Along with the Star Tribune Editorial Board, Minneapolis for Everyone supports the goals of Minneapolis 2040 — especially regarding racial and economic disparities, increasing affordable housing and protecting (not merely “tending to”) the environment (“Improved 2040 plan nears approval,” Nov. 20).
Unlike the Editorial Board, however, we believe the plan’s strategies lack the focus and specificity necessary to achieve those critical goals. We propose the City Council enhance the plan with the following amendments, which are based in good public policy and economic realities:
1. Assess the environmental impacts of the 2040 plan before it is adopted, with a full and timely environmental impact statement type of process.
2. Preserve the state-mandated shoreland overlay ordinance with its requirements for height and distance from lakes, creeks, rivers and parkland; strengthen it with performance-based criteria.
3. Establish metrics for measuring the success of the 2040 Plan. Set measurable goals for equity and affordable housing based on actual Met Council population projections. Report annually on progress toward those goals with data on net increase of affordable housing units and changes in average rent and real estate taxes per neighborhood.
4. Establish specific affordable-housing goals for each neighborhood, to be planned for and met by neighborhood organizations working in partnership with developers.
5. Strengthen existing affordable-housing finance mechanisms such as the Community Land Trust, and consider new tools such as a community development bank or Denver’s loan program.
6. Create a development strategy for the North Side that is comprehensive and multifaceted, addressing employment, business and entrepreneurial support, education, transportation, housing rehab, homeowner assistance, youth programs, public safety, health care, community services and community empowerment.
7. Implement no zoning changes until there is a plan, funding and construction schedule in place for increased infrastructure (especially transit infrastructure) to support those changes.
8. Establish design criteria for new construction, including maximum height, setbacks, compatibility with neighborhood design vernacular, and minimum Gold LEED certification. Require one parking space per unit with an EV station on new multifamily construction.
9. Focus density at commercial hubs — where density already exists, not along entire streets.
10. Empower citizens to work as partners with the city. Empower neighborhood organizations with continued funding, consultation and partnerships. Work with neighborhood organizations to modify their small area plans to meet Minneapolis 2040 goals; allow neighborhoods to determine how to implement the city’s broader guidelines. Give advance written notice to every household of zoning changes and other changes that affect them.
11. Maintain the character of single-family neighborhoods. Do not destroy their unique personalities with triplexes and the combining of lots.
12. Require a certain high percentage of homes to be individually owned and lived in; require a certain high percentage of the apartments, both affordable and market-rate, to be rolled over to condo/homeownership after a certain number of years. Establish a city program to facilitate this loan process.
13. Require that the mayor, City Council members and their close associates cannot be part of any ownership, investment, construction or other group that profits financially from the new “up-zoning.”
These are common-sense changes that would transform the plan from one that would principally benefit developers to one that serves the highest and best aspirations of our city.
Lisa McDonald is a former member of the Minneapolis City Council. She wrote this article on behalf of Minneapolisforeveryone.org.