Barbara I wasn’t thinking of home prices. Santa Barbara is a lovely place with a teeming downtown that has a mix of national chains, local businesses, and restaurants and theaters. It’s a fantastic place to live temporarily while renting, but even the surrounding towns are too expensive for us to think about buying. So, yes, I hear you about SB being the most overinflated rem in the nation.

    I was thinking about downtown Santa Barbara and the surrounding areas—the ability to walk from downtown to the Pacific, the free first 75 minutes of parking (and people still complain about parking costs), the Mission, the Courthouse, the natural areas, the bike paths, the amazing farmer’s market that is spread out across the town and ‘burbs over the course of the week, the off leash dog beach, the campus, the weather, the several multiplex theaters downtown.

    We could never afford to buy in SB, but my point was that Santa Barbara appeared to be doing quite well. Does that suck for the less fortunate (which I qualify as in SB)? It sure does. But there are other places to live in the surrounding area.


       —Young OWSider    Apr. 4 '06 - 11:27AM    #
  35. Well, for one thing, we certainly don’t have Santa Barbara’s climate. Or proximity to Los Angeles. I’m sure that helps drive up not only the price, but the livability and the demand for making it a nice place.

    One thing that the proposal brings up that I would, in fact, like to know more about are the water and sewer systems (and the electrical system.) If these are actually in poor shape right now, that does need to be a priority, in any event. And higher density will make it an even higher priority.

    It’s very true that tall buildings can bring their own blight, though so far I don’t see that happening in Ann Arbor to a large degree (so far.) Careful design can avoid this. I said on another thread, though, that I wouldn’t want to see many more projects approved right now. (I think it was on the thread related to the DDA study that suggested current projects would take a few years to fill.) The city should take some time to catch up with itself and see how things progress. There’s more to smart growth, after all, than throwing up a few 8-15 story buildings. Even Calthorpe said that the parking needed to be solved first. We need to decide, for example, how many surface lots the city should have, and where they should be. I really think some surface lots, that aren’t always filled, are a key to keeping the city livable and attractive for a lot of people. (And yet, they can also be seen as “blight” as one poster noted—so we need to pay attention to how they’re being used.) One way to increase downtown vibrancy is to create density, but another way is to attract more people from outside the downtown area who might otherwise be inclined to live/work/shop/play in the townships, or even in other cities altogether. I’m starting to think that a certain amount of surface parking is needed for that.

    It’s all a matter of tradeoff. Do we care about 1M homes in neighborhoods close to downtown? Do we want a downtown that’s more than a Restaurant Row? Do we want a stagnating or shrinking population? (People may not be aware of this, but we have it now.) Do we care about apartment size? (Especially if it’s a smaller apartment for the same price.)

    Building limits do have their place, after all. (Even the infamous Calthorpe plan said so.) But people really must realize that there are tradeoffs, mostly in terms of pricing and the size of the local consumer base, but also in terms of losing land to housing, businesses, and roads, in the outlying areas of the county (along with the loss of a potential tax base.)

    Personally I would love to see a Council-run series of meetings on the future shape of the city, without any planners, just to make people aware of the issues involved and the compromises necessary.

    And better comparison might be the small college towns and old court cities of Germany. (On the other hand, have you seen a lot of contemporary Euro apartment buildings? Yeah, they’re often just as bad as they are here, if not worse.) Those often have the smallish-height old town areas that supporters of proposals like these seem to like (and which large cities like Paris and London certainly don’t have! More like 6-10 stories, if you take the time to count.) You can limit growth downtown, fine (and nobody’s suggesting we shouldn’t preserve all the buildings that are already protected by historical districts), but the tradeoff is, more growth at the edges. (Actually, many here have even made this suggestion—that there should be multiple centers of medium-density living and shopping at the edges of town. But I doubt that could be accomplished with a 4-story limit. Maybe what’s most glaringly wrong with this proposal is that it is mandatory for the entire city of Ann Arbor, which would also forbid office buildings on the edge of town from growing higher than 4 stories. This seems like a mistake—for now most such buildings are in fact no more than 4 stories, but in the future? I have a hard time imagining that.)

    Well, just some thoughts, I guess. I do think there is a lot of confusion out there about all the issues and facts. Maybe Council could help facilitate a more community-wide discussion that isn’t associated with professional planners, so that people wouldn’t feel there was an agenda.


       —Young Urban Amateur    Apr. 4 '06 - 01:33PM    #
  36. Did anyone else find it ironic that the picture of the ‘typical Paris street’ in the link from post 17 showed buildings that were all 6-7 stories, and NOT four?

    There is one very large problem with a 4-story limit, and it coincides with another active discussion on this forum: downtown development and parking.

    As I see it, we have two opposing viewpoints here. On one hand, we have people who want a height limit of 4 stories (Lou Glorie) – at which point you must allow developers to provide no parking on-site, instead allowing the DDA to build more parking structures. OR we have no height limit, and force developers to build, say, 4 stories of above-ground parking with 6 stories of office or residential (a la Cahill). Which are you going to support: development without parking or development with loads of parking? You cannot have your cake and eat it too.

    Personally I think there is a middle ground. I would allow up to 12 stories if parking is provided on site for some or all of the project, and maybe even 15 stories if some of the parking is underground. The bigger lots could support this, like the Brown block. But since most of the lots downtown are much smaller than a whole city block, I think it is reasonable to have up to 8 stories by right, with parking provided through the DDA with in-lieu funds from the developer. This is especially valuable for small narrow lots where it is physically impossible to provide more than a few parking spaces on site (like the Olga site). Varying the parking requirements according to the lot size and configuration allows for (1) greater density, which feeds better transit and more walkability; (2) condensed and hopefully more efficient parking scenarios; and (3) fair use of private property to support public goals already expressed by the Calthorpe report.


       —KGS    Apr. 4 '06 - 01:46PM    #
  37. YUA—
    It’s my understanding after having talked with a council member that the water infrastructure in this town is pretty bad, but that’s the case across this nation. For many, many moons cities have just delayed dealing with infrastructure, and now we’re going to have to pay for it. Fair? Not really. Necessary? You betcha.


       —Young OWSider    Apr. 4 '06 - 01:52PM    #
  38. Lou—
    no, of course height limits aren’t unworkable. In fact, personally I would be pefectly happy with height limits (again, Calthorpe recommended a variety of height limits!) but a 4-story limitation throughout the city just won’t do.

    No, Manhattan’s building spree didn’t lower rents—but it did increase the tax base (i.e. the population) and the vibrancy of downtown.

    I do agree that there is a concern with the “feedback” effect—even if these projects were successful in selling their units to actual residents, would that lessen the demand for development in the outlying areas, or would it just increase it? Would it lessen the demand for downtown living, or just increase it (thus driving up the cost)?


       —Young Urban Amateur    Apr. 4 '06 - 01:54PM    #
  39. A quick word on utilities downtown and development:

    It’s true that the water and sewer systems are incredibly old and in desperate need of repair. However, new developments actually improve the existing utilities when they are put in, because the developers need or want to improve the systems. The city benefits considerably from this, because the developers pay for some or all of the improvements.

    For example, the Collegian building on Maynard street has a salon school on the first two floors. The salon uses a good bit of water. While the Collegian was under construction, the water line running from that building down to William and around the block was also replaced to support the new development and take out the 75+ year old pipes. The replacement was a huge sum of money that the developer paid not the taxpayer at large.

    The electrical system seems to be doing better as a whole, though it is controlled by DTE not the city. And yet again, new buildings upgrade the electrical service before they are built. Heck the Collegian building actually has DTE transformers on their site because of this.

    And then you have the requirement of storm sewer disconnect for those areas where people had sewage backup into their houses when it rains. As yet another expense of new developments all over the city, individual developers have to find these houses, coordinate with each owner, and pay for the disconnects – all without spending a dime of the city’s money or staff time.

    The utilities in this city benefit from new development, and really ought not to be used as an excuse to limit development further.


       —KGS    Apr. 4 '06 - 02:01PM    #
  40. Even though this absurd proposal hopefully does not represent the views of the city Democratic party, how many of the Dems on city council or local reps to the state or to congress have spoken out against it?

    Also, don’t forget that the city Dems could have pushed through an ADU ordinance (which could’ve minimumly increased density but with NO additonal height) but did not due to pandering to largely Democratic neighborhood groups.


       —Kurt    Apr. 4 '06 - 02:10PM    #
  41. People should remember that the City Dems have not yet passed anything involving Calthorpe. At our March 11 meeting, Conan Smith proposed a resolution, but it was amended substantially before we ran out of time. Here is how that resolution stands now:

    A proposed resolution, as revised by the March 11 ’06 Ann Arbor Democratic membership meeting:

    WHEREAS several recent public discussions about development in the downtown area, including those surrounding the Downtown Residential Task Force, the Recommended Policy Framework for Downtown Ann Arbor by Calthorpe and Associates, and the Greenway Task Force, have resulted in recommendations to the Ann Arbor City Council that would fundamentally shift the development strategy for downtown; and

    WHEREAS these recommendations include incentives for buildings significantly taller than the current downtown skyline, changes to the criteria for construction in historic districts, and zoning changes which might impede the creation of a full-scale Greenway, among others; and

    WHEREAS community support for and faith in the development process will only be generated by open debate succeeded by clearly articulated reforms to the policies that guide downtown development, including master plans and zoning ordinances; and

    WHEREAS planning and zoning policies have not sufficiently provided protection from poor architectural design nor guided the development of Ann Arbor as one of the premier architectural cities in the Midwest; and

    WHEREAS it is evident from the lack of community consensus on the character and definition of the variety of recommendations before Council that more public discussion with our Council members, not limited by the time and format constraints set by Council rules, is needed;

    BE IT RESOLVED that the Ann Arbor Democratic Party urges City Council to work with the City Planning Commission to adopt a values statement regarding development of downtown during the implementation of downtown planning and zoning reforms, and identify the ‘red flags’ that signal a project might be significantly contentious in the midst of the process of reforming downtown’s plan and zoning.

