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Feb 11

Not Vacant

Comments (0) 12:00 AM posted by admin |

The web site Not Vacant is a fabulous source of information for anyone who is still in favor of the City of Ypsilanti‘s proposed Vacant Buildings Ordinance. The site’s “17 Frequently Unanswered Questions” gives great insight into how our City Council is trying desparately to protect us from the unspeakable dangers that lie within the walls of the Towner House.

The Vacant Buildings Ordinance and the lack of ordinance enforcement in the City is the perfect example of how our well-intentioned City Council doesn’t understand how a city operates. In December, I voiced my concern to Council that the City’s web site was not kept up-to-date and tried to explain how this hurt the relationship between the City Council and the people who elected them. The specific examples I used were the fact that the council meeting minutes had not been updated for three months nor had a council meeting agenda been posted for five months. The speaker after me voiced his concern that a council meeting in November had been cancelled, but there had been no notice of the cancellation on the City’s web site.

City Council didn’t comprehend what I was saying (perhaps not all individuals thought this way, but City Council is an entity more than it is a collection of individuals). Within a few weeks the meeting minutes were up-to-date and agendas have been posted on the web site prior to each council meeting. Kudos to you, but you completely missed the point.

The point is there are nearly ONE HUNDRED instances on the web site in which information is missing. Examples include:

  • No email address listed for Council Member Nickels
  • Mr. Overland’s and Mr. Prebys’ terms on the HDC have expired
  • The DDA does not post meeting minutes or an agenda
  • Board openings are not posted

    I believe those to be very fair criticisms. I am not picking on style or grammar or the fact that a joint meeting between City Council and the Recreation Commission is scheduled for Tuesday, February 11th (and February 11ths in 2005 that fall on a Friday do not exist in our particular reality).

    The City designates various people in its adminstration to update different parts of the web site. What that means is that it’s someone’s JOB to keep this information current. Someone has a responsibility that they are not upholding. The City is in the midst of a financial crisis, but the current administration sees fit to allow employees to be paid for not fulfilling all of their job requirements.

    THAT, is the point.

    It’s currently someone’s job to enforce ordinances. I believe the Ordinance Enforcement officer is understaffed. Instead of hiring more workers to help enforce ordinances, City Council is pushing to adopt the Vacant Buildings Ordinance. The Vacant Buildings Ordinance won’t add staff, but they believe that by doing something, anything, they are are helping fight blight. They don’t want to correct the root cause of the problem. They want to add more restrictions that must be enforced to an enforcement staff that can’t effectively enforce the ordinances that exist today.

    I’ve had fights with the City over ordinance enforcement during my life in Ypsi. I’ve had the City confirm that violations existed in my neighborhood. I thought these violations to negatively impact my quality of life. When I asked the City to enforce these existing ordiances, I was told it was not their problem. I fail to see how a City Code written to protect me can be used to punish me.

    To allow the City Council to adopt the Vacant Buildings Ordinance would perpetuate the myth that doing anything is better than doing the right thing. Stand up and tell City Council they need to begin solving problems, not just acknowledging them.

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