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Posted on Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Newly formed Mixed-Use Party eyeing 3 seats on Ann Arbor City Council in November

By Ryan J. Stanton


Will Leaf, co-chair of the Ann Arbor Mixed-Use Party, sits perched above downtown Ann Arbor with city hall in the background. He's helping to coordinate a slate of three Independent candidates who are running for City Council in November.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Now that the dust has settled following last Tuesday's primary election in Ann Arbor, attention is starting to shift to the November general election.

A newly formed group called the Ann Arbor Mixed-Use Party has put forward a slate of Independent candidates to challenge three incumbent City Council members.

The three challengers — Jaclyn Vresics, Conrad Brown and Sam DeVarti — are all college students running on a shared platform with the belief that some fundamental changes are overdue in Ann Arbor. As the name of the party implies, they want to see more mixed-use zoning.


Jaclyn Vresics


Conrad Brown


Sam DeVarti

Vresics, a 20-year-old University of Michigan film student, is challenging Council Member Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward.

Jeff Hayner, another Independent candidate, has entered the 1st Ward race but is not affiliated with the Mixed-Use Party.

In the 2nd Ward, Council Member Jane Lumm, a former Republican turned Independent, already was being challenged by Democrat Kirk Westphal in November, but now she also faces Brown, the 22-year-old president of the libertarian student group at U-M.

DeVarti, a 23-year-old Eastern Michigan University student and lifelong Ann Arborite, is challenging Stephen Kunselman, D-3rd Ward.

Will Leaf, a recent U-M graduate who has lobbied for a video privacy ordinance in Ann Arbor, and Shang Kong, a U-M law student, are the Mixed-Use Party's co-chairs.

"Our biggest issue is land use," Leaf said. "That's where our name comes from. We think we can better protect residents, and at the same time provide more space for people to live and work."

Leaf acknowledged zoning is "complicated and kind of boring." But it affects everybody, he said, and he's hoping the party's ideas resonate with Ann Arborites.

The party states on its website it believes in civil liberty, efficient government, environmental preservation and legal equality.

The Mixed-Use Party questions traditional zoning laws that provide separate districts for different types of land uses.

"We're for a zoning code that's based on mixed-use zoning, where there would be a variety of land uses allowed in each district," Leaf said. "So we would be zoning for specific harms like noise, odor, and even shade from tall buildings, but not things like use itself."

Leaf said it's not an untested idea — Ann Arbor already has some mixed-use development, and it's part of the town's charm.

"I think a lot of people understand it's nice to have a corner store near where they live," he said. "They like to be able to walk places, be less dependent on their car."

The party wants to replace the city's "exclusionary zoning" with a new city code that includes three types of zoning: Mixed use, restricted mixed use and heavy industrial.

It specifically wants to abolish "extra rules" the city has for co-ops, sororities and fraternities.

The mixed-use zone, according to the party's website, would make it so areas of Ann Arbor with tall buildings and late-night activity can have businesses, houses and apartments next to each other "with few rules about noise, light, building height, and opening and closing times."

The restricted mixed-use zone would place additional limits on residences and businesses, including a three-story height limit, and the industrial zone would allow for "loud and dirty activities."

"Except for public land, including parks, all of the city will be covered by these three zones," the party states. "With the new zoning code, housing will be cheaper, walking to stores will be easier, natural areas will be preserved, and people will be freer to do what they want with their property."

Leaf said the party also wants to legalize "victimless crimes" and it advocates for easing the rules around drinking in public.

"One thing we would do is something like the marijuana ordinance where there's a civil infraction rather than a misdemeanor. We would consider that for underage drinking," he said. "If you're not harming others, you should not be punished by the state."


Sabra Briere


Jane Lumm


Stephen Kunselman

Briere said she's read through the Mixed-Use Party's platform and it seems the party is interested in changing the zoning so groups of students can live in every neighborhood and can no longer be arrested for having drinking parties in their front yard. She predicts that will present some conflicts, as some residents don't want to live next to that type of activity.

"I have a feeling there will be some very different visions for Ann Arbor and how we live together coming out in this election," she said. "I'm not convinced that their solutions don't create bigger problems, but I try very hard to keep an open mind."

Leaf said U-M students and recent graduates make up the bulk of the party's membership at this point, but they're looking to appeal to more Ann Arbor residents.

He said his party isn't trying to override the discussions city officials already are having about zoning — they're all for incremental reforms.

He attended a recent community meeting as part of the downtown zoning reevaluation process and introduced the party's "variable height limit" idea.

That essentially would allow tall buildings in the center of downtown and impose shorter height limits as properties get closer to the edges of downtown, with the height of any building perhaps limited to half the distance between that structure and the nearest property with restricted zoning.

In other words, if a downtown property is 50 feet away from a restricted zone, the height limit of a building on that property would be 25 feet.

