This week (June 8), Council voted 3-2 on regulating when landlords in East Lansing can rent to new tenants, and the Study Committee on an Independent Police Oversight Commission presented to Council its recommendations for civilian oversight of ELPD.
But besides those two big-ticket items, Council members passed two resolutions, approved multiple contracts and allocations, and talked about what’s on their minds. Here’s a rundown from ELi, East Lansing’s dedicated independent news source.
Council passed Ordinance 1500 on a 3-2 vote.
Ordinance 1500 will require landlords to wait 150 days after the start of a new lease before they show or lease a property to a new tenant for the next leasing period. However, Ordinance 1500 will only take effect if elected officials of the City of Lansing and Meridian Township pass substantially similar laws by Aug. 10, 2021. Otherwise, Ordinance 1500 will be automatically null and void.
During public comment, several landlords and their attorney cautioned against the move and several student representatives voiced their support. Council members Mayor Aaron Stephens, Mayor Pro Tem Jessy Gregg, and Dana Watson voted in support, while Lisa Babcock and Ron Bacon opposed. Read more in this dedicated report by Andrew Graham for ELi.
East Lansing is heading towards establishment of a civilian police oversight commission.
On Tuesday, members of the Study Committee on an Independent Police Oversight Commission provided an overview of their report to the Council.
The Study Committee met twice a month for eight months to compile the recommendations. Council will take up discussion of the matter at next Tuesday’s meeting (June 15). Heather Brothers will be bringing a separate report for ELi on this.
Council passed two resolutions, one opposing state legislation on rentals, and the other supporting the impetus behind Pride month.
On the consent agenda (the period when Council votes through, without discussion, a number of items), Council approved a resolution to oppose a pair of state legislation, H.B. 4722 and corresponding S.B. 446, which if passed would amend the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act to stop Michigan municipalities (like East Lansing) from prohibiting owners of residential properties from leasing those properties, short- or long-term. (Read more from ELi.)
The resolution from East Lansing’s Council opposes the idea that short-term rentals like those offered by Airbnb and Vrbo could be required by the state to be permitted in all residential zones. It declares that these legislative bills would deprive local residents and municipal bodies of local control, and that such policy regulation should be left to municipalities, and not the State. Currently, the draft legislation has gone to the Commerce and Tourism Committee and has been referred to a second hearing.
Council also approved on the consent agenda a resolution to acknowledge Pride Month, requested by Mayor Pro Tem Jessy Gregg. The resolution states that “the East Lansing City Council stands in solidarity with the LBGTQI+ community” and concludes that the Council “recognizes PRIDE and comments the bravery, solidarity and resiliency of the LGBTQI+ community in the face of violence and discrimination; and stands with you in the continuous fight for equity.”
The resolution notes East Lansing was the first city in America to enact civil protections for gay people in 1972. The City began flying the Pride Flag at City Hall in 2020.
Council also approved two contracts relating to roads and a social service program.
Council approved an approximately $178,000 contract with Hubbell, Roth & Clark, Inc. for engineering of future work on Burcham Drive, on the recommendation of City engineering staff. The work will include topography surveying, drainage evaluation, drainage, and preparation of plans.
The resurfacing on Burcham Drive is anticipated to run from Abbot Road to Timberlane Drive. Construction is expected to commence after the MSU Spring 2022 semester and continue through August 2022. Eight companies had offered proposals, and Hubbell, Roth & Clark put in the lowest bid.
Council also renewed the City’s contract with Helping Hands Respite Care’s Adult Day Services Program through Sept. 30 of 2022. This contract first started in 2012. The program provides day services for adults with disabilities to allow their caregivers to have time to take care of themselves and other needs.
The contract allows Helping Hands to use the Community Center in Valley Court, and the cover memo notes that “a cash contribution of $10,000 was budgeted for in the Parks and Recreation Fund” for the next fiscal year.
Council approved several other allocations for improvements and events.
