Ann Arbor City Council Endorsements: Part I

Submitted by Brian on July 26th, 2017 at 5:13 PM

WELCOME TO ANN ARBOR CITY POLITICS THUNDERDOME

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THIS, EXCEPT MORESO!

I quit playing video games so much this summer and I have definitely not improved my life by reading a bunch of MLive stuff. To my horror, it dawned on me that I was now a Person who had Opinions about Local Politics. The memorial service for my youth is scheduled for about five years ago.

I can think of no revenge better than trying to inflict this curse on others. I'll be less lonely during the next full moon if there are some dudes in "A More Perfect Union" T-shirts at the library as we have impassioned discussions about pedestrian safety. Also it's actually a very important time to get an opinion, city-wise.

But just in case here's a super super early jump.

[After THE JUMP: abandon all hope ye who enter here]

MY GOD IT'S AN OVERVIEW OF ANN ARBOR POLITICS

[Full disclosure: Rishi Narayan, one of the owners of UGP, is on the DDA. This post doesn't discuss the DDA.

First Martin is one of the sponsors of this blog. Despite that this post will advocate for a hotel that will compete with the Residence Inn Ann Arbor Downtown. This post has not been cleared, or even discussed, with First Martin. Sponsoring MGoBlog is fun and comes with no surprises.

As far as my personal views, I was quite libertarian and dead center left/right on that political compass thing when I took it. I am not a registered anything. This should give everyone sufficient reason to hate me.]

Ann Arbor's political scene is at once obvious and nonsensical. Despite being the sort of town in which a Republican has the same shot at winning an election as Rich Rodriguez, Ann Arbor is one of just three Michigan municipalities to have partisan elections. This means almost all of the action takes place during the August primary, which is forthcoming. The sitting councilmember in Ward 2 is an independent and will run in November; everything else is more or less decided in two weeks. (Compounding the bizarre electoral setup: this is an odd year election. Ann Arbor recently changed their setup from two year terms to four; this is the last odd-year election.)

That's the nonsensical part. The obvious part is that Ann Arbor's local government is overrun with folks who pass ordinances requiring closed captioning for public televisions without pausing to consider how often those televisions have the sound up. (Basically never.) Or reaffirming their belief in the Paris Accord, which thanks I guess? They just released drawings of a proposed 60 million dollar "urban trail" that covers all of three miles. Moving forward on this was a unanimous vote. They expected the U would be an enthusiastic participant; they are not. Meanwhile significant sections of Ann Arbor roadways are indistinguishable from Kandahar.

It's Leslie Knopes all the way down. There's a lot of virtue signaling about stuff that's either so negligible it shouldn't be talked about at all (closed captioning on muted TVs) or vastly out of the scope of local government (climate change). I imagine this is all but universal in local governance. It grinds my gears nonetheless.

Without traditional parties to fall back on, battle lines are clearest and most consistent when it comes to development. Team Developer has been on top for most of the last 15 years. They have eight seats on the council including the mayor. Team Stasis has three seats. Certain things need an 8-3 supermajority to pass, so things are balanced on a knife edge.

The approximate teams follow. Folks up for re-election are in bold.

DEVELOPER

  • Christopher Taylor, Mayor
  • Jason Frenzel, Ward 1
  • Kirk Westphal, Ward 2
  • Zachary Ackerman, Ward 3
  • Julie Grand, Ward 3
  • Graydon Krapohl, Ward 4
  • Chip Smith, Ward 5
  • Chuck Warpehoski, Ward 5

STASIS

  • Sumi Kailasapathy, Ward 1
  • Jane Lumm, Ward 2
  • Jack Eaton, Ward 4

Three of the four races being contested in August are explicitly about development. In three-minute introductory videos hosted by CTV, opponents of Frenzel, Ackerman, and Smith all immediately call out the current council for approving tall buildings downtown, with a particular focus on the 17-story hotel-condo-retail building the council approved on the "library lot" just north of the (yep) library downtown. The fourth race, between Eaton and Jamie Magiera, is less clearly pitched in those terms. Magiera has said he would have voted against the Library Lot. On the other hand, Eaton seems to vote against development more consistently than anyone else running for council.

This is all you get to vote on in Ann Arbor right now. You get foof and development or foof and less development. Even if there were other things to vote on, increasing housing availability (of any variety) in Ann Arbor is vastly more important than all other issues combined. So I'm going to recommend you vote for development.