Leaf said that type of zoning could have prevented the controversial 14-story high-rise at 413 E. Huron St. from being approved immediately next to a residential historic district.

Vresics, an Illinois native who moved to Ann Arbor three years ago, points to Kerrytown as an example of what she'd like to see more of throughout the city — collections of shops and restaurants and houses all in close proximity, making the area more walkable and vibrant.

"Right now Ann Arbor is very expensive to live in," she said. "I think our zoning plan would help bring more affordable housing for students and young professionals."

Zoning issues aside, Vresics said she'd like to see less wasteful spending in city government and less subsidization of corporate interests. The party wants to abolish tax-increment financing in Ann Arbor, which is how the Downtown Development Authority is funded.

The party's members come with mixed political backgrounds. Leaf said the party has approached both the College Republicans and College Democrats and recruited from both sides.

"Conrad is a libertarian, Sam has described himself as a bleeding-heart liberal, but I mean all of our candidates are for sound fiscal management," he said. "We're trying to get past the two-party system."

Sam DeVarti is the son of Dave DeVarti, a Democrat who spent one year on the City Council in the late 1980s and also served for several years on the DDA board.

After talking with Leaf at length about the Mixed-Use Party, DeVarti said he decided to throw his hat in the ring. He said he fully supports the party's vision for a new zoning code.

"I think a lot of the reforms that we'd like to institute are very common-sense reforms," he said. "They can prevent a lot of trouble in the future."

Leaf said he understands the Mixed-Use Party candidates might be underdogs going into November, but he's optimistic about their chances at the polls.

"Because we're young and some of our platform has more personal liberty provisions, that seems scary to a lot of residents and we understand that," he said. "But I think once they see we have a better plan to fix infrastructure, and to protect residents from harm without unnecessarily restricting the city's growth, and to prevent urban sprawl, I think they'll vote for us."

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Thu, Sep 5, 2013 : 12:45 a.m.



Thu, Aug 15, 2013 : 2:11 a.m.

It seems to me that these MUP candidates are running against some of those who have lead the council *away* from business as usual or who have the potential to do so. Sooo, if you want to vote for business as usual, the MUP defeating/weakening any candidates who have challenged or might challenge the mayor's in-group would be one strategy. For example, Kunselman had a well-funded opponent in the primary but still won. I think because he represents an independent voice. Tell me again, why would a vote against him be a vote against business as usual?


Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 10:54 p.m.

Democracy at work. Non property owners setting the rules for property owners and developers. I'll vote for the students and hope for success just so these "incumbents" know what it's like to see "personal agendas" like the crosswalk law and opposed city income tax shoved down our throats. Here's to the Mixed Use Party success.


Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 10:56 p.m.

"opposed" city income tax is meant to mean council's refusal to place it on the ballet lead by Mr. Kunselman.

Anonymous Coward

Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 7:11 p.m.

I am curious if this initiative has anything to do with the natural shale gas located beneath Ann Arbor? Changing zoning would allow for fracking. And before you think that you as a resident could stop any such action, be advised that mortgage companies have sold your mortgage to Freddie Mac under the Freddie Mac Act (Natural Resource land grab by the Federal Government), so if they own more than 50% of the land in a single natural gas "sector" they don't need your approval to drill so long as the zoning permits it. I believe in sustainability. But did any of you realize that a NON-GOVERNMENT entity has already done much of the land planning for Ann Arbor without any citizen's having a say in the matter? Be sure to check out the Ann Arbor "Master Plan", which corresponds heavily with the United Nations Agenda 21 plan. These plans put human life AFTER natural resources and animals as a priority for the 21st century. These plans do NOT give residents a say in what is happening in their city. And the government limits funding to (now struggling/bankrupt) cities by forcing them to comply with this Agenda 21 initiative to get $$. I highly recommend that anyone reading this article do a bit of research on the MI natural gas lease collusion at auctions in 2010 (gas leases went from $100/acre to almost $1500/acre - so the likelihood of getting returns on that investment must be high), as well as the recent collusion in energy prices by banks such as Chase. Perhaps the Agenda 21 - Natural Resource Price Fixing - Government Land Grab - Rezoning Initiative are unrelated to each other, but I have a strong suspiscion that they are more closely related than perhaps we realize. NOW is the time to ask questions about these zoning changes, the gas leases in Washtenaw County and who owns them, and what the end-game is with regard to the sustainability plans being created. I support green initiatives - but also support transparent government involving THE PEOP


Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 3:04 p.m.

I find the anti-student, anti-youth attitude in these comments and at community meetings absolutely appalling. If commenters had it their way, the city would be one big retirement home with no new development and nobody under the age of 30... and certainly no public art or bike lanes. Kudos to the Mixed Use Party for showing Ann Arbor that young people do care about our city's future.


Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

NEWS FLASH: Students don't like rules, regulations or restrictions on behavior. The only thing more cliché is that those in power want to maintain the status quo.


Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 12:36 p.m.

In most neighborhoods within the city, you're already a 5 minute bike ride from neighborhood retail. The only exceptions that pops to mind are near Concordia College and up by M14 and Pontiac Trail. Affordability goes out the window if you're talking about mixed use in the same building. Been there, done that. Fire code and separation issues, fire sprinklers, mechanical issues, plumbing issues, construction management add tremendously to hard construction costs. Ongoing operating costs like insurance, trash, and management increase as well.


Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 10:34 p.m.

This plan doesn't promote mixed use buildings, but rather mixed use neighborhoods. It will permit multi-family structures in areas where that's currently forbidden.


Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 1:52 p.m.

Interesting points about the separation issues of mixed use. Here in the Georgetown area we may yet get a mixed-use abomination on the old mall site. I'm not sure why there has to be residential right on the site since it is surrounded on all sides by a diverse array of existing housing. We'd prefer retail/office - we don't really need another 400 people (students) dropped into the middle of our quite mature neighborhood. Let's not do mixed-use just because it's the currently fashionable thing.

Frustrated in A2

Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 3:31 a.m.

I agree some change needs to be made on the city coucil but I'm not feeling this party at all.


Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 2:27 a.m.

attn. mr. leaf,regarding marijuana cival infractions.have you researched cases?how many people were charged criminaly (state)+how many with the mythical (cival infraction) unless suspect is um affilliate+ get the usual get out of jail free card w expungent that the rest of the world is not entitled to.

Jim Mulchay

Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 1:30 a.m.

Reference "Zoning issues aside, Vresics said she'd like to see ....... and less subsidization of corporate interests." With Edwards Brothers Malloy moving to Jackson Road I'd think the remaining "corporate interests" are 3 - * The U-M Athletic Department * The U-M Hospitals * The University of Michigan Now if the "Mixed Use" party wants to squeeze them for money for the city, they might get a lot more support.

An Arborigine

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 10:10 p.m.

I'm sure Hizonor will endorse the um party


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 9:47 p.m.

I support the Mixed Use Party's plan to reform our zoning code. A denser Ann Arbor will promote economic diversity while reducing urban sprawl. The previous commenters who mentioned fears of unruly student behavior should recall that loudness after 10:00 PM is a civil infraction punishable with a $500 fine. Wariness of students and lower income people isn't a good enough argument for our present code which mandates expensive single family dwellings on large parcels in much of the city, driving up the price of Ann Arbor housing and causing developers to pave farmland and fields outside city limits.


Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 12:15 a.m.

The Mixed Use Party's zoning plan WILL create more urban sprawl because people will only move further out away from Ann Arbor, creating more commuting and therefore more "pollution" Or maybe we should just make the official drinking age 26 years old. After all, the children can stay on parents insurance until age 26, so therefore the Federal government considers them children...Children should not be allowed to drink alcohol as they are not yet responsible adults!!

Sam DeVarti

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 8:53 p.m.

I would like to point out that both Will Leaf and myself are life-long Ann Arbor residents. Conrad is an Ann Arbor home owner. I work at Burns Park Elementary at an after-school program that I attended many years ago. I would also point out that 40,000 students are residents of Ann Arbor whether or not they plan to spend only four years here. Individual students may come and go, but the student community deserves a voice as well.


Thu, Aug 15, 2013 : 2 a.m.

Sam, I'm surprised that your party is running against a candidate who has shown independence from the Mayor's agenda. I've been more than happy with Kunselman and the fact that he does not go along with business as usual. If you were only putting forward challenges to what was the in-group, I'd be ok with that. Why defeat those who have mounted an effective challenge to business as usual?


Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 10:56 a.m.

@Veracity: That's way too hostile. Irrespective of their age or life experience, they are entitled to vote and run for elected office. @SD: While I congratulate you on your foray into public service, I believe the articulated plan for mixed use zoning to be a bit naïve and, if implemented, would prove the law of unintended consequences. Deregulation and "de-zoning" would have the potential to create a lot of chaos in this town.


Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 1:40 a.m.

By the way, "life-long" is not really very long for the two of you, even if you have been studying Ann Arbor politics since you were seven years old. In addition to their conventional studies do you believe that each student studies Ann Arbor issues and politics sufficiently to make knowledgeable voting decisions? Never mind answering because I am sure that you are convinced that each student is an informed and involved constituent. Anyway I am sure that they will vote for the bottle of beer on any November Tuesday. You can be reassured about that!

Ryan J. Stanton

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 8:26 p.m.

A little more background ... The party had hoped to put forward a fourth candidate, Noah Weber, but Weber informed the group in May he was moving to a different part of town and couldn't run in the 4th Ward. "We considered finding a replacement, but we decided against it," Leaf said. "Our first year, we want to focus our efforts on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd wards."

