Ward 8 Update Newsletters September 24, 2014

8th Ward News from Minneapolis Council Vice President Elizabeth Glidden
Visit us at www.minneapolismn.gov/ward8

September 24, 2014


Elizabeth Glidden
350 S. 5th St.
City Hall, Room 307
Minneapolis, MN 55415

Phone: 612-673-2208

Meet Elizabeth at Ward 8 Community Office Hours

Elizabeth meets with residents on Monday mornings during her community office hours at Sabathani Community Center. Join us!

Every Monday morning, 9-11:00 am Sabathani Community Center, 310 E 38th Street

Elizabeth’s table is on the first floor hall nearest to the parking lot, outside of Room 132

Call (612) 673-2208 for an appointment or just drop by!

Minneapolis, City of Lakes

NO September Early Mornings with Elizabeth – see you in October! 

NO September Early Mornings with Elizabeth – as Ward 8 staffers Andrea Jenkins and Deebaa Sirdar are immersed in producing The Minneapolis Trans Equity Summit! that will take place this Thursday. We look to bringing you a lunch program in October. Have great ideas you want to share about speakers or topics of interest? Contact Elizabeth with your great ideas.

Come One Come All: Minneapolis’ first Trans*Equity Summit

trans summit

Please join City officials and staff, community members, and performer Angelica Ross, host of Chicago’s The Trans 100, for this amazing event planned for Thursday, September 25, 1-8 pm, at the Humphrey Institute.  Please RSVP here.

Re-Open Nicollet Plans Move Forward


The City of Minneapolis and KMART Corporation have reached an agreement to conduct an appraisal and an environmental assessment of the current Kmart store on Nicollet Avenue.  The agreement is an important next step to determine the feasibility of reopening Nicollet Avenue.

Once the agreement is approved by the City Council, with vote scheduled for October 3, the appraisal and assessment work will start later this fall. There is significant work to be done before Nicollet Avenue can reopen, including opening a new location for Kmart, but there remains universal agreement by all parties that redeveloping Lake Street and Nicollet Avenue is a priority and we look forward to a continued partnership to accomplish this goal. 

While the City is moving forward with its redevelopment goals for Nicollet, it is not asking existing stores, such as Kmart and SuperValu, to leave Lake and Nicollet.  Kmart, in particular, has consistently stated it would like to remain in Minneapolis, either in its current location or as part of a redevelopment. 

New Rules Improve Restroom Access for Everyone:

gender neutral bathroom

Minneapolis has just approved changes to City rules around single-user restrooms in businesses across the city.  Until now, the state building code and City ordinance required that most single-user restrooms be designated as either a men’s room or a women’s room.

The state’s 2015 building code will allow for family/assisted-use facilities without designation of gender, and the ordinance changes adopted by the City also make these changes within Minneapolis. This will allow businesses with single-user restrooms to make them gender neutral.

Along with the changes the City Council approved a resolution that strongly encourages businesses, educational facilities, and other buildings within Minneapolis to change gender specific Male/Female single-user restrooms to gender-neutral restrooms wherever possible.  Many local businesses already provide gender neutral restrooms and others are encouraged to make this change, which benefits people with children, transgender people, people with personal care assistants, and other members of the public.

Council Member Andrew Johnson, a member of the city’s Transgender Issues Work Group along with Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, proposed these changes, which he described as a “common sense step that makes Minneapolis a more welcoming place for all people, especially for transgender people.”

Minneapolis’ work on transgender equityThese changes are one part of the City’s work to make improvements in areas that affect transgender people in our community. Earlier this year, the City Council approved the formation of a Transgender Issues Work Group at the City. “Everyone in our community deserves to feel welcome, safe and connected here,” said City Council Vice President Elizabeth Glidden. “That’s why I was proud to establish the Transgender Issues Work Group at the City, and this is just one step we can take toward making things better for transgender folks in our community.”

