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Posted on Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 4:01 p.m.

Locavore breakfast operation Selma Cafe in violation of city zoning codes; future uncertain

By Sven Gustafson

Editor's note: This story has been updated to add comment from Gottlieb.

The future of Selma Cafe, a weekly gathering of volunteers who prepare breakfast in a home on Ann Arbor's west side to raise money for local farmers, is in doubt after being notified it's in violation of city zoning ordinances, the Ann Arbor Chronicle reports.

A letter dated April 3 from city planning manager Wendy Rampson to Selma Cafe co-founder Lisa Gottlieb says the operation violates city zoning codes defining acceptable "home occupations," or nonresidential uses of a home. Specifically, the city alleges that Selma routinely has more people involved in the weekly operation than allowed, that the number of daily vehicle trips exceeds the permitted 10; and that the need for parking is not being met.

"To resolve this violation, you may discontinue your home occupation or make changes to bring it into compliance with the performance standards, which would substantially reduce the scale of the activity," Rampson wrote. "Another way you may resolve the violation is to relocate these events to an appropriately-zoned location that allows for assembly use and/or a commercial kitchen."

Rampson added, "I'd like to emphasize that the City has received numerous complaints from a variety of sources, including neighbors and parents of Eberwhite students, all of whom are concerned about the concentrated traffic and parking issues that result from SELMA Cafe's operation."

Gottleib has until Monday to respond with a timetable for discontinuing the cafe operation. Reached by phone, Gottlieb told she would be contacting the city Monday but said "I'm not sure" when asked what her response would be.

"Selma Cafe is closed right now," Gottlieb said.

Selma Cafe marked its fourth anniversary in February and draws anywhere between 150 and 200 guests for its Friday breakfast fundraisers, Gottlieb said. She said she is considering finding an alternate location to hold the events.

"The feedback I'm getting is people are very sad that we're closing and people are sharing how much Selma Cafe has meant to them over the years," she said. "I think we have done something really unusual and unique in our community. I think we've had an incredible run and we've made immeasurable changes in the local foodshed and in supporting local farmers and artisan food preparers. I'm really proud of that."

But Gottlieb said she's not resigned to having to remain closed.

"I don't know that I'm necessarily resigned to anything at this point. I'm a pretty positive person," she said.

Gottlieb told the Chronicle she has resolved the issue of parking congestion and is seeking alternate locations for continuing the weekly breakfasts. A message posted on Selma Cafe's website says "We are temporarily closed."

Separately, a nonprofit called Food System Economic Partnership elected to end its fiscal sponsorship of Selma Cafe over a disagreement with Gottlieb, who has been pursuing making the cafe an independent nonprofit.

For more, read the Chronicle story. Below is a video about Selma Cafe made by last year.



Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 3:45 a.m.

From a2grateful's post, these are my third and second most favorite excuses for Selma Cafe's boorishness toward its neighbors: "3) Patrons getting sick from food? Haven't heard of any, yet. 4) Children being run down in crosswalks? Haven't heard of any yet." "yet?" "yet?" One shakes one's jowls in disbelief. You say that no one has yet reported direct harm from Selma Cafe's violations of reasonable rules that apply to everyone else running a popular cafe, so it's OK that Selma ignores these rules? Can you be serious? But the silliest excuse seen here is probably the plaint that Ann Arbor really needs a bigger dose of "mixed-use" zoning, exemplified by Selma's rogue operation in this neighborhood. Much can be said for mixed-use zoning, if it's reasonably planned, and actually designed to encourage vital neighborhoods of mixed uses. But you don't effect a zoning change for a long-settled neighborhood at the uncontrolled initiative of a few individuals who start doing business in violation of well-known generally-applicable rules, and at substantial inconvenience to its neighbors.

Wheat Beer

Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 1:12 a.m.

With the list of hoop houses that this organization has built at a cost of about$7,000. to $10,000 per unit. Where did all the money go? I would guess the IRS will have a field day with this one.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 10:36 p.m.

When I moved to Ann Arbor less than a year ago I had no friends, no community and no knowledge of the city. Selma gave me all of that and more. It is an amazing place, full of energy and positivity that you can't get anywhere else - especially at 6:30 in the morning. I am heartbroken to see people being so negative toward a place that so many treasure. I suppose all I can say is thank you, to Lisa and Jeff and all the volunteers, you truly have changed my life for the better and I hope to see you all soon, even if it's not on a Friday morning.

