Last night, a coalition of Lakes-area neighborhood organizations hosted a public meeting in beautiful lakeside Lowry Hill. City Council Member Lisa Goodman and Heather Worthington (Minneapolis director of Long Range Planning) in the same room for a Minneapolis 2040 showdown! Turns out there was no showdown aside from Worthington referring to Goodman as Lisa McDonald. But other things did happen. Last night’s tweets have been lightly edited into the article below.
(comment on the Minneapolis 2040 plan)
Guy from Kenwood neighborhood org is running the meeting, announces that Heather Worthington is on her way: “Stuck in traffic.” And everyone thinks that’s hilarious. I guess she should have biked. (Worthington was on her way from a Ward 11 public meeting immediately preceding this one.)
Kenwood guy says Lisa Goodman is here in the back of the room, but this plan hasn’t been to the city council. He’s very careful to make sure nobody here blames Goodman for it.
Kenwood guy with introduction highlighting key parts of the plan including “eliminating single family zoning.”
Kenwood guy asks reporters to identify themselves and I’m not brave enough to do that in this room. Profile in courage. I’m more of a columnist. It’s fine. You may recall last time I came to Lowry Hill (for a board meeting) a lady turned her head and snapped “off the record” at me.
Heather Worthington arrives and asks who in this room grew up with a septic system. I hope she’s comparing a looming environmental disaster induced by human sewage to single family zoning.
Heather Worthington comparing the comprehensive plan to a hypothetical family making long-term plans: college education for children, vacations, other longer term concerns.
Starting with pre-submitted questions. (I had no idea that was an option.)
Can this draft be changed? Will our feedback be incorporated? Worthington: “Yes, yes, yes”
What’s the basis of the research behind these population projections? Worthington says data comes from the state and federal government. She says we’re ahead of projections right now. Lots of people coming from other places. (I wrote a thing touching on some of these themes earlier this week.)
Heather Worthington invites people concerned about Livability to check out the comp plan’s environmental section. She says we are not on track to hit city’s climate action goals for 2050, and that’s a big concern for air quality.
Can you name how community input was collected? Were neighborhood organizations engaged? Yes, a multi-year process with countless meetings.
Worthington says growing racial income disparities are not sustainable. Housing cost burden is up while incomes have gone down.
What is your basis for the idea that increased density increases affordability?
Worthington: we never said that. We said we should offer more options, and right now in the city there’s only one option: single family homes. Right now, smaller single-family is replaced with bigger single family.
Worthington doesn’t want to “get trapped in the fourplex discussion.”
Worthington asks the room to imagine getting older.
Question about the impact of increased housing density on single-family property values. Heather Worthington says she is not an economist. (Neither am I but I predict the people of the lakes neighborhoods are gonna be ok.)
“Will fourplexes be subject to setbacks and footprint limitations?” Yes. Worthington reads the description of fourplexes in the comprehensive plan: 2.5 story height limits, matching scale of existing buildings.
Worthington: “If you don’t see yourselves in this plan, you should tell us.” Lady: “We don’t see ourselves in this plan!”
Worthington: “density doesn’t make housing more affordable… We never said it. We never will say it, because it’s not true.”
Analysis: I’m gonna suggest that massive swaths of the city set aside for only single family homes doesn’t make housing affordable.
Worthington reassuring them: “we understand the value of single family homes.” Worthington notes that she lives in a single family home. (These people are so very fragile about their single family homes.)
Question about education: “Plan gives short shrift to education. Please do not say it’s the responsibility of the school board.” Worthington says… it’s the responsibility of the school board. Worthington:”It’s like saying the city is responsible for the state of Minnesota’s budget crisis.”
Worthington says school board has its own budget and people here voted for school board members, right?
More property value concerns: “Have economists reviewed the plan and its impact on property tax values?” Worthington says, “that’s not what this plan is about.”
“How will deliveries and guests get here from outside the neighborhood?” Street parking is amazingly cheap says Worthington. Says there are no parts of the city you can’t get to. Worthington points out a lot of people drove to this neighborhood meeting.
Worthington: “environmentalism is a really important part of this comp plan.”
We’re entering what Kenwood guy is calling the “live mic session” 🎙️
Kenwood guy announces: “this meeting is being livetweeted… Even though I did ask reporters to identify themselves.” 😱😱😱😱 (Somebody blew the whistle! You’re lucky if I don’t do protected tweets from now on!)
Good chunk of the meeting taken up by a guy who really wants to know how many rental units there are going to be in the future.
Worthington: “I think it would be great if everyone who wanted to own a home could own a home… I think we’re over relying on that as a wealth building activity. But a lot of people don’t have a choice” to own. She points out how hard it is to predict things like condo conversions.
Representative from Minneapolis 2040 opposition group takes the microphone to plug their website.
Guy predicts “a kid will get run over when there are four story buildings there.” Worthington expressing skepticism that a four story building will hit a kid.
Lady says Minneapolis is unique in having beautiful neighborhoods “7 minutes from downtown.” She’s making historic preservation argument.
Question about whether research supports the idea that “density will move people out of their cars.”
People here see traffic congestion “all day!” They shout “all day” in unison.
Lady said she only saw three open parking spots around the lake on her way to this meeting. Says Lakes can’t handle increased density. Concerns about lack of off street parking for new multifamily homes.
It occurs to me during this meeting that I want to invite Heather Worthington to the 2nd Annual Cats of the Wedge Walking Tour and turn it into a feedback session.
Worthington compares the microphone-wielding Michael Wilson of CIDNA to Phil Donahue.
Guy asks crowd if they were on the City Council would they vote for it? Crowd responds indicating they are not at all supportive of the plan. Worthington says it would be more beneficial to get constructive feedback of what people actually want in the plan, rather than outright rejection.
Worthington accidentally referred to Lisa Goodman as “Lisa McDonald.” Oops. She caught herself.
Real estate agent wants to know what he’s supposed to tell his clients about the potential for a multi-family home next door.
Did you know that 80% of Minneapolis residents live on a block with multifamily housing on it to-day and that it’s fine?#minneapolis2040 pic.twitter.com/WAx23khZAX
— Scott Shaffer (@scttdvd) June 7, 2018
There is concern from a lady that the closest engagement meeting was far away at MLK park. She had no idea this was going on until last November.
Worthington: There’s 87 neighborhoods. We couldn’t go to them all.
(As the meeting was still happening, a former Park Board candidate tapped me on the shoulder to chastise me about my tweets. I asked her if she’d read any of the tweets. She said no.)