After years of engagement across two City Council terms and a lively, often contentious debate, the final vote on the Minneapolis 2040 plan showed remarkable consensus. The margin was 12-1 in favor of a plan with ambitious goals to eliminate racial disparities, combat climate change, and roll back decades of exclusionary zoning.
Lisa Bender, who shepherded the 2040 plan — both as Zoning and Planning Chair last term and now as Council President — said that “Minneapolis has always been a city of choices,” but that over time the city made those choices illegal. This was a reference to the plan re-legalizing triplexes. She referred to the status quo as an “apartment ban” across much of the city.
Bender continued: “We have places of great wealth and privilege in Minneapolis” and places of great poverty and racial disparities. She praised the plan for prioritizing “a true focus on race equity in everything the city does.”
Phillipe Cunningham, who represents Ward 4 in North Minneapolis, touted the fact the plan calls for eliminating, not just reducing those racial disparities. He also thanked his colleagues for supporting the inclusion of a North Side specific policy in the plan.
Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins, in support, noted that “implementation of this plan will require all of us doing things differently” to achieve sustainable, systemic change on racial equity.
Council Member Cam Gordon, in a nod to concerns, vowed to remember how special people think their neighborhoods are: “We’re going to keep our eye on this.” Gordon added, “I’m going to be pushing hard” to make sure plan priorities are implemented. This was echoed by Kevin Reich: “You must put the dollars where you say your priorities are.”
The Council’s lone “no” vote was Linea Palmisano, who said the reality of the plan fell short of the goals. She spoke of being unhappy with city planning staff, saying she was “misled,” “duped,” “insulted” through the process; she called out “divisive rhetoric” on social media, including from her colleagues. Palmisano focused her criticism, as she has repeatedly in recent months, on process. She criticized the lack of a citywide mailing to residents notifying them of the plan. She claimed that staff failed to help her craft her amendments.
This followed yesterday’s failed, last-ditch attempt by a group of residents to have the courts stop today’s vote on the plan. Many those involved in the lawsuit are residents of Palmisano’s Ward 13 (which I often lovingly refer to as Swanky Southwest Minneapolis) who fear the prospect of modest increases in density encroaching on their single-family neighborhoods.
Council Members Cam Gordon and Andrew Johnson made it a point in their remarks to thank the city’s planning staff for their help at community meetings, and in crafting amendments to the plan. Johnson also said he was impressed by how many conversations he had with constituents who were very engaged on the topic and knew what was happening.
Council Member Lisa Goodman’s position on the plan was in doubt until the end. Earlier in the year, she was the Council’s fiercest critic of the city’s planning staff. Goodman was handed a lot of changes to the plan through the revision and amendment process. The allowed density in her Ward 7 neighborhoods saw a more significant reduction than any other part of the city — including the wealthy, white Kenwood neighborhood, the future site of a $2 billion light rail line.
Goodman ultimately supported the plan, noting “the world was not coming to an end” because of triplexes. She spoke against “continuing to do things the way we’ve always done them.”
The plan will now be forwarded to the Metropolitan Council for a months-long approval process — this same process is followed by other cities. Updates to the city’s zoning code could begin as early as next year.