Some notes on the draft Minneapolis 2040 plan

Jeremy schroeder

jeremy.schroeder@minneapolismn.gov

(612) 673-2211

Dear Neighbors,

There’s been a lot of buzz in the community in recent months about Minneapolis 2040, the City’s draft Comprehensive Plan. I’ve heard from many of you at the dozen Ward 11 community events held since the draft was released in March, via email, on social media and over the phone. As this discussion deepens, I want to share with you an update on what I’m hearing and address common misconceptions. It’s important to have this shared baseline, and to make sure we’re all acquainted with this draft plan and what it actually means.

A public comment period on the draft plan wraps up July 22, and that feedback will help City planning staff shape the next version of Minneapolis 2040. I (and staff) want to hear what you like about this draft plan and what you don’t. We want your suggestions on how to make it better. Suggestions that I simply “vote no” on this draft plan offer less of a pathway to make constructive improvements to this document, which we are required to have by law.

As your elected official, I feel it is my responsibility to work to build solutions that make a better Ward 11 -- not just point fingers at problems. The Comprehensive Plan process offers us an opportunity to talk about the City we want to become. Part of our City’s success story is growth of jobs and industry, and the people that come with them. Our responsibility is to plan for continued success.

I don’t envision or advocate for drastic overnight changes in Ward 11. Instead, my hope is that we seize this opportunity to plan for a vibrant, sustainable and growing city that works for us now and in the future. I hope this background information is helpful as you dig into the draft plan and consider weighing in with your thoughts.


What is a Comprehensive Plan?

Minneapolis’ Comprehensive Plan is a high-level policy document that helps guide citywide land use, economic development and natural resource management. This document is intended to provide direction on policies that support the City’s goals, not to codify the policies themselves. Rather, the Comprehensive Plan gives policymakers a gateway to pass and implement policies consistent with our stated values. State law requires the City to update this plan every 10 years, with oversight from the Metropolitan Council.

In 2016, the previous City Council directed City planning staff to consider a series of key values in the current Comprehensive Plan update, known as Minneapolis 2040: growth and vitality, equity and racial justice, health and resilience, livability and connectedness, economic competitiveness, and good government with a focus on guiding public and private investment in the built, natural, and economic environment. The draft Minneapolis 2040 plan, released in March for public review, includes more than 90 specific policy recommendations in support of these outcomes. Explore them here.

This is by no means the first Comprehensive Plan for Minneapolis, but it is the first to focus on race equity and tackling climate change. It is also the first with an expansive community outreach strategy behind it. Learn more about that here.

Areas of our city that lack housing choice today were built that way intentionally. This process offers us an opportunity to undo past wrongs and build a better future for everyone in Minneapolis. The reality is, we cannot achieve our equity or sustainability goals as a City without some changes. That said, we need to be very thoughtful about the best ways to manage our growth through the Comprehensive Plan.


Is Minneapolis 2040 a done deal?

No way.

The draft plan available for review today is just that – a draft. Given the wide scope of the plan, the City chose to offer a 100-day comment period which extends through July 22. This input will be used to refine the draft and solidify the next version of the plan, which will come before the full City Council for a vote later this year. Make sure you lend your voice to this conversation via this interactive website or via email (2040@minneapolismn.gov). Learn more about the engagement process here.

I have held 10 community events since the draft plan was released in March, and added extra dates this month due to overwhelming interest from community members. My goal is to square feedback from Ward 11 residents with the overarching goals set by the City – a tough but necessary task at a time when Minneapolis is growing, and in the grips of a severe housing crisis. It’s my job to ensure we can work together to understand concerns and identify the best path forward.


Who is in charge of the Comprehensive Plan?

Right now, you are. The public comments received through July 22 will help City planning staff build the next iteration of the plan. 

The previous City Council set the framework for this document back in 2016, and at this point, it’s up to all current City Council members to listen to their constituents before we see the next version of Minneapolis 2040 this fall. At that point, the City Planning Commission and the Zoning & Planning Committee will review the document before sending it on to the full City Council for a vote. There will be at least one additional opportunity for public testimony (spoken and written) during this part of the process.


Is this the end of single-family homes?

Definitely not.

There is a lot of misinformation about the future of single-family homes in Minneapolis. While the draft plan would enable a citywide zoning change to allow up to four-family homes, that would not mean a mandate for multifamily housing in Ward 11. The draft plan – which, again, at this stage is merely a draft – includes language that would allow for “small-scale residential structures” with “up to four dwelling units.” That could be one unit, or two, in the same footprint of a single-family home. That could be three or four in that same footprint. The draft also stipulates that the highest-density housing would be downtown, and multifamily housing would be prioritized along high-frequency transit routes.

This provision is not meant to rule out single-family homes in Ward 11. It’s meant to rule housing types in, so that we can help to address a housing shortage that hurts our local economy. My family lives in a single-family home, in a neighborhood full of other single-family homes. I recognize the awesome things about our neighborhood as it exists today, and am not interested in radical overnight changes. I want to be sure as many people as possible have an opportunity to enjoy the benefits of our community over the long term. That includes the seniors who have been a part of it for decades, and new residents just finding their way to our City. 

