Ward 6 News ~ September 6, 2012

Minneapolis Ward 6 Council Member Robert Lilligren
September 4, 2012

County's Complete Street Approach to Park & Portland

Often, what seems like a Minneapolis “city street” is actually a County Road such as Park Avenue or Portland Avenue; sometimes these “streets” can also be classified as State Highways as is Central Avenue. Different levels of government have a range of roles and responsibilities when it comes to the construction, operation and maintenance of our city’s streets. In general, the City of Minneapolis through our Public Works Department and the City Council has a say in the design and layout of a roadway being newly or re-constructed within the city limits. Usually, if a street is just being maintained – like a repaving or “mill-and-overlay” – not a lot of redesigning is done.
This year, when Hennepin County announced its intention to repave Park and Portland Avenues, it caught the attention of the many complete streets activists who advocated at the City and County level for us to take the time to reexamine the streets’ layout and see if anything could be done to calm traffic and make these streets more livable. Members of the City’s Bicycle Advisory Committee and the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition (an outside advocacy organization) led the efforts to reassess the streets’ design. Council Members Goodman, Glidden, Quincy and I, who represent these two corridors from downtown to the city’s southern border, supported this effort, as did Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin.
City and County engineers worked together and proposed a design that would reduce the number of car traffic lanes from three to two for most of the way outside of downtown; shift bike lanes from the left side to the right for better safety and visibility; provide a buffer area between cars and bikes; improve connections to the Midtown Greenway; and lower the speed limit from 35 to 30 miles per hour with retiming of the traffic signals. Parking is pretty much retained throughout, though some parking restrictions would be required at some intersections to accommodate turn lanes. These changes would result in a calmer, more livable street with increased safety for pedestrians who would now only have to cross two lanes of car traffic.
To present the design to the community, the City of Minneapolis and Hennepin County hosted an evening public meeting on this past Thursday (August 30) that included a presentation and town-hall style discussion. The meeting was held in the 6th Ward at the impressive Lutheran Social Service Center of Changing Lives on Park Avenue. Nearly 200 people attended. The lead Hennepin County engineer announced that these were the plans that they were going ahead with unless some significant reason not to go in this direction emerged from the public meeting. There was a spirited, respectful and lively exchange of views.
I was at this meeting with my Council colleagues Elizabeth Glidden and John Quincy. Commissioner McLaughlin started us off with comments. Some folks, including me,  contributed and followed the discussion on twitter (#parkportland). The points of view ranged from those who favored the status quo and wanted no lane reduction to those who felt we should do more to calm these streets. Since this is only a mill-and-overlay there are not resources (that means dollars) to do major redesign like narrowing the streets or adding physical buffers (like planted boulevards) between pedestrians, bikes and cars. Any changes have to happen pretty much within the existing curb-to-curb line. Currently we do not have the time and money it would take to study returning these streets to two-ways, though there is an interest on the City side, to reassess this in the future as expressed in our Access Minneapolis 10-Year Transportation Plan.
In general, people who live on Park or Portland were very supportive of the changes and those who experience these streets solely as drivers tended to be in opposition. A few concerns were expressed by several of those present who support the plan. The design calls for the southbound bike lane on Portland to be on the left side of the street until 35th Street South, and then to shift to the right hand side, which is generally considered the safer side for bike lanes. The engineers proposed this lane configuration to avoid conflicts where there are higher volumes of cars turning right, mostly north of 31st Street. People said they felt it was better and safer for the bike lanes to be totally on one side or the other, eliminating the need for the crossover. Another often expressed concern was the varying two-and three-lane configurations. Several speakers said that they felt it would be better to be consistent throughout and to accommodate turning cars with turn lanes rather than expanding the number of lanes. In follow up conversations with the elected officials, it is clear that there is an interest in addressing some of these concerns through changes in the design.
I am very supportive of making Park and Portland more complete streets. I believe the lane reduction and the speed reduction will improve the livability along these streets without inconveniencing drivers. I was very surprised at how low the traffic counts are on Park and Portland. Several nearby streets carry as much or greater traffic with only one lane in each direction. It’s hard to justify such wide and fast streets here. Also, as a near neighbor to these streets and a 30-year resident of the Phillips area I have long felt that these one-way pairs, like Park & Portland and 26th & 28th Streets, over-emphasize moving cars rapidly through our city and under-emphasize the fact that there are lots of good things happening and good people living here.