Peter A Webb

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 11:03 p.m.

If only there was some way they could "lease space" and conduct this "business" in a manner that did not run afoul of the law...


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 9:27 p.m.

The neighborhood impact doesn't sound much different than a kegger.

Peter A Webb

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 11:01 p.m.

Which would also be a nuisance. Especially if it happened every week.

Vivienne Armentrout

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 8:33 p.m.

Readers might get even more of the picture by reading this story about Nifty Hoops from last year. I don't see any mention here of the house also becoming a bed-and-breakfast. They joined AirBNB some months ago.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 8:24 p.m.

The arrogance and self-righteousness of Selma and its supporters is in plain to see in the comments. Disturbing the neighbors? Too bad, they should just deal with it. Skirting zoning (and health code) requirements? The government is too heavy handed and should just let this "wonderful" activity continue. If that sort of logic was applied to everything going on in this town, the 14 story high-rise on East Huron should be built tomorrow - who cares about the neighbors?


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 7:36 p.m.

"Drive by this 'house' and you'll see an unkept front yard full of weeds. " You just described half of the house properties in Ann Arbor, as well as most of the city parks.

Brian Kuehn

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 6:18 p.m.

One really ought to read the Chronicle coverage. Here is an excerpt: "Gottlieb said she first heard about these complaints in early March, though she wasn't contacted directly by the neighbors. ... She said she immediately stopped all activities at her home – other than Selma Cafe – as soon as she heard about the neighbors' concerns. Those events had included the happy hour, yoga sessions, some concerts by local musicians, and a Balkan dance party." Sounds like a happening place.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 4:44 p.m.

Drive by this 'house' and you'll see an unkept front yard full of weeds. If a restaurant looked like that I'd keep on driving. How you can continue to feed people from your house and skate past the County Health Code is beyond me. I don't see anyone wearing gloves, hair nets, etc. Time to put an end to this mess and find a real location. Also, time to expose the tax issues. Where did the money go? Did 100% of funds get accounted for? Where is the bank account? $15 donation x 200 people = $3000. $3,000 x 4 weeks in a month = serious cash. It's time to move to an offsite location with a place to park your Prius that does not bother neighbors or the school.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 9:53 p.m.

My thoughts exactly. I would like to see a breakdown of bank transactions, deposits and bookkeeping. I work at a small business and making cash deposits to the bank is a HUGE deal, requiring two signatures and lots of security. Did the SELMA folks just cram the money into an envelope and dump it off? Who kept track of the books? Was any of the food donated? What about taxes paid on it? The idea is very noble and from what I've read, they've done a lot for local farmers. But you know who else has done "a lot"? Zingermans, Food Gatherers, heck any local business that employs people! And they have to pay taxes, follow health & safety laws, jump through hoops on zoning (BierCamp comes to mind). Just because something does "a lot of good" doesn't mean you get to skate through laws. (Heck, I volunteer at a I get to ignore my tax bill because I do some good?)

Dirty Mouth

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 2:31 p.m.

I like Selma, I love organic and tasty food. But, I am not neighbor of Selma so therefore I have no idea what kind of a burden this experiment has been on the neighborhood. Suffice to say, unless you know what the neighbors have been through, you should be quiet.

Usual Suspect

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 3:14 p.m.

I've never had my property vandalized with graffiti. Therefore, I should be quiet about graffiti.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 1:29 p.m.

If this is in a single family residential neighborhood, it sounds like they are violating the Zoning Ordinance. Having a few family and friends over for breakfast is one thing, starting a commune is different. It sounds like a commercial location is in order......

Bill Sloan

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 1:06 p.m.

Stop the Selma, and stop allowing churches to park illegally all over the city every Sunday. Heck, even worshippers of the religion of football have to abide by parking rules. Two violations fixed in one fell swoop!

Usual Suspect

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

The parking situation at each church is considered every time there are building project performed. There must be a certain number of parking spaces provided per foot of pew space. Taxi stands and spaces in front of homes are not allowed to be included in that count. Downtown churches have some exceptions due to historical and space considerations. If those exceptions bother you, you may take that up with the city.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 1:39 p.m.

I was noticing yesterday how they are allowed to park in and block the bike lane on Divison on Sunday. WWJD? I guess he'd bike on the sidewalk.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 11:51 a.m.