Council approved using $10,000 in tax revenue from marijuana to assist with clearing the records of some individuals who have been convicted of crimes. As ELi reported, Legal Services of South Central Michigan (LSSCM) and 54-B District Court have partnered to host an expungement clinic for people with convictions in Ingham, Eaton, and Clinton County.
The allocation would provide $100 each for 100 clinic participants to cover fees, including the ICHAT fee (background check), fingerprint cards, court records fees, notarization, and copy and postage fees. Eligibility is determined by LSSCM by income and type of convictions. The clinic will be held on June 19 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the hosts are seeking more volunteer lawyers to help.
Council approved a $400,000 allocation from “contingency funds of the FY 2019 SRF [State Revolving Fund] Loan to the Water Resource Recovery Facility (WRRF) Biosolids Improvements Project.” Read more about the “poop digester” project from ELi.
Council also approved the use of $21,200 to replace an overhead door installed in 1974 at the Water Resource Recovery Facility.
And here’s other news from the consent agenda:
Council approved two appointments to public bodies. Amy Zaagman has been appointed to the East Lansing Public Library Board of Trustees for a full term ending June 30, 2026, and Oluwatobi Williams has been appointed to the East Lansing Arts Commission for a partial term ending Dec. 31, 2021.
Following controversy over park-naming practices, Council approved a recommended revision to the park-naming policy from the Parks & Rec Advisory Commission.
Council authorized Dean Kelley, an officer with ELPD, to purchase one year and seven months of pension service credit from the Municipal Employees Retirement System. Purchasing credit allows City employees to retire earlier than they might have otherwise, and a lot of officers have been buying these service credits in the last several years. (Read more about the credits in this report.)
One item was removed from the agenda at the request of staff: a contract for the painting of a new mural on what is now a gray wall on the east side of the new Center City District parking garage. Staff explained that there’s an issue in the contract with the installation method, and that once that is worked out, it will be brought back to Council for approval.
The City Attorney came to town.
City Attorney Mike Homier had no formal report but told Council he had come to town because his son had a lacrosse game here. He said they stayed at East Lansing’s downtown Marriott Hotel and enjoyed it. Homier lives in Grand Rapids and became City Attorney for East Lansing last October under a contract worth $500,000 per year.
Council members had a variety of things to report.
In her allotted time for Council member reports, Watson said she is excited for the summertime and encouraged everyone to stay safe and get vaccinated.
Babcock congratulated Tristin Martin, age 9, who is participating in the World Ninja Championships, as reported in the Lansing State Journal. Babcock also asked the City Attorney if it is acceptable for her to volunteer her legal services at the expungement clinic on June 19. The City Attorney said he saw no problem with a Council member volunteering at 54-B Court for this but would discuss it further with her outside the meeting.
Bacon echoed the need for more attorneys to sign up for the clinic. He also commended the downtown improvements led by staff member Adam Cummins and mentioned the start of the City’s Farmers’ Market.
Bacon also gave a tribute to Samuel J. Hosey, Sr., who has died at age 91 and who was the first Black pharmacist in Ingham County. Hosey was the father of ELi’s Board President Sam Hosey, Jr., and the grandfather of ELi reporter Alex Hosey, and the family is known for its civil rights leadership.
Gregg shared her own appreciation for downtown and the Farmers Market and spoke briefly about microbusinesses and her interest in small business entrepreneurship. She encouraged anyone wanting to grow a small business in East Lansing to contact her.
Stephens thanked Fire Chief Randy Talifarro and Parks & Recreation Director Tim McCaffrey who are both retiring. Stephens added that downtown development has grown and he encouraged doing it in a sustainable way. Stephens also said he is in favor of vaccine mandates for MSU students.
Publisher’s note: The reporter who brought you this news, Jack Harrison, is a student at MSU. Want to help ELi support Jack and other young people with meaningful jobs in local journalism? Please send a financial contribution to ELi’s nonprofit service today!