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Council should identify the Planning Commission as the lead agency for the planning and zoning of downtown, and that the City Council should create a joint committee of the DDA, City Council, and Planning Commission to advise the process.

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Planning Commission should adopt a new, stronger communications strategy to enable concerned citizens to keep on top of the development proposals more easily, during the reform process.

    End of resolution. I expect discussion will continue on this resolution at our April 8 meeting.

    With regard to the four-story limit, I would remind folks that Larry Kestenbaum said here on ArborUpdate some months ago that he thought a four-story height limit would pass in a city-wide vote. So even though Larry opposes such a policy, nevertheless he is right to recognize that there is substantial support for it.

    On Saturday, Lou’s height-limit resolution may wind up be included in Conan’s broader resolution. Or both resolutions may be amended beyond recognition. 8-) Come and participate.

    Oh – nobody has mentioned my resolution on historic districts. I am trying not to feel hurt. It is th result of a converstion I had with Council member Bob Johnson at the College Dems’ pancake breakfast on March 27.

    I congratulated Bob on having gotten the historic districts removed as a priority from the Calthorpe implementation resolution Council passed on March 20, and on having substituted design guidelines. I said that if the guidelines came before the overlay zoning, everything might work out.

    Bob said “Everything on Calthorpe has been put off for at least six months.”

    I asked why.

    Bob said “The staff is dead set on encuraging development within the historic districts.”

    I asked who he meant by “staff”. He said “Roger”.

    So the big news is that everything on Calthorpe has been delayed for at least six months!

    The not-so-big news is that Roger Fraser is determined to foment new construction in historic districts, despite Council’s action on March 20.


       —David Cahill    Apr. 4 '06 - 02:20PM    #
  42. Kurt: I’m an elected Democrat, and I have spoken out against it.

    The city as a whole is “largely Democratic”, so I don’t think its fair to single out neighborhood groups as if they were Party cells. At least in recent years, neighborhood activists have influence on the Council directly, not through the party. I don’t recall even the slightest involvement by the city Democratic Party in the ADU debate.


       —Larry Kestenbaum    Apr. 4 '06 - 02:32PM    #
  43. Young Urban Amateur: I do think there is a lot of confusion out there about all the issues and facts. Maybe Council could help facilitate a more community-wide discussion that isn’t associated with professional planners, so that people wouldn’t feel there was an agenda.

    ...What?

    You speak as though professional planners are all somehow affiliated with developers or I don’t even know who else, rather than generally low-pay bureaucrats (Calthorpe himself aside, but he’s an architect, anyways) who racked up student loans in order to get those not-very-lucrative positions because they wanted to be able to discuss and work towards addressing the issues. (And, somehow, are more prone to manipulation by special interests than are elected offcials? Huh?)

    I’d…generally disagree. But if you want to talk about it, e-mail me. (murph@commonmonkeyflower.net)


       —Murph    Apr. 4 '06 - 02:41PM    #
  44. No, no, I just meant many people feel as though that’s true. I’m just suggesting that recognizing this might help encourage discussion.


       —Young Urban Amateur    Apr. 4 '06 - 03:43PM    #
  45. Another note on the sewer and water downtown. Although I agree with KGS that having parts of the systems replaced at developer’s expense is a good thing, this can often cause problems in other parts of the lines that are not yet repaired. There are small water main breaks all the time in the system (there is one on Observatory right now which has closed down the School of Public Health for the day), and many of us are far more intimate with the sewer system than we would like to be.

    While the footing drain disconnects are good for the outlying areas (neighborhoods built in the 50s and 60s), they don’t do much for the lines downtown because the older neighborhoods never had footing drains. And the disconnects are only a stopgap, they aren’t actually fixing any of the problems, just holding them off by reducing the amount of water in the system. Enough new development will put that “water” back in the system which is not really able to handle it.

    New development does have to mitigate runoff so if it is taking the place of a paved lot, in theory it is making the runoff situation better (was Ashley Mews built before this? It seems particularly bad for runoff.).

    So while utilities are not necessarily a reason not to do more development and new development can be better than the existing situation, I do think we need to be careful and I don’t think quite enough attention is being paid to sewer and water at this time. I know the city is aware of this and are trying to do their best, but they don’t have the money or time to do a lot of long-range planning because they are having to do a lot of emergency bandaging of the older systems.


       —Juliew    Apr. 4 '06 - 04:29PM    #
  46. Getting back to the original post, I think we are forgetting that nothing the city dems vote on is binding in any way. They might as well pass a resolution allowing an elevated highway down Main Street…it would have as much meaning.

    I say let them have their little circle jerk so they can pat themselves on the back, and then off with them. People who actually set the policy will smile, turn, roll their eyes, and get back to setting some policy that actually advances the City in some way.


       —Robert Moses    Apr. 4 '06 - 04:53PM    #
  47. Dem resolutions are not binding, but they can have influence. For example, at the March 11 meeting, the party passed Dave DeVarti’s resolution asking that Council not merge two housing policy/funding groups.

    Leigh Greden was originally planning to propose that Council do the merger at its March 20 meeting. Because of the party resolution, and the press coverage about the resolution, this bad idea has been put off until May or June, and might be ditched altogether.

    No wonder his campaign manager does not want any more party meetings. 8-)


       —David Cahill    Apr. 4 '06 - 05:17PM    #
  48. Wait, are you saying there are two different boards at the City alone to do housing policy? Like, affordable housing? No wonder we can’t come up with anything that makes sense.

    Since I can’t find Mr. DeVarti’s resolution on the fabulously designed AADems website, maybe you could brief us on exactly why maintaining two separate boards for this is desireable?


       —TPM    Apr. 4 '06 - 05:53PM    #
  49. TPM, you should find DeVarti’s resolution in the ArborUpdate article on the party’s March 11 meeting.

    One of these citizen groups has actual control over funds. The merger would have taken away their power, and given it to some staff person.

    Plus – Rebekah Warren is on this group. Naturally Leigh Greden wanted to take away her authority. He got caught at it.


       —David Cahill    Apr. 4 '06 - 06:47PM    #
  50. This is a fascinating discussion. As a reminder, the Party meeting is this Saturday.

    I do not want to deviate from this discussion, but David Cahill has chosen to attack me using inaccurate statements of purported fact. I will briefly correct the record.

    First, the proposed consolidation of City boards to which he refers in #47, above, is not my proposal – it’s a staff proposal. I support it for the reasons outlined below.

    Second, the staff proposal would actually consolidate THREE different City Boards that perform housing-related functions. The Boards are: the Housing Policy Board (HPB), the Community Development Executive Committee (CDEC), and the Waiver & Review Board. The HPB, among other things, recommends to Council how to spend the City’s HOME funds (provided by HUD) and the City’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The CDEC, among other things, recommends to Council how to spend the City’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds on housing and human service programs. The Waiver & Review Board reviews proposed deviations from HUD regulations.

    Third, none of the current Boards have “actual control over funds.” As described above, the HPB and CDEC make recommendations to City Council on how to spend certain pots of money.

    Fourth, the proposed consolidation would not give to staff the power to allocate funds. That authority would continue to rest with the City Council. Under the proposal, the new Board would continue to set criteria for funding housing projects, review affordable housing proposals, and make recommendations to Council (the functions currently performed by HPB). Similarly, the new Board would continue to set criteria for funding housing and human service proposals under the CDBG program, and would continue to make recommendations to Council (the functions currently performed by the CDEC).

    Fifth, I did not postpone the proposed consolidation because of the March Party meeting. At the February meeting of the CDEC, I was asked to postpone Council consideration of the proposed consolidation because the CDEC was busy with its annual review of proposals from non-profit groups. I agreed and then instructed staff not to place the item on the Council Agenda. This occurred before the Party meeting, and before the resolution opposing consolidation was published. Since that time, we have continued to work with people to reach an acceptable compromise.

    Sixth, David implied that my support for this proposal was motivated by my desire to take power away from Rebekah Warren. That’s a lie. I won’t dignify his inappropriate comments with any further response.

    On a separate note, YUA poses an interesting idea on meetings regarding the future of the City. As a small step in that direction, the City Council is holding a working session at Council Chambers on Monday, April 10, to hear from representatives of the four merchant associations about the needs of the downtown and the challenges facing locally-owned retailers. The meeting will be televised.

    David is desperately trying to turn this important debate about the future of our downtown into a bash-Leigh Greden debate (see posts #16 and #47, above). I hope it can now return to the discussion about downtown policy instead of David Cahill’s politically-motivated attacks on me, which are designed to distract AU readers from the otherwise interesting discussion.


       —Leigh Greden    Apr. 4 '06 - 08:18PM    #
  51. I would point out that the groups affected have passed resolutions opposing the proposed merger.

    My comments about Leigh are both justified and relevant to this article. I don’t support a ban on summer meetings; Leigh’s campaign manager does. And I felt bound to correct the idea that party resolutions have no impact.


       —David Cahill    Apr. 4 '06 - 10:48PM    #
  52. Unless you provide actual justification, Cahill, you’re just spouting what looks like unwarranted attacks to me.

