A policy that mandates relocation fees and additional time to find new housing for St. Louis Park renters displaced by property flipping was finalized last week by the City Council.
The ordinance, initially approved by the council last month, will go into effect on July 1.
The ordinance will affect tenants pushed out of affordable housing when new owners take over the property and raise rents, set new screening criteria or fail to renew leases without cause.
Under the new policy, those tenants will have three months to make new arrangements and receive relocation fees in the meantime from their landlords.
Such fees might range from $2,600 for someone renting a studio apartment to $4,100 for tenants renting a three-bedroom unit or larger, according to city documents.
Council members said they hope the policy helps tenants, though they acknowledged it won't help protect existing affordable housing.
"It's not a solution to our challenge in affordable housing ... but it's certainly one tool," Council Member Anne Mavity said.
About 51 percent of rental units in St. Louis Park are affordable to those making 60 percent of the area median income, according to a city survey taken in 2016.
Emerald ash borer spreads to Edina
The emerald ash borer has made its way to Edina, threatening the city's 50,000 ash trees, according to state and city officials.
Officials confirmed last weekend that an ash tree on private property in Edina's northwest section had been attacked by larvae, which tunnel and feed on the tree's inner bark and disrupt its ability to transport water and nutrients. The infestation eventually causes the tree to die.
It was the first time the borer has been found in Edina, though its arrival was not unexpected. The metallic green beetle has killed trees in neighboring cities, including Minneapolis, Richfield, Bloomington and Eden Prairie.
Edina officials said that chemical treatments are available to protect healthy ash trees or those with minor infestations. Since most of Edina's ash trees are on private property, officials recommend that residents contact an arborist.
"We are at the point where our infestation is new enough that we still have options," city forester Luther Overhold said.
Mayor says he won't seek re-election
Richfield Mayor Pat Elliott has announced he won't seek re-election in November, choosing to focus instead on his law practice before he retires.
Elliott, 70, was elected mayor in a special election last year to fill the seat opened after Mayor Debbie Goettel was elected to the Hennepin County Board.
Elliott's term expires at the end of 2018.
"From my perspective, it was a two-year term," Elliott said last week. "I'm not certain that I had four more years in me."
He said that he's been able to continue work on some of Goettel's goals and "maintain some stability" on the City Council, on which the mayor sits.
He added that it was time to allow new leaders to "step in and continue their work without the proverbial dinosaur trying to lead or direct them."
Elliott's decision is expected to draw new candidates to the mayoral race. An example is Council Member Michael Howard, who announced his candidacy on April 12.
Elliott served three terms as a City Council member before becoming mayor. He said he will continue working at his Richfield law firm, Elliott Law Offices, which he runs with his sister.
Board awards $100K in recycling funding
The Hennepin County Board has approved nearly $100,000 for recycling and organics containers for parks, business districts and event venues in seven cities.
The cities and places where the containers will be placed:
• Minneapolis: 77 containers for the Eat Street district along Nicollet Avenue, and the Stadium Village special service districts. Neither area currently has recycling containers.
• Brooklyn Park: 47 recycling bins for eight high-use parks.
• Bloomington: 15 containers for the Ice Garden.
• Shorewood: 8 containers for the community center.
• Maple Grove: 5 recycling stations for the community center.
• Richfield: 3 animal-proof outdoor recycling containers for Wood Lake Nature Center.
• Rogers: 2 recycling stations at North Community and Veterans' Memorial parks.
The funding is part of the county's effort to recycle 75 percent of its waste by 2030.
Jewish nonprofit moves into new quarters
A nonprofit that provides counseling and other services in the Twin Cities has moved to Golden Valley.
Jewish Family and Children's Service (JFCS) of Minneapolis, in partnership with local nonprofit PRISM, opened its new offices at 5909 Golden Valley Road in February. The two organizations will have a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4 p.m. on May 8.
This is the first permanent location for JFCS since it began in 1910, according to nonprofit officials. The two-story building was renovated to include a community event room, meditation and prayer rooms and work spaces.
JFCS offers employment services, counseling and mental health support. PRISM, which was founded in 1970, operates a food shelf and thrift shop and has helped homeless families find housing.
The grand opening on May 8 will include tours of the new facility. JFCS is asking visitors to bring with them a bag of nonperishable food or clothing for PRISM.
The renovation was sponsored by the Stillman Family Foundation. Andy Stillman serves on the JFCS board.