I’ve been following Detroit’s upcoming mayoral election and the controversy surrounding the imposition of the Emergency Financial Manager, here on Global Site Plans, but forty miles to the west, Ann Arbor is experiencing their own political shake-ups. A new party is running candidates Conrad Brown and Samuel DeVarti in the city’s council election this year.
Formed in January of 2013, Ann Arbor’s Mixed Use Party is running candidates in two wards on a base that promises to alter the current zoning of the city. A basic urban planning tool, zoning prescribes what structures and uses can be employed on specific plots of land. The current zoning in place in Ann Arbor, and many cities across the U.S., is single-use, relegating large areas of land to only commercial use, only single-family residential use, or only multiple family residential use, for example.
The Mixed Use Party, as stated on their website, hopes that voters will see benefits like affordable housing and more ecologically friendly land use patterns associated with mixed use zoning and sway the election in their favor. The Party has gotten some early recognition in the media, and even national attention from Slate’s Matt Yglesias, but their main outreach plan is focused on engaging students and a door-to-door campaign by their two candidates. Working outside the two-party system and trying to sway voters toward mixed use plans in a college town may prove difficult though.
How heavily does urban planning factor into your voting decisions? How is mixed use zoning viewed in your community and what steps have been taken to promote it?
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