    Your offhanded wondering “what is Leigh going to pull…if the Dems don’t meet over the summer?” is blatantly negative speculation. Or do you have proof of dastardly deeds of summers to come?

    And the whole Rebekah Warren thing, even ignoring Leigh’s reply, makes you look like an ass. That is, until you show some non-fictional evidence to the contrary.

    To keep this comment on-topic; I’ll be printing some “I ♥ 5+ STORIES” t-shirts tonight. Interested parties, please post your size.


       —FAA    Apr. 4 '06 - 11:41PM    #
  53. Well, how about Leigh’s “unwarranted attack” on me for being desperate? Or his “unwarranted attack” on me for lying? Tsk.

    What, in your mind, FAA, would be “actual justification”? Affidavits?

    I believe the people who I have talked to who are personally involved. Others will believe Leigh.


       —David Cahill    Apr. 4 '06 - 11:47PM    #
  54. David. Leigh. Flagpole. Outside. After school.


       —jcp2    Apr. 5 '06 - 12:09AM    #
  55. Larry,

    Thanks for the answer to my post. However your comment that you can’t “recall even the slightest involvement by the city Democratic Party in the ADU debate” is exactly my point. They did nothing to support it and let it die, just like Cowerd et al. wanted. A real shame IMO.


       —Kurt    Apr. 5 '06 - 12:34AM    #
  56. Kurt,

    Admittedly it was a cheap answer because the city party was pretty much inactive during that period and didn’t hold any meetings at which any such support or nonsupport could have been considered. They took no positions on anything for several years.


       —Larry Kestenbaum    Apr. 5 '06 - 02:48PM    #
  57. FAA, I like the idea of T-shirts. It’s too bad the Broadway Village Haiku won’t fit. However, I offer not one, but two T-shirts:

    Design 1:

    TOWN NOT CITY

    Design 2:

    An outline of a big building, with a red “negation” circle over it.

    Please send orders to cahilldATcomcastDOTnet.


       —David Cahill    Apr. 5 '06 - 03:12PM    #
  58. I like this game. How about,

    * “Arbitrary and capricious”

    * “I heart plus-size buildings”

    * “Don’t starve my downtown”

    * “TOWN NOT MUSEUM”

    * “It’s my backyard too, David Cahill”

    * “Pulte’s pulling for the protectionists”

    * “A2 Dems: four stories surrounded by reality”

    * ”’cool city’ or ghost town?”

    Hyperbole is fun. But why stop with t-shirts? What about bumper stickers? I’ll start by offering one for David:

    * “My other SUV needs a surface parking space, too.”


       —TPM    Apr. 5 '06 - 03:40PM    #
  59. Regarding the suggestion of a T-shirt design TOWN NOT CITY, here’s an additional perspective:

    “We are no longer a sleepy little TOWN that hosted a ho-hum midwest public university. We are the host CITY to the University of Michigan, a world-class university, a university for the world.” —Ingrid Sheldon, in Ann Arbor (W)rites: A Community Memoir [emphasis mine]

    And c’mon, a haiku would fit on a T shirt. Whether the one you’ve posted is really the haiku you want, I don’t know. Yes, it satisfies the syllabic requirements. There are those who insist that it’s not syllables, but moras that should be counted, but that’s for truly hard-core haiku-ists. But mentioning leaves instead of just trees would help establish a seasonal theme. The opening X-has-Y formula seems a bit blunt in its application. Verbs like ‘have’ or ‘be’ are almost a waste of a syllable. And while the trees/building juxtaposition does establish a contrast, it feels like an arbitrary topic shift as opposed to a zooming in or zooming out. In sum, I think the pro-shorter-building position deserves a better poetic effort. I think this would represent an improvement:

    Leafy canopy
    blocks the light, unlike the bricks:
    sunlight filters through

    Perhaps Conan Smith could weigh in with a poetic effort here.

    For the pro-development side, I would suggest not a haiku, but something more playful as opposed to relfective.

    Please, sir, will you tell me why,
    you need to always see the sky?
    Sitting ‘neath a lovely tree,
    It’s only leaves that I can see.
    But trees, of course, we don’t implore
    To grow four stories and no more.
    Taller buildings only scare
    Short-sighted folks who only care
    About their precious small town charm
    So they’re quick to raise alarm
    If someone wants to build some towers
    ‘stead of planting trees and flowers.


       —HD    Apr. 5 '06 - 04:23PM    #
  60. Sorry, the AU glitches (I’m looking at AU with NO STYLES APPLIED, which is truly bizarre) resulted in the post of an inferior edition of the haiku (repetition of the same word ‘light’, that’s lame):

    Leafy canopy
    blocks the sun, unlike the bricks:
    gold rays filter through


       —HD    Apr. 5 '06 - 04:30PM    #
  61. I heart TPM!


       —Dale    Apr. 5 '06 - 05:52PM    #
  62. Stupid Hippies
    Count syllables against
    development smugly.

    Gawd, four stories? The sun’s going to be blotted out by the four stories? How about you move ten feet to the left then, and get back into the light?

    I have over 280 new Single Family Units going in around where I live, on the outskirts of town. There won’t be any mixed use out here, there won’t be any convenience stores or delis. Or even a goddamned bar. And yet the people downtown want to make sure that no one blocks out their light? What are you, fucking vegetables?
    My life in Ann Arbor will be immesurably better once it becomes a goddamned city, instead of a bullshit town full of rubes and yuppies.
    Get used to a vast sprawling wasteland, morons.


       —js    Apr. 5 '06 - 06:13PM    #
  63. Well, how about Leigh’s “unwarranted attack” on me for being desperate? Or his “unwarranted attack” on me for lying? Tsk.

    Don’t be daft, Cahill. Again, until you provide something to justify your highly negative comments I, and many others I presume, will believe you’ve fabricated your statements against Leigh.

    What, in your mind, FAA, would be “actual justification”? Affidavits?

    There’s no need to scan and post legal documents, but a line or two of supporting content would help your case which is otherwise completely barren of evidence (aren’t you a lawyer?). For example, state how you know a certain someone “wanted to take away [Rebekah’s] authority” rather than just blurting it out. How do you know this? Who provided this information to you? When?

    I believe the people who I have talked to who are personally involved. Others will believe Leigh.

    And that will continue to the be the case…


       —FAA    Apr. 5 '06 - 06:25PM    #
  64. TPM, your shirt slogans are great!

    HD, I dig your poetry but think Cahill has cornered the haiku market. How about limericks?


       —FAA    Apr. 5 '06 - 06:28PM    #
  65. FAA,

    The reasons for building it tall?
    Cuz our noggins are big and not small.
    No lines need be marked
    For cars to be parked
    It’s a city we want, not a mall.

    For the development-only-in-moderation side, I have no limerick. But really, the right literary form for that position is a ‘short story’, don’t you think?


       —HD    Apr. 5 '06 - 07:04PM    #
  66. Increasing density is the issue. If we limit building heights we must also limit space allocation. 600 sq ft per person. So if you have a house of 1800 sq ft then 3 people must live there or you will be fined. Doing this will increase density without having to build any more buildings.


       —Scott    Apr. 5 '06 - 08:30PM    #
  67. As usual, I’m a bit late in weighing in with my thoughts on this thread (I blame my daughter’s ear infection and my sinus infection this time). Here are my 2 cents .. sorry no poetry :)

    I really take issue with comments about a “real” citizen discussion of development issues without planners, architects and other developer types. Many of these people are citizens, too. Everyone’s opinion should count. As a nursing mother, I would have found it incredibly unfair to be disinfranchised from any discussions or participation in public hearings about the breastfeeding ordinances because I would be advantaged by the outcome. To me, the same applies for downtown. Everyone should get to voice their opinion. I’m not sure where the term “community consensus” came from … but I hate it. That’s never going to happen. And I wouldn’t like to live in the kind of place where everyone agrees about everything. Debate is essential to meaningful public policy … even if not everyone is happy at the end of the day.


       —Jennifer Hall    Apr. 5 '06 - 09:12PM    #
  68. One more thought … as for not meeting during the summers, I’m not sure what motivates people to support or not support a given resolution … so I’m not going to spectulate here. I do think that the resolution speaks for itself. There are a lot of residents (not just student residents) who won’t be here during the summer. It’s not fair to them to have party membership meetings where policy and process questions are debated and voted on. Furthermore, the chance that these people are going to stay engaged with the city party after being excluded from these debates is pretty slim. Anyway, it’s not the intent of the resolution to stop the city dems from doing our work. To respond to David’s comments about the need to keep meeting so we can ensure we stop the antics of Dick DeVos and others, I say this: I don’t know how dems having membership meetings in the summer can accomplish that? Seems to me the only way to do that is to get out and campaign.


       —Jennifer Hall    Apr. 5 '06 - 09:14PM    #
  69. Jennifer, I don’t want to discuss Dem campaign plans on an open blog. But I and others have a variety of ideas which require summer meetings to carry them out.

    No one will be excluded from debates. Why disfranchise those of us who will be here?

    So, I think summer meetings are required, both to monitor Council in our one-party system, and to beat Dick DeVos like a drum.

    The November election will be close. Right now, as I may have mentioned, Granholm and DeVos are tied in the polls.

    As strange as it may seem, if we Dems don’t turn out every possible vote in AA for Granholm, which requires summer meetings, she may lose.


       —David Cahill    Apr. 5 '06 - 10:21PM    #
  70. Well, with all due respect to former Mayor Sheldon (who I seem to agree with in principle), I don’t think the U of M was ever a “ho-hum midwest public university”. It’s always been a pretty well-respected place. However, it’s true that Ann Arbor was much sleepier in the past, and it’s also true that universities in general were a bit sleepier, too.