That means you should vote for Frenzel, Ackerman, Smith, or (less so) Magiera on August 8th.

Here are some words justifying that.

HOT BUTTON ISSUES

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this, or a slightly larger park

DEVELOPMENT. Ann Arbor is a very nice place to live, as magazines and websites and home prices keep reminding us. You can't throw an award in this town without hitting another award. The inevitable result: Ann Arbor will grow up, or it will grow out. Preventing high-density housing sends Ann Arbor down the same path San Francisco took some decades ago and will result in the same astronomical prices. This process is already well underway. Average home prices jumped an astounding 11% last year.

Ann Arbor prices have always been out of whack for a Midwestern college town. Almost literally everyone I know who has come to town in the last 20 years has struggled with sticker shock, including myself. Many have relocated to Ypsi because they more or less have to. These people should be part of the future of the city but cannot afford to live in it.

This is in part because there was a near-total cessation of high-density development for 30 years. That started to change about ten years ago and in the last five things have kicked into high gear. This is a good thing. The main problem with the pace of development in Ann Arbor is it is still far short of what's needed to meet demand. Two new dorms and several student-oriented high-rises added about 4000 new beds downtown; this merely kept pace with Michigan's expanding enrollment. Every high rise that goes up immediately fills up. The home buying market is brutal. The rental market is brutal, with renewals expected a few months into year-long leases.

Denying the fact that Ann Arbor will change with weak appeals to parking, traffic, and floodplain development is pure NIMBYism and should be rejected out of hand. Keeping Ann Arbor "funky" or "unique," which seems to be the main goal cited by development opponents, is 1) impossible and 2) detrimental to everyone in the community who isn't already locked into a mortgage they intend to keep until they die.

That's me, now, but getting there was a near thing. We put in an above-asking offer with 20% down and had our offer accepted a day before two higher offers—one 50k higher—were put in. I shudder to think what would have happened if our trigger finger was insufficiently itchy. And this was four years ago. The market has only gotten more vicious since.

Opposing development is selfish, often explicitly:

We have often thought our city to be rather special, in a community-supportive, casually fun but also fairly intellectual, colorful but not in an overly contrived sort of way. See our post, What Does it Mean to be an Ann Arbor Townie. In other words, a city to serve its citizens and welcome visitors on our own terms. [bold mine]

It is elitist (see above). It is inefficient. It excludes renters and condo-buyers from "the community." It forces longer commutes and robs Ann Arbor of tax revenue it badly needs because the university is exempt. Great swathes of the community are housing insecure because of a failure to build. Almost literally every service worker in town can't live in it. Solutions other than letting people build stuff are unicorn fairy dust.

This is the single most important issue facing the city today. Build.

THE LIBRARY LOT ITSELF. The alternative to the proposed development: a park. On top of a parking structure. That was reinforced so that a big building could go on top of it. Dirt, on concrete. Roots gradually growing into said concrete. If there was any thought that that lot should be open green space downtown it flew the coop once the garage was approved ten years ago. Also the proposed development has a public green space barely smaller than the park the lot could awkwardly accommodate—one maintained by the developer, not the city.

Tree Town Down has a level-headed and comprehensive explanation of the situation:

The root of the issue for me comes down to the public space and economics.  The library lot isn’t that big, it has a parking garage below it and assorted ramps, elevators and stairwells.  It can support a fairly small park that’s really more of a plaza as it’s not built to accommodate large trees or heavy sod and plantings.  I’ve advocated for a downtown park in the past, we could use a public commons space in Ann Arbor, but if you’re thinking of this as a central park with all the amenities we need, I’m sorry to disappoint.  This is more of an urban plaza, a little larger than Liberty Plaza around the corner which is just over 10,000 square feet.  As such, with the Core Proposal you get up to $15 million dollars in a one time payment and up to $3 million per year in property taxes plus a 12,000 square foot park/plaza!  The alternative is no money to the city and a 16,600 square foot park/plaza!  Money certainly isn’t everything but those economics are tough to ignore.  Think about our school, infrastructure and affordable housing needs.

Read that whole thing. I also recommend councilmember Chuck Warpehoski's post on his vote. The only reason to oppose the library lot development is a fear of tall buildings and people living close to their jobs downtown. (Two-thirds of Ann Arbor workers commute in from outside the city.) This is a critical election because either this large, very very useful building will go in or not.