As someone who is passionate about housing for everyone, know that I see single-family homes as part of the answer to making sure people can not only survive in Minneapolis, but thrive.


Can the City demolish existing homes?

I’m deeply concerned about confusion and misinformation spreading that the City wants to freely tear down single-family homes to build multifamily housing. I would never support such a broad-sweeping policy. And to be clear, the City cannot do this. A Supreme Court ruling more than a decade ago made such use of eminent domain nearly impossible.

The decision spurred reforms by local governments nationwide, including the Minnesota Legislature, which passed a bill in 2006 that states “eminent domain may only be used for a public use or public purpose,” and further clarifies that the "public benefits of economic development, including an increase in tax base, tax revenues, employment, or general economic health, do not by themselves constitute a public use or public purpose.” Find more information on this here.

Because it’s not a viable economic development tool, it is highly unlikely that any Minneapolis property could be acquired by the city through eminent domain – that is, without express consent and buy-in from the property owner. There is really only an avenue for eminent domain in limited situations, such as where there is significant blight of a property that could be used for construction of a roadway or sewer line, for example. 


What does the draft plan mean for Ward 11?

The draft plan includes an opportunity for expanded housing options near Minnesota Trunk Highway 121 and Lyndale Avenue, where there is excess right-of-way. It also opens housing options along streets with high-frequency transit service such as Nicollet, Chicago and Lyndale avenues.

In addition, the draft expands types of commercial activity allowed at 34th Avenue and 50th Street and along Lyndale Avenue, as well as at 46th Street and Nicollet, 60th Street and Nicollet, and 46th Street and Chicago. It enables more diverse commercial activity on a case-by-case basis along Nicollet, Lyndale, Chicago and Cedar avenues, as well as along 28th and 34th avenues. In addition, it maintains industrial land along the City’s southern border, between Lyndale and Nicollet avenues, and protects the production and processing jobs that go with it.

Importantly, this draft plan does not change City oversight of development proposed in Minneapolis. It is in no one’s best interest to have free-for-all development with no assessment of whether each project is consistent with our needs, values, goals and existing community.


Why does Ward 11 need this?

The Metropolitan Council estimates that between 2010 and 2016, Minneapolis added more than 12,000 housing units and more than 37,000 residents. The Metropolitan Council forecasts that Minneapolis’ employment will grow from 315,300 jobs in 2015, adding 33,054 jobs by 2040. Dig into the Metropolitan Council data here.

This growing demand means our community has less housing stability, and home prices are rising. Many single-family home dwellers, especially seniors living on fixed incomes, do not have the option to move into multifamily housing close to their established social support networks. Ensuring long-term housing stability is essential to the success of the City and its residents.

Beyond that, Minneapolis will thrive when we implement policies that sustain and grow local businesses. We need to continue efforts to clarify and streamline city processes to make it easier to improve properties as well as to start and operate businesses in Minneapolis, for the benefit of our entire community. We ought to promote the richness and vibrancy of our existing neighborhoods and commercial corridors, including by minimizing displacement and keeping commercial rents affordable. As a bonus, by having more commercial amenities in our neighborhoods, together we can take more car-free trips – an essential step toward reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.

In the first half of the 20th century, zoning regulations and federal housing policies worked in tandem to restrict housing options for households of color – including in Ward 11. We need to consider proactive policy and strategies to unwind the disparities that plague our community and our economy.


What about affordability?

Housing density does not automatically equal housing affordability. I know this well. Before earning the privilege of representing Ward 11 at City Hall, I worked as an affordable housing advocate at the State Capitol.

As we consider expanding housing options in Minneapolis, we need to also put in place policies that hold developers accountable to including affordable units.  This is a key focus of the work I am leading at City Hall, and will continue to be a priority of mine – in the context of this Comprehensive Plan update and beyond.

It is the responsibility of elected officials to build real, lasting solutions. To spur affordability, I am working on an ordinance which would hold developers accountable to add affordable units in new housing developments. I am also working on a measure to require property owners to give advance notice when they want to sell existing affordable housing, in order to give nonprofit preservation buyers a shot at purchasing those units.

It’s true that the draft Minneapolis 2040 plan on its own will not solve our affordability crisis. It does, however, expand our toolbox to identify and create complementary policy solutions that will ultimately go a long way toward nurturing a more stable and robust housing economy that is good for our neighbors, good for our tax base and good for the future of the Minneapolis we all love – in the near term and for generations to come. 


Where can you see the full draft plan?

Visit www.minneapolis2040.com to see an interactive web version of the draft plan, which you can search to find the policies that are most important to you. A PDF version of the plan is available here, if you prefer to peruse it that way. 


How can you offer input?

Comment directly on the interactive web version following these simple steps. Or, you can email your thoughts to City planning staff at 2040@minneapolismn.gov




I hope this clarity is helpful as you consider this draft plan. I can't say enough that this is an ambitious effort, and we should all be part of it.

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