Issues

Protecting our quality of life and our environment is of utmost importance to my constituents and myself. I believe it is critical to have checks and balances in place to preserve the character and value of our existing neighborhoods while allowing for new development where appropriate.  While on Council, I have supported upholding our zoning ordinances and have repeatedly voted against projects that negatively impact our neighborhoods and environment. I consider that being a responsible steward of the City’s tax revenue is a priority for Council members. We must maintain the City’s spending priorities in order to provide essential services. I add my professional knowledge and experiences to bring openness, transparency and accountability to this process. I believe the basic responsibility of city government is to build and maintain our essential infrastructure, such as streets, sewers and water systems. This is what Ward 1 residents have asked me to focus on and I believe I have represented their priorities during my time on Council.

Balanced Development while protecting our neighborhoods

Nixon North and South Developments

I opposed the Nixon developments along with the proposed Woodbury Club Apartments. Together, these developments represent an additional 750 units. This type of density is problematic for several reasons:

Nixon NS(1) This is a wetlands area.  Building on and developing wetlands deteriorates and destroys our watershed, a critical component of our fragile ecosystem.

(2) The City’s sewer and storm systems are aging and they will be stressed to handle the additional demands from these developments. The surrounding neighborhoods are already experiencing flooding that requires mitigation. This situation will only become worse by the new demands put on the system.

(3) Traffic congestion at Nixon, Dhu Varren and Green Roads is a major concern now for residents. These developments will only add to existing congestion in that area.

(4) These developments do not represent affordable housing for working families, as some have suggested.

Adding density where wetlands exist, where adequate underlying infrastructure is non-existent or is aging and breaking down, and where traffic congestion is already a major concern will destroy the quality of life that we all cherish in Ann Arbor. I will continue to vote against projects that negatively impact our neighborhoods and our environment.

413 E. Huron Street/The Foundry Lofts

413 E Huron is an example of how our current historic areas and neighborhoods can be seriously harmed when development is not well thought out.

Density belongs in downtown area, but there needs to be careful consideration about its placement relative to existing residential neighborhoods. Density like 413 E. Huron needs to be very cognizant of the “buffer zones” between downtown and historic residential areas. The character of our historic neighborhoods must be maintained.

I voted against 413 E. Huron and I will continue to vote against projects that negatively impact historic districts and residential neighborhoods.

Fiscal Responsibility

Downtown Development Authority (DDA)

In 2013, I spearheaded the efforts that placed a cap on the DDA’s future revenues so that benefits of tax increases are shared by the WCC, the AADL, the county and the city’s general fund.  The DDA Ordinance removed the fiscal uncertainty and improved public oversight of the DDA’s mission.

The revenue collected by the DDA has increased from $3.7 million in 2013 to more than allowed by the cap in 2016. For fiscal year 2016, the DDA will collect about $6.2 million and all of the new tax revenue above that amount will go to the City, the County, Washtenaw Community College, the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority and the Ann Arbor District Library.

In addition to the revenue cap, I also led the effort to have the DDA contribute to the City’s affordable housing fund. While I originally sought $500,000 per year from the DDA, Council reached a compromise that requires the DDA to provide $300,000 per year to our affordable housing fund.

Most recently, I proposed that the DDA cover an additional $320,000 for the streetlight replacements in Kerrytown. This would have allowed the City to use these funds for pedestrian safety and crosswalk enhancements. While the majority on Council voted against this proposal, I will continue to support measures that reflect the priorities of our residents and provide for essential services like crosswalk safety.

Public Art

I strongly support public art and believe it adds to the quality of life for city residents. However, when restricted millage monies are used for public art, the very nature of the art becomes restricted by its funding mechanism. Therefore, we must make sure when we do approve public art,  it comes from sources that are not restricted and assure that residents get the art they deserve.

I was one of the ardent proponents who worked to eliminate the percentage for art program. Fundamentally, I believe that it is wrong to take dedicated millages to pay for things other than what they were enacted for.

For example, taking money dedicated to repairing our sewer infrastructure to build art connected to sewage is wrong. Voters approved sewer millage to pay for sewer lines and improved capacity, not art at the water treatment plant.

Infrastructure and basic services

Streets and Roads

Our roads are in bad shape after years of neglect. In last year’s budget, I joined with several council members to place the highest priority on restoring our streets. And while progress has been made, I believe we must continue to assure residents that our road millage money is used to fix our streets and not diverted to purposes not approved by voters.