Sam S Smith

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 7:56 p.m.

Very interesting. What are their thoughts, plans and goals for other issues besides zoning?

Linda Peck

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 7:49 p.m.

This is going to be interesting. I wonder if they will present a mayoral candidate, too. No one seems to be interested in this job except our own Mayor Hieftje. This is a role of great influence and power, and yet no one but him seems to be ready to take it on. I find this most interesting. I may criticize our Mayor, but I respect him. He has the wherewithal and he does the difficult job. He is definitely not weak or ineffective.

Linda Peck

Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 12:27 a.m.

I did not know this, Indymama. Thank you.


Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 12:09 a.m.

Linda, Sabra is itching for the Mayor's job!!!


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 6:45 p.m.

Okay, so we're all voting for Jeff Hayner, right? With the pathetic voter turnout we have, 2 groups can find it very easy to win; 1) entrenched cronies w/ buddies in business and city affairs, and 2) students who are for public drinking. How many flyers you think you have to put up in the dorms and party stores to get all the votes you need for that? Like 20? So please, people, Jeff Hayner. This one's actually going to need you to get out there and vote. Ann Arbor could be SO great if we could just get a couple more people with common sense and a dedication to fiscal responsibility. We're almost there, people! We can DO this!


Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 12:07 a.m.

RUKiddingMe...I couldn't have said this better!!! We need Mr. Hayner on City Council!!!

Colorado Sun

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 6:18 p.m.

I have attended several of the Mixed-Use Party meetings. Jeff Hayner was at the latest monthly meeting. Will Leaf is a recent U-M grad whose family is from Ann Arbor. Conrad Brown may make a real difference in the Third Ward as we have two independents and one Democrat. AADP co-chairman Mike Henry is trying to recruit support for Kirk Westphal from Democrats as he sees that a unified AADP in the Third Ward may oust Lumm. Jackie Vresics is from Chicago and is an undergrad at U-M studying filmmaking.


Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 12:33 a.m.

Kirk Westphal was appointed to the Planning Commission many years ago by the mayor and is its Chairman. He presided over the flawed 2009 zoning ordinance that allows the monstrous 413 East Huron Street highrise student mega-apartment building to be constructed. He remains involved in the re-examination of the zoning ordinance but maintains his interest in unrestricted high density growth downtown. IMHO, if he wins a seat on City Council he will support the mayor and the DDA's agenda. Those who have been following Jane Lumm's activities on the City Council, as I have closely for the last ten months, should be impressed by her thorough preparation to deal with complex issues and resolutions and her dedication to do what is right for the citizens of Ward 2 and Ann Arbor in general. I ask those who oppose Jane Lumm to specify exactly what actions or positions Councilwoman Lumm has taken in City Council that disturbs them. And I urge Jane Lumm detractors to specify in detail what other candidates offer that she doesn't.


Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 12:06 a.m.

Those student/candidates from Ann Arbor are probably indoctrinated in the Heifty machine!! And one from Chicagol...oh my gosh,.. all Democrates!!


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 6:16 p.m.

The usual reason that students file for office is to polish their resumes for applications to graduate school or law school. Most of them do not bother to campaign. I recall one case in which the student was gone before election time to graduate school in another part of the country.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 6:04 p.m.

This article ignores the fact that several of the new party members are born-and-raised Ann Arbor natives, with longtime experience in the non-University community and a vested interest in the city's development. Smooth reporting, guys.


Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 12:11 a.m.

That IS interesting, though I suspect that "longtime experience" is still limited by the young ages of Mixed-Use Party candidates. I am interested in having each Mixed-Use Party candidate publish bios listing specifically their valuable non-university community-related experiences. And what do you mean by "vested" interest in the city's development?


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 4:21 p.m.

Maybe one of them can score a coveted endorsement in November.

Colorado Sun

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 6:03 p.m.

The endorsement did not bode well for Marcia Higgins last week. They best avoid any door-to-door electioneering from John Hieftje.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 4:11 p.m.

History of City Planning in the U.S.A. Virginia Colony = No Zoning (today called "Mixed-Use Zoning"). As Virginians migrated westward (Virginia once included West Virginia and had towns on the Ohio River), poured thru the Cumberland Gap and settled Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri and Arkansas they transplanted No Zoning to those territories. Massachusetts Bay Colony = Zoning. New Englanders migrated westward via the Erie Canal, and, later, the RR and settled Michigan. Zoning was transplanted to Michigan. Visit downtown Plymouth, Massachusetts/Michigan. Dexter was settled by migrants from Gill, Massachusetts. Both towns are Zoned and laid-out in the same manner. This is basically a philosohical dispute between those that subscribe to ordered liberty vs those of the libertarian persuasion. cf: Federalist Papers.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 7:24 p.m.

