Letters: Vote no on Proposal A
A is awful! This attempt at legislating community benefits is anti-self-determination, anti-business, and will create a new bureaucracy that has no accountability to the citizens of Detroit. Under Proposal A, we will lose the fragile surge of new investments we have now.
Anyone who lives within an adjacent census track of a proposed development — regardless of city boundaries —would have the right to negotiate and approve a community benefits agreement. For developments near the city’s boundaries, residents of other cities would have equal, if not superior standing to most Detroit residents when it comes to negotiating these agreements.
A second, investment-killing part of Proposal A is its creation of vague, but mandatory, new steps for developers. They would be required to negotiate an enforceable agreement with essentially whoever happens to show up at a few meetings. It also sets no time limits, so negotiations could go on forever — killing a chance for new jobs, new housing, or new amenities to a neighborhood. This ill-defined, self-appointed group would have essentially no accountability to other Detroiters and a high potential for secret deals and corruption.
Detroit is already equipped with processes to ensure community engagement. A $20 million project that we developed had to withstand more than 10 public hearings and approvals from at least five boards and commissions prior to receiving its zoning and public incentives.
The result was a development agreement that committed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the city for park improvements, ensured that a significant number of Detroit residents would earn construction jobs, and put the architect and general construction contracts in the hands of Detroit-based companies that are also African-American-owned. Proposal A contemplates adding another, completely unnecessary layer to this process.
Christopher Jackson, managing partner
Queen Lillian Development, LLC
Over the past two years Detroit has added thousands of new jobs, the most in decades. Companies such as American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute, Sakthi Automotive, and Flex-N-Gate are investing in the city and their workers are one of the major reasons that Detroit could see a turnaround.
But that turnaround is threatened by Proposal A, which creates layers of bureaucracy for businesses wanting to bring jobs to the city, and, it overrides elected officials in decision-making with new, unelected boards reviewing projects.
What’s worse, there is no timeline for approving projects. No matter how dedicated a company or developer is in investing in the city, businesses that bring jobs to our city are going to go elsewhere if Proposal A passes. Vote no on Proposal A.
Tony Dunn, Detroit
One of the things about Proposal A that concerns me is it’s complexity. It requires job providers to negotiate a legal agreement with a “host community representative organization.”
But there’s no process outlined for who will participate in these important negotiations. What’s even more troubling is there’s nothing to guarantee that participants are from the community, or are truly representative of it. People from the suburbs could sit on the board and determine our fate.
I’m all for having a community benefits agreement in the city, but only when it will truly protect our neighborhoods. Proposal A doesn’t do it.
Dorian Kemp, Detroit