Barracuda Networks is going to hire 120-some engineers. They are coming. They could live downtown. Or they could increase traffic and home prices.

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the correct building already exists

THE TRAIN STATION. OTOH, mayoral detractors are right about this one. This is the worst thing the mayor's faction is currently doing. Ann Arbor has a train station. It is a box protected from the elements, and is totally sufficient to meet rail transit needs. Nobody ever transfers, so there are no layovers. You either get on the train, or get off it and go into the city.

For some reason the mayor is trying to hammer through approval for a 50 million dollar replacement for this train station. The justification is a ludicrous study asserting that Amtrak ridership will increase almost tenfold by 2030. (It's down almost 20% in the last four years and has been basically flat for a decade.) This assumed the RTA millage would pass. It did not. It also made a brazillion other assumptions that fly in the face of the uniformly dismal history of light rail.

Hypothetically up to 80% of the money for this will come from the federal government, which means that Ann Arbor will only be paying ten million dollars for a form of transit that will be obliterated by automated driving within 15 years. If they get the money, which is questionable.

Compounding the dodginess of this situation is the council's refusal to be transparent about why they are pursuing a useless building. Councilmembers seeking re-election in this cycle broke down along "party" lines on that vote. If there was any way to signal a desire for development but not a train station I would enthusiastically recommend it. There is not.

THE URBAN TRAIL. I don't think you can vote against this? It wasn't even a part of the candidate forum. : /

AFFORDABLE HOUSING. This is distinct from Section 8 housing, which is aimed at the poor. Generally when people talk about affordable housing in Ann Arbor they're talking about workforce housing.  

It makes sense that people should live close to where they work, but the simple fact that convenient land in Ann Arbor costs a fortune makes addressing affordability directly all but impossible on a large scale. A recent affordable redevelopment checked in at 320k per unit, which is higher than the average home sale in town. The city is currently putting 400k annually towards affordable housing.

Ann Arbor is mostly accomplishing what minor progress they make by paying developers to include some less than market price options in new buildings. A proposed condo development near the hospital will get a couple million dollars in property tax forgiveness to build 15 units priced for folks with at most 60% of the local median income; the DDA is forking over a similar amount so that the Library Lot development will have a similar subset of affordable housing.

This is fine, I guess, but 15 units here and 15 units there isn't going to dent demand for low-cost housing in Ann Arbor. There are few ideas other than throwing a little cash at developers to create a subset of low-income earners who get a golden ticket. Chip Smith, an urban planner, is the only councilmember who's suggested something concrete and potentially workable:

“The reason that there’s such an emphasis and such a focus on people building bigger buildings with more density downtown is that’s the only place that we let them do that,” he said.

“One of the things that we have to do a much better job of is figuring out how to provide housing that’s close to jobs, have more dense housing in places where it’s appropriate," Smith added. “So one of the things that we’ve been working on, or at least that I’ve been talking with some of my colleagues about, is the idea of a transit-oriented development overlay district at South State and Eisenhower, which is a major job center. And to put a lot of housing units there, you know, removes some of the pressure on downtown.”

Picking a couple transit corridors and blanketing them with 1) dense housing and 2) even more transit is the best bet for actually affordable Ann Arbor housing. 

CLIMATE CHANGE. Climate change is a fact. It is also caused by the great sweep of history; nothing a single municipality does will affect it meaningfully either way. Ann Arbor should change its property tax code to exempt solar panels until they've paid for themselves and focus on things local governments can accomplish. This may not be possible under state law unless Ann Arbor gets creative. Try to get creative, and leave solar to private individuals. Again, I don't think there's a way to vote for this without submarining development.

THE FRANKENMILLAGE. The county's planning to put an unholy Frankenstein millage on the ballot this fall. Half of it would go to mental health services the state has cut back. Half would go to county police deputies, which is thinly justified because cops have to deal with mentally ill people. Places with their own police departments would get a refund, which the city council believes they can spend however they want.

