Closing the Book on 2019 and a Look Ahead to 2020 -- The Heart of Minneapolis -- December 2019

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In This Newsletter:

2020 Budget, Inclusionary Zoning, and Other Highlights from Our Final City Council Cycle of the Year

final council meeting

2020 Budget

On Wednesday night, December 11, after our final public hearing, the City Council voted to approve a roughly $1.5 billion City budget for 2020. Of that total, about 20 percent is funded through property taxes. The budget includes a 6.95% increase in the property tax levy (the total amount collected) from 2019 to 2020. 

I am proud of the budget we passed, of the work the Council and Mayor did together to make it better, and of my role in that process. You can watch my comments about the final budget here. I also wrote about a set of unanimous public safety amendments that we made the previous Friday in a special newsletter, which you can read here. Jessica Lee covered the public safety budget further in this MinnPost article.

In addition to those public safety investments, we also:

  • Made another record investment in affordable housing, second only to the 2019 budget that we passed a year ago;
  • Furthered our commitment to our sustainability programs so that we can do our part to mitigate the effects of global climate change;
  • Allocated additional funds for winter snow corner clearance; and
  • Funded the work of our Civil Rights Department to combat wage theft through the ordinance we passed earlier this year.

You can learn more about the Mayor's proposed 2020 budget here, see all of the legislative files here, and dig into the budget by revenues and expenses, by funds and departments, here.

Final Council Meeting of the Year

On Friday, December 13, we held our last City Council meeting of the year. We finished a very productive year with a lot in just one meeting:

  • We passed a permanent Inclusionary Zoning policy to require affordable housing units in new multi-family housing developments;
  • Approved our Vision Zero Action Plan; and
  • Declared a Climate Emergency, with resolutions to establish a Sustainable Building Policy and a social cost of carbon. 

You can read more about all of those and more news from the last month below. 


Join Me to Celebrate 2019 with the 3rd aWards!

3rd aWards

2019 3rd aWards

WHEN: Wednesday, February 19th from 6:30 - 8:30 P.M.

WHERE: The Food Building, 1401 Marshall St. NE

Last term, then-Council Member Jacob Frey presented the 3rd aWards to community leaders and organizations who stood out in the previous year, and I'm so excited to bring them back to celebrate 2019!

Please share your nominations for the categories below and then SAVE THE DATE for Wednesday, February 19 from 6:30 - 8:30 P.M. at the Food Building for the presentation of the 3rd aWards.

  1. NOMINATE people and organizations in the following categories on this form

    • Best New Local Business
    • Best Placemaking Initiative
    • Best Transportation Improvement
    • Affordable Housing Project of the Year
    • Community Initiative of the Year
    • Youth Leadership of the Year
    • Leader of the Year
  2. SAVE THE DATE for the evening of Wednesday, February 19 to celebrate!

Let's celebrate the best of Ward 3 from 2019!


Wednesday, January 15: Good Morning Ward 3


Good Morning Ward 3

WHEN: Wednesday, January 15th from 7:30 - 9:00 a.m.

WHERE: Kramarczuk's, 215 E. Hennepin Ave.

WITH: Sasha Cotton, Director, Minneapolis Office of Violence Prevention

When we passed the 2019 budget at the end of last year, Council Member Phillipe Cunningham and I authored an amendment to allocate permanent funding for an Office of Violence Prevention (OVP) in the Department of Health. Earlier this year, Sasha Cotton was named Director of OVP after five years as our Youth Violence Prevention Coordinator.

Join Sasha and I on Wednesday, January 15 to learn more about our past and current violence prevention initiatives, and the long-term vision for OVP. 


Coffee With Your Council Member

Grab Coffee with Council Member Steve Fletcher

I hold regular open community office hours, normally at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, at a rotating neighborhood coffee shop in Ward 3 for constituents to drop by, ask questions, and raise any issues you see in the community. 

All are welcome! RSVP on Facebook or just show up. If you want to discuss a specific issue or project, email and we'll add you to the agenda.

