Despite the convoluted wording of the proposals, one can still decipher their meaning after careful analysis. Proposals A and B both offer imperfect solutions to the lack of student representation in city council and urban sprawl. First, Proposal A would lower residency requirements for the city’s elected officials. Although this would open the door to students wishing to run for City Council, it would also encourage urban sprawl, which is an important reason why it should not be passed. On the other hand, Proposal B, which would create a Greenbelt around Ann Arbor, should be passed. Although regulations still need to be implemented to ensure affordable housing in the city, Proposal B would preserve green spaces around Ann Arbor that are essential in preventing urban sprawl.
Proposal A lowers the residency requirements of elected, appointed and volunteer officials in Ann Arbor. If passed, paid officials would no longer be required to live in the ward they wish to represent for a year prior to election, be registered voters in Ann Arbor or live in the city while in office.
The first two measures of the proposal would greatly benefit students running for an office such as city council. Due to their transitory lifestyle, students often do not live in the same ward for a long period of time. Even if they have been attending the University for several years, it is likely that they have switched residence halls or apartments each year, moving from ward to ward. Similarly, students often register to vote outside of Ann Arbor at their permanent residences. The city should not disqualify student candidates for simple technicalities such as these. Students have a unique view of the city that needs to be represented in city council, regardless of whether they have lived in their wards for a year or are registered to vote in Ann Arbor.
However, the third measure of Proposal A is detrimental to the city as a whole. By not requiring elected officials to live in Ann Arbor while serving their term, the proposal encourages officials to commute from the suburbs, escalating urban sprawl and a host of problems that come with it. For this reason, voters should reject Proposal A.
Like Proposal A, Proposal B is not perfect. If passed, the city would create a greenbelt around Ann Arbor by purchasing and prohibiting development on 84,000 acres circling the city. Its goal to prevent urban sprawl by limiting development outside of Ann Arbor is no doubt praiseworthy. However, the greenbelt could have several ill effects. Developers could simply begin “leap frog” sprawl by moving beyond the greenbelt rather than staying within the city. Furthermore, the reduction of available land is likely to inflate housing costs inside the city. At the very least, the city should pass regulations to keep housing affordable in Ann Arbor after the greenbelt is created. Nonetheless, the greenbelt still has great promise and should be implemented despite these reservations.
Tomorrow, vote no on Proposal A and yes on Proposal B.