Sunday, September 25, 2016

What's the matter with Alondra?

Last December, Minneapolis City Council Member Alondra Cano went to the Mall of America to join a Black Lives Matter protest.
But the mall protest never really happened; crowds moved instead to the light rail and the airport, "creating a rolling wave of disruption on one of the busiest travel and shopping days of the year." Cano tweeted a few pictures and words of support for BLM, causing her mentions to fill up with people--probably tweeting from home--more distressed by minor holiday travel delays than the death of Jamar Clark, an unarmed black man who was shot and killed by Minneapolis police a month earlier.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Best of Minneapolis City Council Vines

Cast your vote for City Council Performer of the Year.

Ballot at the end of this post.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Downzoning Can't Save Us From the Future

I've previously written about the rezoning that's under consideration for Minneapolis' Lowry Hill East neighborhood. After a few more weeks of thought, these are my big-picture concerns.

Downzoning is forever

The city's proposal has been described as interim protection that gets us through until the next update to the city's Comprehensive Plan (the process for which is currently underway). But "interim" gives the impression that downzoning is temporary. This is technically true; all laws are potentially temporary. But in reality, we're still stuck with a 1975 decision that left most of the Wedge (under)zoned for nothing greater than a duplex. Downzoning is easy. Upzoning is hard.

It might be right to say this particular rezoning plan is a relatively insignificant drop in the bucket--but it's still the wrong bucket. Across the city, and over the years, these decisions add up. While we don't know what the Comp Plan update holds, it would be short-sighted to think we won't be living with today's downzoning in 2055.

For parcels north of 28th Street (data compiled by Alex Cecchini).

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Truth About Drug Treatment Centers

A petition against the NuWay drug treatment center.

The executive director of the Whittier Alliance neighborhood organization believes "people in [addiction] recovery tend to bring about drug dealers." This idea went completely unchallenged in a City Pages article about the NuWay Counseling Center which recently opened at 2118 Blaisdell Ave. It's a sentiment that's been repeated often over the years when the issue of "too many treatment centers" in Whittier comes up.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Wedge Downzoning Explained in Six Maps

Rezoning is back on the table for Lowry Hill East. Here are some maps to help you understand the history of neighborhood zoning and the potential impact of the city's current proposal.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Time to Hold the Line on Downzoning

Forty-one years after a rezoning left most of Lowry Hill East zoned low-density, the city of Minneapolis has put neighborhood rezoning back on the table. The current plan is nearly all downzoning, meant to clean up the few high-density scraps left over from 1975. It’s hard not to take this issue personally, because I live in one of the last apartment buildings constructed before that long-ago downzoning; in other words, the roof over my head inspired a group of very passionate homeowners to say “that is enough of that!”

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Neighborhood Group Votes for More Parking, Higher Rents

The Southwest Journal reports on a housing competition in Minneapolis:
Lyndale neighborhood residents heard two competing development concepts Monday for 3329 Nicollet Ave., and voted 20-11 in favor of the pitch that provided the most parking. 
The developers’ concepts ranged from eight-unit townhouses rising three stories with garages, to a four-story apartment building with at least 32 units and nine surface parking spaces.
The article gives the impression that this vote was a referendum on parking, and how to build as much of it as possible. For anyone who's been to a neighborhood development meeting, this preoccupation with parking should sound familiar. Local landlord Carol Greenwood, speaking about about new people moving to the Lyndale neighborhood, said, "they all have cars, and they all want a parking spot.” It's worth pointing out that 32% of Lyndale households own no vehicle. You might say an apartment building with reduced parking is compatible with the existing neighborhood character.