While I think SELMA should not be allowed to operate in the neighborhood, they skirt too many rules and violate some, I am amused that most of the opposition on these pages comes from those that usually want to see LESS government and loose regulation of business. The only reason I can think they would have such a large flip flop is because of HOW the money is being used. It is associated with "leftist" politics and therefore, like marijuana regulation. the normally libertarian posters must come out against their normal positions. Too funny.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 1:58 p.m.

@usual suspect; He's never much for context, if a shoot from the hip rant will suffice. Perhaps that is one definition of "open minded".

Usual Suspect

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

Thanks, clownfish. But you miss the point again, most likely intentionally, and choosing to instead echo what your DNC and MSLSD handlers tell you to say. Conservatives don't want less government, we want the appropriate amount of government. Appropriate zoning, enforcement of zoning laws, and food safety are examples of such. I know you won't get it, but I put it out here anyways, because perhaps there is somebody else who will benefit from hearing it.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 12:54 p.m.

For instance: Usual Suspect 5:49 PM on 4/14/2013 Just move the thing to an appropriate location. A neighborhood is not the right place for this sort of thing. And don't give me the, "But it's such a good thing they're going" thing, meaning we should just ignore the law. Roadman 1:09 AM on 4/15/2013 The SELMA era is over...


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 12:38 p.m.

"I am amused that most of the opposition on these pages comes from those that usually want to see LESS government and loose regulation of business." For instance??? Oh, just slinging garbage again.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 11:48 a.m.

Tempest in a Teapot? Let's look at the "issues": 1) Parking? Public street, public parking. 2) Poor driving? Seen everyday in school neighborhoods, with parents rushing to pickup and drop off kids. . . May be attributed to an occasional school bus driver, as well. Similar behavior viewed on streets citywide. 3) Patrons getting sick from food? Haven't heard of any, yet. 4) Children being run down in crosswalks? Haven't heard of any yet. 5) Special political favors for continuance? What was someone's gain on the political side? One or two votes from registered voters at SELMA residence? These votes decided election and subsequent political votes? 6) Home occupation? Owners have other full-time jobs. SELMA is a non-profit educational and social endeavor that operates less than once a week. Tempest in a teapot? Looks that way. I appreciate the spirit, mission, camaraderie, work ethic, and non-profit love effort provided by SELMA Cafe, its owners, volunteers, and supporters. SELMA events are festive, fun, friendly, and welcoming. Local food initiatives deserve our support, as do local farmers, and chefs using locally grown products. Thank you, Lisa Gottleib and SELMA Cafe, for providing a refreshing and energizing Ann Arbor experience in Ann Arbor. If you decide to close, many will miss you. What will the neighbors complain about next? Eberwhite pancake suppers, concerts, or ice cream socials? Noisy children on the Eberwhite playground? Sounds of frogs, birds, and crickets from Eberwhite Woods? Too bad there is no app for peace and personal contentment. Complainers in the neighborhood could use it. Or, maybe they could try a Yoga class. . .


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 8:17 p.m.

Rosa Parks? Birmingham?? Please.

Justin Altman

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 7:59 p.m.

Sad to see such a negative rating for a post relaying simple facts. Rather than complain that we "must abide the rules" that none of us get to make, how about we start lauding these people who break unjust rules and expose the ill-workings of the public system around them? To tie it into a cause where I doubt many Ann-Arborites would disagree, would you also get mad at a Rosa Parks or someone sitting at a segregated lunch counter - just because they need to follow "the rules"? The outrage directed at SELMA is like being mad at protesters for flooding the streets when the firehoses were turned on. SELMA doesn't run the roads, the city does. The protesters didn't manage the firehoses, the city of Birmingham did.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 4:43 p.m.

None of us get to choose the rules by which we must abide. Sounds like a great operation, but they need to step up and abide by rules just like everyone else. Four years to get their acts together is long enough.

Jack Gladney

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 12:39 p.m.

Two words: Nifty Hoops.

andy kelly

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 10:35 a.m.

