Here’s last night’s live coverage of a Minneapolis 2040 session in the Linden Hills neighborhood, featuring Ward 13 Council Member Linea Palmisano. If you’re unfamiliar with this topic, read this post on what’s at stake and why I think the 2040 plan is worth supporting. It’s bittersweet, as this may have been my last #Mpls2040 adventure in swanky Southwest Minneapolis. Continue reading “Terror in Ward 13: “I’m so upset I’m shaking””
The Star Tribune got big local developer Kelly Doran to talk about Minneapolis 2040, a plan that would allow more housing across all parts of the city. Doran said 2040 was “silly,” and that triplexes won’t turn him a profit. He even sees it as a threat to neighborhood character.
It’s funny because Doran is constructing a five-story building very near to my home (the pile-driving is still ringing in my ears!). Now, personally I’m glad for the additional housing. I couldn’t be happier about the grocery store in the new building. But while we’re on the subject of neighborhood character, Doran’s building takes up a third of a block. It has two levels of underground parking. And I’m sure you can imagine the large volume of complaints about how it would destroy neighborhood character. Continue reading “Big Developers, Big Business, Big Southwest Agree on Mpls 2040”
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.
Continue reading “Group Plans “Legal Action” Against Mpls 2040″
Some news and notes in the wake of the city’s revised draft of Minneapolis 2040
Lisa McDonald, a spokesperson for a group opposing the Minneapolis 2040 comprehensive plan said at a press conference earlier this week, “the City has failed to engage the community in any meaningful way.” McDonald, who is also a former Minneapolis City Council Member, claimed Minneapolis officials “wrap their work in secrecy” and that there hasn’t been an “honest accounting and summary of what citizens really said in online comments, emails, and meetings.”
The forces of the housing status quo are sharpening their knives in advance of the release of Minneapolis 2040 Draft 2 (“Ban Cars Boogaloo,” as Lisa McDonald might call it). As we begin a new chapter in this never-ending conversation, let’s go back to the beginning. Continue reading “Where is everyone going to live?”
Minneapolis 2040 is back! In just a few weeks a second draft of the proposed comprehensive plan will be released by the city. This is a big important document guiding future decisions on street design, housing, land use, and job access.
In an article originally headlined, “Minneapolis 2040 scares the rich. Is that such a bad thing?,” City Pages relays concerns from two Minneapolis City Council Members.
Lisa Goodman, who represents the ritzy lakes-area neighborhoods of Ward 7, tells a sad story:
“If somebody lives in a house they bought 30 or 40 years ago for $300,000,” she says, “and it’s now valued at $900,000, and they can no longer afford the property taxes on it, that’s often the cause of people moving.”
That’s sad, but tragedy plays out on a sliding scale. Try telling one of Ellison’s [Ward 5] constituents how hard it is to own something worth so much you can’t resist the urge to sell it.
Any plan for how we create a city that’s affordable to everyone shouldn’t be focused on the needs of wealthy people (yes, if you own a $900,000 house free and clear, you are a wealthy person). It should be focused the huge chunk of Minneapolis renters, predominantly people of color, legitimately struggling to afford a home.
If property taxes in exclusive neighborhoods are high, Goodman created that by advocating for policies that concentrate wealth and shut out new neighbors. Exclusionary zoning drives the shortage which promotes skyrocketing property values and higher taxes in these neighborhoods. This result was achieved on purpose.
Linea Palmisano, who represents swanky Ward 13, says her constituents have been subjected to unfair criticism, including from city staff. She suggests there have been accusations of racism, and says that’s “a great way to end a conversation.” Others might suggest many of her constituents would rather not have a conversation about systemic racism and exclusionary zoning.
Speaking of great ways to end a conversation, Minneapolis for Everyone (the group behind all those red yard signs foretelling the apocalypse) has a reaction to the transportation policies contained in Minneapolis 2040. In the Star Tribune (“To cut pollution from cars, Minneapolis wants more neighborhood destinations”) Minneapolis for Everyone co-founder Lisa McDonald says of the Minneapolis 2040 draft plan: “It has no room for cars. They don’t mention cars. They want to get rid of cars.”
(Full disclosure: Minneapolis for Everyone is an organization co-founded by Carol Becker, who is the very weird elected official who recently attempted to trademark/steal the name of this website because she doesn’t like the content. I am currently embroiled in legal wrangling.)
The plan isn’t nearly as revolutionary or scary as McDonald makes it sound. A city planner put it in common-sense terms: “Put the stuff closer together so it’s easier to get to the stuff.” You’re more likely to drive if your destination is further away and harder to get to. In other words, we should make it legal for more people and businesses to exist in more places while expanding options for getting there. Let’s make it easier to not drive.
