I made my way to Southwest High in Linden Hills yesterday for a “Palmisano Presents” community forum on the Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan (👈 leave your feedback!). This is a lightly edited tweet transcript from last night’s live coverage. Don’t miss the Hitchcockian “Palmisano Presents” opening credits video.
Ward 13 Council Member Linea Palmisano begins by saying she has received “numerous calls, emails, and handwritten letters.”
Palmisano more than once referring to Heather Worthington, who is the City’s director of Long Range Planning, as the “owner” of this comprehensive plan. Palmisano says, “I don’t endorse this draft in its current form. This is not my work. I have a lot of concerns.” Palmisano says the plan has the “right goals.”
- “I’m concerned fourplexes in our Ward doesn’t mean affordable housing.”
- “I’m concerned how new corridor designations affect single-family homes.”
- “There’s a lot of input to be gleaned from all of you.”
Heather Worthington says she knows this question is on a lot of people’s minds: “Where is the PDF?” It’s coming by the end of May!
Worth repeating: the comp plan isn’t zoning. It’s guidance. Zoning is far more detailed and complicated, and comes after the comp plan.
They paid a mural artist to draw the commentary on the wall in cartoon form. Good luck making Ward 13 more cartoonish.
Worthington points out the raw data from public input on the comprehensive plan is published on the website. You can read all the comments collected at the end of each engagement “phase.” It’s at this link, bottom of the page.
First question is about “single-family homes replaced by high-rise condos.” Resident: “All those houses are going away.”
Analysis: Saying that a thing can happen in many different places, does not mean it will be forced to happen in all places. Neighborhoods change very slowly.
Worthington says nobody would be forced to sell their home. Oh my, these folks are really concerned about “eminent domain.”
Analysis: Eminent domain is not happening and if it were you would hear about it for real. It would be more than rumor spread at public meetings.
Palmisano says the eminent domain fear is a common concern she hears. She makes it clear that this is not a thing the city does. The city is not taking people’s homes.
Question: have setbacks been eliminated?
Worthington says setbacks are a zoning issue. That’s a detail to come later. The comp plan is not a zoning code.
Brian Schaffer asked to tackle the off-street parking question. Uh oh, we’re gonna lose the room!
Analysis: Not requiring the construction of parking is not the same as “parking will no longer be built.” Also, you will still be able to park your two boats in your driveway.
I took a walk through beautiful Linden Hills before the meeting, and here’s a look at the parking situation:
|Linden Hills parking situation yesterday.
Question: Why are we doing any upzoning absent a guarantee the mayor’s affordability plan will become real?
Worthington talks about zoning’s historical role in restricting access to the most desirable parts of the city. This is the Single Family Zoning is Racist part of the presentation. She then points out another goal of the plan was to allow people to age in place, remain in their neighborhood in a smaller home, when their single-family home becomes too much.
Worthington says that if you don’t like this plan, let us know. But please offer an alternative that shows how we’re going to house all the people who want to live here.
Round of applause for the idea of more off-street parking requirements.
Worthington mentions the city council is currently working on an inclusionary zoning plan to either require or incentivize affordable units in new development. This is happening separately from the work on the comprehensive plan.
Palmisano says this comment period is “not one that we will endure” but that will actually shape the next draft. (Speak for yourself, I’m enduring it.)
Looks like Heather Worthington anticipated the question about inclusionary zoning. Already answered, but she answers again.
Worthington says this comprehensive plan is about addressing the issue of equity through a “systems lens.” Housing, jobs, transportation, are all related to closing racial and economic disparities.
Speaking of transportation difficulties for people without lots of money, Worthington notes it costs $8000/yr to own a vehicle. (Can we have another round of applause for requiring more pricey off-street parking?)
Question: How do we keep the historic qualities of our neighborhoods?
Worthington says you can pursue historic designation, though one problem with historic guidelines is that homeowners often don’t like restrictions on fixing up their homes.
Question: What’s the rationale for this plan? Palmisano answers by mentioning projections for population growth.
Worthington says statute requires the city to update its comprehensive plan every ten years. In the past, the city has done a “check the box” update that has not meaningfully addressed problems. As a result we’ve fallen further behind.
SW Light Rail! Palmisano notes largest station will be in West Calhoun.
Question from resident skeptical about the utility of SW Light Rail. How many commuters will actually take the train to Eden Prairie? What do you do when you get there? Walk?
Palmisano is very adamant we need workforce housing along the SWLRT corridor, if it ever happens.
“Why must blocks adjacent to transit corridors be so excessively upzoned?” (Speaking specifically about Interior 3 and Corridor 4 designations)
Resident mentions the city’s goal of “15 percent of commuters riding bicycles” which gets a dismissive round of laughter from the crowd.
I think people cheered the idea of Palmisano driving around in her car, but the cheering was so loud I couldn’t hear it all.
Nobody uses the bike paths, says guy. Guy says Blaisdell has 200 cars for every bike.
I think the submitted written question format has created some pent-up energy. So the open mic session could be interesting.
Question: Why did no Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan information get mailed to us? This is biased against people without computers. Worthington says they’ve put resources into other forms of engagement. It was a good decision and she’ll defend it.
Former two-term Ward 10 council member Lisa McDonald is very concerned about fourplexes and variances. Gets first crack at open mic. Mentions development at 36th and Bryant. Gets some applause. She’s plugging a website and wants you to join her movement. Just like Carol Becker at the Longfellow meeting last night.
It’s heartening to come to these meetings to watch these voiceless, powerless current and former elected officials grab the microphone to fight back against a system that’s crushed them for too long.
Question: Lynnhurst is going to become Uptown.
Worthington begins to answer, is interrupted, then says, “I’ll finish my thought and then you can get the microphone.”
Resident says about the plan: “You’re totally destroying the character of those blocks…”
And continues: “I don’t wanna live on a block that has 3 or 4 apartment buildings that are 3 or 4 stories high.” He’s speaking of an area along 50th St. He loves single-family homes.
Guy predicting ruin for his block. “People are already leaving the neighborhood.” Analysis: Property values don’t bear this out.
Palmisano calling out the “cyberbullying” of people willing to stand up and speak into a microphone at these meetings.
There’s an East Harriet/Ward 10 contingent here to talk about the 41-unit building at 36th and Bryant. Worthington says that’s an issue of existing zoning. (And you may be thinking, did you do live coverage of a neighborhood meeting about 36th and Bryant? YES!)
Resident is skeptical about predictions of future population growth.
Palmisano says, “We could be building housing for 7 years straight on the existing zoning that we have.”
Analysis: would that not require the use of eminent domain?
Resident asks question about Heather Worthington’s resume and where we can see how her work has impacted other communities.
Heather Worthington just recited her quite lengthy resume and received a round of applause.
Resident is concerned that this comprehensive plan means older people from Minnetonka won’t be able to downsize into a smaller home here in Ward 13.
“This area, we can’t handle more density.” In other words, cars are a reality, there’s just too many cars.