Every great battle to keep more people out of a neighborhood ends in a frivolous lawsuit. The heated debate over the Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan is no exception. The city’s long-range plan is intended to help Minneapolis equitably accommodate the next 20 years of population growth by legalizing more homes across all parts of the city.
As things stand, it’s currently illegal to build anything that’s not a single-family home in most parts of Minneapolis. The 2040 plan was initially lauded by supporters for proposing to make it legal to build “fourplexes everywhere,” but the city has since scaled back on that first draft. Despite the changes, a group called Minneapolis for Everyone remains staunchly opposed to the plan, equating it to a secretive scheme to “BULLDOZE” entire neighborhoods.
|Credit: Tony Webster|
On October 3, Minneapolis for Everyone sent an email announcing that “our friends at Smart Growth Minneapolis” were ready to initiate a “legal action.” The group is demanding the City Council stop moving forward on the comprehensive plan, “until environmental impacts have been properly reviewed and the comprehensive plan is properly adjusted and planned for.” In urban planning circles, “environmental impacts” is a technical term used by angry neighbors when they really just want to say, “Minneapolis has too many people already.”
Somewhat hilariously, this “Don’t Bulldoze Our Neighborhoods” legal action is being run from a southwest Minneapolis address that was bulldozed by its current owner. The website soliciting donations related to a potential lawsuit against the city asks supporters to send contributions to the address of a $1.4 million, 4500 square foot, single-family home, constructed in 2007 following the bulldozing of an existing single-family home. Property records show the homeowner is John Goetz of the personal injury law firm Schwebel, Goetz and Sieben. (Did he request a shoreland overlay variance? Yes he did.)
|Planning report describing the Goetz teardown.|
This news comes two weeks after an embarrassing press conference where a spokesperson for Minneapolis for Everyone — a millionaire former city council member named Lisa McDonald — compared herself and her friends to a “marginalized group.” Campaign finance records show that in 2018 and 2014, McDonald donated to the campaign of Rich Stanek. Stanek is the Trump-backing Hennepin County Sheriff who cooperates with ICE in targeting undocumented immigrants (Stanek is what’s known as an actual threat to marginalized groups). McDonald has also hosted at least one Stanek fundraiser in the backyard of her $1.6 million home on Lake Harriet. (This has led some to speculate that the fundraising for a lawsuit against the city will divert countless donations that would otherwise have gone to support Sheriff Stanek.)
|Lisa McDonald hosting Stanek fundraiser in her backyard.|
|Rich Stanek thanking Lisa McDonald for funding his campaign.|
Then there’s the other spokesperson for Minneapolis for Everyone: an elected official named Carol Becker who tried to unlawfully trademark “Wedge Live” in a bizarre attempt to steal the name of the website you’re reading right now. (No matter how many times I write that sentence, it stays weird.)
Another prominent member of Minneapolis for Everyone is eminent domain attorney Tim Keane. His website advertises that he helped use the awesome power of the government to take private property away from its owner, all for the benefit of a sports billionaire (“Eminent domain and real estate counsel to lead agency to assemble land for Target Field Ball Park project”). This is notable because Keane’s group has plastered front yards in swanky southwest Minneapolis with apocalyptic red signs that have stoked baseless fears of eminent domain. The most persistent and outlandish rumor that planners and elected officials have had to debunk over the last several months involves the question of eminent domain.
In conclusion and in summary, nobody could blame you for thinking there isn’t one member of the Red Sign Brigade who isn’t entirely full of shit.