In a perfect distillation of the foof aspects of local governance, the council passed a resolution stating they'd use the money thusly:

  • 20% for pedestrian safety. The city has adopted a goal of zero pedestrian fatalities by 2025. Advances in technology will do most of this for the city without anyone lifting a finger. Meanwhile it is unclear that any attempted remediation by the city will have an impact on a death rate of less than one per year. Vision Zero's purported successes in New York are stat-juking that tries to piggy-back on normal regression to the mean.
  • 40% for affordable housing, about which see above.
  • 40% for climate change. See above.

Whether or not this is a breach of civic obligation or not, your imperative as a voter is clear: reject this and make the county come back with a single-purpose millage, not this rotting mess of priorities stuck together to terrify the villagers.

DEER CULL. Ann Arbor is home to an increasing deer population. Deer are large rats that destroy landscaping, carry ticks, get hit by vehicles, and taste good. Cull them. At present there is little controversy about this outside of one "Deer Lives Matter" MLive commenter. In 2015 Mayor Taylor cast a solitary vote against the cull. Everyone else was in favor.

Part two will be a drill-down into the individual council races that will unsurprisingly conclude that you should vote for the four names bolded above.

Comments

M Ascending

July 26th, 2017 at 7:25 PM ^

Well, given that you have deliberately broken the no politics rule on your own blog: Fuck Trump and his whole damn administration. And fuck Snyder and Schuette just for good measure.

Oh, and by the way, you should vote against all of the candidates supported by the OP. Taylor and his Gang of Eight are in the process of destroying the fabric of what makes Ann Arbor great. Another huge monstrosity in the middle of downtown is the last thing we need. It's already impossible to find a parking space. This rush to downtown density that was originally championed by Mayor Hieftje and continued by his protege Taylor has gotten totally out of hand

Brian

July 26th, 2017 at 8:24 PM ^

what is the fabric that "makes Ann Arbor great"? Is it a cap on the size of buildings downtown? Is it an underutilized downtown parking lot?

You hear a lot about how larger buildings are "ruining" the city and the only concrete things to crop up afterward are traffic, which might add a few minutes to your drive within the city, and parking, which is always in abundance whenever I go downtown. That is weak beyond belief. 

More housing is in fact the first thing Ann Arbor needs. Anyone who's tried to find it in the last ten years knows that. 

ak47

July 26th, 2017 at 8:34 PM ^

If your goal is affordable housing luxury condos don't do shit to address it.  I don't know enough about the situation to argue one way or the other on specific development but if you think large downtown luxury condos will help pricing you have no idea what you are talking about.

bronxblue

July 26th, 2017 at 8:42 PM ^

Like most things, it's complicated.  Luxury spaces exist because the market demands it and will sustain them, so they do price some people out.  That said, they also draw money into more condensed areas, opening up inventory perhaps within the city limits but a bit farther out at a cheaper price point.  And the problem is that if the city won't let you develop farther away from the city center to keep up with demand, then building vertically at least gives you some additional inventory for those people who might be between rental and full property ownership.

I've noticed you post a couple places around here on this issue, but you don't really have any concrete rebuttals.  There's a debate to have here, but I've not seen it being provided beyond "lol you're dumb because I know something you don't."

ak47

July 26th, 2017 at 9:38 PM ^

I'm pretty sure I've never posted on this issue because its never been here.  The reality is I would probably be pro development in this case because its good for the city overall and there isn't a marginalized or poor community getting fucked for it.  

There isn't really evidence that building luxury apartments helps alleviate prices in the rest of the market.  Some people argue it and believe so but usually luxury units are built during large city expansions so rents continue to rise regarldess. Its hard to distinguish if it may or may not help and anyone who says 100% one way is being disengenous and I was hyperbolic in my response, but these units being built will almost certainly not stabilize the cost of housing in Ann Arbor and downtown Ann Arbor infastructure isn't really built to handle high density housing so there are collateral consequences.

ST3

July 26th, 2017 at 10:48 PM ^

If you increase the supply of a good or service, the price will decrease. Someone will move into the luxury apartment. They will move out of their current place. To entice someone to move into that place, the owner will have to lower their price, and so on and so on. If you don't agree, I recommend you read an Intro to Econ textbook.

ak47

July 27th, 2017 at 10:44 AM ^

Unfortunately if you actually take past econ 101 you realize that not everything works exactly like the models say they would because of "irrational" behavior, and other mitigating factors.  If things always just worked like the models economics would be easy and have no debate and may actually be a science.  Since that isn't how it works econ isn't actually a science you can't just say the models work, because they often don't.