       —Young Urban Amateur    Apr. 5 '06 - 11:09PM    #
  71. Jennifer, I don’t want to discuss Dem campaign plans on an open blog. But I and others have a variety of ideas which require summer meetings to carry them out.

    Just for emphasis.


       —Dale    Apr. 6 '06 - 01:11AM    #
  72. Also, Mayor Sheldon was a (*&^ Republican and a big supporter of development. She prevented the creation of some needed historic districts.


       —David Cahill    Apr. 6 '06 - 01:12AM    #
  73. Oh, I forgot. An easy way to discredit people in this town is to use the dreaded “R” word.


       —Brandon    Apr. 6 '06 - 02:04AM    #
  74. Scott, I like the idea of incentives to increase density in (existing) buildings downtown. How about a carrot instead of a stick, though? The synergistic approach might be to provide a parking space for full-occupancy units. Any other ideas? (Or have I crossed over into Park-o-rama?)


       —Steve Bean    Apr. 6 '06 - 02:19AM    #
  75. Scott and Steve Bean,

    Whether it’s an incentive or punishment involved in managing the square feet per person, I’m curious to know how 600 sq ft stacks up against the prevailing averages downtown or elsewhere?


       —HD    Apr. 6 '06 - 02:36AM    #
  76. I don’t know what sort of mayor Ms. Sheldon was, but having spent several hours in her company, and having observed her post-mayoral public life, I have only possitive opinions. Would that I could say as much of many of the “Democrats” in public life in Ann Arbor. I repeat, in Ann Arbor Democrat = Plutocrat. They should hold their fucking meetings at Whole Foods. They could hire Y resdents to valet park their SUV’s over at Arborland.


       —Parking Structure Dude!    Apr. 6 '06 - 02:42AM    #
  77. Paris,
    The only way to get to the density of Paris and limit hieght is to limit sq ft. Most of those place in Paris that some so esteem are holes in the wall places of a bygone era.
    Also my proposal would have to extend to the whole city to pass 14th amendment challenges.


       —Scott    Apr. 6 '06 - 03:02AM    #
  78. “Jennifer, I don’t want to discuss Dem campaign plans on an open blog. But I and others have a variety of ideas which require summer meetings to carry them out.”

    Oh, that’s rich.

    The “reinvigoration” of the local Democratic Party was orchestrated by a few people—including Cahill and Lou Glorie—to try to get the Council to stop smart growth, turn their neighborhoods into historic districts, and pass resolutions on foreign policy.

    But there’s a problem.

    Cahill and Glorie’s plan was thwarted at the March meeting when rational people showed up and crippled Conan Smith’s moratorium.

    Cahill knows that he needs to stop that from happening again if he ever hopes to get his resolutions passed by the Party.

    Solution: hold meetings in the summer when those pesky stalwarts of the Democratic Party who disagree with Cahill’s conservative vision for Ann Arbor—students, environmentalists, and union members—are out of town or too busy to show up. Then, only the fringe activists are left to vote “YES” on Cahill’s resolutions.

    THAT’S why Cahill wants summer meetings.

    Cahill defends himself by playing the ultimate Democratic trump card: “Granholm might lose if we don’t meet!”

    Yeah, like Granholm’s re-election hinges on the passage of a resolution calling for a 4-floor height limit that’s supported by a lady who thinks she still lives in France and a guy whose hobby is issuing FOIAs.


       —realDemocrat    Apr. 6 '06 - 04:14AM    #
  79. Hey, if the Ann Arbor Dems don’t meet in the summer to plot strategy against DeVos, the city may only vote 72% Democrat instead of 77%.

    There are reasons to meet in the summer, with student input, but I don’t think Dick DeVos is one of them.


       —Dale    Apr. 6 '06 - 04:38AM    #
  80. “and a big supporter of development. She prevented the creation of some needed historic districts.”

    Y’know, I never liked her when she was in office, but hearing this I like her more.


       —js    Apr. 6 '06 - 04:41AM    #
  81. Dale— The most important way that Ann Arbor Dems defeat DeVos is with cash money, same as how they do anything else.


       —js    Apr. 6 '06 - 04:45AM    #
  82. Scott,
    For the sake of keeping all of us distinguishable, would you consider adding a last initial to our signature? (Hopefully it isn’t T)

    Re: average Multi-family residences (MFR) size,
    The census says that country-wide between 1999 and 2004, the percetage of MFR for SALE under 600ft2 ranged from 0-3%, with 600-800ft making up another 2-3%. The vast majority was over 1200ft2.
    The midwest tends a bit more towards the large end.
    For MFR’s for RENT, MFRs 600-800ft2 jump to 10% and the rest is spread evenly over 800-1000, 1000-1200, and 12000 & up.
    So 600ft2 is pretty small compared to nation-wide averages. If there is a market for this size, it seems that it is yet-to-be-discovered. Apartments and condos of this size would be more affordable and contribute to density.
    (note: I don’t think anyone is advocating for Paris level density, and I doubt that such supply would sell here.)

    Requiring or offering incentives for full-occupancy seems intrusive, unnecessary, and unenforcable to me. I’d guess that such a policy would mostly attract people who lie about how many people live in their home.

    Kingsley Lane has floor plans for some units that are under 700ft2 without parking (I think). I don’t know the price, but I’d hope that this type of housing might be approching affordable.


       —Scott TenBrink    Apr. 6 '06 - 07:06AM    #
  83. 600 sq ft?! Palaces! We’re tentatively looking at buying in NYC (holy crap!). There’s some new stuff going up in Long Island City (that’s in Queens, right across the river from midtown Manhattan and on top of a bunch of trains; but warehouse-dense right now) that is affordable for NYC, especially for so close to lower Manhattan. We’re looking at 450 sq ft studio apartments at just under $250k, which is cheap for the city, especially for a new, full service (doorman, gym, etc.) building. A 600 sq ft 1 bedroom would be a steal at $350k.

    Of course, NYC has subways, taxis, ferries, and ZipCar and, well, it’s NYC…


       —Scott T.    Apr. 6 '06 - 03:38PM    #
  84. And I should say our current apartment is approximately 400-450 sq ft (it’s a “1 bedroom” but it’s small) ... and you can live comfortably in that small a space, even with two people and a dog.


       —Scott T.    Apr. 6 '06 - 03:41PM    #
  85. Interesting discussion, but I couldn’t help laughing when I read about summer meetings to discuss secret Democratic stategies to re-elect Granholm? Hasn’t she done enough damage? It won’t matter if Ann Arbor votes 100% Democratic. But, maybe you would even get my vote if you could plan this summer how to accomplish a 180 degree turnaround of the economic climate of the entire state.


       —Karen Luck    Apr. 6 '06 - 04:30PM    #
  86. Dale, your comment in #79 hit the nail on the head. The Governor’s race may be so close that if Ann Arbor votes 77% Dem, Granholm wins. If AA votes 72% Dem, Granholm loses.

    Summer Dem meetings may make the difference.


       —David Cahill    Apr. 6 '06 - 04:57PM    #
  87. Wow! A lot of heat here at AU. As a person working hard to bring more folks into the city dem party, I’m glad to see the passion. I hope you all come out to the meeting Saturday morning 10am at the Palmer Commons (100 Washtenaw Ave.)

    Suffice it to say there is a diversity of thought on how much development should occur in our great downtown. Having spoken with many A2 citizens regarding this issue, I know some folks don’t want hardly anything built, others a big city with lots of density. Others are somewhere in between. Clearly its an issue of relevance for the local dem party.

    As for the Govenor’s race, I give you some stats:

    Engler won his first term with about 17,000 more votes than Blanchard in 1990.

    Granholm received 19,000 fewer votes in 2002 than Kerry did in 2004 in the city of Ann Arbor.

    Granholm received 44,000 fewer votes countywide in 2002 than Kerry did in 2004.

    Clearly the city and county could make a big impact in a close govenors race with a better get out the vote effort in 2006 than in 2002.

    See ya Saturday -


       —Tim Colenback    Apr. 6 '06 - 05:34PM    #
  88. “Hasn’t she done enough damage?”

    I have to laugh when I see conservatives post stuff like this about the Governor. What’s happened since she’s taken office? Personal income tax rates are lower than when Engler was Governor. The threshold amount for businesses paying the SBT was increased so that fewer small businesses have to pay. Unless you’re a smoker, you likely haven’t seen ANY increase in your state taxes since Granholm has taken office. She’s reduced the number of employees in state government to the levels they were at in the early 1970s. At the same time, funding for public schools has increased. All of this was done despite taken office with a 1.8 billion dollar budget deficit left by John Engler.

    Does the economy in Michigan stink? Sure it does. When you are home to 2.5 of the Big Three automobile companies and all of the related suppliers and they are all suffering through a shakeout of their operations, that’s going to hurt the state in a way that it doesn’t affect Idaho or New Jersey. But there’s no magic wand that Scamway Dick DeVos can cast across the state that will fix all of that. I think the Governor has done a great job with the difficulties she’s had to face and the fact that none of her opponents can actually muster real alternatives to what she’s done over the past 4 years just goes to show that they don’t have any answers to these difficult problems.


       —John Q.    Apr. 6 '06 - 08:42PM    #
  89. Well said, John Q.! But with Dick DeVos pumping millions of his own dollars into his campaign, it’s going to be a long, ugly grind to November.


