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Recent City Council History of the Ann Arbor City Flag

Apr 2, 2023

The City flag is likely to be in the news much more in the next year. Below, read about the recent history of the Ann Arbor City flag.

July 2, 2018

Ann Arbor City Council approves a new ordinance prohibiting use of the City seal and flag and establishing misuse as a civil infraction subject to a $10,000 fine.

Link to ordinance approved July 2, 2018

In answer to Council questions at the time (link), staff explained:

Surveying a handful of cities, it appears flag- and seal-protection ordinances are not typical, although that may be due to a lack of sophistication on the part of other cities. In Michigan, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Detroit, Flint, and East Lansing, for example, have not adopted such ordinances. Beyond Michigan, the same goes for Madison, Boulder, Austin, Pittsburgh, and Seattle, again for example. In contrast, Warren, Michigan, Houston, Texas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, for example, all protect their seals and flags by ordinance. We are aware anecdotally of one or more cities that have sought trademark protection from the federal Patent and Trademark Office, but have been rejected because city flags and seals cannot be registered; protecting against misuse of a city seal or flag must be done by local ordinance.

November 13, 2018

ACLU of Michigan complains that the new Ann Arbor ordinance imposing fines for use of the City seal and flag is a violation of First Amendment rights.

Detroit News: Ann Arbor reconsidering restrictions on use of seal

WILX 10 News: Ann Arbor taking closer look at restrictions on use of seal, flag

January 22, 2019

In response to complaints from the ACLU, the Ann Arbor ordinance is revised. The revisions remove problematic terms that prohibited anyone from displaying the seal or flag “on any written or printed materials that are not official city publications” unless they had special permission from the mayor.

Link to revised ordinance approved January 22, 2019

MLive: Ann Arbor OKs changes to controversial city seal and flag ordinance

March 18, 2022

MLive article, quoting Mayor Taylor:

“We don’t see the city flag portrayed with pride throughout the community. We don’t see the city flag on patches or laptop stickers and we ought to. I think folks love the town, and if we had a city flag that worked, we’d have another means of expressing that common affection.”

“I know the city loves its trees,” Taylor added, saying he thinks the city seal with the oak tree logo is fantastic and something residents look at with pride, and that would remain the official city seal even if removed from the flag.

Taylor points to Chicago’s city flag — simplistic in design, featuring four red stars between two blue stripes on a white background — as an example of a good civic flag that holds power for the community.

MLive: Ann Arbor mayor wants new city flag that residents will fly from porches with pride

March 20, 2023

Ann Arbor City Council unanimously votes to direct the City Public Art Commission to develop a “project plan” for re-design of the Ann Arbor City flag.

Link to resolution approved March 20, 2023

MLive: Ann Arbor to adopt new city flag in honor of bicentennial in 2024