Changes approved in Minneapolis 2040 plan begin to take shape
New zoning for homes
More duplexes and triplexes
The timeline: New in 2020
In what was one of the most contentious parts of the 2040 Plan, the City Council eliminated single-family zoning throughout the city. Starting Jan. 1, people will be able to build duplexes and triplexes in areas where only single-family houses were once allowed.
"We think that we should allow more housing units in every neighborhood, that we shouldn't cordon off parts of our city to say, 'This is only for one type of living,' " Bender said moments before the change passed.
It's too early to tell how many duplexes and triplexes will be constructed.
Cost is likely to be a significant factor for builders, and city officials have said they don't expect an immediate spike.
The change comes at a time when both city officials and trade groups acknowledge that there is a shortage of affordable housing. In 2018, then-Gov. Mark Dayton's Housing Task Force recommended building 300,000 new homes across Minnesota by 2030 "to stabilize prices and meet demand."
Tiny house villages
A home for the homeless
The timeline: New in 2020
Tiny houses entered the mainstream consciousness on home design shows.
A new variation on them could soon come to Minneapolis as a way to provide housing for people who are homeless.
Late in 2019, the City Council passed ordinance changes to permit "intentional community cluster" developments. People will now be able to live in clusters of tiny houses, with shared common areas.
Street Voices of Change, a group working to reduce homelessness, is partnering with Hennepin Healthcare and others on what is likely to be one of the first such communities. They'll eventually go through the city's normal approval processes, including a public hearing.
They're fundraising and working to find a location for the project, called Envision Community. About 80% of the units will go to people who are homeless.
"The goal of Envision is to create health equity," said Dr. William Walsh, a surgeon collaborating on the project. "It's this belief that people need both a home and an accepting community."
New plan for cars, buses, bikes
The timeline: Mid- to late 2020
As a complement to the 2040 Plan, city officials will also outline their vision for transportation in the city for the next decade. Known as the Transportation Action Plan, this document could guide everything from bike lane creation to pedestrian safety projects and plans to encourage the use of public transportation.
City staffers are working on a draft plan, which is slated for release in early 2020. There will be a public comment period, and then a final version must be approved by the City Council.
The 2040 Plan offers some hints as to what we'll see in the transportation plan.
As part of an effort to temper the effects of climate change, the city wrote in the plan that it intends to transition vehicle fleets to zero-emission options, if possible, and explore incentives for electric vehicle charging stations.
The plan also seeks to increase transportation connections "to isolated areas of the city that were created by historic inequities," to improve walkways and lower traffic speeds in some areas.
Affordable Housing Requirements
New rules for developers
The timeline: New in 2020
When Minneapolis officials pitched the idea of requiring affordable housing units in new, large apartment buildings, some developers balked and threatened to take their money elsewhere.
In 2020, we'll start to see whether they fulfill that promise. The city's new inclusionary zoning policy requires developers to create affordable housing units, donate land to the city or pay a fee.
"What we're trying to do is even the playing field for affordable housing," Council Member Lisa Goodman said at a council meeting in December.
But some developers have said they don't think the new policy comes with enough financial support to make building in Minneapolis feasible. Similar policies have passed in hundreds of places across the country, but they differ widely and have had varying degrees of success. Both city officials and trade groups will be watching to see if the new requirement has a chilling effect on new housing. But housing experts caution it could take years to understand the results.
The end of maximum occupancy
Defining a family – or not
The timeline: Partway there
Two Minneapolis codes have long limited the number of unrelated people who can live together in some of the city's residential districts.
At the last meeting of the year, the City Council stripped those restrictions from the zoning code.
"This is a remnant of exclusionary zoning practices that I'm very glad is ending," Bender said at the meeting.
The old policy, she said, was an "outdated way of defining family" and had "no place in our zoning code."
Bender said the council will alter the companion code, the housing code, in 2020 to reflect that sentiment.
Depending on how that's done, the move could have ramifications both for developers and for landlords, particularly those who own buildings with older plumbing and water systems.
City officials said they typically receive about 20 requests for special accommodation each year under a federal fair housing law. Many of those people are seeking exemptions to the occupancy limits.
new Design Rules
What you'll see from the street
The timeline: To be determined
As part of their work on the 2040 Plan, Minneapolis officials developed policies that outline how buildings should be designed in various parts of the city.
Known as "built form" policies, they guide things like the height and number of buildings that should exist in business and residential districts. Some of the more widely debated plans would boost building heights along transportation routes in select residential areas.
These policies determine what people will see when they're walking at street level through areas where new development is happening.
"Getting the form right is really important for people to be accepting of densifying and allowing mixed use and compacting the city," said Emily Talen, a University of Chicago professor who teaches urban design.
The City Council has approved the design concepts. Now, city officials must write them into the local regulations.