       —David Cahill    Apr. 6 '06 - 10:01PM    #
  90. Having the AA Dems not meet in the summer has nothing to do with campaigning for anyone. We wholeheartedly support working to defeat Devos, and making sure Jenny is Re-elected.

    At the same time we need to ensure that during the summer, when students arent present, the locla club does not gage in un-democratic actions, such as working to pass a couch ban, or anything of the nature. It is sad, but previous actions by local community members have forced college students to be somewhat skeptical of the summer months.

    Lets work this out…...


       —College DEm    Apr. 6 '06 - 10:06PM    #
  91. Well, College DEm, I just asked Jeff Souza, who is in charge of Democratic voter ID for the whole county, how he felt about the City Dems not meeting over the summer. He responded:

    “I would very much like to keepthe Ann Arbor organization active during the summer. It’s necessary to performvoter ID. Will having the official meetings help this process? I would think so.” Jeff also said he would be willing to come to the City Dems at our projected May 13 meeting and speak.

    I find your argument about not wanting the City Dems to engage in un-democratic actions a bit hard to follow.

    The infamous couch ban was not proposed by any Democratic party meeting. Instead, it was proposed by one City Council member, and his own colleagues did not back him up.

    A whole bunch of us non-College Dems came to your hugely successful pancake breakfast on March 27. Why would we then literally “bite the hand that feeds us” by doing something against students?

    I think you are artificially dividing students from non-students, and playing into the hands of the Republicans. Remember – “If we do not hang together, we shall assuredly all hang separately.”


       —David Cahill    Apr. 6 '06 - 11:26PM    #
  92. College Dem,

    Frankly, as a full time resident of Ann Arbor, I’m a bit resentful of the fact that you wish the A2 City Party to go on hiatus b/c you are skidaddling out of here during the summer months.

    Have things happened during the summer that weren’t friendly to students? You betcha. Who did that again? It was City Council.

    Perhaps you should be pushing to have council cease its work over the summer months.

    Or perhaps more students should make a concerted effort to live in A2 over the summer and participate fully in the life of our city.


       —Young OWSider    Apr. 6 '06 - 11:29PM    #
  93. How about some compromise proposal whereby Dems do not skip meeting during the summer, but make some pledge not to consider student-related matters until fall returns?
    I know there are boundary problems (e.g., what is a “student matter”?), but some kind of accommodation could be reached.
    The extremes of: a) shutting down the party apparatus for 3-4 months; or on the other hand, b) passing surreptitious couch bans, tattooing bans, water pipe (“bong”) bans, etc. while UM kids are off in Nepal saving the world for the summer, are both problematic. So some kind of “in the middle” solution may be optimal here.


       —David Boyle    Apr. 7 '06 - 02:16AM    #
  94. Well, the City Party didn’t do anything on student-related matters at its March 11 meeting. It’s not scheduled to do anything on student-related matters at its April 8 meeting. I don’t think the Party would lose much if it passed a resolution stating that it would not do anything on student-related matters until September.

    I will want to see what the students who show up at tomorrow’s meeting feel, though, before I would support such a concept.


       —David Cahill    Apr. 7 '06 - 12:25PM    #
  95. The infamous couch ban was not proposed by any Democratic party meeting. Instead, it was proposed by one City Council member

    Well, obviously it needed a Council member to put it on the agenda, but David’s attempt to place sole responsibility on Mr. Greden seems pretty disingenuous. I seem to remember that there was a pretty clear “paper” trail of e-mails showing that members of the Old Fourth Ward Association explicitly urged Mr. Greden to push through the couch ban during the summer, before students come back. Sure, “the A2 Democratic Party” had nothing to do with it, but that’s because the group didn’t exist at the time, right?

    Trying to pretend that Council acts alone, in the absence of pressure from concerned citizens is just plain wrong, and trying to cast Greden as some sort of rogue Councilmember with a personal vendetta against students is, well, David Cahill should hang alone on that claim, by his own declaration.

    I agree that shutting down over the summer is a little extreme, but, also, who is to say what a “student related matter” is? One could argue that the couch ban wasn’t a “student related matter”, but a “couch related matter” that just happened to fall heavily on students. Similarly, a resolution, say, opposed to the construction of a North Quad could be seen as not a “student related matter”, but a “historic preservation related matter” that just happens to affect students heavily.

    Maybe we should appoint some sort of UM Dem representative with the authority to point out during the summer that certain actions are likely to impact students disproportionately, and push considerations of those actions to the fall?


       —TPM    Apr. 7 '06 - 01:46PM    #
  96. TPM—
    But the Old 4th Warders didn’t put a gun to Mr. Greden’s head did they? I mean, just because a citizen group is loud doesn’t mean they’re right. I would hope that folks in leadership positions would recognize that and be willing to make tough choices that might upset some constituents—like not trying to pass the couch ban while students were away.

    I can understand saying that Mr. Greden didn’t cook up the couch ban on his own. But he was responsible for moving it forward, and moving it forward he did. We should let him own that.


       —Young OWSider    Apr. 7 '06 - 02:09PM    #
  97. The funny thing about this is that a lot of students are around during the summer (esp. those upperclassmen and grad students likely to be most involved/engaged in local issues anyway). Opposition to the couch ban was highly successful, despite it taking place in the summer… and with the Internet, it’s not hard for those out-of-town to stay in-the-loop and make their voices heard. So… hate to say it, but it does seem silly to cease operations of an organization just because a few members skip town for a couple months…


       —Brandon    Apr. 7 '06 - 02:11PM    #
  98. Having the party shut down is the furthest thing from what we want. We are asking- proposing that the local club, of which we have supported tremendously not pass resolutions in the months when we are not here. We encourage the local club to meet, campaign, ID, and work towards our common goals, but to refrain from passing agenda items without a large constituency.

    Greden certainly wasn’t the only force behind the couch ban. Last night at the College Dems meeting, which drew about 4 dozen students he said that many constituents were behind it. These same constituents make are those that could be passing resolutions in the summer. It has happened in the past and we simply ask that things like this don’t continue. David Boyle said it best, lets compromise and work it out.


       —College Dem    Apr. 7 '06 - 06:16PM    #
  99. The proposed resolution, by Jennifer Hall and Libby Benton, says “the Ann Arbor Democratic Party will suspend monthly party meetings during May, June, July, and August….” Passing this would stop the monthly meetings altogether, rather than just restrict what they may do.

    If someone wants to introduce a substitute resolution, it could be along the following lines:

    “Resolved, that it is out of order for a resolution stating a Party position on a matter primarily affecting University of Michigan students to be debated or adopted at a general Party meeting in May, June, July, or August, 2006.”

    This is the right form, anyway.

    Oh – three Council members have told me they plan to be at tomorrow’s meeting:

    Bob Johnson (First Ward)
    Joan Lowenstein (Second Ward)
    Stephen Rapundalo (Second Ward)


       —David Cahill    Apr. 7 '06 - 06:44PM    #
  100. The current bylaws of the Party say that meetings shall not occur in June, July or August … so this idea isn’t even a new one. Libby and I were not aware of this when submitting our resolution, but glad to have found this out. The proposed changes to the bylaws (which have not been adopted) do not restrict when meetings can happen.

    Perhaps the resolution was worded a bit restrictively … as College Dem has posted, the intent is really to avoid any policy statements on behalf of the city party. I would be supportive of some kind of substitute language, but not the language proposed by David. I believe that ALL issues in this town are equally important to all residents, including students. For example, building heights determine the availability, cost, and location of housing. It’s not just about couches and leases.


       —Jennifer Hall    Apr. 7 '06 - 07:34PM    #
  101. David’s right, College Dem. Currently you’re asking for the city party to essentially cease meeting and conducting business during the summer months, and that’s just not cool.

    Here’s hoping we can reach a compromise.


       —Young OWSider    Apr. 7 '06 - 07:40PM    #
  102. Wait. We’re not even supposed to meet during the summer? Where are we? France? Washington, DC?


       —Young OWSider    Apr. 7 '06 - 07:42PM    #
  103. Jennifer, it seems that what you really want to do is prevent criticism of Calthorpe, rather than defend legitimate student interests. Or am I missing something here?


       —David Cahill    Apr. 7 '06 - 07:54PM    #
  104. Considering that the resolution is co-sponsored by a student, I will support a resolution that would suspend voting on resolutions during the summer. Who is to be the judge of what is “student-related”? And, the elections that many people will be working on are Primaries, in which the party, in it’s by-laws, does not take a stand. In addition, the Coordinated Campaign office, which will open soon, will be run by the Congressional District and the County Party (Granholm/Stabenow). The main reason for the demise of the City Party was the change of city general elections to November instead of April. Working for candidates is far more important than passing resolutions to which few folks pay much attention. Elected bodies are accountable to the voters, not to the “party”, whatever form it takes.


       —Leah    Apr. 7 '06 - 08:57PM    #
  105. Leah,

    With all due respect people in the party are voters, and therefore elected bodies do have at least some responsibility to the party members. Additionally, the “party” is doing a lot of work to organize voters throughout Ann Arbor and to educate and inform voters. If those voters then become active in the party, do they simply not matter as much as the masses of uninformed? It’s all connected, I think, and to simply write off the “party” – which appears to be a good chunk of active, informed, intelligent, and passionate Democrats – as unimportant is a bit harsh and perhaps shortsighted.

    Fondly,
    Young OWSider


       —Young OWSider    Apr. 7 '06 - 09:08PM    #
  106. Define “party” – National, State, County, Local??? As you know, I am an elected official, and when I have run for office, I never received any help from any “party”. I had friends, neighbors and constituents help me, especially when I was threatened with a recall because I voted in favor of the shelter. But in no way did any “party” help my campaign.