The reality of the housing market is that there isn't just one market that all inventory gets put into, there are different levels that people are operating in.  A person who is paying 2k a month for a downtown luxury unit was almost certainly never going to rent a $500 per month room without a/c.  Those people are operating in essentially different markets and the building of these units would not impact the supply or demand of the available housing in the lower end of the market.  In fact if the building of luxury condos brings in more people working at the service industry level into the area, such as doormen, cleaners, etc. without increasing the market for affordable housing the price at the bottom end of the market could actually rise as a result of this building.

Ann Arbor needs more housing if it is going to continue to grow, it is distinctly possible that this downtown development is the best option for doing that, I'm not going to claim to know enough about the situation and this development vs. alternatives to make that call, but the building of these units will not allow people who want to stay in Ann Arbor but are getting pushed to Ypsi because of prices to stay in Ann Arbor because the result of this building won't be reduced costs of houses or rent in the area.

schreibee

July 27th, 2017 at 12:47 PM ^

I don't know where you live, but your Econ 101 argument just doesn't fly anymore ST3...

I grew up in AA and now live in SF. AA didn't have the problems being discussed here when I was young, but SF always has, so I can address that.

I will tell you with 100% certainty that if housing is in demand in AA that when people move into proposed "luxury" skyrise housing, their previous dwelling will not languish and be downmarked, it will be filled quickly and competitively. 

These "outlying" areas people talk about becoming open will not be in AA, but in neighboring towns & townships. Specifically, they will fill in inverse proportion to perception of their public school's ratings. That's code for socio- economic strata.

I'm only ever in AA on game weekends now, so I cannot address these "traffic" concerns some people have mentioned, but I will say that upon arrival on Fri evening we sail from DTW to downtown AA and park within minutes somewhere along the Main-Liberty corridor. 

You ain't got NO idea what traffic & parking concerns are in blessed AA! Tuh-Rust me...

More housing is always good - but I will caution the Fed was hinting at a "bubble" in real estate again, so buy with that in mind!

bronxblue

July 27th, 2017 at 1:56 PM ^

I guess I had a different experience.  We moved from NYC to Boston recently, and just bought a condo in a nice area just outside Boston.  This is in a very desirable area, with fantastic schools, and we got it at below ask.  It has its warts and is on a busy street, but part of the reason it sold was because the buyer was moving into a nicer place and had to move quickly.  We got a deal because of better, newer units nearby, and the new inventory temporarily drove prices down a bit nearby.  Again, it was a temporary blip, but even in NYC you'd see small drops as new developments went up or train lines opened/closed for extended repairs (real estate near the L train, for example, tumbled something like 4-8% recently because of multi-year repairs).

SF is also a unique bird; they have very restrictive limits on new developments and density, so some of the pressure is self-enforced.  Plus, SF area has an income concentration that you basically only see in NYC, which further drives prices up.  As you mentioned, AA isn't anywhere close to those factors, so it is weird to hear people talk about "crazy high prices" when I'm paying almost double for a smaller place where I am, and that's again a bit below market.  But provided the number of people who can and want to live somewhere remains somewhat inelastic (e.g. there are only so many people in the SF area who want to live in the Tenderloin area), then more inventory will make that a reality for others, and those places that used to be viewed as fallbacks for these people now become reachable for those at a lower economic point.  And as it pertains to A2, the advantage here is that things like school districts are pretty much a wash; all the middle and high schools in the city are very good, and so a perception of only a couple 'good" schools isn't a pressure against moving into a specific area.

bronxblue

July 27th, 2017 at 1:44 PM ^

I was referring to the fact you posted elsewhere in the thread about Brian being wrong on these issues and not understanding them, yet you never provided any additional insights.