Interesting. The last time a SELMA article was posted and I commented about the legality of the operation, I was beat down as a scrooge. I guess the pendulum has swung the other way. Lisa, if you are listening, I am very sorry to hear that major decisions are now upon you. I really had thought that you have discovered a way to bypass a regulatory system that stymies ingenuity and experimentation. It is a shame that are current system cannot enable one to explore a concept using limited funds at the incubation level. I was deeply encouraged that this "pop-up" restaurant concept could really make Ann Arbor the progressive (not liberal) town it labels itself as. Yet, between the short-sighted, money-worshiping conservative voices that occupies these discussions and the tax-hungry, zoning-excitable, business-crushing liberals that run the city, we are just a fiat label pretending to be progressive without any real movement - just complaining and endless empty debate. What about using these "discussions" as an exchanges of ideas? How about asking pointed questions, as they sometimes have, that create the platform for the exchange. Ideas are like a virus, they permeate everywhere! Lisa, you are the canary in the coal mine. I really hope that the community can/will assist you with re-creating SELMA. We can make this a great town again!


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 2:52 p.m.

"It is a shame that are current system" OUR OUR OUR. What is this current trend of using "are" in place of "our?" I guess people have gotten tired of destroying "your" and "you're" and have moved on to something else.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.



Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 5:11 a.m.

Tempest in a Teapot! We live in a City. Having freely chosen to reside inside the limits of a "City," we must accept the restrictions implicit in our decision to reside therein. Among those restrictions are something the law calls "Zoning." I am all for Enforcing the Law! Our Christian "Selma People," (whom I Salute), can Easily find some other "legal zone" in which to gather. Remember dudes: "Render onto Caesar that which is Caesar's." Wannta make a fight out of this? = You Lose.

Justin Altman

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 7:54 p.m.

So all things are Caesar's? The City owns your house and can set the rules therein because of what reason? Because a few people signed a charter a few hundred years ago? Where did the City gain the deed or horizontal privity on the deed by which they can legally impose restrictions on what you do within your own home?


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 5:09 a.m.

The SELMA era is over...................


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 3:07 a.m.

If I'm not mistaken, SELMA cafe is protected to sell food under the Michigan's Cottage Food Law, PA 113. Under the Cottage Food Law, non-potentially hazardous foods that do not require time and/or temperature control for safety can be produced in a home kitchen (the kitchen of the person's primary domestic residence) for direct sale to customers at farmers markets, farm markets, roadside stands or other direct markets. So that's how SELMA cafe can do it, for those who were asking. It's also a suggested donation, and they are not necessarily CHARGING for the food that they are selling. I think it's an awesome place doing really awesome things...Maybe people in the neighborhood should try it out, open their minds to the local food industry? I can understand the frustration that they may have with the traffic...however, how different is it than having Jefferson Market, Washtenaw Dairy, Big City Small World Bakery, etc. in the middle of neighborhoods? It's not.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 1:47 p.m.

"The other businesses you mentioned are INSPECTED!!!!!! This means that I can be assured food safety precautions are in place. " Keep in mind that 95% of prepared meals (even for children!) consisting of potentially hazardous foods that might require temperature control for safety are prepared in completely un-inspected, unregulated kitchens by cooks who lack food handling training or certification. Scandalous and terrifying, isn't it? It's amazing that our mothers didn't kill us all....

Raggety Andy

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 11:44 a.m.

The cottage food law covers things like baked goods and confection, which are not potentially hazardous due to low water content, acidity, etc. Pretty sure SELMA does not fall under this category.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 11:39 a.m.

To start, Big city, Jefferson Market, etc. have their business coming in over the course of a day. SELMA has its ~200 customers coming in over the course of a few hours, on top of the traffic already generated by parents dropping off kids. The congestion is much, much heavier over a short period of time, albeit missing most of the rest of the week. If I lived there, a weekly 100-200 person "day party" by one of my neighbors would start to get old pretty darned fast. A monthly one, I'd probably shrug off.

andy kelly

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 10:17 a.m.

What? Just as you said, the Cottage Food Law allows one to sell non-potentially hazardous foods that do not require time and/or temperature control for safety. SELMA serves breakfast - eggs, bacon, sausage, cream, butter, kimchi, etc. All these food are NOT covered under the law. Secondly, donation or no donation, it is a business that inconveniences other neighbors and does not fall under the use of a Home Occupation - PERIOD . How is this different? The other businesses you mentioned are INSPECTED!!!!!! This means that I can be assured food safety precautions are in place. While I acknowledge that restaurants do not always do a great job of keeping their kitchens clean, I eat with more confidence that the food served in a LICENSED high frequency establishment has been properly handled. These are the issues at hand.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 3:07 a.m.