In addition to the condition of our roads, we must address the safety issues of our pedestrian, bicyclists and motorists. This includes traffic calming efforts, reducing speed limits where appropriate and increasing targeted traffic enforcement.

I have supported these measures in the past and I will continue to do so, especially in vulnerable areas near our schools. I have worked directly with neighborhood groups in Ward 1 to find solutions to “cut-through” commuter traffic and excessive commuter street parking. I will continue to support these type of efforts where resident’s safety and their quality of life is affected.

Pedestrian Safety — Crosswalks

I believe we must make sure that our crosswalks are safe for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers.  As a city, we need to implement best practices for pedestrian safety. For example, we must improve the lighting levels and sight lines at all crosswalks to improve visibility. Without these essential aspects of infrastructure, the current crosswalk ordinance endangers pedestrians and bicyclists as well as motorists.

I will continue to support measures that improve pedestrian safety and our crosswalks.

Openness Accountability and Transparency

sumi redact

 

Human Rights Commission (HRC)

The death of Aura Rosser brought the issue of civilian oversight of police to the forefront of Ann Arbor politics. I am the Council liaison to the HRC and I am proud that the HRC took the lead on this important issue and released their report, Civilian Police Review: Recommendations for Strengthening Policy-Community Relations in Ann Arbor.

Ann Arbor is always forward looking on social issues and I believe implementing the recommendations in this report is going make sure that we face the issue of better policing by being proactive. Among the recommendations in the report are better training for police officers and a new ordinance for the City Charter establishing a civilian oversight. As Council liaison to the HRC, I am proud to bring this forward to City Council and am happy to report that the FY 2017 budget includes the necessary funding to start the development of the civilian review.

I strongly believe checks and balances are fundamental to our democratic society and I embrace President Obama’s vision for 21st century policy, “we need to move from a warrior mentality to a guardian mentality in our policing”. By following through with the HRC’s report recommendations, we can be assured that the interaction between our police and residents reflects the values of our progressive City.

SPARK audits

I also pressed for the release of SPARK’s audited financial statements to be open to the public.  SPARK is the primary contractor of LDFA which captures school tax dollars in the DDA area. Under tremendous pressure from elected officials and the public, SPARK finally started publishing their audited statements in 2013.  I continuously asked for an audit of their job creations numbers, and in 2015 SPARK finally produced one year’s  jobs auditIt is very important that as elected officials we do our oversight function of these boards and commissions (DDA, LDFA) and their contractors such as SPARK.

Environment

Gelman 1,4 Dioxane Plume

Our city faces a huge challenge in addressing the Gelman 1,4 dioxane plume and I will continue to work to get the State to remedy. However, I strongly believe that if the MDEQ is unwilling to move forward on this issue in a timely manner,  we need to explore other options including seeking Superfund status from the EPA.

Parklands and Nature Areas

All of us cherish our parks and nature areas; these are one of our City’s greatest assets. I do not support efforts to repurpose our parklands for commercial uses and I continue to support the creation of a downtown public park. As we continue to add density to our downtown, I believe it is important to create a public park and open space in our downtown area for all residents to enjoy.

I am proud to support the City’s efforts to develop the Allen Creek Greenway. The Greenway will provide us with important new open space, recreational opportunities and create a connection between the neighborhoods and our downtown.

Watershed Management

Ann Arbor has a history of flooding during extreme weather events. We must do a better job of caring for our watershed, including Malletts Creek and Allen Creek. I believe that we must be mindful of the impact of allowing development in flood plains.

Deer Management

I believe that as a City Council member I have a duty to protect our environment and all species that inhabit it. I understand that many residents are opposed to the City’s deer management program because it includes the killing of deer. I know that the lethal cull offends the values of these residents. While I respect and value their beliefs, it would be irresponsible for the Council to fail to address the rapidly increasing deer population and the impact that population has on plant, insect and animal diversity. We should not favor one species at the expense of all other species.

Without a natural predator, the deer population will continue to increase. We have to take action to control its population now and in the future. At this time, the only legal proven method for deer population management is a cull. While we address the current problem, residents have convinced the City to explore other options. The City’s budget includes $35,000 for non-lethal deer management, funds to continue the cull for another year, and funds to provide for better data collection. I support all of these measures because it addresses our current problem while exploring alternatives.

 

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