I linked to an article elsewhere, and it does point out that new development, especially upmarket, doesn't promise stabilization.  But oftentimes that's the by-product of factors beyond pure housing; better entertainment options, proximity to employment, the stated goal of "upscale" living.  But at least in NYC, where everything was touted as "luxury", you did see prices drop a bit when more units became available because, again, you are competing for a finite number of people at any price point.  So when people can get a slightly better deal at a nicer space, they leave their current place and then that even cheaper inventory comes available.  Sure, you have price increases along the way, and there is also a move to gentrify poorer places that provide better inventory.  But like I said, you need more development across the spectrum.  But I am on the side of "build something" vs. "build nothing" especially as it pertains to urban centers.  And as someone who recently bought a condo in an urban part of greater Boston vs. a house farther out, I made that decision in part because of the density, and I wouldn't consider myself particularly luxury-bracketed.

panthera leo fututio

July 26th, 2017 at 9:30 PM ^

The logic you apply here is common, and it's largely misguided. Adding expensive new rental units to the market, all else equal, does exert a downward influence on rents. It doesn't do so as efficiently as adding a bunch of directly affordable units, there might be a spatially focused upward pressure on rents based on changes in local rental demand (espeically in gentrifying neighborhoods), and the rental market can't be completely segmented. But given a reasonable set of assumptions, adding new units to the market -- even if those units themselves are super expensive -- is good for market-wide affordability.

There is a valid argument against adding luxury housing, though, in instances where that housing doesn't actually add any new units to the market. For instance, converting an exisitng 10-unit structure into 6 luxury units *will* have a seriously deleterious effect on affordability. But this sort of phenomenon usually boils down to underlying zoning failures. And it's not what's going on in downtown Ann Arbor. See Daniel Kay Hertz for some really good discussions of this sort of thing. e.g. https://danielkayhertz.com/2015/08/28/the-collapse-of-rental-housing-on-chicagos-north-side/

Brian has this issue right, IMO.

ak47

July 26th, 2017 at 9:49 PM ^

The article you posted is about the removal of units and conversion of units into luxury units because zoning doesn't allow for new construction.

Ann Arbor can build developments in not downtown areas.  In general the argument that says luxury units help is that they eventually become the affordable units of tomorrow but that impact is more or less elimanated by large growth. More housing needs to be built, this development is probably the right decision, it won't lower the cost things in the near term and it certainly doesn't have to be built in a downtown area that isn't built to handle high density housing to have the same impact.  High density housing comes with a lot of collateral consequences, some good and some bad and all of that is glossed over by Brian.

panthera leo fututio

July 27th, 2017 at 2:43 AM ^

>"The article you posted is about the removal of units and conversion of units into luxury units because zoning doesn't allow for new construction."

Yeah, this was a bit of laziness on my part, just providing a quick link that came to mind to illustrate the type of phenomena I referenced in which new luxury housing legitimately is a bad thing. Hertz is worth reading more broadly, though, and takes a general position in favor of more market-rate units as affordability remedy.

>"In general the argument that says luxury units help is that they eventually become the affordable units of tomorrow..."

The down-cycling of luxury units as they age is part of the story, but only part. Adding luxury units also helps immediately by reducing competition between higher-, medium, and lower-income renters -- having 100 more high-end units on the market takes pressure off mid-range units (which might otherwise have been bid on by people with monocles who now live in the high-end units), which in turn takes a bit of pressure off of lower-range units (see, e.g., pg 7 here http://www.lao.ca.gov/Reports/2016/3345/Low-Income-Housing-020816.pdf

> "...but that impact is more or less elimanated by large growth."

I'm not sure I understand the point being made here. Yes, increased housing demand in periods of growth will drive rents up. But those rents will be lower in the scenario in which you'd already built a bunch of housing than in the scenario in which you didn't.

>"More housing needs to be built, this development is probably the right decision, it won't lower the cost things in the near term and it certainly doesn't have to be built in a downtown area that isn't built to handle high density housing to have the same impact."

Agree, agree, disagree, and dense housing is almost definitionally best suited to downtown areas, and I don't see Ann Arbor as an exception. I'm open to more housing being constructed elsewhere in the city, as well, but better housing affordability in Ann Arbor, in the absence of some economic catastrophe, is almost inconceivable without a lot more downtown housing.

ak47

July 27th, 2017 at 11:04 AM ^

To your last couple points I'm not arguing there will be no impact on pricing, the prices will almost certainly be lower than they could have been, but if your policy goal is to allow people who are already currently being pushed into ypsi by prices to stay in AA this plan would not achieve that outcome.  That doesn't make this development a bad idea, you are right that in most cases downtown is the best place for high density housing, especially without a robust public transit system but it is also possible to overbuild an area.  This building doesn't do it but you can get there.