Keep an eye on our Facebook Page for all the details on future scheduled events, or contact our office at 612-673-2203.


Changes to Ward 3 Social Media Accounts

FB & Twitter logos

As part of a new Citywide social media policy adopted earlier this year, each of the City Council ward offices will have separate social media accounts to communicate official City business and other information.

This will go into full effect in the new year, but the new accounts are now live. The official Ward 3 accounts are at and at


City Council Approves Inclusionary Zoning Policy to Increase Development of Affordable Housing

Policy Provides for Student Access to Affordable Units in Student Housing Developments

On Friday the 13th, the City Council adopted a permanent inclusionary zoning policy to require the production of affordable housing units in new residential development projects in Minneapolis, starting on January 1, 2020.

The policy is one of several strategies the City has implemented to address the affordable housing crisis. It supports the affordable housing goals of Minneapolis 2040, the City’s Comprehensive Plan, which also takes effect on January 1. As the City implements new zoning consistent with Minneapolis 2040, opportunities to increase the supply of housing and create new housing options will expand through the city. The inclusionary zoning policy ensures that affordable housing units are built in exchange for this increased development capacity.

Policy Highlights

The policy applies to residential development projects with 20 or more dwelling units that file a site plan review application. It will phase in over time for smaller projects (20-49 units) and owner-occupied condo developments.

Developers can comply with the policy by doing the following:

  • Making 8% of the project units affordable to households with incomes at or below 60% area median income for 20 years.
  • Making 4% of project units affordable at 30% AMI for 20 years.
  • Pledge to make 20% of units affordable at 50% of area median income for 30 years – a level that would allow the developer to seek City financial assistance for the project. 

Developers also have alternatives to complying with the policy: pay an in-lieu fee to the City; produce the affordable units offsite or preserve naturally occurring affordable housing within a one-half mile from the market-rate project; or donate land to the City. (Note: The second options will take effect June 2020.)


Private Student Housing Developments Covered by Policy

Student Affordable Housing event

When we passed our interim Inclusionary Zoning policy last year, we exempted student housing altogether, and I was clear at that time that I could not support a permanent policy that exempted student housing, or that did not allow students to access affordable units in those buildings.

While housing owned and operated by a university will be exempt from this permanent policy, privately built student housing near the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus will be covered.

I've heard from so many students about the challenges they face to find affordable housing, and how the student housing market works differently than the rest of the housing market across the city. Students are also locked out of most traditional affordable housing eligibility qualifications, so I worked with Council Member Gordon and with the authors of this ordinance, Council President Bender and Council Member Schroeder, to make sure that it works for students:

  • Students who are eligible for Pell grants will be eligible for affordable units built in student housing developments as a result of this policy, and
  • Those affordable units can be a mix of studios, 1-bedroom units, or single bedrooms in a multi-bedroom unit. This also allows for eligible students to live with non-eligible students in the same multi-bedroom unit.

This has been a very tricky challenge to get right, and I want to thank everyone who has dug into the details in the last few months here to figure this out – the authors of this ordinance and their staff, City staff in Community Planning & Economic Development, and all of the students who got involved by meeting with me and my staff, coming to the Planning Commission public hearing, and talking about this on campus.

Inclusionary Zoning isn't going to single-handedly fix our affordable housing crisis, and this piece of it alone won't solve our affordable student housing shortage, but it's a major step forward in acknowledging and addressing the housing needs of students in our city.


City Council approves Minneapolis Vision Zero Action Plan

Vision Zero Minneapolis website home page safer streets together In Minneapolis even one death on our streets is too many.

On Friday the 13th, the City Council approved our Minneapolis Vision Zero Action Plan, which outlines key steps for the next three years to advance the City’s goal of ending traffic deaths and injuries on City streets by 2027.

