2017 Candidate Questionnaire: Andrew Johnson – City Council, Ward 12

Andrew Johnson

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Question: How do you think the market rate housing development of the last several years has impacted Minneapolis?

Overall it is not keeping pace with demand. We have seen rents continue to rise to the point that my mortgage on a three-bedroom house has reached parity with the median rent for one-bedroom apartments. In Ward 12, a historically affordable neighborhood, we have seen housing inventory drop dramatically, prices climb significantly, and bidding wars on new listings.

Question: What policies will you pursue to ensure an adequate supply of affordable housing in Minneapolis? Since state financing for affordable housing is limited, what additional funding sources would you seek? What are some alternative policies you’d pursue to remove barriers to housing affordability which would compensate for this lack of funding?

I have been a champion for TOD and affordable housing in Ward 12. We have five new buildings in the works at just one LRT station, and over 350 units of affordable housing either under construction or in the pipeline. I have supported policy changes to help with increasing density, from reduction/elimination of parking requirements to legalizing Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). I am open to Tax Increment Financing (TIF) as a funding source and want to see form-based zoning code implemented as a way to get better results for the community and to make the process easier and more economical for developers.

Question: The vast majority of Minneapolis is zoned exclusively for single-family homes, while most of the units we currently build are in large apartment buildings in or near downtown. Single-family homes and large apartment buildings tend to be more expensive per unit than missing middle housing (for example, a fourplex). How do we use the currently ongoing update to the Minneapolis Comprehensive Plan to allow a mix of housing types across Minneapolis that are less expensive to rent, own, and build? 

I support working with the community to upzone along/near transit and commercial corridors. I have brought this up with our long-range planners and will work with my neighborhoods this summer to help focus future development in a way that enhances and builds on (no pun intended) the character of our existing corridors.

Do you think there’s a place for light commercial spaces like small cafes and corner stores in neighborhood interiors? Do you believe there are other areas where restrictive zoning has led to worse outcomes for neighborhoods?

Yes. One of the biggest problems with the suburbs is the clustering of commercial in districts relatively far from where people live, which has resulted in low-walkability, an over-reliance on cars, and a reduction in quality of life for residents. One of the things that makes Minneapolis a great place to live is the ability to walk to nearby businesses, especially unique locally-owned places. However, we still have a lack of light commercial parcels in the interior of my ward. As part of the comp planning process, I believe we should address this. Another restrictive area is the split zoning prohibition, which disincentivizes commercial space when new development takes place (I have started the process to change this via ordinance introduction). I also think it makes sense to allow single-family homes along commercial corridors to be used for light commercial, enabling quiet and charming shops similar to those we see on Grand Avenue in Saint Paul.

Are there any other issues related to housing or zoning that you believe are important enough to address as a city council member? What specific policy goals would you pursue in this area?

Besides all that has been mentioned above, I am interested in piloting a senior co-housing project in the ward and have organized a staff-level information session with national experts and offered assistance to interested groups pursuing co-housing. I am looking into Land Value Tax (LVT) as a way to incentivize investments in under-developed land. I believe we should do more to assist homeowners in making energy efficiency improvements and investing in renewable energy for their homes, which is why I am looking at how the City can help advance the PAYS model. We should also build more housing for those transitioning out of homelessness and the criminal justice system, and am proud that the first non-impacted area transition housing for homeless families is being built in Ward 12.