Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Run for It!

Looking at the issue responses from our current crop of candidates for city council, I'm fairly disappointed. Press coverage is pretty weak (though the News should be coming out with something before the primary; they called me), only Kang has a Web site, and the answers they give to the questionnaire aren't even productive, let alone the vision I think this town is going to need in the upcoming years. So I've decided to start a list of issues and initiatives I think a candidate could effectively use to run for council. Maybe I'll get off my ass and register the urbanoasis domain and learn how to use some good features like a wiki, commonmonkeyflower-stizz. Maybe I should get some traffic through here first, though. And learn how to use a computer.

1. A dog park. This is SUCH a no-brainer. Ann Arbor is getting older and having fewer members per household. The frequency of dogs as companions will increase in these situations (empty nesters, young singles, etc.). Would it kill us to either acquire a park in the city or turn an existing park into a dog park? No, and it would make Ann Arbor more attractive to childless couples with pets -- they value dog-friendly amenities about like nuclear families value schools and regular parks. Let's give it to them. Two, in fact.

2. Promoting clean and renewable energy production and consumption. The AATA buses are using low-sulphur diesel. Great. City vehicles are using compressed natural gas (if somebody wants to chime in on this, feel free; I heard this was becoming an increasingly difficult option). OK. I think we need to get MUCH more aggressive on this.

A. First, car-sharing. The city should only maintain job-specific vehicles like dump trucks and the like. For regular cars, they should participate in a car-sharing service whereby they have several vehicles dedicated to them for regular hours and that are available for general use after hours. Flexcar in DC has an option like this -- note how this ties in with the Car Co-op? Yep, I'm clever like that. MAD clever.

B. Production. I was looking around at the DTE site for a green energy option for the Madison House for the upcoming year. I can't find one. They're JUST doing some experimental stuff in Detroit, but they are LIGHT YEARS behind Consumers Energy it seems. They do, however, buy energy from micro-producers (because they are required to, unless the bastards in Congress take that out in the new energy bill). Anyway, thinking about Toronto's Windshare project and this Montana project involving 5 cities purchasing a utility, I realize that Ann Arbor and maybe Washtenaw county need to get in on the act. I had been thinking about a similar 2- or 3-partner deal involving a co-op, the city (or a city-created corporation or authority), and DTE or some other local producer. Perhaps partnering with other Michigan cities could make this happen bigger and/or faster, and even more importantly, can get some wind turbines on or near the Lake Michigan shore, where wind potential is even greater. A 750kW turbine costs about 1.5 million dollars to get going.

3. Development and Affordable Housing. Nobody's got any balls on this score. First, the way the city is allocating its affordable housing resources is stupid, I think. Read my post on it for an introduction. Somebody should grow some berries and say "We need more density and we need more development. It's probably going to come whether we like it or not, so here's my plan to accommodate it in the way that we won't regret it." I might even say it's time for the city to start amassing land (I wonder how many houses they get each month from tax defaults?) in semi-outlying areas and making them available for redevelopment. Certainly they can start rezoning certain areas for higher density. The downtown rezoning is just a start.

A. ADUs. This is as much of a no-brainer as dog parks. Objections to accessory dwelling units (within city-established guidelines) are just BANANAs.

So that's it for now, but this will be updated frequently. I put the dog park first to show that I recognize tangible quality of life issues are important too. Every candidate's program should include small and large issues like that.

BTW, this reminds me of the time I planned the WMU campus. It's great being a know-it-all.


Blogger Quit Smoking said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:34 PM  
Blogger christina said...

Ann Arbor needs a dog park, now and Saline needs to open theirs back up.

6:27 PM  

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