In-person absentee voting hours extended

absentee voting

Absentee voting has officially begun for the Nov. 4 general election. And Minneapolis has increased access by adding additional weekday and weekend hours for in-person voting at City Hall in the two weeks leading up to Election Day, including the ability to vote in-person on Saturday and Sunday in the two weeks before the election. The goal is to increase voter participation in elections. 

This the first year voters are not required to provide a specific reason for voting absentee. That means all voters now have the option to vote absentee either by mail or in person prior to Election Day.

Voters can request ballots online. Applications are also available on the City's website and may be printed out and sent in anytime leading up to Election Day to have a ballot mailed out.

For information about registering and voting in Minneapolis go to  vote.minneapolismn.gov or call Minneapolis 311 or 612-673-3000.

City modernizes restaurant rules for alcohol sales

food and alcohol rules

The Minneapolis City Council has approved new rules for some restaurants that sell alcohol outside of the Downtown area. Until now the city’s rules were antiquated and made it difficult for well-run businesses to meet required alcohol-to-food sales ratios, which the current economy does not support.

As Council Member Glidden, an author of the ordinance changes, described, “While neighborhood restaurants are valued spaces to experience great food and community, our laws governing restaurants have not kept up.  These archaic rules, requiring 70 percent food and 30 percent alcohol sales, don’t fit the business model of restaurants today, where craft beer and fine wine purchases will quickly put a restaurant out of compliance with city regulations.  We can do better, with a regulatory model that focuses on ensuring restaurants act like good neighbors.”

The revised ordinances eliminate requirements that some restaurants in the city sell a certain amount of food, compared to the amount of alcohol they sell. Now, restaurants in commercial corridors that are outside of Downtown are no longer required to make at least 60 percent of their sales in food, and 40 percent or less in alcohol. Though these outdated restrictions are removed, restaurants would still be required to earn a substantial amount of their revenue from non-alcohol purchases. Additionally, the changes create a new set of tools the City can use to take action against establishments that create problems in city neighborhoods. Modernizing the City’s ability for dealing with problem businesses will allow the City to better address problems while making things easier for businesses that are well run. 

The ordinance changes will not change the type of establishment that’s allowed in a particular location. For example, a neighborhood restaurant could not be replaced by a bar (a common question!). The proposed ordinance also defines what a “bar area” is within a restaurant and the amount of bar area an establishment can have. This will make sure that these areas are appropriately scaled for the neighborhood and the size of the establishment.

70/30 rule still in place, vote in November

The new ordinances do not affect those restaurants that are outside of Downtown and nestled in residential areas (not in commercial corridors). The current requirement, which is found in the City Charter and can only be changed by voters, is that they must make at least 70 percent of their sales in food, and 30 percent or less in alcohol. This November, voters in Minneapolis will vote on a ballot question which, if approved, would remove that food sales threshold for those restaurants. If that happens, the currently-proposed City ordinances would then apply to those restaurants as well. If voters do not approve the ballot measure, those restaurants will still be required by the City Charter to meet the 70/30 sales ratio. 

For more information and to see the ordinances and frequently asked questions visit the City’s business licensing web page.  

Garden study trying out a better way to grow food

compost gardening

The City of Minneapolis is studying the effectiveness of combining compost with biochar, a soil amendment similar to charcoal. Biochar works with compost to increase crop yields, improve local water quality by reducing runoff, and combat climate change by holding carbon and nitrogen in the soil where they serve as fertilizer instead of being released into the air where they would become pollutants. Minneapolis is one of the first cities in the U.S. to study the benefits of biochar. The project is demonstrating the effectiveness of biochar in five different gardens, and is focusing on increased access to locally grown food for historically underserved communities, including Native Americans.

The study is part of a new agreement with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC). The City and the SMSC share common values in environmental stewardship and sustainability. The SMSC operates the Organics Recycling Facility, the largest single compost site in Minnesota. Due to the many benefits of using biochar, the SMSC and the City seek to work together to promote compost and biochar in their respective communities. This program consists of two main components: producing a biochar/compost mix at the Organics Recycling Facility and developing demonstration projects, including education and outreach. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is also involved in the study.

Learn more.