    Last year, I was campaign manager for Marcia Higgins – same result. We sent out a number of e-mails asking for help – none came.

    And the year before that, I was campaign manager for John Hieftje (in an even year) and we got some help with a mailing and a little door-to-door from the Coordinated Campaign, but not much.

    It appears to me that this reconsituted “party” seems to be a platform for people wanting to air resolutions rather than do the hard work of getting Democrats elected. Personally, I would rather help Democrats be elected that sit in meetings. And that is what I plan to do this summer and fall.

    And, I was very active indeed in the 70’s and 80’s when the city party did exist, as a block worker, precinct chair, V-C for Organizaton and Chair of the 2nd Congressional District. I am a card carrying Democrat with membership credentials from the Democratic National Committee and the Michigan Democratic Party. So my “party” credentials are quite fine.

    I still maintain that my obligation, as a County Commissioner, is first to my conscience and then to do the best job I can for the whole county and for my constituents.

    Thank you.


       —Leah    Apr. 7 '06 - 09:53PM    #
  107. Leah—
    I had no idea who you were, but thanks for sharing all that information.

    In fall ‘04 I realized that there’s no organizational structure to help get out the vote for Democrats on a local, state, and national level. And that was surprising to me as someone who hadn’t been terribly ivolved in the past.

    So a few people in my precinct have been meeting and organizing from the ground up so that we can reach out to our neighbors, help inform and educate them, and then get them out to vote, volunteer, and give money or help in any other way.

    And frankly I’m astonished that my city council members (Woods and Easthope) aren’t at least having outreach meetings with voters in the 5th Ward. If elected officials feel so beholden to their constituents, then they should begin acting like they give a damn about their constituents.

    And I think at least one reason why there are some outspoken people at these meetings and in this city trying to create change in some way is that their councilman/woman, mayor, county commissioner, etc, aren’t attempting to be proactive in reaching out to them as constituents. Sure they ask for your vote. But they don’t give a rat’s patootie about what constituents actually think.

    And that’s a shame.

    As someone who was so involved in the past and is apparently proud of that fact, why did the local party die when you were so involved?

    Fondly,

    Young OWSider


       —Young OWSider    Apr. 7 '06 - 10:08PM    #
  108. We should recognize that some people holding positions with the City are reluctant to see the rise of a new center of political influence (the City Party). It may make life harder for them. However, citizens should have a convenient way of speaking their minds in an organized manner on important issues. The Party provides that vehicle.


       —David Cahill    Apr. 7 '06 - 10:14PM    #
  109. However, citizens should have a convenient way of speaking their minds in an organized manner on important issues. The Party provides that vehicle.

    Not all of us are comfortable riding in that vehicle. Personally, I’d rather walk.


       —Citizen    Apr. 7 '06 - 10:42PM    #
  110. If “Resolved, that it is out of order for a resolution stating a Party position on a matter primarily affecting University of Michigan students to be debated or adopted at a general Party meeting in May, June, July, or August, 2006” is not good, Jennifer, what sort of language would you prefer?

    I had actually been thinking that such a proposal was not bad, but it seems you want nothing but a total ban on meetings or resolutions in late spring and summer. Is that the best idea, everything considered? Especially when presumed college Dems like College Dem are more amenable to a moderate solution?

    (By the way, one wonders if “ALL issues in this town are equally important to all residents, including students”; issues like property taxes and senior citizen matters, say, could be less important to students.)


       —David Boyle    Apr. 7 '06 - 11:06PM    #
  111. Student renters pay property taxes. I’m sure my landlords have never paid one cent of their own money on the property taxes on the houses they rent. It all comes from the rent check.


       —Dale    Apr. 7 '06 - 11:21PM    #
  112. YoungOWsider:
    Your post promted me to write. It appears to me that you have never taken advantage of the mayor’s weekly open office hours, or the breakfast coffees at local restaurants, or his brown bag lunch times in Liberty Plaza Park. I have found the mayor to be very open to hearing from residents, he makes time for anyone to come and talk to him. In the case of my neighborhood, he was incredibly helpful in stopping an oversized development proposal that threatened our quality of life. Why don’t you call his office, go and see him and then decide if he cares?


       —Katy    Apr. 8 '06 - 03:13AM    #
  113. Katy,

    Thanks for informing me of the mayor’s availability. I have found him surprisingly available even via email. Forgive me for lumping him together with the rest of our city council.

    We don’t get the local paper for a number of reasons, so I don’t see notices announcing these things. Are the events listed on the city’s website?

    Fondly,

    Young OWSider


       —Young OWSider    Apr. 8 '06 - 10:55AM    #
  114. YOWSider:

    The times are not always on the website but they are right now. The Friday open office hours have been a set thing for years along with the Liberty Plaza lunches on the 1st and 3rd Mondays. The coffees are a couple of times a year. He was at Leopolds a few months ago to meet with Bloggers…
       —Katy    Apr. 8 '06 - 12:50PM    #
  115. Is this meeting still going? What happened? I don’t consider myself a Democrat, so I sat out, but I’m curious.


       —Brandon    Apr. 8 '06 - 05:18PM    #
  116. It was a terrific meeting! At least 70 or 80 people were there. We approved new bylaws, with a provision that no resolutions are to be passed at the May – August meetings. Murph made an interesting comment during the debate. He said that Council would pay attention to what was discussed at the meetings, even though we didn’t pass resolutions.

    We passed the Iraq resolution, but amended it to delete the word “immediately” from the first Resolved clause, so that it now says “BE IT RESOLVED, that the Ann Arbor City Democratic Party urges the United States government to commence an orderly and rapid withdrawal of United States military personnel from Iraq.”

    During the discussion period on development, I asked Mayor Hieftje and Council member Bob Johnson to clarify what was happening with historic districts. Bob said that the staff was in fact divided about development in the districts. John said that the City was initially working on design guidelines and “green building” issues. People who are familiar with the new historic preservation staff person said she was good. So I withdraw my resolution.

    Lou Glorie withdrew her four-story height-limit resolution and offered a substitute calling for a ballot proposal that would allow Ann Arborites to decide whether or not the City should require a cap of six stories on new construction, with some exceptions. It failed after vigorous discussion.

    Some news of special interest to Arbor Update bloggers. One Council member said I was “brave” to post things here. I said I knew some people were not posting because they realized what they said could be taken down and used against them in the court of public opinion. Another Council member said that “everybody” on Council reads Arbor Update.

    Mayor Hieftje and Council members Johnson, Lowenstein, Carlberg, Greden, Teall, Higgins, and Woods were there. Thanks for coming, people!

    And hi to Roger Fraser, Susan Pollay, and the rest of the City Hall lurkers. 8-)


       —David Cahill    Apr. 8 '06 - 05:34PM    #
  117. Thanks for report. (Might have come to meeting myself but had another engagement this morning)

    So there was no resistance to the ban on resolutions May-August? A little surprising, maybe. Did anyone speak against the ban at all?
       —David Boyle    Apr. 8 '06 - 06:18PM    #
  118. There was a long discussion about it, and the ban only passed narrowly. I also offered my version, which would have allowed resolutions on non-student matters. That failed big-time.


       —David Cahill    Apr. 8 '06 - 06:21PM    #
  119. Sorry to hear! I thought that your version, or at least that basic idea, might be the most moderate and rational solution. But maybe the extremists on both sides didn’t like it (heh).


       —David Boyle    Apr. 8 '06 - 06:30PM    #
  120. The resolution passed, which means that good work can get done over the summer without policies and statements being made without the input of the entire community. Thanks to all who came to the meeting!

    I would advise as many students and young community members as possible to continue to attend summer meetings. There is much good work and discussion to be done. And, from the comments made to me after the meeting, I wouldn’t be suprised if there were efforts made during the summer to reverse our resolution which changed the bylaws.

    In other news, we just lost the College Dems/College Republicans Kick Ball game, but raised $300 for Relay for Life.


       —Libby Benton    Apr. 8 '06 - 06:42PM    #
  121. I was not really calling anyone an extremist Libby! (heh—just tongue in cheek) Extremely good organizer, sounds more accurate.

    Sorry about Kick Ball loss, but nice job on Relay for Life! I “second” you on recommending high student/youth participation at summer Dem meetings, by way.
       —David Boyle    Apr. 8 '06 - 06:54PM    #
  122. Libby – I am planning to be here in the summer, and any attempt to reverse the by-laws will be blocked by those of us who supported you and the college Dems today. I agree with you that students and young people should participate, and sometime soon the Coordinated Campaign of the Michigan Democratic Party will be getting up and running, and that is where the action will be for those who want to help Granhlom and Stabenow. It won’t help them to attend meetings that get tangled up wasting time in parliamentary procedure, which appears not to be very well understood. I was glad that Tom Murray was there to keep things moving along! And, it appears that the various resolutions on stopping development in the downtown were soundly defeated.

    As for being “brave” to post on Arbor Update,we are all “brave” and risk being attacked. That’s life.


       —Leah    Apr. 8 '06 - 07:22PM    #
  123. Libby, I agree with Leah on the bylaws. Even though I did not support the resolution ban, nonetheless I will vigorously oppose re-opening the issue over the summer.

    What kinds of things were said to you after the meeting?

    Leah, what is your best guess as to when the Coordinated Campaign for Granholm and Stabenow will start in Washtenaw? I have heard rumors of a paid staff person (which would wonderful), but nothing more definite.


       —David Cahill    Apr. 8 '06 - 08:09PM    #
  124. Elected officials can’t really be called brave for being held accountable by their constituents, can they? Well, I guess they can. But they shouldn’t.