@Will. I am a "Hill William." Have you ever driven thru Kentucky towns? (If you have simply breezed thru the state on the freeway, or visited major cities that have adopted land use principals (Zoning), then you really need to get onto the surface roads to experience Kentucky non-zoning). Besides, your citation was written by lawyers, who use their skills to advocate their client's interests which are frequently "wildly inaccurate."


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 6:43 p.m.

This is wildly inaccurate. For an actual history of zoning, I recommend the Michigan state bar's "a short history of zoning."


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 4:02 p.m.

I think that Briere's comments about students' drinking parties are pretty insensitive. It sounds as if these candidates are arguing for establishing mixed used, more walkable, communities throughout the city, rather than just in the core. I am fortunate to live in a part of Ann Arbor where I have a grocery store, bus stop, etc. within 1/4 mile from my home, but most folks don't have that. This kind of "walkability" can reduce fuel costs, reduce pollution, increase physical activity -- all good things!


Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 12:04 a.m.

Can the word "insensitive" ever be applied to unfettered alcohol drinking? In case you have forgotten, alcohol is classified as a toxin and has many untoward effects on the body. As a physician I have cared for far too many patients who suffered and died from acute alcohol intoxication, auto accidents while intoxicated, falls from building while intoxicated (not just UofM) and chronic brain, liver, and cardiac conditions. And many alcoholics get their start in college. The emphasis on removing the restrictions on alcohol ingestion shows just how youthful priorities get twisted. Ann Arbor is already a very walkable city and has recently won a national award in part for this reason. Anyway I am always interested in learning about new ways to improve life in Ann Arbor and suggest that you take any ideas, which are different than wishes, to your City Council member and speak before City Council during the public comment period just prior to each City Council meeting. City Council meets at 7:00 p.m. on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of every month in the City Hall Council Chamber.

Widow Wadman

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 3:52 p.m.

There are two people running against Sabra Briere. This could split the vote. Regardless I'm glad that some people stepped forward.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 3:31 p.m.

The city council certainly needs house cleaning, but how about a slate of responsible adults with long term commitments to the community and who represent all residents, not just the 30% of the population who are transient and 18-22, with a singular, self-serving agenda item.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 11:35 p.m.

And who do you suggest should run for City Council member in each ward and what would you have them do?

AA Neighbor

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 3:25 p.m.

Never mind students who want to drink alcohol until they pass out on the neighbors' lawns. We need a Green Party that will address the problems of bad drinking water, the Gelman dioxane pall on the westside, and brownfield clean up of old gas station, dry cleaners, and industrial sites.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 3:22 p.m.

Students running for city council? Just what we need. Students (via UM) already call too many shots in A2. The city needs to recognize that 66% of the city residents are NOT students and build housing and services in the city core that addresses all ages, not just the 20-somethings. Gotta love this: The mixed-use zone, according to the party's website, would make it so areas of Ann Arbor with tall buildings and late-night activity can have businesses, houses and apartments next to each other "with few rules about noise, light, building height, and opening and closing times." Hahaha. Not too self-serving.

peg dash fab

Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 2:09 p.m.

Maybe students should be allowed only three-fifths of a vote in city elections.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 7:33 p.m.

With no students on City Council its difficult to see how many shots students call. The University and student political groups are not synonymous.

Jaime Magiera

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

Essentially, they are a single issue party with very little attachment to the community, therefore very little insight into long-term needs of the city. Bad idea.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 2:57 p.m.

"Briere said she's read through the Mixed-Use Party's platform and it seems the party is interested in changing the zoning so groups of students can live in every neighborhood and can no longer be arrested for having drinking parties in their front yard. She predicts that will present some conflicts, as some residents don't want to live next to that type of activity." MOST residents don't want that type of activity. Methinks YOU are going to have an impossible time trying to unseat anyone with that kind of anti-community attitude...


Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 6:59 p.m.

Oops. Not for 413 E. Huron. However, Brieir was under much pressure on that one since it's in her ward and citizen activism was huge. (Not that the mayor et. al. listened.)


Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 6:56 p.m.

Veracity, Brier voted for the underground fiasco next to the library, for 413 E. Huron, for leasing parks, against fire/police protection, and much more. She's a friend of the DDA and worked against those on council attempting to place some controls on the org.


Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

Ms. Briere voted against returning over $800K in skimmed art dollars to their rightful sources. I believe that Mr. Hayner would not have done that. Can I be "certain"? No, since that would have happened in a parallel universe.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 11 p.m.

cindy1 - Sabra Briere as well as many and occasionally all of the other City Council members have voted with the mayor on many resolutions and other actions that are not controversial. I have observed Sabra Briere's performance on City Council for several years and for every meeting since the elections last November. No one on the City Council is more informed and more diligent than Councilwoman Briere. I have agreed with most her City Council votes and understand her reasoning with her other votes. I do not believe that Mr. Hayner offers any value to City Council which is not already being provided by Sabra Briere and he can not equal her knowledge and experience. She is definitely an important resource for City Council. Please list the issues upon which you would have preferred that Councilwoman Briere not have sided with the mayor. Also I doubt that you can be certain that Mr. Hayner would have voted differently, though you may wish that to happen. What positions on issues does Mr. Hayner take which are different from Sabra Briere's and of which you prefer?