Robert Lilligren

Mondays with Robert

Council Member Lilligren has always believed that it's important for people like you and me to have access to government. Robert remains committed to that value today. For that reason, Council Member Lilligren makes himself available to community member visits on a walk-in and appointment basis.

You can meet with Robert on the first four Mondays of the month at each of the neighborhoods he represents. Call or email Alondra at 673-2206 or alondra.cano@minneapolismn.gov to schedule an appointment. Walk-ins are welcome, however - you will be asked to wait if there is a scheduled appointment.

First Monday of the Month
Whittier Alliance, 10 E. 25th Street
9:30am - 11:30am

Second Monday of the Month
Phillips West, 2400 Park Ave.
Center for Changing Lives
9:30am - 11:30am

Third Monday of the Month
Stevens Square, 1925 Nicollet Ave.
9:30am - 11:30am

Fourth Monday of the Month
Ventura Village, 2323 11th Ave. S.
2nd Floor of Phillips Community Center
9:30am - 11:30am


Tibet Kitchen

On Friday the City Council took action renewing a Class B liquor license for an Eat Street business in the Stevens Square Neighborhood. Tibet Kitchen at 1833 Nicollet is now entering its second year of operations. Due to significant community safety concerns of the location’s previous restaurant, when it came time to open Tibet Kitchen the owners worked with my office, the MPD 5th Precinct Commander, City Licensing staff and the Stevens Square Community Organization (SSCO) Safety Committee to establish strict operating conditions attached to their liquor license.
After a year of operation at the time of routine license renewal, the same stakeholders agreed to remove some of the operating conditions. There was agreement among partners that this business was operating in a way that made these conditions unnecessary. I think this is a great example of cooperation between the neighborhood residents, City departments and entrepreneurs coming together to support community level businesses. Good luck to Tibet Kitchen in their second year!  

City report details implications of voter ID measure

The Minneapolis City Clerk’s office, which is responsible for administering elections in Minneapolis, released a report that details the cost and other implications of a proposed amendment to the Minnesota constitution that will be on the ballot this November calls for, among other things, new voter identification requirements.
Under the proposed constitutional amendment, voters would be required to provide a photo I.D. to prove identity and also a government-issued I.D. to verify a correct home address. The Clerk’s office report examined the wording of the proposed amendment and the impact similar changes have had in other parts of the country where similar laws were implemented. It does not evaluate the merits of the proposition. Instead, it offers information and analyses to help people understand the potential impacts that this change would have.

According to the report, the Minnesota Management & Budget Department estimates the startup costs to State and local government agencies to be approximately $50 million. The ongoing operational costs to local governments are estimated to be more than $10 million. Much of the cost would involve the implementation of provisional balloting, which currently does not exist here in Minnesota.
According to the proposed amendment, anyone who cannot provide sufficient identification at their polling place could still cast a provisional ballot. These provisional ballots would not be counted on Election Day, and would only be counted if the voter provides sufficient identification in the days following the election.
In addition, the amendment would require that the voter identification system be implemented in time for the November 2013 election, which would impact Minneapolis because of its local election. If passed, the report concludes such a timeline is unworkable, particularly since the amendment would require state lawmakers to adopt standards and provide direction for implementing the amendment during the 2013 legislative session.
View the full report and the supporting documentation at the last Elections Committee meeting of the City Council.

From the Office of City Council Vice President Robert Lilligren
350 South 5th Street, City Hall, Room 307, Minneapolis, MN 55415
Robert.Lilligren@minneapolismn.gov · Ward 6 website · (612) 673-2206

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