I have been following the arguments about making parking available in the Twin Cities, and had been leaning toward the pro-parking side ("Developers in Mpls. can skip parking," May 15). But then I read a very persuasive article in the Atlantic by Michael Manville called "How parking destroys cities," and it turned around my opinion. Manville lays bare the true cost of parking to the life of a city. He points out that "Walt Disney Concert Hall, a cultural landmark that is home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, cost $274 million to build. Of that total, the underground parking structure, which is not a cultural landmark (it's an underground parking structure), accounted for $100 million." And he notes that "because parking requirements make driving less expensive and development more so, cities get more driving, less housing and less of everything that makes urbanity worthwhile."
I recommend the article to everyone trying to sort through the issues involved. Do we want a city of urban health, or a proliferation of strip malls?
Robert Farlee, Minneapolis
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The Minneapolis City Council just eliminated the requirement that developers build parking along with new housing. Now developers can build however much housing they want without one spot for a car. There will be hundreds of apartments in many cases. This is an economic payoff for developers, who can build more cheaply but still rent at market rates and pocket the difference.
Who suffers? Ten percent of Minneapolis residents report having a disability that affects their mobility. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that accommodation be made for persons with disabilities. But if there is no parking, there is no requirement for an accommodation.
We have a City Council that talks about diversity. But it is not building a city of diversity. It is increasingly building a city that locks out our most vulnerable and most needy. And that is wrong!
Bridget Peterson, Minneapolis
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The City Council just eliminated minimum parking requirements for housing. At the same time, the state of Minnesota is working to adopt California rules on promoting electric cars. So where are the people who own electric cars supposed to plug in their vehicles if there is no parking with their housing? Will we have masses of electrical cords all over our streets as people try to plug in the car they had to park a block over? Frozen to the ground in the wintertime?
And remember, local transit ridership has been declining. The City Council has been taking numerous anti-job actions, driving out employment from the city. And no one walks in winter.
Ruth Usem, Minneapolis
Another piece: Option to purchase
These opinion pages recently highlighted three strategies to make homes more affordable:
• Modernize construction ("Homebuilding must modernize," Opinion Exchange, May 2).
• Deregulate housing ("Deregulation is key to lower costs, raise supply," Opinion Exchange, May 2).
• Rent below market rate ("The kind of project that St. Paul needs," editorial, May 2).
Those policies may be useful down the road. But right now, the Minnesota Legislature can do something to keep some of the most affordable homes in the state, well, affordable.
The omnibus housing bill conference committee can keep language from the Minnesota House to give people who live in manufactured home park communities the chance to buy the land under their homes when it comes up for sale. It doesn't require the landowner to sell to the homeowners. It just requires landowners to notify homeowners when a community is for sale and give them 60 days to make an offer.
Manufactured homes are the only affordable housing in many communities throughout Minnesota. If out-of-state speculative buyers continue to rapidly gobble up these properties and dramatically raise rents, these homes become unaffordable as well.
Dave Anderson, St. Paul
The writer is executive director at All Parks Alliance For Change.
Fewer guns would ease the job
State Sen. Paul Gazelka says that Republicans oppose "anything that ... makes the job of law enforcement more difficult" ("Legislators clash on police reform," May 19). And yet, they have repeatedly supported measures that make law enforcement not only more difficult, but deadly. For decades, the National Rifle Association and Republicans have made it as easy as possible for the bad guys to get guns, and they have succeeded. Police officers now face a heavily armed citizenry. Republicans bear responsibility for both violence against police and violence by police against citizens in fear of guns they might be wielding. It may take a long time, but common-sense gun control legislation can begin to turn the tide.
Jim Almendinger, Stillwater
• • •
As Minneapolis and Minnesota grapple with how better to deal with community/police relations in the wake of the wrenching George Floyd murder there is one point of light that can help us.
That point of light is the work of former Ramsey County Sheriff Matt Bostrom, who, in his work to complete his Ph.D. from Oxford University, has developed a systematic way to ask members of the community what they are looking for in police officers and then integrate the findings in new policies of recruitment, assessment and training of those officers.
Bostrom did most of his field work in Los Angeles County and Plano, Texas. His goal was to identify ways of increasing community/police trust. That goal is an urgent need in our city.
There were remarkable similarities between responses from Los Angeles County and Plano. The top four qualities citizens wanted were, in order of importance: high character, emotional intelligence, servant leadership and cultural competence. Each of the four had many specific skills related to them.
What if Minneapolis went through the process of actually asking a cross-section of our citizens what they were looking for in our officers, and then adapted our system to what our citizens said? That would be a great start in rebuilding the needed communication and trust between Minneapolitans and police.
Todd Otis, Minneapolis
The writer is a member, with Matt Bostrom, of the Minnesota Character Council.
Watch your descriptors
I admire David Brooks as a columnist. He generally brings a welcome, fresh and thoughtful perspective to the more conservative side of issues, and at times he helps me balance my less conservative tendencies. And so I proceeded to read his take in "How to end wokeness? Commercialize it" (Opinion Exchange, May 17). Brooks did not disappoint until I got to the end of the piece, where he chose to quote the economist Tyler Cowen, who expects wokeness to not disappear, but "become something more like the Unitarian Church — 'broadly admired but commanding only a modicum of passion and commitment.' "
Really? This seems to be a cheap shot; could you not make your point without disparaging someone else's religion? Just when I thought we were getting beyond this kind of careless and unnecessary rhetoric. As a member of a vibrant and active Unitarian Universalist Church, I can assure you that our congregation is not lacking in either passion or commitment. Perhaps Brooks would like to visit us and find his stereotypical view to be woefully inaccurate.
Susan Sisola, Minneapolis
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