Live Coverage: Ward 2 Comp Plan Meeting

No surprise: the people with the most housing security in Minneapolis are very vocal about wanting nothing to change. They’re not shy, and you shouldn’t be either. Send your council member an email or ten with your thoughts about the Minneapolis draft Comprehensive Plan. View the plan and comment here:

Below is last night’s Twitter thread as a more readable blog post.

It’s weird to be in that part of Minneapolis that is actually St Paul.

Guy just introduced himself to Ward 2 City Council Member Cam Gordon as a “new resident of Longfellow, used to live in Uptown” and Cam said, “so you grew up.” And a guy from the Wedge said “hey I’m from the Wedge!”

(guy from the Wedge was me)

People complain about government workers, but these two just solved forgetting a power cord for their projector by scrounging up an extension cord at this church.

— Wedge LIVE! (@WedgeLIVE) April 27, 2018

People at my table are very impressed with the hard copy of these maps: “oooh, you can’t print these at home.”

Cam said “we didn’t print out enough of those booklet dealies, but I can email one to you.”

Heavy representation from Prospect Park at this meeting.

Cam calls once-a-decade comprehensive plan update: “One of the bigger decisions we’re gonna make in a long time.”

Scoop: Minneapolis director of long range planning Heather Worthington says there’s a planner with bundles of post it notes from all the comp plan public meetings on the floor of his office.

Planner says she likes to think of navigating the comp plan website as a “choose your own adventure” book she read as a child. You can click through to explore policy topics and how they relate to plan.

Lady says it’s “really difficult” to get to the “bottom line of what the plan really means.” Also concerns about having a paper copy. Wants PDF version people can print.

Now a question about extending public comment period because of lack of PDF to this point.

Planner starts to speak, then interrupted by resident, “excuse me who are you and what is your role?” These people are very precise.

Comprehensive Plan, once adopted, has the force of law, says planner Joe Bernard. Update to zoning code follows comp plan update over the next few years. Comp plan is not zoning, it’s a guide to inform an upcoming process.

Analysis: one of the dirty secrets of the comp plan is that so many of our current policies conflict with the current comp plan, so concerned residents have plenty of room to fuck with this process going forward.

Not a static document. It can be amended, says Heather Worthington.

Cam calls comp plan a “lever” to get your chosen policies down the road.

Guy (who I’m told is a former planner with the Met Council): “my home is zoned single family, and this plan says somebody can come in and buy my house and build a 4plex. Why are you trying to do away with single family homes?”

Hey guy, you don’t have to sell your home.

Presentation stalled by flurry of questions…

I say legalize 4plexes and small apartment buildings. People will continue to live in single family homes, and buy single family homes for use as single family homes far, far into the future. The sky is not falling. Making something legal doesn’t make it mandatory.

Single family homes keep us not Detroit, says guy.

I feel like there was almost a moment of self awareness when he said we didn’t “go the way of Detroit” because of SFHs, when he said “when, uh…. people moved out”.


— Alex! (@BikeAlex) April 27, 2018

Carol Becker is here and if she tries to have a beer with me I’m grabbing this baby and fleeing this church like a dad in distress.

Look who sat next to me.

— Wedge LIVE! (@WedgeLIVE) April 27, 2018

Met council planner guy assures us he has an understanding of the issues. “Prospect Park is a mosaic and it works.” Doesn’t want duplexes and 4plexes to go just anywhere because that’s bad “for those of us who have invested in our homes.”

Single family homes are the foundation of everything that’s good about Minneapolis is the gist of this.

Heather Worthington says we’re not banning single family homes.

Cam has asked met council planner guy not to talk for a while because he has used up his quota.

I urge you, if you are a person who exists outside this room I’m in right now: make yourself very loud and visible to your council member and city planners about where you stand on ending exclusionary zoning.

Heather Worthington says housing chapter is least complete in this draft. They are “working on it concurrently.”

Lady asks if anyone has been to a planning commission meeting. Lots of yeses. “I found it very frustrating.”