The study you posted is interesting but I think also shows he we both agree and disagree.  The primary point it makes is about the cycle of luxury units down.  I however disagree with their framing that housing becomes less expensive as it ages.  It funnels from the top end of the market down as newer more expensive units are built but it does not actually decrease in price.  They measure as a percenatile rank, not on actual cost.  As long as housing prices continue to outpace wage growth the resulting impact is still not an increase in affordable units, which is evidenced by the fact how even in high growth building areas the percentage of income low income renters were paying on rent increased. They argue that it is still better than if there hadn't been an increase in by showing that they paid 11 percent less of their income on rent but they don't analyze if the rates were disparate in those communities prior to building and raised the same amount or at different levels.  

Like I said we probably agree that this specific construction project is good for the long term health of Ann Arbor, I just don't think the policy arguments Brian was making for it really line up with what the impacts will be.  That doesn't make it a bad project, just think its important to recognize that if your policy goal is to keep current residents who are struggling at current price levels in AA you would need to engage in far more aggressive and regulatory policy than whether or not to allow the construction of luxury units downtown.   

mcfors

July 27th, 2017 at 10:53 AM ^

Today's "luxury" condos are tomorrow's affordable condos. There's a process called filtering, by which even luxury unit supply will lower the costs of lesser condos. Only way it won't happen is if there is so much pent-up demand that too little supply doesn't make a dent.

Charmandar

July 26th, 2017 at 10:12 PM ^

I'll second your post. Fuck Trump  and his criminal bigoted, homophobic, transphobic administration that only cares about the top 0.1% of the country. They couldn't care two shits about Cletus wearing a MAGA hat. Congrats Cletus your bigotry allowed you to get duped. 

Fuck Snyder and Schuette too. Those two asshole should be sharing a jail cell together for their coverup of Flint. I am proud I walked out during his speech at my Big House graduation. Motherfucker's support of the Devos family has fucked over public education in this state for years. 

wolverine1987

July 27th, 2017 at 9:05 AM ^

so well all these years before Devos.

Your view is ignorant beyone belief. And criminal, because it condemns the poor to a horrible education and no future. Meanwhile others are actually trying to give poor kids OPTIONS, and public school bigots like yourself are denying them that chance. YOU are condemning the poor to a miserable life.

 

wolverine1987

July 28th, 2017 at 9:00 AM ^

I'm stating a fact, not my opinion, that major urban districts with high concentrations of poor receive abysmal educations--by every single measure there is. I'm not claiming or even discussing poublic school charters--though while we're on the subject, there are many in cities like NY that have fantastic records. I'm saying public schools have failed those children. As a result of that failure. I want them to have as many options for better educations as possible. You however, do not. You and those on your side want to prop up a monopoly that has failed in every way, because you are in intellectual prison of the education unions. Your solution to the failure? Crickets. Or attacks on ANY other option for the poor. 

Charmandar

July 27th, 2017 at 10:08 PM ^

Just to be clear, I am not saying all charters do not serve their student populations. There are numerous charter schools in the state that have excellent results with student achievement. However, by and large the school choice movement has completely failed in areas of high density of low socioeconomic demographics 

Charmandar

July 27th, 2017 at 11:33 PM ^

look likes someone has been drinking charter school kool aid. How has the school choice movement been working out in Detroit or any other low socioeconomic area? I'll await your  answer. 

Buddy, I am a teacher. 

FYI, when a child leaves their home district for a charter school their per child state aid follows them. This creates a situation where districts in low socioeconomic that need the greatest amount of resrouces to create equity for their students are strapped compared to districts in high socioeconomic. 

Do you think for profit charters actually give two shits about the educational results when compared to their bottom line? Prior to teaching in public education, I taught at a for profit charter in Melvindale. I taught in a science classroom with minimal resources. We had $600 budget for our entire science department. $600 to buy supplies for chemistry, biology, and physics. I taught physics and biology. To teach a biology curricula as prescribed by the NGSS (well the new Michigan Science Standards adopted in 2015) will easily run you $1000k molecular biology, anatomy, and genetics supplies. Let me tell you about my classroom that had rodent issues, no heat in the winter, and no AC during the start and end of the school year when my room easily topped 85 F. But hey, our management compary Leona Group had record profits for 2015. 