It's about time. It might be a noble cause but it's not appropriate or neighborly to impose on one's neighbors with such a large gathering weekly. AND non-profit - perhaps but there's the issue of hoop house business and questionable connections there. "Let us help you raise money so you can buy our product" isn't very non-profittish.

Justin Altman

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 7:50 p.m.

So it's not right to "impose" traffic on your neighbors on the city-run streets, but it is right to impose a ban on your neighbors from using the interior of their house in a peaceful, productive manner?


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 2:24 a.m.

I'm trying to figure out why, of all the great coverage on the Chronicle, they choose this over, say, the Library system using $28,000 (the maximum dollar amount allowed with a vote of the library board) of your tax dollars to hire a "communications consultant" (e.g. PR rep/image consultant), and one that has been seen as preying on small town districts.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 4:59 p.m.

OK, actually, no, not my bad. Vivienne, your link is to the Chronicle. I know the story's on the Chronicle. I read it there. I'm wondering why this Selma thing, which gleaned from the Chronicle, is in, while the Image Consultant story in the Chronicle is NOT in in other words, between these two stories, why would roll this one, which they got from the Chronicle, and not the OTHER one, which they COULD have got from the Chronicle. Or was it the Chronicle that posted this story here?


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 4:56 p.m.

Well, to be sure, my terrible bad. Thanks for the link, Vivienne.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.

Well played Vivienne, well played.

Vivienne Armentrout

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 12:31 p.m.

You missed it. See Good, timely coverage and a vigorous commentary.

Jack Gladney

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 2:23 a.m.

I love the parking map on their website. Don't park on their street near their neighbors... Park on Eberwhite and take a lovely stroll. Mrs. Whatsherrname won't mind at all. It's a laudable concept that has become a business. I'd like to know more about the hoop house business and who is profiting on that (I assume that the constuction engineer living at that address is not involved in that as a business).

Jack Gladney

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 12:35 p.m.

*goes to Google* OK, Tell us again about the financial relationship between Selma Cafe, FSEP and Jeff McCabe's company Nifty Hoops. It seems like there is a lot more there than homegrown scrambled eggs in the Old West Side to talk about.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 1:32 a.m.

Lisa, we love you and are rooting for you! Go SELMA!


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 2:40 a.m.

Wendy Rampson, we love you and are rooting for you! Go City Planning Department!

Linda Peck

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 1:22 a.m.

I visited there once as part of a home tour. It was a very congested area with little parking for the public, and as I understand it a lot of people show up on Fridays for breakfast. I think the neighbors must be a bit upset. The spot is nice, but it is definitely a home and not a restaurant. I hope they can work it out at a different location.

Justin Altman

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 7:48 p.m.

Sounds like a problem with the public management of the roads and zoning board. Rather than limit the creative potential of peaceful local-vores, why don't we focus on re-arranging the Byzantine restrictions that have led to the problems?

NE Steward

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 12:51 a.m.

Could use a good place to eat and gather with good folks on the East side of town. Maybe you can get into one of these strp malls and change the scenery on Plymouth Road!


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 12:37 a.m.

C'mon! Where are the comments by the neighbors? Fluff on fluffers!


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 12:27 a.m.

I hope they can find a suitable location to run the cafe. It's a great idea, but I'd get tired of constantly having that level of traffic and parking issues in my neighborhood. If you choose to live next to the Stadium you know what you're signing up for in terms of sports traffic inconvenience, but if you buy into a residential neighborhood you don't expect a restaurant as your neighbor. Their intentions are great and it's also important to be considerate of the neighbors.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 12:23 a.m.

Boooooo. Can't we just let a quirky little gathering be? Why does everything have to be a "business"?

Dirty Mouth

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 2:28 p.m.

Why don't we all gather at your place?


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 1:49 p.m.

Actually DJ, when one applies for designation as a tax exempt organization (likely 501(c)(3)) that does not define them as a business, quite the contrary. That said, I seriously question whether they will qualify for a tax exemption and fully support the City's action.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 2:18 a.m.

When one applies for tax status with the IRS, one's doings are no longer regarded as a gathering, hobby or recurring party, you have a business, non-profit or otherwise.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 1:51 a.m.

Because 200 people is not a "little gathering" in a neighborhood.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 12:09 a.m.

Running a restaurant from your home is simply against code. If you want to run an operation like this then adhere to the rules like any other restaurant. There's a few of these in Ann Arbor and bless anyone who eats in them. No health inspections - ever. You have zero protection as the consumer.