The Vision Zero Action Plan includes 16 strategies and 72 actions to be implemented between 2020 and 2022. Highlights include:

  • Reducing speed limits. Slower speeds on our streets make travel safer for everyone no matter how they get around. Minnesota cities recently received authority to control speed limits on City-owned streets and the City is taking appropriate steps to lower speed limits on most City streets.
  • Making safety improvements on high injury streets. Seventy percent of severe and fatal crashes happen on just 9% of streets in Minneapolis. The City will proactively install traffic safety treatments on City-owned high injury streets and partner with Hennepin County and the Minnesota Department of Transportation to make improvements on their high injury streets. These treatments will include four-to-three-lane safety conversions, pedestrian medians, bump outs, and other street safety best practices.
  • Addressing leading unsafe traffic behaviors. The five traffic behaviors that lead to the most severe and fatal crashes in Minneapolis are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, distracted driving, speeding, red light running and unsafe turning. The City will address these unsafe behaviors head on through a combination of education, communication and enforcement.
  • Seeking to implement automated traffic enforcement. Automated traffic enforcement has proven effective at saving lives and it eliminates the need for officer interaction.

This is a critical, urgently needed action plan, which was only highlighted further for our Ward by the recent, tragic death of a pedestrian in the North Loop -- the second in two years. This action plan is a good start, but it is only a start. We have much more to do. I spoke about this when the Council passed a related budget amendment -- click here to see those comments.

An average of 95 people suffered life-altering injuries or were killed in traffic crashes each year on streets in Minneapolis from 2007 to 2016. Traffic crashes disproportionately impact people in neighborhoods with lower incomes, Native American residents, and people walking and bicycling. Traffic deaths and severe injuries are unacceptable and preventable.

The Vision Zero Action Plan was developed by City staff from multiple departments with significant direction from community stakeholders, partner agencies and the public. The City of Minneapolis officially became a Vision Zero city in September 2017 when the City Council passed a resolution setting a goal of eliminating traffic deaths and injuries within 10 years. Minneapolis is one of more than 35 Vision Zero cities in the United States.

The Vision Zero Action Plan is being coordinated with the Minneapolis Transportation Action Plan, a 10-year action plan to guide future planning, design and implementation of transportation projects for all people in all the ways they move around. A draft of the Transportation Action Plan will be released in early 2020.


Minneapolis Declares Climate Emergency

Climate Emergency press conference

Minneapolis has declared a climate emergency that demands a massive-scale mobilization to halt, reverse and address the consequences and causes of climate change. This declaration recognizes that climate change is already affecting people’s lives, health, livelihoods, and access to food and shelter with record heat, extreme storms and wildfires, droughts and floods, and other destructive effects in Minnesota and worldwide.

By declaring climate emergencies, governments around the world are bringing awareness to the need to mobilize resources at a scale and speed sufficient to protect civilization, the economy, people, species and ecosystems. In November 2019 more than 11,000 scientists came out in favor of labeling climate change as an emergency.

With the climate emergency declaration, the City commits to:

The United Nations Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services found that human-induced climate change is pushing the planet toward the sixth mass species extinction, which threatens the food security, water supply, and well-being of billions of people.

In its climate emergency declaration, Minneapolis joins the U.S. House of Representatives; youth organizations including Minnesota Climate Strike, Sierra Club Northstar Chapter, Extinction Rebellion and IMatter; scientists and more than 900 jurisdictions in 18 countries worldwide including the European Union.

Find more information on the Minneapolis climate emergency declaration here.


City Council Approves Resolution Reaffirming Support for Resettlement of Refugees in Minneapolis

On Friday the 13th, the City Council and Mayor Frey approved a resolution reaffirming our City’s pledge to be a welcoming city that strongly supports the resettlement of refugees in Minneapolis. I was proud to be the lead author on this resolution and to see all of my colleagues add their names to make this a unanimous resolution.

The resolution follows an executive order issued by President Trump that for the first time instructs federal officials to seek written consent from state and local governments before they can accept refugees in their communities.

The resolution states: “The Mayor and City Council do hereby affirm the City’s status as a Welcoming City, and a city that strongly supports resettling refugees without regard to race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality, or country of origin.”

It notes that more than 70.8 million displaced people have been forced from their homes around the world – a larger number than any time in recorded history. The resolution also acknowledges that Minnesota and Minneapolis are home to some of the largest and most diverse populations of refugees and immigrants in the United States, contributing to the City’s “economic strength and cultural richness.”