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 6:32 p.m.

The mixed use party candidates will not allow drinking parties in front yards if they are disturbing nearby residents with noise, litter, or any other harm.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 4:45 p.m.

Veracity: I'm not Billy but would like to weigh in. Brieir often votes with the mayor et. al. From what I've read about Jeff Hayner, his values seem to conform to those city councilors not in the mayor's group. If I lived in Ward 1, I would vote for Hayner.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 3:59 p.m.

Billy, I hope that you are new to Ann Arbor and therefore your comments are based on ignorance. For your information, Sabra Briere is very much community-oriented and I doubt that any other candidate for City Council is more concerned about the Ann Arbor citizenry. Since you do not know "MOST residents" personally you can not justify chastising Councilwoman Briere for stating "some residents" to properly qualify her prediction. What are your other reasons for not liking Sabra Briere?


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 2:54 p.m.

In Ann Arbor a vote AGAINST an incumbent will be a vote for POSITIVE CHANGE...period.


Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 7:19 p.m.

I agree but only when it comes to CERTAIN incumbents.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 2:49 p.m.

A viable third party would be nice, especially since we really don't have republicans on council except for the ones that stopped running as republicans. But, this party's platform is pitiful.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 3:41 p.m.

National and even most state issues do not penetrate down to the local level so major party labels have little real meaning in Ann Arbor politics. And labels have been switched by more than one member of City Council. Choosing your City Council representatives will be better based on their ideas and positions on local issues then whether they are elephants or donkeys.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 2:42 p.m.

What's this? We will have a choice on the ballot in November? What sort of nonsense is this? Given a choice to vote against a loyal member of the ruling party, I will do so. It can't be any worse, and it might be entertaining to see new blood on the council. If it doesn't work out, we can always vote for someone else in a couple of years.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 10:33 p.m.

SonnyDog09 - Your cute little quip is an insufficient substitute for a detailed explanations of the shortcomings of the present City Council members who you wish to have replaced.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 3:51 p.m.

Politicians are like children's diapers and should be changed periodically for the same reason.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 3:36 p.m.

SonnyDog09 - "It can't be worse..." Oh, yes, it can be worse but I do not want that experience. Please explain the source of your unhappiness with each City Council member representing the three contested ward races, Ward 1, Ward 2 and Ward 3. Then explain how each Mixed-Use Party candidate will perform better as City Council members.

Vivienne Armentrout

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 2:28 p.m.

This is one of those "all this has happened before, and it will happen again" moments. The last time we had a major student movement was in the Arbor Update days back around 2005. I have memorialized some of this here: The big issue at the time was porch couches. Another was wanting to have loud parties in neighborhoods and resentment of established neighborhood associations (an anti-neighborhood association was formed and there was talk of a student-led citywide movement). A fellow we all called Murph had a lot of opinions about dense development and parking restrictions (he was against them in neighborhoods). Now Murph is married, with a house in Ypsilanti and a seat on the Regional Transit Authority. Dale Winling (the one with the anti-neighborhood association) is on the faculty at Virginia Tech. In less than a decade, these guys have become part of the establishment and probably don't want loud parties in their neighborhoods, either. As to unaffordable housing in Ann Arbor - I think the expensive high-rise student developments downtown indicate how successful unrestrained development is in bringing down the rent.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 7:30 p.m.

I'm not a big fan of the student high rises because I think that they will alter the culture of campus. While there were divisions when I was in school most students, rich, middle class and poor, lived in similarly crappy apartments or houses and for the most family resources didn't seem to impact social life. I'm concerned that these high rises will lead to a haves/haves not division on campus. None of this is a zoning point -- just a personal preference. On the issue of rents, obviously the high-rises themselves will be expensive. They are presumably expensive to build and no one spends that kind of money without hoping to recoup their investment. The question is whether reduced demand in other campus neighborhoods with the new dorm and new high rise buildings will bring down rent overall


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 6:30 p.m.

The mixed use party zoning plan would actually restrain development in a way that better protects residents, while also increasing the amount of space available for construction. Details are on Allowing more space for development certainly will bring down rent. The fact that recent new student apartments are expensive is irrelevant. If thousands of wealthy students are living in downtown high-rises, there are thousands of people no longer demanding housing in older buildings around Ann Arbor. To say this will not lower prices is to contradict the basic law of supply and demand. A good paper on the subject is "The Impact of Zoning on Housing Affordability." by the Harvard Institute of Economic Research. The mixed use party candidates are for enforcing the noise ordinance and will not allow loud parties in neighborhoods.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 4:51 p.m.