Minneapolis was built to serve cars. You might say we’ve spent the last 50-plus years using a blueprint called Minneapolis 1970. It’s very easy (and will remain very easy) to drive your car in Minneapolis. You can’t always say the same about walking, biking and transit. Plans for the future should be focused on making those alternatives more viable, if we care about having options for sustainable, safe, and affordable transportation.
Change is hard, especially when you’ve spent generations doing exactly the wrong thing. The truth is, we will probably end up with a Minneapolis 2040 plan that doesn’t go nearly far enough. Transit, bike, and pedestrian advocates will still have to fight too hard for small victories. Driving will remain easy and the vast majority of people will continue to do lots of it. We will continue to take concerns about neighborhood character far too seriously when deciding what kind of person can live in which kinds of homes in which parts of town.
In comparison to the hole we’ve dug for ourselves, these are only the smallest of first steps towards making Minneapolis a more affordable, sustainable, and livable city. If we’re going to take those steps, we need more people willing to say yes.
|City Council President Lisa Bender|
Inclusionary zoning is an umbrella term for a wide range of policies designed to encourage or require the inclusion of affordable units in new housing construction. Here are three example scenarios from yesterday’s presentation to the Minneapolis City Council’s Housing Policy and Development Committee:
- Require 15% of a new building’s units be affordable to households making 60% area median income.
- Require 10% of a new building’s units be affordable to households at 60% AMI.
- Require 5% of a new building’s units be affordable to households at 60% AMI.
- those who think for-profit multifamily housing construction is bad, and that stopping it is good.
- those who think building an apartment building is wildly more profitable in percentage terms than it actually is.
Moments ago I submitted some last-minute, under the wire comments on the Minneapolis 2040 draft comprehensive plan. And I will continue to do so, throughout the day, as the situation merits, right up until the deadline.
Interior 1 doesn’t go far enough. Homes already exist in these neighborhoods that exceed what would be allowed under Interior 1. The minimum designation in Minneapolis should be Interior 2.
Areas that are currently designated Interior 1 should be changed to Interior 2. Areas that are Interior 2 should be changed to Interior 3. Areas that are Interior 3 should have their maximum height raised from three to __ stories.
Or you could simply say:
Exclusionary zoning is dumb and terrible. I can’t believe we still do that. Please let people live their lives, even if that means four households occupying a four-unit house instead of just one family.
But there are so many more comments for you to send — and today is your last day to send them!
Minneapolis is growing. People want to live here. Businesses are hiring workers here. A Minneapolis with many more people needs many more homes — otherwise a lot of people will be displaced. Those homes shouldn’t all be in big expensive single-family homes or big expensive apartment buildings. We need less expensive triplexes and fourplexes, and small apartment buildings too. In order to make that happen we need a zoning code that allows those small-scale homes to happen. We need to legalize housing.
But that’s not all. In a majority renter city, we need policies that support and protect renters, people who are disproportionately low-income, indigenous or people of color. We need a transportation plan that prioritizes people, not just cars. We need to recognize that single-family zoning isn’t just exclusionary, but promotes car-dependence and sprawl that does grave damage to our climate.
- Don’t know what a Comprehensive Plan is? Read this.
- Neighbors for More Neighbors has a series of blog posts covering Minneapolis 2040 policy suggestions in more detail.
- Our Streets Minneapolis has thoughts on the transportation side.
Some charts and maps to consider as we close in on the comment deadline for the draft of the Minneapolis 2040 comprehensive plan. You have until July 22 to comment at minneapolis2040.com!
Minneapolis and its neighbors are adding more people than places for those people to live. A housing shortage is a game of musical chairs that hurts those with the least money. The next Minneapolis comprehensive plan needs to help us shift that equation in Minneapolis and set an example for neighboring cities.
|Data: Met Council community profiles and 2017 population/household estimates.|
These charts show how the Minneapolis and St. Paul are losing the sort of housing that is least expensive: 2, 3, and 4-unit homes. Why? Because zoning codes make them illegal to build on the vast majority of residential land.
Minneapolis lost over 6,000 duplex/triplex/4plex units since 1990. The city added around 2,500 single-family homes in same period
St. Paul lost about 3,300 duplex/triplex/fourplex units since 1990. The city gained around 2,000 single-family homes in same period.
Below is a map of racially restrictive covenants, courtesy of Mapping Prejudice. Areas of South and Southwest Minneapolis dominated by racially restrictive covenants in the first half of the 20th century are dominated by single-family zoning today.
The FHA promoted zoning as an effective tool for assuring a “homogenous and harmonious neighborhood.” In the view of the FHA, however, zoning was not enough to accomplish the segregation of races as a means to protecting property values. The FHA underwriting manual made the case for racially restrictive covenants, using language that described people of color as undesirable neighbors in the same vein as nuisances such as odor and high traffic.