Hope for Edina

[Below are the words of Edina resident Hope Melton, adapted into a Video Letter to the Editor — without her permission, because I am a news pirate.]

At Wednesday night’s Edina Planning Commission meeting — in the face of some of her neighbors’ complaints about unwanted population growth — Hope Melton spoke in favor of her city’s comprehensive plan. She began by pointing to a report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC):


“We have approximately ten years to significantly change how we live if we are to avoid the worst consequences of global warming. Their call was urgent. But in order to solve the climate crisis, we have to solve our housing crisis.

“According to a recent New York Times article, multiple climate scientists at the University of California, Berkeley studied the carbon footprint of 700 California cities. They concluded that housing built in urban areas near transit, jobs and services, reduced greenhouse pollution more than any other option, including electric cars.

“The relationship between housing and traffic emissions is straightforward. When high-demand cities like Edina erect barriers to affordable housing through large tracts of low-density single-family zoning that exclude multi-family buildings, the price of land soars, pricing out low and moderate income households. Their outward search to find affordable housing increases long distance commuting and carbon emissions.

“According to a 2008 report to council, approximately 40,000 people commute in and out of Edina daily. This is not only because people can’t find affordable housing here, but because our low housing density precludes the economic feasibility of more widespread and successful mass transit.

“Yes, we can do better Edina. But the question is better for whom? Who benefits from inaccurate and minimal growth forecasts, rigid status quo zoning from the 2008 comp plan that drives up land prices and inhibits the creation of workforce housing with the consequences that I’ve just described? Ask yourself, who benefits?

“With Edina’s 2018 comprehensive plan, however, we all benefit. The citizens of Edina created this plan. It starts with their 2015 Vision Edina statement and involved the hard and excellent work of Edina residents, city staff and consultants over several years. It’s flexible zoning regulations allow denser housing near public transit and commercial services, largely in the Southdale area. In other words, it promotes environmentally sustainable and equitable growth, a socio-economically balanced and diverse community.

“If you have no sense of urgency about climate change, you’re not awake. The 2018 plan before you offers a significant opportunity to change the way we live for the sake of our community, our children and grandchildren, and our planet. I urge you to approve the 2018 comprehensive plan, and thank you for your work.”