The City of Minneapolis is a proud member of Welcoming America’s network, a symbol of its commitment toward immigrants, refugees and all residents. Learn more about how the City supports immigrants and refugees by visiting the City’s Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs’ website.


Updates on My Ordinance & Policy Initiatives

Short Term Rental Ordinance

After introducing this ordinance subject matter earlier in the year and holding a community listening session in the fall, a staff working group has begun meeting regularly to discuss problems caused by short-term rentals and potential solutions to them. Their work will continue in early 2020, and will include further community and stakeholder engagement. I anticipate a draft ordinance to be ready for Council review sometime in the spring.

Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Housing

I introduced this ordinance topic with my colleagues in June, and we held a City Council listening session in September. Since then, a staff working group has been formed and is meeting regularly to discuss policy options. Staff are planning to hire a consultant to help develop ordinance and policy recommendations, and will release a Request for Proposals soon. Further community and stakeholder engagement will be part of the consultant's scope of work, and will be conducted in the winter and spring.

Data Privacy

This fall, I hosted a listening session at City Hall on the future of our City’s data management policies, including a set of Data Privacy principles that I am authoring in collaboration with our Information Governance Policy Committee. This is the first time that our City government will affirmatively state that we value and consider privacy when we make decisions about the data we create and collect.

I expect these Data Privacy principles to come before the Enterprise Committee of the City Council early in 2020 for review and debate. Further policy development will follow.

Freelance Worker Protections Ordinance

After a round of engagement and feedback from freelancers, the City's Workplace Advisory Committee, and others on the initial draft of this ordinance, City staff have been working on revisions and a new draft will be ready soon. We will continue engagement on this draft ordinance early in the new year.

If you work as an independent contractor in Minneapolis, I want to hear from you: please take our survey at


Ordinance Prohibits ‘Conversion Therapy’ in Minneapolis

In November, the City Council approved an ordinance prohibiting “conversion therapy” in Minneapolis. What is called conversion therapy (also reparative therapy) refers to treatment based on the discredited premise that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ) is a mental disorder that can be cured or corrected. Medical, mental health and child welfare experts have denounced this practice as ineffective, unreliable and unsafe.

The ban is required to protect young people from harmful effects of this practice. Exposure to “conversion therapy” can harm people through adulthood, with effects including suicide, depression, substance abuse, guilt, hopelessness, stress, and self-blame or self-hatred.

The City will enforce the ban through potential administrative citations and civil fines. Bans on conversion therapy exist in 18 states and about 53 cities with many pending.


2020 4d Affordable Housing Incentive Program Application Window Now Open

The City of Minneapolis is now accepting applications for the Minneapolis 4d Affordable Housing Incentive Program, which helps property owners obtain property tax reductions for agreeing to keep a portion of rental units affordable for 10 years.

Learn how to apply here.

Applications will be accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis with a final deadline of January 8, 2020. Property owners are encouraged to apply early.

Since the launch of the program in May 2018, the Minneapolis 4d program has helped preserve over 700 affordable housing units through partnerships with more than 50 property owners. It is one of several strategies the City is deploying to address the affordable housing shortage in Minneapolis.

Program benefits

  • 10-year eligibility for 4d property tax rate, which provides a 40% tax rate reduction on qualifying units. The reduction is prorated so if you enroll 50% of the units in the building your reduction would be about 20%, etc.
  • Free or low-cost energy assessments and city cost sharing for solar energy installations and energy efficiency improvements.
  • A grant to each 4d property, in the amount of $100 per affordable unit, capped at $1,000 per property, as well as payment of document recording fees and first year State of Minnesota Low Income Rental Classification (LIRC) fees.


Owners of market-rate multifamily properties with two or more units, and a Tier 1 or 2 rental license are eligible to apply. At least 20 percent of the property’s rental units must be affordable to households making 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI).

