HAPPY MONDAY from the staff of A2 Outlook! We hope you enjoyed the wonderful weather this weekend as much as we did. The Ann Arbor Art Fair is set to begin on Thursday, so we all know it will be an exciting and packed weekend in downtown Ann Arbor. For now, we hope you enjoy your Monday morning with all you need to know about A2 this week provided by yours truly.
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HAYNER HAVOC CONTINUES: Tuesday evening, City Council voted 9-1 to hold a public hearing for CM Jeff Hayner, D-Ward 1, after his use of the n-word in conversation with a Black MLive journalist. Hayner’s use of the word came in defense of his quoting of a homophobic slur in a Facebook comment.
CM Hayner said his conversation shouldn’t be subject to disciplinary action by the Council because it was a private conversation. In response, CM Jen Eyer, D-Ward 4, said, “This was not a private conversation between two consenting adults. This was a conversation with a reporter … Even if you think you’re off the record, that’s not a private conversation.”
City Council has previously voted on a resolution urging CM Hayner to resign and stripped him of his committee assignments.
TRANSIT TRANSITION: City Council also passed an ordinance 9-3, with CMs Hayner, Ramlawi and Griswold opposing, to allow high-density zoning along transit corridors. Some are concerned the ordinance doesn’t include affordability or sustainability requirements, but others, like CM Lisa Disch, D-Ward 1, say that building more units in areas with affordable transportation will help solve the housing crisis.
A NEW LEASE ON LIFE: The first reading of the Early Leasing Ordinance was unanimously approved by the City Council. The ordinance will provide tenants the right to renew a lease up until 150 days before the lease expires.
“The proposal also includes a ‘just cause eviction,’ which states that a landlord may not evict a tenant unless a tenant fails to pay rent, vacates upon notice or violates other terms of the lease.”
Central Student Government and the Graduate Employees’ Organization at the University of Michigan have been strongly lobbying for the ordinance and have said the ordinance will greatly ease pressure on students to resign early in their lease. CM Travis Radina, D-Ward 3, and CM Disch are co-sponsors of the ordinance.
BRIGHT FUTURE: City Council has unanimously advanced plans to construct a 77-acre, 24-megawatt solar farm in Pittsfield Twp. in partnership with DTE. The advancement of this proposal was unanimously approved by the City Council, and community members will have the opportunity to buy into the venture to “support renewable energy.”
HEATED TOPIC: Mayor Christopher Taylor announced he will be putting forth a resolution at the next City Council meeting that would put a 20-year “community climate-action millage” on the November ballot.
Mayor Taylor said the city needs to invest in energy-efficiency programs and net-zero affordable housing to help low-income residents increase comfort while saving money.
CM Griswold, D-Ward 2, and CM Ramlawi, D-Ward 5, expressed their hesitancy toward raising property taxes, especially on low-SES residents.
A LOT MORE FUNDING: CM Erica Briggs, D-Ward 5, helped secure $40,000 in city funding for design work for the Center of the City project to create a central park where the Fifth Ave. ‘library lot’ is located. The Library Green Conservancy, a private group, has now reached a private fundraising total of $47,000.
The city-appointed Council of the Commons and private Community Commons Initiating Committee are also working to advance the cause. Local illustrator Stephan Trendov also unveiled unofficial concept artwork of the commons last month to help build momentum for the initiative.
COME IN TO QMIN: Indian and Asian fusion restaurant Qmin recently opened on Liberty St. The restaurant is located in the old American Apparel space which has stood empty for several years.
“U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell released from hospital, giving up Diet Coke” … Detroit Free Press
“UMich Professor Peter Chen to face trial, judge finds probable cause” … The Michigan Daily
We value your opinion! Each week we will pose a question and share reader responses in the following edition.
This week’s prompt: How do you feel about City Council holding a public disciplinary hearing for CM Jeff Hayner after he quoted a homophobic slur on Facebook and used the n-word in conversation with a Black journalist? Hayner has said his conversation shouldn’t be subject to disciplinary action by the Council because he considers it to be a private conversation.
Last week’s prompt: How do you feel about the Ann Arbor DDA approving more than $2.2 million of contracts to move forward with protected bike lanes on Division Street and Miller Avenue/Catherine Street?
Last week’s prompt garnered a lot of positive responses, so we were unfortunately unable to include everyone’s feedback.
“I’m very pleased. I ride my bike on Division to go home and this will feel much safer (I’m ok if it takes a minute longer when I drive).” – Jeff, 70, Ann Arbor
“I wish we would use the space along the railroads that cross the city. I would love to ride from Ellsworth to downtown and then to Bandemere Park without using the streets.” – Dave, 55, Ann Arbor
“Everything that we can do to prioritize the use of our shared public space for human bodies (and not for steel/plastic/aluminum automobiles) makes Ann Arbor a richer community for those who are privileged to live here.” – Paul, 39, Pittsfield Twp.
“There are not enough protected bicycle lanes in Ann Arbor, so my opinion is that the DDA can spend more to protect cyclists and pedestrians. I am fine with $2.2 million, and wish it could be more.” – Luis, 63, Ann Arbor
“Excited that the city is taking serious steps to meet its A2Zero goals and encourage safe bicycling and walking while implementing some necessary changes to mitigate the effects of climate change … There is so much more to do.” – Jean, 55, Ann Arbor
“I’m very excited! My young daughter and I use the existing separated bike lanes several times a week, and this will open up much more of downtown to us.” – Eric, 32, Ann Arbor
“Ann Arbor is way behind our peers in terms of improving safety and facilities for both bikes and pedestrians, and these protected bike lanes are an important step in the right direction. I just hope we start to build protected bike lanes outside of downtown, which would be a city investment and not the DDA.” – Molly, 41, Ann Arbor
After being cancelled last year, the Ann Arbor Art Fair has finally arrived, and it will last from July 15 to 17. Bringing hundreds of artists from across the country, and even more tourists, you won’t be able to miss it this week … More information
The Guild of Artists & Artisans is seeking to bring an August to October art crawl to Fourth Ave. in partnership with local businesses. Community members can vote up to once a day until July 15 to help The Guild receive a $5,000 microgrant for the project.
Vaughn Westerman, a recent Pioneer High School graduate, was selected as one of five tuxedo finalists for the Duck Tape Stuck at Prom Scholarship Contest. Westerman crafted a homemade tuxedo out of 18 rolls of Duck Tape in nearly 46 hours. You can vote for your favorite tuxedo and dress designs up to once a day until July 14.
VP Kamala Harris will be visiting Detroit today after an earlier visit was postponed due to flooding across SE Michigan. This will be Harris’ first visit to Michigan since taking office in January, and she is expected to encourage Americans to get vaccinated, although no details have been publicly released about today’s visit.
More than 1 million people signed up for the MI Shot to Win Sweepstakes, implemented by the State of Michigan to incentivize Michiganders to get vaccinated, and the first winner was drawn last week. The sweepstakes runs July 1 through Aug. 3 with daily $50,000 drawings, a $1 million drawing, a $2 million drawing and scholarship drawings … Sign up
Washtenaw County reported 8 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours and 38 cases in the past two weeks. More than 68% of Washtenaw County residents aged 16 and over have received at least one vaccine dose.