Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Zoning Reform and the Pace of Neighborhood Change

There's a post on streets.mn debunking the idea that fourplexes mean four stories. The truth is that Minneapolis' new draft comprehensive plan that proposes allowing up to four-family homes in currently single-family neighborhoods, would limit those homes to 2.5 stories (the "Interior 1" designation). Honestly, I am someone who thinks four stories is just fine in lots of places and the comprehensive plan isn't radical enough -- but if you're bothered, the facts should be reassuring.

"Interior 1" in the draft Minneapolis Comp Plan
There's another point to be made about the pace of change that modest zoning reform would bring to any given neighborhood. As with most things, I like to use the Wedge neighborhood as an example. For the last 40 years, the Wedge has had the most permissive residential zoning in Minneapolis (R6) across many interior blocks (along with a generous portion of two-family zoning). It's the kind of zoning that, if you can assemble multiple lots, might conceivably lead to a five- or six-story building with a 100 or more apartments.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Fourplexes Everywhere? Bold Reform Proposed in Minneapolis


Word has leaked of a very preliminary plan to legalize fourplexes in virtually every neighborhood in Minneapolis. It's one part of a larger draft comprehensive plan that hasn't yet been made public. If implemented, it would be the boldest land-use reform in the country, reversing a decades-long trend of restrictions that have contributed to higher housing costs and racial/economic segregation. Here are some reasons I think we should embrace this plan to legalize fourplexes in Minneapolis.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Does Minneapolis need more cops?

Mayor Frey and Chief Arradondo want to hire 100 more cops to push Minneapolis to 1,000 officers. A recent Star Tribune article notes that Minneapolis "still lags behind other Midwest cities, including Cincinnati, Milwaukee and Kansas City, Mo." The article quotes notoriously racist Minneapolis police union leader Bob Kroll saying Minneapolis should strive to match Milwaukee, a place with nearly 60% more cops per capita.

There are a few things about all these city-to-city comparisons that make me question the relevance of "cops per resident" as a statistic. Milwaukee and Kansas City have 40-45% more violent crime per capita than Minneapolis; either all that extra policing isn't working or there are more significant factors contributing to/mitigating violent crime than how many cops you have. And as long as we're comparing ourselves to large Midwestern cities, Minneapolis has slightly more cops per person than St. Paul, which is the Midwest city located just across the river (police staffing data as of 2016).

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Lisa Goodman Calls YIMBYs "Republicanesque" Proponents of "Trickle-Down"


After spending far too much time with the cast of characters from last week's Zoning and Planning meeting in the editing room (ICYMI: I'm a prominent local anthropologist and documentarian), one thing struck me as particularly notable: Council Member Lisa Goodman calling YIMBYs a bunch of Republicans.

Local Development Politics Officially Enter the Trump Era


It was bound to happen. After a year spent enduring the daily trauma inflicted on our country by its own president, concerned residents have adopted the language of resistance to Donald Trump and applied it to the perceived atrocity of new apartments in their backyard.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Residents Gather to Remember Iconic Arby's Sign


People from across the Twin Cities flocked to Arby's Island in Uptown Friday night to celebrate the memory of a fallen icon: a fast food sign that lit the corner of Lake St and Emerson Ave for more than 47 years.

Monday, January 29, 2018

The Uptown Arby's is Now Closed


With rumors swirling about the fate of the Wedge neighborhood's most beloved fast food restaurant, I was present for the final hours of the Uptown Arby's. Joined by four of my best Twitter friends, we ate curly fries and reminisced about the good times.