City Council Agenda for 2020/8/6

City Council Agenda for 2020/8/6

The short-term rental ordinance is back.

Image credit: Wystan, Copyright

This week’s City Council meeting is on Thursday, August 8th at 7pm. The agenda is here. You can watch online on CTN’s YouTube channel, on Xfinity channel 16 or ATT channel 99.

2020-08-05 Update: With the August primary results, the anti-party faction’s majority on City Council has been undone. Unfortunately, this means a lame duck Council through November. All items have been updated at least one spiciness level. Stay tuned to #A2Council on Twitter, and try not to fall asleep!

Mild Medium spicy items include putting ranked-choice voting on the November 2020 ballot. If approved by voters, this will amend the City Charter. Full implementation is dependent on enabling legislation from the State – looks like it is HB-5281 and HB-5282. Ranked choice voting is good! You can vote for a third party without ‘throwing away’ your vote.

Medium Hot spiciness, looks like there is support to extend the Healthy Streets initiative downtown. There was a kerfuffle about moving this program beyond the DDA borders, but general agreement that it is acceptable for downtown life. I hope it lasts after Covid-19 is behind us. Downtown is so much livelier when people can mill about without needing to dodge car traffic. Imagine what it would be like without a pandemic!

Developments are at least medium hot, this one is no different. It’s 52 units in nine 3-story buildings with plenty of parking provided in this highway-adjacent parcel. Expect some of the usual posturing around affordable housing and PUDs. It looks like this one follows the R4B zoning pretty closely, so it will be difficult for City Council to seriously consider voting it down.

The Hot Flames n’ Spicy short-term rental ordinance is back. It does sensible things like requiring short-term rentals to be registered with the City. More controversial, especially for AirBnB hosts, is it disallows a home being used solely for short-term rentals unless it is in a mixed-use zone. That is, if you live in a residential-zoned home, and it is your primary residence, you can rent out the whole house. You are not allowed to buy a house in a residential zone with the intent of not living there and just renting it out for short-term stays.

Mixed-used zones are anything that allows a combination of commercial and residential uses on the same parcel. Most of the City is NOT zoned this way. Short-term rental is defined as anything for 30 days or less.

There are many people managing short-term rentals who do not like the mixed-use requirement. Many of them spoke at the first reading of this ordinance. My understanding is they have a credible law suit to have their existing STRs in residential zones grandfathered in.

If you’ve ever used a short-term rental, you know how useful they can be. They provide a nice alternative to hotels. They fill a need for travelers as well as people who need stop-gap housing. People wanting to stay near loved ones for extended medical treatment at U-M, for example. It seems limiting STRs in an attempt to make more housing available for ‘long term’ residents is a fool’s errand. If there is not enough housing, build more housing. We can make room for people staying in Ann Arbor for 1 week, 30 days, 3 months, 3 years, or longer.

The STR rental ordinance is subject to a public hearing. You do not need to sign-up in advance to speak about it, and the number of speakers on this specific item is not limited.

Remember to follow the Twitter #A2Council hashtag to stay up-to-date between and during City Council meetings.