After spending far too much time with the cast of characters from last week’s Zoning and Planning meeting in the editing room (ICYMI: I’m a prominent local anthropologist and documentarian), one thing struck me as particularly notable: Council Member Lisa Goodman calling YIMBYs a bunch of Republicans.
Goodman found a very provocative way to say projects like the Sons of Norway redevelopment will “increase prices” for homes in surrounding areas:
I’m mostly concerned about the impact of projects like this on our future affordable housing goals. It’s almost like we have this Republicanesque kind of trickle-down theory going on. That if you just build a lot more, then that will free up units at the lower level…
Aside from Goodman’s “Republicanesque” and “trickle-down” slurs, I think this is a reasonable, though incomplete, characterization of a YIMBY argument. I do think building a crapload of homes of all kinds and sizes — especially on giant parking lots — is helpful! Hopefully a lot of this new housing comes with less parking, smaller setbacks, in medium-sized buildings without elevators, among other things that keep housing costs lower. I believe more housing supply puts pressure on landlords by giving tenants options, and makes it less enticing for developers to purchase, renovate, and raise rents in older apartment buildings. In addition to this, I believe we need more public money to subsidize housing for people the market can’t possibly serve. The scale of the problem is too big to pretend these solutions are all mutually exclusive.
It’s disappointing that a city council member is legitimizing arguments that make it easier for well-meaning people to oppose new housing during a housing shortage. Vacancy rates remain historically low as our population grows — hovering around 3%! Lisa Goodman represents some of the most expensive real estate in Minneapolis and many of those neighborhoods have been walled off from more housing for decades by exclusionary zoning. Instead of leading, she’s pandering to people’s fears.
We’ve tried the “no new housing” approach as prices have risen; Lisa Goodman should know it’s only made things worse in her ward. It’s an embarrassing pander to tell exceptionally well-off people that more housing in their neighborhood will cause gentrification. And it makes less sense when you consider Lisa Goodman and residents in opposition to the Sons of Norway project explicitly promoted the idea of fewer units on the site; this would necessarily have made each unit more expensive.
Council President Lisa Bender rebutted the notion of a new wave of gentrification in East Calhoun by rattling off the eye-popping “for sale” prices of single-family homes in the neighborhood (from $500,000 to 1.2M), helping to make the subtle point that Lisa Goodman is full of it. Bender added:
I can’t in good conscience as an elected official in the city of Minneapolis force a developer to build multi-million dollar homes at this location. It just isn’t consistent with any of our policies, or the promises that I made when I ran for office. It doesn’t make sense to me to say that we could only build 38 units here. Imagine how expensive those units would be: millions of dollars.
[In fairness to Lisa Bender, she spoke before Goodman, so Bender isn’t entirely responsible for making the subtle point that Goodman is “full of it.” Blame Lisa Goodman.]
While Lisa Goodman will happily grab credit for disbursing meager affordable housing funds to a few subsidized projects each year, she is hardly an advocate for those who’ve experienced rising housing costs in Minneapolis during her 20 years in office.
When publicly-subsidized affordable youth housing was proposed near the bustling and exceedingly urban intersection of Hennepin and Franklin Avenues last year, Goodman pressured the developer to lop a few stories off the top, causing the proposal to have fewer units. The project is controversial among some wealthy residents of Lowry Hill, both for the size of the building and because it would house young people just out of foster care. One quote among many from an actual neighborhood meeting: “When you go on the nextdoor website we get a lot of kids breaking into cars to sell things to buy a hit of drugs… Are these kids curfewed?”
While campaigning for re-election last year, Goodman called the idea of allowing people in duplexes, triplexes and small apartment buildings to live near her wealthy constituents “unconscionable.” A notable sentiment because this is the sort of housing that’s least expensive to build and live in. Goodman thought it more essential to defend exclusionary zoning; she talked about her opposition to new housing in terms of protecting the “investment” of the well-off:
When you buy a house, which is your single biggest investment, one of the things that you take into consideration is the location and what the neighborhood looks and feels like surrounding you. To upend that and make a dramatic change without the neighborhood and neighbors agreeing to it is, I think, unconscionable.
Quibbled over a single story, saying that four stories — not five — was essential to comply with the small area plan by achieving a “graceful” stepdown from east to west.
Said housing advocates were “Republicanesque” trickle-downers driving the gentrification of Minneapolis.
I think 2018 Lisa Goodman would rip 2016 Lisa Goodman to shreds for disrespecting the neighborhood and gentrifying Minneapolis beyond recognition.
So my point is, watch my new film [STREAM IT TODAY!]. And please send thoughts and prayers to Neighbors for East Bank Livability, the group who tried their darnedest to stop the 40-story Alatus tower, and who are still screaming at their TV screens a week after watching Lisa Goodman put her whole heart into defending East Calhoun from a 5-story building.
It was bound to happen. After a year spent enduring the daily trauma inflicted on our country by its own president, concerned residents have adopted the language of resistance to Donald Trump and applied it to the perceived atrocity of new apartments in their backyard.
The subject of my latest documentary film is the Sons of Norway redevelopment project on Lake Street between Holmes and Humboldt Avenues. The concerns are the same as they’ve always been — traffic, parking, too many people! — but it may be harder for some viewers to take seriously (and could make young children uncomfortable).
One person manufactured their own personal Elizabeth Warren moment by declaring, “Nevertheless I will persist.” A guy from New York bragged about fighting against Trump in the old days, then told the City Council about Giulian’s destruction of the Upper West Side. Lisa Goodman called people who acknowledge that we are experiencing an actual housing shortage “Republicanesque” trickle-downers. Local development politics have officially been nationalized!
People from across the Twin Cities flocked to Arby’s Island in Uptown Friday night to celebrate the memory of a fallen icon: a fast food sign that lit the corner of Lake St and Emerson Ave for more than 47 years.
Organizer Noah Hevey billed the event as a candle light vigil. Rather than mournful, the atmosphere was friendly and celebratory as the temperature hovered around zero degrees. The image of the old Arby’s sign was projected onto a screen in the parking lot while attendees displayed cardboard signs and lit candles in remembrance.
Arby’s Restaurant Group provided free t-shirts and the Moxy hotel provided Arby’s signature roast beef sandwiches, which were enjoyed afterwards in the lounge across the street.
A statement from Arby’s president Rob Lynch offered “condolences for the loss of a community icon.” The statement explained the reason for the restaurant’s closing was the unwillingness of the property owner to offer a 10-year lease.
Lynch continued, “Tonight we bid farewell to the Uptown Arby’s and its beautiful sign, but this doesn’t have to be goodbye forever. We have more than 60 Arby’s restaurants in Minneapolis and surrounding areas within 3 to 5 miles of here.”
Printed lyrics to a parody version of Danny Boy were distributed to the crowd. The music started, and it went like this:
Oh Arby’s Sign, the meats, the meats are calling
With curly fries and all the tasty sides
The sign is gone and now I will be bawling
‘Tis you ’tis you, must go and I must bide But come ye back when hunger’s in the belly Or when the city’s hushed and white with snow ‘Tis I’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow Oh Arby’s sign, oh Arby’s sign, I love you so Of you I dream, oh when the night is falling And then I’m fed, as fed I may well be I pray you find the place where I am lying And kneel and place an Arby’s there for me And I will know the sixty other metro locations And so my plate still warm and sweet shall be For you shall serve and show me that you love me And I will eat in peace, oh Arby’s come to me