Learn more about eligibility requirements

Property Owner Commitment

Record a 10-year affordability declaration on your property stating:

  • At least 20% of units at a property (e.g. 2 units at a 10-unit property) will remain affordable to households making 60% of AMI. You may enroll up to 100% of the units in the building. As of 2019, 60% AMI rents are $1,050 for a Studio, $1,125 for a 1 BR, $1,350 for a 2 BR, and $1,560 for a 3 BR.
  • Rent increases for tenants in affordable units are limited to 6% or less annually.
  • As units turn over, new tenants must have household incomes at or below 60% of AMI. In 2019, maximum incomes are $39,660 for one person; $45,300 for two people; $50,940 for three people; $56,580 for 4 people; $61,140 for 5 people.

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until January 8, 2020. Property owners are encouraged to apply early. For more information, please email or call 612-673-5055.


City Seeking Comment on Draft Plan to Remove Accessibility Barriers in Public Right of Way

The City of Minneapolis is seeking public comment on the draft Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Transition Plan for Public Works. The plan identifies priorities for removing accessibility barriers in the City’s public street right of way.

The City is accepting comments on the draft plan through December 27.

Find more information here about the draft ADA Transition Plan for Public Works. You can comment online or contact Kelsey Fogt at or 612-673-3885.

The City developed the draft ADA Transition Plan for Public Works through engagement with community stakeholders, including the Minneapolis Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities, the Minneapolis Pedestrian Advisory Committee, the Minneapolis Committee on Aging, partner agencies and two working groups of City staff.

Based on public input and ADA regulations and guidance, the draft ADA Transition Plan identifies and outlines recommendations for four types of infrastructure that impact accessibility for people walking or rolling in the public right of way: pedestrian curb ramps, accessible pedestrian signal systems, sidewalks and street crossings.

The plan is a supplemental plan to the City’s ADA Action Plan, a comprehensive policy document for the City of Minneapolis to comply with the Title II requirements of the ADA. It is being coordinated with the Minneapolis Transportation Action Plan, which will be released in draft form in early 2020. The Transportation Action Plan is a 10-year plan to implement the transportation visions outlined in Minneapolis 2040, the City’s comprehensive plan.


Critical Times for Democracy: Census & Election

Learn More at the Community Connections Conference on Saturday, February 1 from 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M.

Two significant moments for democracy are coming up soon. Connect with others in our community to discuss how the 2020 U.S. census and the 2020 presidential nominating primary election will affect you, your family and your community at the Community Connections Conference 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 1.

This conference is a free, public event that brings together residents of Minneapolis, community groups, neighborhoods and decision-makers to connect, learn and address community issues.

The theme for the 2020 Community Connections Conference is “We count,” a call to action to get involved in decision-making by getting counted in the U.S. census; voting; joining an advisory committee or neighborhood board; learning about important local issues and City policies such as housing, immigration and wage theft; or volunteering.

Find out more about the conference including breakout sessions, lunch vendors and exhibitors once information becomes available at:

Sign up here to be notified when registration opens.

About the census

April 1, 2020, is census day in the United States. This vital count of the population determines funding for important things such as schools and cities, as well as how many representatives we get in Congress. It is critical for everyone in Minneapolis to answer the census questionnaire, and we must work to ensure that no one goes uncounted because of fear, misinformation, language barriers or any other barriers. At the Community Connections Conference, you can learn about the census, how to get involved, how to complete the census, how we use its data, the challenges Minneapolis faces, and how we’re working to ensure that everyone counts in 2020.

2020 census jobs available

The U.S Census Bureau is recruiting to fill thousands of census positions in Hennepin County and has recently increased the hourly rate to $27.50 per hour.

Visit to earn extra income while helping your community.


Neighborhood Event Calendars

Want to know what's happening around Ward 3? Check out these event calendars!


If you need a reasonable accommodation to fully participate or if you need information in an alternative format, please contact 311 (612-673-3000). TTY users call 612-673-2157.

Para asistencia 612-673-2700 · Yog xav tau kev pab, hu 612-673-2800 · Hadii aad Caawimaad u baahantahay 612-673-3500

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