Peter A Webb

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 10:53 p.m.

We know that there is at least one person in this thread that has no knowledge of the history of food safety in the country: Justin Altman! A round of applause, everyone!

Justin Altman

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 7:45 p.m.

"like any other restaurant" - but why should Any restaurant be subject to these things prior to it being shown that they are reckless with their food production? And surely you understand that high-profit-margin services could bear these regulations much better than a small start-up, non-profit or for-profit. That's why a McDonalds and Starbucks can afford to spring up on every corner, but a mom-and-pop diner or coffee shop can't afford to stay in business. You have protections as the consumer in that (a) you can stop eating there if you don't like the quality control, and (b) you can take legal recourse with a civil claim if they are indeed reckless in what they are providing to you. Reputation and a profit motive drive consumer protection more than overbearing and competition stifling regulation ever could.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 2:49 a.m.

i've always wondered how they had managed to keep this questionable business going on for so many years!


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 12:02 a.m.

There have been a lot of questions on why this SELMA operation has been allowed to operate for years without interference from the authorities and some have contended it is due to political connections of Jeff McCabe and Lisa Gottlieb. Gottlieb is employed by the county as a social worker and many heavy hitters in local politics have eaten at SELMA. The City Clerk's Office received its first written complaint about SELMA in early 2009 and in the May 3, 2009 edition of the Ann Arbor Chronicle, City Attorney Stephen Postema was quoted by Dave Askins as saying the city was "working with" the SELMA management to correct problems. Why it has taken four years for the City of Ann Arbor to issue a violation notice begs the question of whether the SELMA operators were receiving special favors from city leaders. SELMA also has a pending IRS application for a non-profit tax-exempt status. This is interesting because in the past they posted campaign support on their website for Councilman Mike Anglin, who regular eats at SELMA. Non-profit entities should not engage in campaign activities. This article does not mention, also, that a separate administering entity has frozen the funds of SELMA due to alleged breaches of its agreement with SELMA. This was repoted by the Ann Arbor Chronicle yesterday. SELMA has also had past issues with the county administration regarding its activities. It later negotiated compliances as to applicable federal law with county regulatory authorities. SELMA always has been a legally questionable enterprise in its operation, however has pursued commendable goals in assisting local farmers, which has been recognized by many civic leaders. Its current operations need to be relocated and vigorous oversight had by city authorities - who have been unduly lax in their prior oversight of SELMA.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 1:46 p.m.

Roadman-Thank you for the background. It appears that this is not merely an exercise in Punch a Hippie.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 3:08 a.m.

The Mike Anglin issue initially arose when Lisa Gottlieb on stated she was not "politically wired" to allegations that she knew many politicians locally - a poster replied thereon that an Anglin endorsement was contained on the SELMA website. Her husband, Jeff McCabe drew fire when he ran for a seat on the board of directors of the People's Food Co-op. Two candidates who timely filed their candidacy applications claimed he and Rebecca Kanner filed their applications after the deadline and should have been disqualified - but that both late applicants received preferential treatment due to political considerations.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 2:22 a.m.

I don't see what Councilman Anglin has to do with it, as the article and you state, these people and their cause/organization have not been awarded non-profit status, so they are free to do as they please in regards to politics.

tom swift jr.

Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 11:59 p.m.

heh... looks like the whole neighborhood showed up to vote down any comments supporting the Cafe. Nice to see that kind of cohesion.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 7:09 p.m.

Could not agree with the first 3 responders to your comment more. And no, I'm not a neighbor either.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 5:40 p.m.

Also not from the neighborhood. But what a nightmare for the folks who live there. The families who live there bought a home in a residential neighborhood -- had they wanted to live next door to a restaurant, they would have purchased a downtown condo.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

I am not from the neighborhood but am happy to vote down mindless boosterism.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 1:38 a.m.

Not from the neighborhood, but I sympathize with the folks affected. Besides, this is not just a traffic problem, and it sounds like they've been many years to get things straightened out.


Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 11:10 p.m.

Hats off to the neighbors for putting up with this for so long.


Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 11:03 p.m.

On the one hand I understand some of the neighborhood being adverse to cars parking on their street and the traffic that comes through - I could see it feeling like much on a weekly basis. On the other hand, it seems a bit illogical to complain about people using a street to park cars and drive on (this is what they're made for). It seems like the issue is more that people don't like the idea of someone running this in their neighborhood rather than it being an actual disturbance.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 5:28 p.m.

