Screenshot of Ann Arbor City Council meeting.
Courtesy of June MacDonald.

The Ann Arbor City Council met at Larcom City Hall Monday evening to discuss rezoning the Plymouth and Washtenaw corridors, funding for the city’s universal basic income pilot program and dissolving the Council of the Commons.

Mayor Christopher Taylor began the meeting by reading a commemorative proclamation recognizing June as LGBTQ+ Pride month in Ann Arbor. Taylor recognized three Queer Ann Arbor community members who have made positive impacts on the community. 

Among them was Jadein Black, a local drag queen and teacher, who formerly taught elementary school at Ypsilanti Community Schools. At the meeting, Black thanked the Ann Arbor Police Department for keeping her safe following a parking garage encounter with the right-wing extremist group Proud Boys. Black performs annually at Ann Arbor Summer Festival and said she looks forward to hosting a children’s story hour as part of the festival this year

In the proclamation, Taylor called highlighted the city’s 1972 passage of its anti-discrimination ordinance and its 2021 ordinance banning conversion therapy in Ann Arbor.

“Ann Arbor was among the first cities in the nation to pass an ordinance to protect residents from discrimination based on sexual orientation, later adding gender identity protections and to have openly gay or lesbian elected officials,” Taylor said. “It is an occasion where we celebrate and affirm the tremendous changes that have occurred in our lifetime.”

Stefani Carter, chair of the Ann Arbor Independent Police Oversight Committee, delivered a report on her committee’s findings and said racial disparities were especially prominent when looking at traffic stop statistics. According to Carter, the Southeast Michigan Criminal Justice Policy Research Project analyzed data from AAPD from January 2017 to December 2019 to help connect different governmental organizations and community groups to conduct further research on police behavior. 

“The analysis identified significant disparities across every dimension that they examined,” Carter said. “The largest disparity identified in the analysis involves African American male drivers for stops initiated for equipment violations, which occurred 2.4 times more likely than would have been expected.”

During public comment, some meeting attendees expressed their concerns about R-23-186, a resolution directing the planning commission to prioritize the rezoning the Plymouth Road and Washtenaw Avenue corridors to Transit Corridor 1. The TC-1 zoning district is designed to discourage single-use, vehicle-based building such as the University of Michigan Credit Union drive-through location that was denied a permit earlier this year. 

Councilmember Lisa Disch, D-Ward 1, explained the city planning commission’s rationale for this proposed zoning change.

“The TC-1 zoning district restricts the creation or expansion of that kind of outmoded development, which is at odds with this city’s initiatives towards reducing carbon emissions by getting people out of their cars and onto their feet and onto their bicycles or onto buses,” Disch said.

The resolution passed unanimously.

Deputy City Administrator John Fournier and Kristin Seefeldt, associate professor of social work and public policy, responded to questions on the city’s upcoming pilot of a guaranteed income program. The first phase of this program would offer a guaranteed income for low- and moderate-income residents engaged in entrepreneurial activities. On Monday, City Council unanimously voted to allow University of Michigan Poverty Solutions to administer the program and the associated research. This partnership uses $1.5 million of the city’s federal COVID-19 stimulus money, with the University contributing about $170,000.

“We want to see how this guaranteed income allows this community to improve their personal economic security and well-being,whether that’s through expanding their business efforts or by scaling back,” Seefeldt said.

Under this pilot program, 100 local families and individuals would receive about $528 per month over the course of two years. Fournier said he believes resident feedback will be important in further developing the city’s universal basic income program and provide a model for the implementation of similar programs nationwide. 

“Should the council approve this contract tonight, Ann Arbor will join a nationwide community of cities that support guaranteed income and universal basic income pilots,” Fournier said. “We wanted to do something different. We asked respondents to give us a novel approach.” 

Councilmember Erica Briggs, D-Ward 5, introduced a resolved clause stipulating that all participants must be Ann Arbor residents. Priority will be given to residents that already receive government assistance, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and reduced price school lunch. 

Councilmember Travis Radina, D-Ward 3, said despite time constraints and other limitations, he believes the basic income pilot will be valuable to the city and its residents. 

“I was a bit of a skeptic with a guaranteed basic income pilot because I wasn’t sure of the value of creating a pilot that we didn’t have the funding or plan to continue into the future, despite the fact that I know the program has value,” Radina said. “Thank you for putting together a thoughtful proposal that demonstrates to me that there will be value in this, even though it’s such a limited group of people and it’s a time constraint.”

The council then amended an ordinance allowing AAPD to sell impounded bikes. Currently, impounded and abandoned bicycles are sold by the city at public auction after one month. Now, the ordinance encourages AAPD to donate bikes to tax-exempt nonprofits, such as Common Cycle, for use in the community.

The council amended Chapter 105 of the Ann Arbor Housing Code, which requires landlords to provide a pamphlet about tenant rights to renters before their lease starts. Following an amendment passed 11-1 at the meeting, landlords no longer have to provide tenants with information on how to register to vote at their new address as part of the informational pamphlet they must provide. 

The council then voted to accept the Council of the Commons’ decision to dissolve itself in April. The Council of the Commons, created by a city ordinance in 2020, was a committee dedicated to developing proposals for use of the space above the Library Lane parking garage. Proposals ranged from high rise apartments and office buildings to a new civic center or commonly owned gathering space. Jenn Cornell, D-Ward 5, thanked the committee for their work. 

“In short, a lot of hard work has gone into getting an analysis done as to what is possible and what other communities do with their center of the center of the city initiatives,” Cornell said. “So I know that it’s easy to say that there isn’t a lot to show for it, and I would disagree. A lot of research has been done … it is appropriate to disband that group and to refer those activities as indicated to the parks advisory committee.”

Daily News Reporter June MacDonald can be reached at