I can easily bring up more examples of for profit charter screwing over their students and faculty. The problem with for profit charters is that education is not meant to be a business. It is a failing paradigm. The basic purpose of any business is maximize your profits while serving your customers. The problem is that there is no tangible product in education. Education by itselt is an abstract concept meant to better and advance its society. 

ptmac

July 26th, 2017 at 5:25 PM ^

Yeah, as if the draftageddon wasn't enough, now this?

I happen to have a master's degree in urban planning and work for a firm in A2 involved with some of those projects you so wholeheartedly deride.

Your opinions are cute.

Don't quit your day job, man.

jcorqian

July 26th, 2017 at 5:28 PM ^

Not trying to bash you or anything (I certainly don't have a dog in this fight since I left awhile ago and local politics in AA really have zero effect on my life), but care to present the counterarguments to his points?  

Generally it's hard to just say "you are wrong" without giving any reasons.  And I do think it could be an interesting discussion.

pasadenablue

July 26th, 2017 at 5:49 PM ^

The issue is less with ptMac's dissent, but rather with a) his decision to not present any sort of facts/discussion supporting his dissenting views, and b) his implication that Brian's opinion and platform are less valid due to him leading a sports-centric media outlet.

Everyone Murders

July 26th, 2017 at 5:59 PM ^

I think you're underselling the condescension.  Brian already pointed out that there's no substance to ptMac's post.  But boy oh boy is there condescension.  A light fisking is in order:

I happen to have a master's degree in urban planning [I'm educated in this stuff and you're not!] and work for a firm in A2 involved with some of those projects you so wholeheartedly deride [I'm personally involved in this stuff, therefore your opinion has less value] Your opinions are cute. [Single scoop of condescension.]  Don't quit your day job, man.  [Screw it, I'll give him a double scoop.]

All of which is a bullshit way to argue a point.  I've got no particular dog in this fight (although I've got strong feelings on some civic projects, both pro and con), but I hate someone making a reverse ad hominem argument.  It's just a bad look - and a shame, because with ptMac's background and involvement, an interesting discussion could ensue between him/her and Brian.

ahw1982

July 26th, 2017 at 7:15 PM ^

I dunno, I found Brian's take, in bold, telling us who to vote for in an election to be rather condescending as well.  I read ptmac's post as saying "Look, I've actually got qualifications to render an opinion on this, but I'm not, because this blog is supposed to be about football, not Ann Arbor politics."

Still, I enjoyed Brian's post simply out of a passing curiosity as to what's going on in Ann Arbor and the reminder that mgoblog.com has that hometown-y making moonshine in a bathtub feel compared to ESPN.com's budweiser factory feel.

bronxblue

July 26th, 2017 at 8:45 PM ^

I read it more as "these guys are up for reelection, and I think they are better options in a bad pool".  He didn't say "because I run this blog and live in Ann Arbor, so believe me.  He spent thousands of words outlining his opinions and what he bases them on, and even promises to provide more details tomorrow.  ptmac's post was "lol I have a Master's and have a financial benefit in these plans working out, so you're wrong and dumb."  Again, this is worth a debate; I'm only seeing one side trying to put forth any effort in it.

ahw1982

July 27th, 2017 at 12:35 AM ^

I read ptmac's post as saying something along the lines of "I'm working on this project, I have to deal with fighting opponents of this project on a daily basis, you've turned this blog, which I probably go to as a refuge from my work, into an extension of my work and I resent you for that, you don't even possess the qualifications to offer an inside opinion on the matter football guy, I wonder what Lee Corso thinks about downtown Ann Arbor development said no person ever."

Honestly, I work in a semi-political field, and if Brian were to spout opinions contrary to the positions I advocate for at work (unlikely, given he leans libertarian, we're probably on the same page, but still) I'd probably react the same way.

OlafThe5Star

July 26th, 2017 at 9:14 PM ^

Course recommendation: intro to logic in the Philosophy department. Name has probably changed, but it is something along those lines. Pretty easy, incredibly useful. In fact, I think it has the best utility/effort ratio of any course I took at Michigan. 

For instance, in outlining logical fallacies, an important (because it is used so often) one is appeal to authority, which is preciely what ptMac does: trust me because of my qualifications, which is simply a distraction from the fact that no true argument is made. Appeal to authority is actually a sub-category of a broader set of logical fallacies whose name escapes me (sorry... 15 years since I had that class!), but is generally defined as "distractions from the the fact that they do not address the core argument." Red herrings are the same thing.