I guess what I'm getting at is that it seems like there is a difference between actual nuisance and perception of nuisance. While the west side likes to pretend that it's interesting, wacky, and open, many people seem way more stodgy and conservative when it comes to things that don't fit into very clear boxes. Cities like Austin, San Francisco, Boulder thrive on this kind of stuff because people know the value of creativity. I won't be surprised if The Water Hill Music Festival gets shut down next.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 12:04 a.m.

It is a public nuisance that needs to be shut down.


Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 10:54 p.m.

What is a "vehicle trip" considered to be?


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 9:13 p.m.

@ Homeland, you get the chuckle of the day award

Homeland Conspiracy

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 1:56 a.m.

a "vehicle trip"is when the vehicle takes battery acid


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 12:42 a.m.

Good question, is one vehicle trip the arrival AND departure of a vehicle, or are arrival and departure counted separately, as two trips?

Scott Reed

Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 10:51 p.m.

Sounds like we should fix these insane zoning restrictions. A neighborhood is exactly the right location for this sort of thing. I think this town needs more mixing of residential and commercial spaces; instead, like in most American cities, in Ann Arbor residences, schools and businesses tend to be segregated into separate "zones" which induces greater car usage and hence traffic headaches.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 1:42 p.m.

Your argument is not becoming persuasive by your posting it more than once.


Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 11:39 p.m.

Sure it's these zoning restrictions that are insane?

tom swift jr.

Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 10:35 p.m.

This is an absurd and useless use of city administrator time. This operation is harmless and adds to the ambiance of the City of Ann Arbor. You want to shut down activities that cause traffic congestion? Let's start with the U of M football games... sheesh...


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 12:04 a.m.

SELMA's gotten too many breaks from municipal regulators over the yesars -this is long overdue.

Alan Goldsmith

Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 10:17 p.m.

Amazing how if you have City officials as customers how you can dodge zoning rules for years. Finally this business serving thousands of customers in a residential neighborhood is being shut down


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 5:35 p.m.

craigjjs, over the years there have been quite a few stories in the news about Selma Café that included pictures and media coverage of several of our City officials enjoying their breakfasts there. Quite a few local government folk promoted their support of Selma café. I agree with Mr. Goldsmith and had been very disturbed to see local officials participating in this endeavor, despite the fact that it obviously violated zoning and health codes all along.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

I am not as in touch with where City officials eat, so please indulge me and tell me what you are talking about. Who has been dodging zoning rules for years. Which City official is allowing that to happen?

Usual Suspect

Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 9:49 p.m.

Just move the thing to an appropriate location. A neighborhood is not the right place for this sort of thing. And don't give me the, "But it's such a good thing they're going" thing, meaning we should just ignore the law. Yes, it's commendable work. But the location is still wrong.

Usual Suspect

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 1:02 p.m.

"I do think that residential and commercial zoning boundaries should be relaxed, so as to promote mixed use, within reason" I'm guessing "within reason" means "anywhere but next to my house."


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 12:40 a.m.

I don't disagree with mixed use, or with promoting more non-motorized transportation decisions. But in Ann Arbor it is not too hard to picture a scenario where mixed-use could mean allowing developers to build a 14 story, 280,000 square foot mixed-use building directly adjacent to a neighborhood of historic homes, on the same block as a church and a school.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 12:06 a.m.

@DBudsonic: A zoning variance application may be a good move. But good luck - it appears to be a nuisance.

Scott Reed

Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 11:27 p.m.

I do think that residential and commercial zoning boundaries should be relaxed, so as to promote mixed use, within reason. We should promote mixing of residences, restaurants, offices and schools so that it is practical and safe to walk/bike from one to the another.


Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 11:07 p.m.

So zoning laws should be relaxed to allow 200 people to gather in any neighborhood, weekly, to serve food from an uninspected kitchen, and charge for it? So Mr. Reed is saying that he supports the removal of residential and commercial zoning boundaries? If the zoning is the problem, Selma should have applied for a zoning change. They still can, and good luck with that.

Scott Reed

Sun, Apr 14, 2013 : 10:53 p.m.

If the zoning law says that the location is "wrong", yet it is a commendable and good activity, then the zoning law is the problem. Zoning laws should be relaxed to PROMOTE mixed-use development like this. With a better mix of residential and commercial activity, people will depend on cars less and traffic / parking will become less of a problem.