I found the irony very clear. Well said, Vivienne.

Vivienne Armentrout

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 4:08 p.m.

JRW, that was irony. I meant to express what you said.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 3:26 p.m.

" I think the expensive high-rise student developments downtown indicate how successful unrestrained development is in bringing down the rent." I would disagree with this statement. Rent is only going up in A2, not down, in spite of over priced student warehouses.

Ryan J. Stanton

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 2:13 p.m.

Here's perhaps the most concise summary of the party's zoning philosophy that I've seen: "The mixed use platform states that the zoning code should regulate specific harms like pollution, noise, lighting, and shade, but not living arrangements, commercial activity, or other characteristics that are not specific harms. In each zone, a mixture of uses will be permitted."


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 11:49 p.m.

So it would be OK to have a house of ill-repute (prostitution), or a drug-selling house move in next to you and your family, or a child molester buy a house next to an elementary school, or any school for that matter??!! I don't think their mixed use platform would be a wise choice for zoning matters in Ann Arbor or any civil city!!

Ryan J. Stanton

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 2:10 p.m.

In case anyone is curious, I did hear from Jane Lumm and Stephen Kunselman, who didn't yet have an opinion to share about their student opponents or this party. "Although I am not that familiar yet with their platform and have not had the opportunity to meet Mr. Brown, I look forward to hearing what they have to say and getting to know him," Lumm said. "The more debate and points of view and choices for residents, the better - that's how the process is supposed to work." Kunselman had this to say: "I will enjoy having a good community discussion of the issues with Sam DeVarti and look forward to having an honorable campaign." For our part, we'll definitely have more coverage of each race leading up to November and will delve a little more into some of the issues and what each candidate has to say. Stay tuned.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 2:02 p.m.

Will Leaf and his cohorts have formed an essentially one-issue party with a moniker that is a misnomer. The label, "Ann Arbor Mixed-Use Party," does not really refer to any concern for property zoning but more accurately refers to the variety of alcoholic beverages that the group wants to drink anywhere, at anytime, by anyone, and to any degree of intoxication and without any restrictions. Furthermore, if any Ann Arbor Mixed-Use Party candidates should succeed in winning seats on City Council, Ann Arbor citizens can expect that they will be absent from City Council proceedings when the specific issue of concern for them is not on the agenda. As very busy students I doubt that they will want to take the time to attend City Council sessions and will wish to spend minimal time in preparation when they do attend. With limited experience living in Ann Arbor (and most of that experienced confined to school campuses), these youngsters will not be able to represent the majority of their ward constituents who work, pay taxes and continue to live in the City of Ann Arbor. Any of the other candidates should govern with more knowledge, more experience, more interest, and more capabilities then those of the Ann Arbor Mixed-Use Party.


Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 2:01 a.m.

David, point taken on PILOT payments. That said, I suspect that student renters pay a significant share of Ann Arbor's property tax receipts.

David Cahill

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 7:24 p.m.

@PeteM UM doesn't pay PILOT payments to the City. The state gives a little money for fire protection; UM pays the City money for some of the cost of events (expanded police and signal staff for football games, for instance).


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 7:11 p.m.

U-M has a 30,000 plus students. All of whom pay (or their parents pay) taxes in two ways -- tenants pay their landlords' property taxes as part of their rent and non-renters contribute to the University's PILOT payments to the City through their dorm fees (and I suppose through tuition as well. Admittedly they probably pay less (indirectly) taxes than an owner of a home in Ann Arbor Hills, but I would suspect that students who often don't drive and use University recreational facilities over public parks probably use fewer public resources than many residents.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 6:14 p.m.

I encourage you to go to our website to see detailed plans for zoning reform. No other candidates have a practical plan to prevent urban sprawl, make housing affordable, or abolish tax increment financing. We will soon release a plan to repair the city's roads and other infrastructure. Samuel Devarti is from Ann Arbor, and Conrad Brown moved from Flint to Ann Arbor with his family. Jacklyn Vresics will be in Ann Arbor after she graduates. All three candidates have committed to spending the time necessary to study issues and meet with constituents. We will represent both older residents and students. We do not believe that 18 year olds should go to court simply for drinking alcohol, but we will enforce rules for excessive noise, littering, and other harms related to drinking.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 2:23 p.m.

I think you're onto something. Would you go for "Mixed-Abuse Party"?

Eduard Copely

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 1:52 p.m.

I Wisch the Mixed Use Party much suchest in challenging the Status-Quo.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 4:25 p.m.

@ Sparty. Dint you git Eduard's tongue-in-cheek humor? Eduard was imitating an intoxicated person in his post! Congrats Eddie. ROTFLMAO ! ! !


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 4:17 p.m.


Roger Kuhlman

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.

