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Feb 07

R1 VS R1A

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

So I’m eating dinner at The Sidetrack on Saturday night when one of my neighbors sits down at my table and asks me, “So what do you think of all the downzoning business?” He then started eating my fries off of my plate. Normally I’m pretty creeped out about people eating off my plate in public spaces, but what really set me off was this was the same guy who’s had my compound miter saw since 2002. I’ve grown to accept my status as internet celebrity (albeit a D-list internet celebrity), so I offered a the best response that one could give after after having enjoyed an undetermined amount of twenty-five ounce adult beverages.

You see, I live in the Historic East Side. The downzoning sitting in front of City Council is specific to MidTown. Since I don’t live there, I don’t feel I have any right to tell them how they should live. If they want downzoning, great. If they don’t want downzoning, that’s great too. I would hope they would respect me and the rights my neighborhood, so I have to respect them.

With that being said, you could argue that there are some things bigger than neighborhoods. Does the greater good for the City outweigh the the rights of individuals? That’s pretty deep.

From a personal stand-point, I live in R1 next to a single-family rental. The owner is an out-of-town landlord. He’s been able to circumvent the Historic District Commission on every project he’s ever done on his home. And he’s more than willing to rent to anyone that won’t bounce a check. Maybe that’s the only extreme case in all of Ypsilanti, but I think it blows away the argument that single-family homes are better taken care of, more stable, and provide a more viable community life. Not everyone can afford to make their homes a money pit. Not everyone cares enough about their homes. You can’t just hope good things will happen. You also can’t ignore the wishes of the neighborhood and hope they will work with you in the future. In order to make Ypsilanti a success, we have understand the impact that multi-family has on City services as well as the impact the change will have.

Sound wishy-washy enough? Sure.

The one other thing that seems to be ignored here is economic impact this change will have on the school system. My property taxes are roughly 56 mills. A non-homestead owner pays roughly 74 mills. The 18 mill difference goes directly to the State to help fund public education. If Ypsilanti suddenly become less dense, the City collects this 18 mills for education on fewer properties causing less money to go into the kitty for education. The State has to make up that money somewhere. Do you have any idea where that money will come from?

If you said leprechauns, then please find yourself a designated driver, however, if you guessed from the money the State uses to fund cities, then give yourself a gold star. Here we are in Ypsilanti struggling for every penny we can find so we can properly fund the types of services that make a city a city, and we’re going to make a policy that will negatively impact the the till? Sounds crazy to me too.

Just to be clear, this 18 mills does not go directly to the Ypsilanti School District. It goes into a giant pot that gets split among everyone in the State. I also don’t want to misrepresent the notion that this decrease is spread out over hundreds of municipalities throughout the State. If the amount this 18 mills generates in Ypsilanti decreases by $100K and the State has to cheat cities by that same amount, the total decrease for Ypsilanti is going to be a lot less than the $100K. The fact that might get ingored in all of this is with so many manufacturing plants closing throughout the State, the amount this 18 mills generates is already decreasing but at a rate far greater than what Ypsilanti might contribute.

Sound complicated? There’s even more to this issue because the apartments actually create jobs in the form of management and maintenance. I’ve seen quality models that suggest there are over 500 jobs related to housing in Ypsilanti. Are casualties of 100 jobs worth it in our quest to downzone? I can’t imagine they are. That’d be like suggesting the closing of Automotive Components Holding LLC is a good thing because it decreases traffic on Spring Street.

Regardless, tonight’s City Council meeting will some knock-down, drag-out fun. You’d be a fool to miss the show. 

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