“I have a 4plex next to me. No problem with it. But it has 4 parking spaces.”

Seward guy says he likes 4plexes! He lives along the river and he sees value in allowing people to downsize and stay in the neighborhood. I like this guy.

Next lady not so much. “We’re being inundated by students.” Says all neighborhoods are different. “We see what’s happened to Como and Marcy Holmes and some extent to us, and we don’t like it.”

Carol Becker plugging her Star Tribune letter. She’s off to the races! “Did anyone see it???” Yes, Carol.

I need a fit young planner to come to my rescue. “We’re gonna see electric cars in the future… Unless you’re gonna bomb the city and start over again…” this plan won’t work. Says her neighborhood doesn’t have triplexes. “We don’t wanna demolish every home… Some parts of the city it makes sense.”

Scott the young dad is speaking. He lives in a 4plex near transit. Looking to become a homeowner, but ownership options are expensive. Holding housing supply down is recipe for displacement. Teardowns are creating giant expensive single family homes.

Sarah mentions climate change and that this plan is about Minneapolis evolving over the next two decades, when Scott’s baby is 20. Then whispers “I stole all your ideas.” Sarah is my mouthpiece.

More supportive comments from @SerafinaScheel and @BikeAlex who are smart people you should follow.

Alex says the house he bought very recently would be unaffordable to him right now. That’s how much home prices have gone up. We need more homes in Minneapolis.

“if yimbys and nimbys and maybe some social justice people came together that would be a slam dunk” says Cam. Lol.

Ethan says he bought his house in 2015 and he couldn’t afford it today. The starter home “window has closed.” Time to expand our definition of starter homes.

Lady chimes in with another data point. Bought home 3 years ago, just sold it. Made $40k.

Analysis: Profiteer.

I see a divide in this room between:

  1. people who own homes
  2. people who own homes but also realize there are other people who don’t own homes.

Lady values opinions of the youth here in the room. She likes bikes and hates climate change and is for social justice. She wants to bridge the divide, but she wants us to know about slumlords. That’s why she can’t support 4plexes, even though she likes the idea. Hates developers.

Analysis: I have had nice landlords. Slumlords are not the extent of our non owner occupied housing supply. More inspectors? This is not an insurmountable problem.

All these students have cars. That’s the reality, says lady.

Downtown is now concrete, says lady.

Analysis: what was it before?

Lady is inundated with offers to buy her home and somehow that’s the problem with this draft comp plan.

Guy says he wants to talk about predatory landlords. Was charged $600 for a broken doorknob. Says he’s the only person younger than 20 in this room. I say you could raise the cutoff to 30 maybe. (But you wouldn’t know it by looking at me.)

Head of long range planning Heather Worthington takes it as a badge of honor that the comp plan process was criticized recently for being skewed to the youth.

The entire population of North Dakota is moving to the region in the next 20 years, says @jdhoudek. Do we want that growth to sprawl out to car dependent suburbs?

Not literally all of North Dakota, but the equivalent.

I hope Cam Gordon has the discipline to end this meeting on time right now because I bet these folks have endurance.

Comment from @kburrows033 says he likes the idea of allowing 4plexes away from noisy polluted corridors because it’s wrong to restrict renters to undesirable areas.

Lady moved to her current home to be close to transit, not have a car. Gets a lot of offers for her previous home, a duplex, which she rents. Doesn’t sell because she feels responsibility to offer quality affordable housing. A good landlord! She’s convinced 4plexes are not affordable to homeowners, but duplexes are. Thinks we need to get more creative about density.

Public education is under the purview of the school board, we have no control over it, says Heather Worthington. It is addressed in the economy section.

Self-described young person from Marcy Holmes is here to warn us against the Ward 3 model. Says not requiring affordable housing has set us back. Calls this room out for lack of diversity.

Noted local dad @edkohler gets the honor of closing this meeting out. Says people are willing to trade square footage in order to drive less. “That extra density, it works for me.”