What we have now on the Council are utter and unresponsive failures for the most part. Let's hear what these new people have to say. Maybe they will do something like respect the will of the Ann Arbor electorate when they vote down public funding of city Art by ending this funding and not continuing it under other deceptive means.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 6:29 p.m.

In the areas you're complaining about, there have been changes during the past two years and there will be more improvement with the newly elected members. Besides the art issues, there was the issue of building a library as grand as the libraries of such city's as Portland, Oregon. That was voted down in favor of far less costly renovation. Citizens of Ann Arbor will continue to vote that down and the new members of council are on the side of the majority of voters on that issue. City Council is being improved with the election of Ann Arbor taxpayers by long term Ann Arbor taxpayers of all ages. The part of the new political party's desire to have affordable housing for students and other young adults insults older Ann Arborites who have been paying property taxes for decades and see a party that appears to value the needs of transients over the needs of people who have been supporting the local infrastructure.

Carol Cross

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

A political party whose main focus is zoning while laudable in theory will be a failure in practice. Students may already live in any part of the city they like. They may do what they like within reason on their properties, including smoking, drinking and other victimless crimes. They may walk to shops or downtown depending on where they choose to live. We have very high property taxes and that results in high rents, that and there is a full rental market. Rents will come down as the student highrises and new dormitories built downtown fill up I think. Thank you to all three Mixed Use party candidates for doing your civic duty.

Dog Guy

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 1:27 p.m.

I'm too old to attend a mixed use college party. We need Albert Howard.

David Cahill

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 1:05 p.m., this group's documents clearly state that its name is the "Mixed Use Party" without a hyphen between "Mixed" and "Use". Somehow, you have decided to hyphenate the name. I think these folks are entitled to their own typographical style. Please fix in this article and subsequent articles.

Colorado Sun

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 7:32 p.m.

@David: Hope you'll be voting for Jackie Vresics this November!


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 4:15 p.m.

I see that David is engaging "due diligence" for the candidate of his choice. :-)


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 12:56 p.m.

I've always said that we don't have enough public drinking here. The Solo Cup party!


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 5:53 p.m.

Toby Keith and I throw our full support behind your cause.

Jaime Magiera

Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 3:09 p.m.

If I had a penny for every Solo cup strewn about our city...


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 12:20 p.m.

The zoning ordinances for all the non-residential areas excluding downtown were revised a few years ago and all allow mixed use. This includes commercial districts like the new Arbor Hills Crossings and the former Georgetown mall. The feedback during development of those ordinances was that the typical commercial development company for these smaller (7-8 acre) parcels would not be interested in building mixed use with longer term uses above disposable retail operations. They also said retail is a much better return than residential use. There is no heavy industrial use in the city, only light and the feeling was it could be rezoned office and mixed use but I don't recall exactly the outcome for light industrial. There were only a couple parcels in the whole city. The most problematic zone was RC4 and that went through a separate revision process. I still maintain that high density, mixed use around the university properties especially the athletic facilities would be the most desirable zoning for those areas. A recommendation to change the number of unrelated individuals that could live in a unit didn't seem to go anywhere. As for downtown, the newer regulations are not that much different from the prior. The prior owners of 412 Huron argued persuasively against down-zoning their investment so Leaf's saying he could have prevented it is naive about the state enabling laws and the city ordinance development process. Zoning is a long term view and you can't just change an area on a whim. Also, the number one issue that made all discussions of downtown zoning difficult was the many historic areas and the young slate of challengers don't seem to have anything to say about that. Mentioning 'heavy industrial' as an issue in Ann Arbor without saying something about historic districts indicates a profound ignorance of the situation on the ground so to speak.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 5:58 p.m.

As you correctly point out, it would be improper to rezone one parcel based on a whim. However, city council has the authority to set a variable height limit for the entire downtown zone. If city council had done so before the 413 project was planned, the building would have been prevented (although taller buildings in the center of downtown would be allowed). The mixed use party zoning plan is available on the group's website.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 11:36 a.m.

20 year old students? Gone in a year or two? Sounds like they will certainly have the long view.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 11:32 p.m.

Pete, They are still "Kids" and they don't have the wisdom that comes from age and experience. It sounds to me as if they want to be able to party wherever they are regardless of neighborhoods that don't want rowdy kids carrying on all hours of the night! :>)


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 7:05 p.m.

True, but some students stick around (I graduated 20 plus years ago). Also, students individually may change but as a group they are a significant part of Ann Arbor.


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 11:25 a.m.

This 1st ward resident will be voting for change. Welcome Jaclyn Vresics!


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 4:25 p.m.

Welcome Jaclyn, but I will most likely vote for Jeffrey Hayner. It's about time we had a real election and not just a low turnout primary!


Sun, Aug 11, 2013 : 10:26 a.m.

Anything that will help to clean house on 5th ave. even if it is " rainbow peoples party " 2013 is a step in the right direction