       —Young OWSider    Apr. 8 '06 - 08:10PM    #
  125. This article is directly related to our plans for downtown, including building heights…..

    Since no one else posted this…...it’s an article about the death rattle that downtown Brighton is facing. And this is the situation BEFORE the new mega-mall has been built. For what it’s worth, I think that the tax is insane. Essentially, their solution to enrcroaching mall is to out-advertise (outspend) national retail chains.

    This should be, what, like the tenth dead canary in the coalmine warning for downtown Ann Arbor, no?


       —todd    Apr. 8 '06 - 09:41PM    #
  126. Oh, and I forgot to add that earlier this week I spoke with a developer/real estate guy I know well, and he said that the University of Michigan ended their leases for thousands of square feet of office space in and around downtown in the last few months.

    I know that the UMich offices across from our place is pulling up stakes in a couple of months.

    Probably related to the new digs opening up on Huron. Could be for more complex and serious reasons, though.

    Not good.


       —todd    Apr. 8 '06 - 10:08PM    #
  127. Indeed, not good news, Todd. With so much empty space downtown, we should focus on filling what we have, rather than on constructing a bunch of huge new buildings which may very well remain vacant.

    I have mentioned before direct DDA rent subsidies for locally-owned businesses. I’ll just mention it again.


       —David Cahill    Apr. 8 '06 - 11:19PM    #
  128. indeed, todd, it is reminiscent of the puppeteers abandoning the galactic core!


       —peter honeyman    Apr. 9 '06 - 01:11AM    #
  129. My take on the meeting: this was quite possibly the craziest, most disorganized, procedure-laden, and content-lacking “meeting” I have ever attended. Half the meeting was taken up with discussions about changing the agenda, protocol of changing the agenda, arguing about protocol, decisions about time-keeping, and arguing about the decisions on time-keeping. Then there were the out-of-order amendments, the complaints about the spelling mistakes, the friendly amendments, the acceptance of the friendly amendments, the discussions of protocol, the redacting of amendments, the calls to cease discussion, the votes to cease discussion, the call to vote, the explanations of what people were voting on because by this time everyone was so confused, no one knew, and then, the inevitable argument on what the original resolution, the friendly resolution, and the amendments had all been.

    Then the proposal to cease meetings in the summer (actually from April to September) was passed “in order to show solidarity” between the City and Campus Democrats which seemed sort of silly, given that there was little to no interaction between the two at the meeting and the general suspicious nature toward each other (i.e., I wouldn’t be surprised if there were efforts made during the summer to reverse our resolution: try to be slightly gracious Libby, you just won, remember). I found it interesting that the Campus Dems have their own meetings open only to students, but then get upset when the City Dems have a meeting without them.

    The meeting ended by someone bringing up the fact that one of the resolutions that had been put off on the agenda now needed to be voted on and the suggestion was made to postpone it until the next meeting. There was a brief moment of silence while everyone realized that the next meeting where any resolution could be discussed was five months away. So there was a flurry of discussion and then, after half the people had already left, the issue was voted on. Great. As people started streaming out, everyone who had announcements was trying to shout them out above the bustle. Unfortunately, those were probably the most important part of the meeting and they got lost in the mess.

    The whole meeting was just out of control. It was hysterically funny in many ways but sad too. If this is how the Democratic party is run across the country, no wonder Republicans get voted into office.


       —Juliew    Apr. 9 '06 - 09:06PM    #
  130. the University of Michigan ended their leases for thousands of square feet of office space in and around downtown in the last few months

    I wouldn’t read much into this. The Perry School addition is now finished and ISR moved into it this month from their large rented building on Eisenhower. Also, LS&A is almost finished and so all of those departments are finally moving back into their own building after being scattered all over town. On the other hand, the Art Museum is now renting space on South U as they start renovation. None of these are unexpected, nor unanticipated, moves. They happen all the time as new construction projects begin and are completed.


       —Juliew    Apr. 9 '06 - 09:18PM    #
  131. “I wouldn’t read much into this.”

    Yeah, I’m tempted to agree. However, owners of office space downtown are pretty jumpy about it. In other words, it’s easy for me to agree because I don’t have any money riding on my ability find new tenants to pay what UMich did….and there has been a material amount of new office space installed outside of downtown of late. We will see what happens soon enough.

    Oh, and Dave, there’s a pretty big difference between office vacancy and residential vacancies, and the majority of the new ‘big’ projects are for residential space.

    I thought it was interesting enough to note these market changes.


       —todd    Apr. 9 '06 - 09:39PM    #
  132. Juliew—
    Thanks for the rundown on the meeting. It’s interesting to hear how procedural it was—that’d drive me bonkers. There’s nothing worse than a poorly-run meeting.

    That said, I’ve been perusing my recent comments, and I think I might have come off as unnecessarily harsh on my councilmembers. I have nothing against the 5th Ward representatives, and they’ve never wronged me in any way, shape, or form.

    I still have concerns, however, that our city council members across the board aren’t terribly pro-active when it comes to reaching out to citizens. Accessibility is fantastic but passive. Lynn Rivers used to have gatherings at Sweetwaters. And goodness knows there are enough places in the 5th Ward to meet constituents.

    And regarding downtown businesses—rumor has it that Lotus Thai is going to open up a new place downtown. I know it’s another restaurant, but I’m just jazzed to possibly be getting a decent Thai place within walking distance.

    Happy Spring!

    Young OWSider


       —Young OWSider    Apr. 9 '06 - 10:29PM    #
  133. “Then the proposal to cease meetings in the summer (actually from April to September) was passed” does not seem to tally with the announced existence of May and September meetings, see AA Dems Calendar of Upcoming Events ,

    “Saturday May 13th, 2006

    General Meeting
    ...

    Saturday September 9th, 2006

    General Meeting”.
       —David Boyle    Apr. 9 '06 - 10:40PM    #
  134. Also, I have met Libby and she seemed gracious, and more than “slightly”, I might add.


       —David Boyle    Apr. 9 '06 - 10:44PM    #
  135. YOWSider:

    Respectively… let me ask, what sort of outreach are you looking for? For the past year council has sponsored interactive workshops, held countless public hearings on downtown and the Greenway, held open budget discussion sessions, a caucus every two weeks just to discuss things informally… In addition to all that the mayor held a “townhall” meeting last spring on the Greenway and as I said before, has open office hours every week in addition to other outreach. And in the 5th Ward? It is on the website, he will be at the Village Kitchen on Saturday the 22nd. Do you want them to come to your door? I have taken advantage of this openness and it works fine. Of course they don’t always agree with me but they almost always ready to talk, some more than others of course but for the most part I have found it easy to reach my council members.
       —Katy    Apr. 10 '06 - 01:20AM    #
  136. Katy,

    You mention all of these things that are there for people who are paying attention. That’s great. But the vast majority of people around these parts don’t pay attention. They have no clue about the Greenway. They don’t know one thing about Calthorpe. People are lazy. Do I blame council for the laziness? That wouldn’t be fair. But I do blame council members for not reaching out.

    I’ve been to the Calthorpe-centered council meetings and spoken at one. I’ve been to city party meetings. I’ve been to county party meetings. I’ve been involved in grassroots organizing. I canvassed for the Coordinated Campaign in 2004. I’m on the board of a statewide Dem caucus. I email my council members. I talk to my council members at meetings. I like my council members as people and usually they make good decisions. I don’t think I can be much clearer than that, can I?

    HOWEVER, I do believe, and I don’t think I’m out of line with this, that they could do more in interacting with constituents. And I’m not talking about the mayor here, as I’ve said before. If Lynn Rivers could have a coffee klatch at Sweetwaters, then why can’t Easthope or Woods or Rapundalo or Teal? You talk about coming to the door as if it’s a bad thing. I don’t think it is. Feasible? Maybe not. But imagine if a city council person canvassed your ‘hood and asked you what was on your mind. What if your council person showed up to your block party or Easter Egg hunt or whatnot just to talk and to take the pulse of their constituents.

    Perhaps they do this, but they haven’t made it to our block’s party or Easter Egg hunt.

    Finally, as I’ve tried to make clear, this isn’t about reaching my city council members. My complaint is about them reaching out to their constituents in a proactive way. For the most part that isn’t happening.


       —Young OWSider    Apr. 10 '06 - 01:33AM    #
  137. Juliew, I thought the meeting went as well as could be expected with 70 to 80 strong-willed political activists making a lot of decisions in a compressed time period.

    Remember that this organization is still in its “start-up phase”, so some things may be a bit rough around the edges. The procedural matters (such as the bylaws, when we will pass resolutions, and limits on debate) only had to be decided once.

    With regard to the regular monthly meetings, they will still occur. The party only voted not to pass resolutions from May through August. The idea of not meeting at all was withdrawn.


       —David Cahill    Apr. 10 '06 - 02:03AM    #
  138. Juliew wrote: “My take on the meeting…”

    Apologies for the bellowing laughter which you can’t hear, Julie, but welcome to my world (former chair of the Green Party of Michigan.) That’s what happens when people who can’t see the forest for the trees are given too much of an opportunity to talk…

    Young OWsider: I don’t think you can expect elected officials to try to compensate for the fact that their constituents are ‘lazy’. Representative democracy is a ‘who watches the watchers?’ situation. If people are interested in having a say in the decisions that will affect their lives, they’ll get involved. If they’re too lazy to do so, well, that’s their (and often our) problem. Granted, American society has created circumstances wherein people are trained to be disaffected or to feel powerless. But if you’re truly interested in effecting change, then you’ll find a way to get that rep’s ear. Don’t expect them to come to you until October of an election year and in a city so dominated by single-party apathy, not even then.


