Grand Rapids

City Comm Agenda

Public hearing on proposed Human Rights ordinance


Department:Diversity and InclusionSponsors:
Category:Public HearingFunctions:City Commission

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On April 9, 2019, the City Commission established April 23, 2019, as the date to hold a public hearing on amending Title IX of the City Code by adopting Chapter 175, Articles 1-5, Secs. 9.935-9.951, titled “Human Rights.”


The City of Grand Rapids has the longest running Civil Rights/Human Rights ordinance that was adopted by the City Commission in 1953.  A number of changes have occurred in this ordinance throughout the years including the addition of protections for our LGBTQ+ residents and for individuals related to housing through the protection of source of lawful income. 


In July 2019 a meeting was held with the Community Relations Commission (CRC) Chair Tommy Allen, Diversity and Inclusion Manager Patti Caudill, City Attorney Anita Hitchcock, Executive Director of LincUp Jeremy DeRoo and LincUp Policy Liaison Lyonell LaGrone to discuss changes to the CRC Ordinance.  As a result of this meeting, the CRC Chair Tommy Allen established a subcommittee of the CRC charged with reviewing the current ordinance, identifying best practices in Human Rights Ordinances and proposing potential changes of the ordinance to the City Commission.  The subcommittee included:


·         Tommy Allen, CRC Chair;

·         Misti Stanton, CRC Member;

·         Rich Libratore, CRC Member;

·         Belinda Bardwell, CRC Member;

·         Patti Caudill, Diversity and Inclusion Manager; and

·         Sherry Batzer, Director of Municipal Affairs


Staff and the CRC conducted research on a variety of communities and best practices including: 


·         Michigan Department of Civil Rights Ordinance template,

·         City of East Lansing,

·         City of Ann Arbor,

·         City of Lansing, and

·         City of Madison, Wisconsin


Based on research and stakeholder input, the CRC proposed changes to the City Code by repealing the current Community Relations Commission ordinance (Title I, Chapter 8, Article 3 (Community Relations Commission) Secs. 1.341-1.350) and replacing it with the Human Rights ordinance. The proposed changes were reviewed with City Manager Mark Washington and the Cabinet team in December 2018.  Recommendations from this review were vetted and incorporated into the ordinance proposal. 


On February 14, 2019, the Grand Rapids CRC completed its review of the proposed Human Rights ordinance and voted unanimously to move this proposal forward to the City Commission for public hearing and adoption.


Key changes in the Human Rights Ordinance from what was covered in the CRC Ordinance include:


·         An expanded definition section to provide clarity and transparency

·         Identifying the four primary potential areas of discrimination

·         Adding “Bias Crime Reporting Prohibition” and made it a criminal misdemeanor to racially profile people of color for participating in their lives

·         Outlined and codified the referral and complaint procedures for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion in collaboration with the City Attorney’s Office

·         Specifically outlined the injunctive relief for violations of the ordinance that were previously implied


Should the City Commission choose to move forward with the proposed changes to the City Code, the Commission will be presented at a future meeting with separate resolutions adopting Chapter 175 to Title IX of the Code and repealing Title I, Chapter 8, Article 3, Secs. 1.341-1.350, “Community Relations Commission.”