University of Michigan student group eyes seats on Ann Arbor City Council
A group of University of Michigan students calling itself the Ann Arbor Mixed Use Party is looking to line up a slate of student candidates to run for City Council this year.
No one from the party has pulled nominating petitions from the city clerk's office yet, but the party has laid out an agenda on its website at http://mixeduseparty.com.
Law student Shang Kong, chairman of the party, told the Michigan Daily the party's platform is still in the conceptualization process, and candidates have not yet been selected. The party, which formed in January, is meeting on the last Sunday of every month at Angell Hall.
As its name implies, 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 "that do not apply to other residents."
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."
Under the "legalize victimless crimes" section of its website, the party advocates for easing the rules around drinking in public.
It also calls for tightening restrictions on the Downtown Development Authority to "stop the city government from making investments in private businesses," arguing the DDA "should not be able to force citizens to loan money to developers."
Because the city is overwhelmingly Democratic, council races typically are decided in the Democratic primary in August when voter turnout is low and many students are away for the summer.
Five members of the 11-member Ann Arbor City Council are up for re-election this year, but so far only two potential challengers have emerged.
Julie Grand, chairwoman of the city's Park Advisory Commission, plans to run against 3rd Ward incumbent Stephen Kunselman in the Democratic primary in August.
Planning Commission Chairman Kirk Westphal, a Democrat, plans to run against 2nd Ward incumbent Jane Lumm, an Independent. They would face off in November.
Three others remain unopposed: Sabra Briere is seeking re-election in the 1st Ward, Marcia Higgins is seeking re-election in the 4th Ward, and Mike Anglin is seeking re-election in the 5th Ward.
May 14 is the filing deadline.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at email@example.com or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.