So Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin is to be honored for supporting the Southwest light-rail line, an outrageously costly project (“Southwest LRT can start laying tracks,” editorial, Nov. 16). The portion of money whose commitment this week made the project good to go didn’t come like manna from heaven; it came from us taxpayers, who sent it to the federal government in the first place.

One has to think of how many useful things could be funded with this money, like roads and bridges. How about the forest-fire victims in California? And then there are homeless people.

There are so many more ways to spend $2 billion of our money other than 14 miles of an expensive rail line.

McLaughlin would have it no other way. He pushed this project through the Hennepin County Board. The Star Tribune Editorial Board says he did the right thing to support this to provide rail service to suburbanites.

As of now, it is a done deal, so we must live with it and its poorly designed path through Lake of the Isles and a Minneapolis parkway bicycle path, among other things. We fought a good battle and lost, and so it goes.

Joyce Murphy, Minneapolis


Does the projected growth really justify this Wild West zoning?

Something doesn’t add up.

The Metropolitan Council numbers for the city of Minneapolis show that actual population growth from 2010 to 2017 was 41,000, or 10.8 percent. That’s an average of 2,100 new households per year.

Now let’s look at Met Council projections for 2018 through 2040 ( The council is forecasting only 37,000 more people in Minneapolis.

Think about that. We expect to add fewer people in the next 22 years than we added in the past eight.

When you look at the average number of households being added, it comes out to only 1,029 per year. That’s half of what we added annually in the recent past. Let’s face it, even the Met Council is projecting the city’s growth to slow significantly.

So where are the data to justify upzoning the entire city? Why are we creating blanket zoning to accommodate 1 million to 2 million people when we only expect another 37,000?

Minneapolis’ recent growth is dwarfed by what other cities experienced in the same time frame. Seattle was up 19 percent. But Seattle only upzoned 6 percent of single-family home neighborhoods, while Minneapolis is proposing 100 percent upzoning.

You can ignore the real data. You can put a zoning plan in that is extreme and unnecessary. You can ignore the majority of residents who oppose this.

But you are all elected officials, and you can be unelected.

Colleen Kepler, Minneapolis

• • •

Although Minneapolis currently ranks around 46th in terms of biggest U.S. cities by population, we are currently outpacing several of the largest cities in terms of growth rate — specifically New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Chicago. An article published by the Chicago Metropolitan Planning Council attributes the high growth rate in Minneapolis to our highly educated workforce, our high quality of life and our rapidly expanding employment opportunities.

Because of our high growth rate, we currently have an incredible opportunity to improve our public infrastructure and change our current trajectory of development to be more equitable and sustainable before irreversible, unsustainable investments are made.

The Minneapolis 2040 Plan ensures that new growth and development in the city is healthy, sustainable and equitable for everyone. One of the main goals of the 2040 Plan is to sustainably accommodate increased population in the city in order to reduce per capita carbon emissions. Having higher density in the city will reduce how much residents have to drive while making it more convenient and pleasant to walk, bike and take transit.

Increasing density will make public transit work better for more people. Failing to encourage density now, in our current pivotal stage of growth, will result in the development of unsustainable and inequitable public infrastructure for decades to come.

Rebecca Alper, Minneapolis

• • •

A public hearing occurred this week regarding the 2040 plan, and public opinion was reported to be split between those for and against the council passing the plan in December. A Nov. 15 letter favored the plan, stating that “we can’t have good transportation options if we don’t have the housing density necessary to support it … . That’s why supporting density in the Minneapolis 2040 comp plan is so important. Density is green!”

Minneapolis has experienced a shortage in bus drivers over the last year, which has resulted in route cuts, and this is a legitimate need for individuals who use the bus as a primary means for transportation. Transportation options in Minneapolis aren’t operating to meet current density demands, so it’s not appropriate to say increasing densification will make Minneapolis greener.

The council is required by law to conduct a study researching the environmental effects of an “upzoning” project of this size, although no study has been done. The details of the 2040 Plan have the potential to threaten our city’s traffic and parking infrastructure, air quality, pollinator and wildlife habitats, and the well-being of our parks, lakes and rivers. I reiterate the public opinion at the hearing that the council needs to “get a time extension … and get it right,” which would allow it to research, identify and amend the current plans to protect our city’s environment.

Skye Thompson, Minneapolis


Editorial Board position was in sync with history; letter writer’s was not

A Nov. 11 letter responding to the Nov. 4 editorial on birthright citizenship and the 14th Amendment accused the Editorial Board of making misleading assertions. But a little research shows that the letter writer himself presents arguments based on a distorted reading of the historical record.

The debates on the amendment make clear that the only groups excluded from the protection of the amendment at that time were Native Americans, who were still being treated as foreign powers, and accredited diplomats. As for U.S. Sen. Jacob Howard’s remarks as principal drafter of the proposal, the full quotation, minus a parenthetical “or” added by a modern opponent of birthright citizenship, makes clear that the senator is excluding the children born to “foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers,” in other words, the children of diplomats.

The letter writer also claims that the Supreme Court’s decision in 1898 protecting a son of Chinese immigrants “applied solely to the children of legal permanent residents.” But there were no laws barring immigration when Wong Kim Ark’s parents came to the U.S., hence no distinction between “legal” and “illegal.” And I found no such limitation on application of the decision in the majority opinion of the court.

Historical context and historical accuracy establish that the Star Tribune’s editorial position was that of most scholars.

Diane M. Ring, Minneapolis

The writer is a retired teacher of U.S. history.