       —Marc R.    Apr. 10 '06 - 02:43AM    #
  139. Julie-

    Sorry, my comment was not meant to be ungracious. I think the efforts on the part of many Ann Arbor Dems to reach out to students this year(attending our meetings, pancake breakfast, the creation of the student committee on the city council, holding meetings on campus, emailing and calling us to let us know about meetings and events) has been wonderful. With the high amount of student turnover, however, it is always important to keep up these connections and efforts.

    Also, all our meetings and events are open to all community members and are posted on our website (www.umich.edu/~umdems). We have everyone from high school students to local elected officials attend. Our last meeting is this Thursday night at 8 p.m. in the Anderson Room.


       —Libby    Apr. 10 '06 - 03:21AM    #
  140. Dear Young OWSider,

    Thanks for your comments. Like other City Councilmembers, I am constantly engaged with my constitutents and the greater community. Whether it be Sweetwater type gatherings, community forums, task force and commission meetings, phone calls, e-mail, ice cream socials, picnics, or block parties, I am in contact with my constitutents.

    For me, the day starts early, goes long and is very fast-paced. There is never a dull or unresponsive moment. So let me know your concerns.

    – Wendy Woods
       —Wendy Woods    Apr. 10 '06 - 05:57AM    #
  141. Libby, good to know that your meetings are open. From your website it looked like they were open only to current students or those who had just graduated. By the way, I like your web site and think the City Dems could learn a lot from the College Dems as far as web design and outreach. Maybe that could be a College Dems project next year: helping the City Dems put on a better public face.

    YoungOWSider, I understand your comments about City Councilmembers, but I do think many of them do take a lot of time out to attend meetings, go to forums, attend block parties, etc. Wendy Woods is the big winner: I see her at almost every meeting or event I go to, Jean Carlberg is also noted for attending many community events and meetings. However, I rarely see Higgins or Teall, who are my representatives. My neighbors and I have found them barely responsive to any of our concerns until about a month before any election, when they are suddenly very solicitous. I don’t know if any of the Councilmembers do any particular outreach (e-mail newsletter, mailings, open meeting hours, etc.) to their Ward. It certainly doesn’t happen in Ward 4.

    As an aside, I have found the Planning Commission members to be very open to community input and discussion.


       —Juliew    Apr. 10 '06 - 03:08PM    #
  142. Juliew wrote: “I don’t know if any of the Councilmembers do any particular outreach (e-mail newsletter, mailings, open meeting hours, etc.) to their Ward.”

    It’s my understanding that Stephen Rapundalo sends out an e-newsletter to Second Ward constituents who opt in.

    And the Greden Budget Letter that’s a part of the AU site library seems to be a part of a CM-to-Ward communication effort.


       —HD    Apr. 10 '06 - 03:21PM    #
  143. Dear Folks,

    The above was a very interesting discussion. I have a few comments:

    1) I’ve been a Dem Ward Chair or Precinct Captain here in Ann Arbor for years. We’ve never stopped meeting or being active in the 4th Ward. All this “re-invigorate” stuff if fun to watch, but we never lost our vigor.

    Leah, unbeknownst to you, the 4th Ward Dem Party organization has passed out your information for years and we are looking forward to supporting you as long as you want to serve. Thanks for taking the time out of your life. We’re too busy doing our own lives to serve as Commissioners

    2) Old West Sider, it’s your obligation to offer a coffee or meeting place at your house or other place, arranged by you, if you want outreach to occur. Organize an event, invite your volunteer council members, invite your neighbors and meet. That is how it works.

    3) One of the purposes of these meetings lately is to “watch over the shoulders of our council and direct them in this one party system”. In the past, city Dems that did not serve on Council helped those who did by carving up the Council agenda, doing background work, and providing information to Council so that they could vote. Most times there was consensus, but not always. The attempt to use Dem Pary meetings to achieve this end is and will be disasterous, or more likely, a waste of time. No group of 80 people can possibly provide sufficient background information for an informed vote with 1-2 minutes debate rules and a 20 minute total limit. As JulieW wrote, it’s just a disorganized waste of time.

    If folks really want to help Council with background information, they should organize a helper group and do that.

    If folks really want to use monthly meetings to get Dems elected, they should stop wasting valuable meeting time with half-baked resolutions that have no background information.

    As for me, I will spend my summer voter-id’ing, organizing, and getting ready to re-elect Jennifer, Leah, Larry, Margie, etc.

    Greg


       —Greg Hebert    Apr. 10 '06 - 04:04PM    #
  144. Gee, Greg, all I can say is that the huge pile of people at Saturday’s meeting didn’t think that their time was being wasted. 8-)


       —David Cahill    Apr. 10 '06 - 04:41PM    #
  145. Actually David, yes they did. A majority of the poeple were taking time away from more important issues, like their children, in order to make sure that the Ann Arbor Democratic Party didn’t pass embarrassing resolutions in their name. you know I love and appreciate all the work that you do to get good candidates elected but, as long as you folks keep trying to shanghai these meetings to get through attrition what you cannot get through documented persuasion, we have to keep explaining to our families how it is necessary to cancel our plans to come to these meetings.


       —Greg Hebert    Apr. 10 '06 - 05:07PM    #
  146. Well, if you think a resolution urging withdrawal from Iraq is embarrassing, then I guess that’s your problem – and a problem the overwhelming majority of the folks at the meeting did not share.


       —David Cahill    Apr. 10 '06 - 06:06PM    #
  147. David,

    You’re cherry picking. Hugs and kisses. Greg


       —Greg Hebert    Apr. 10 '06 - 06:08PM    #
  148. “Well, if you think a resolution urging withdrawal from Iraq is embarrassing, then I guess that’s your problem – and a problem the overwhelming majority of the folks at the meeting did not share.”

    Village Green Preservation Society out of Iraq! Landscaping and Yard Waste Removal Committee supports divestment! Pittsfield Township PTA decries IAEA aggression in Iran! Knights of Darkness Amalgamated Paper Role-Playing Group is resolved to oppose loosening of EPA emissions standards!


       —js    Apr. 10 '06 - 08:22PM    #
  149. Always glad to hear of more civic activism…


       —David Cahill    Apr. 10 '06 - 08:28PM    #
  150. It’s a bit after 7, with mild air and clear sky, a jolly time to stroll and take a look at a fine Waterloo sunset. I am in paradise. For the glare, I’ll put on my hat, which makes me look like Anthony Eden. But I don’t care.


       —hale    Apr. 10 '06 - 11:32PM    #
  151. Greg,

    Thanks so much for the info. As I think I’ve mentioned before, I’ve had pols over to my house to meet and greet. It’s gone swimmingly.

    But frankly I’m tired of being told that council members just have to sit back and wait for the invitations to roll in.

    Face it. Council is for the most part underwhelming. It seems like there isn’t a whole lot of leading going on down in city hall.


       —Young OWSider    Apr. 11 '06 - 12:25AM    #
  152. Dear Young OWSider,

    Typically council members spend 60 + hours a week on council, caucus, party meetings, neighborhood coffees, emails, phone calls, 2 or more commissions that they must attend, etc., plus the actual campaign to get elected. Frankly, my first concern when I ask someone to run is whether their marriage is strong enough to handle the stress.

    Face this: You don’t know what you are talking about. Remove yourself from your computer and go volunteer. It will be amazingly enlightening.


       —Greg Hebert    Apr. 11 '06 - 01:14PM    #
  153. Greg:

    I do volunteer—often. You frankly know not of what you speak regarding my volunteer efforts and activity level in the local party. Honestly, you just don’t. That’s been reduced lately because of a relative with cancer, but I’m still involved.

    In speaking with people who aren’t represented by my council members I hear the same thing: underwhelmed. Emails aren’t returned. Calls aren’t returned.

    Perhaps some council members are stretched too thin.


       —Young OWSider    Apr. 11 '06 - 02:22PM    #
  154. Dear Y OWS,

    Good for you. I’m glad you volunteer. And yes, the council members are stretched way too thin. I’ve been active for 35 years and it’s always the same. That’s why it’s important to me that we all pitch in. It’s our government. We only get back what we put in. I’m not willing to sacrifice the time to serve so I do my part in a support role. I personally think that for those who are issue oriented (I’m election oriented) they would do well to volunteer to their council members as research assistants or a help group.


       —Greg Hebert    Apr. 11 '06 - 02:40PM    #
  155. Greg,

    I think help groups would be fantastic for council members. Frankly, if we’re going to ask council to spend so much time on this stuff, we should pay more and make it full time. I know that’s not how these things work, and these days we’re told we running low on money, but still. 60 hours a week on TOP of everything else? It seems impossible to do.

    I got involved only recently (two years ago) but it’s amazing how easy it is to volunteer and how one person can make a huge difference.

    Perhaps I’ll contact my council people to share my willingness to help.


       —Young OWSider    Apr. 11 '06 - 02:53PM    #
  156. Council member Wendy Woods has submitted a resolution urging cessation of combat operations in Iraq and the return of U.S. troops, for action by City Council at its May 1 meeting. It is item D-21 on the Council agenda.

    The resolution is virtually identical to the resolution adopted at the Party meeting.


       —David Cahill    Apr. 27 '06 - 07:19PM    #
  157. The real action’s on the AA film festival thread (speaking of “combat operations”), but thanks anyway…(heh)!


       —David Boyle    Apr. 27 '06 - 07:25PM    #