Ward 12 Newsletter

Council Member Andrew Johnson

February/March 2023

Updates from Andrew

Snow Emergency declared

A snow emergency was declared today, which means the winter parking restrictions go off and the Snow Emergency rules take over. When we are complete with the snow emergency then winter parking restrictions will be back in place. Thank you to Public Works crews who are already out there working to clear the snow!

Ward 12 candidate forum

Please join us in two weeks on Wednesday, March 8th, from 6:30pm-8:30pm at Lake Nokomis Community Center (2401 E Minnehaha Pkwy) for a public forum with candidates running to represent you on the City Council!

This is a non-partisan event hosted in partnership with our three neighborhood associations that is open to all candidates who have so far announced their intentions to run and who have filed an initial campaign report. As the outgoing Council Member in my final term, I encourage you to get to know all candidates, learn more about their positions on various issues, and share your feedback with them so that you can help shape the future representation of our ward through civic engagement. Hope to see you there! You can find more details, RSVP, or live stream the event here.

Sidewalk snow and ice

As a winter city, a perennial topic is poor sidewalks conditions. They are outright dangerous and difficult to navigate this time of year, and just one person not shoveling can make a block impassable for many. I’ve worked on this issue over the years, from leading efforts to study the option of the City assuming all sidewalk responsibilities, to successfully securing annual educational mailers and the start of proactive enforcement. Yet we know more needs to be done.

A staff direction that includes getting updated high-level numbers for City-led sidewalk clearing passed through committee last week. While I support updating cost projections, I don't believe we should implement citywide municipal clearing at this time. The City struggles as is with clearing 1,100 miles of streets within 72 hours after a significant snowfall. Clearing more than 2,000 miles of sidewalks in less than 24 hours and to better condition than roads would truly require an army of dedicated workers. We already know it would be a tremendous cost, equivalent to building hundreds of units of housing each year. And it wouldn’t free residents from their responsibilities to shovel everything else.

Given that random sampling found 95% of households in compliance with their sidewalk clearing responsibilities, a better approach would be to target the 5% who aren’t. That means 1) implementing regular citywide proactive enforcement, 2) immediate engagement of property owners who are out of compliance, 3) additional support programs for the instances where residents truly need it, 4) piloting an easy opt-in contractor clearing option for residents who don’t want to shovel, and 5) improving service delivery for existing City responsibilities, including corner-clearing. By taking this commonsense approach, we can ensure a sidewalk network that is safe and accessible year-round.

Roof Depot

The Roof Depot building in East Phillips, a community historically burdened by pollution, was approved for demolition as part of the Public Works campus expansion in what was the final vote for the City Council on this matter. Since the very beginning I stood with residents and EPNI (the neighborhood association) in seeking a choice for the community between either purchasing the full Roof Depot building from the City (at cost) or receiving three acres for the community’s vision of an indoor urban farm. After years of effort and many setbacks, last summer, campus expansion was paused, and the community was finally given that choice. While an imperfect choice, like is often the case, community representatives ultimately made the decision not to buy the building and to instead take the three acres. Thus, campus expansion efforts resumed.

Unfortunately, a deal between the City and community fell apart based on the fine details. Undeterred, I worked with Council Member Chavez, who represents East Phillips, and two leading EPNI representatives to revive efforts for a deal while the City continued working on campus expansion. After months of negotiations with the Mayor and his administration, we all came to agreement on an amended deal which will provide many benefits for the community, including: the three acres of land, City support in pursuit of funding to build the indoor urban farm, a jobs training center for the community, traffic calming and tree planting throughout the neighborhood, prioritizing rollout of electric vehicles (EV) for the adjacent Public Works campus, and more.

Despite their representatives supporting the amended deal, the full EPNI board has not signed off on it, and there were many activists and some residents who showed up to the Council meeting to oppose the demolition vote. Some have raised concerns of arsenic being spread from demolition and harming public health; on this, I have reviewed the data, additional evidence-based research, and mitigation plans, and I do not believe such concerns are founded, despite my sympathies to the real anxiety held by those raising this concern. Others are opposed to demolition because they are concerned about additional vehicle traffic (and thus emissions) associated with the expanded campus; while I understand this perspective, many alternative uses would generate similar traffic volumes, and the amended deal will address net emissions via EV rollout, traffic calming, and tree planting. Meanwhile, any further significant delays to the campus expansion would have cost taxpayers millions of dollars and still have resulted in the campus expansion proceeding.

Given all of this, I supported demolition of the building, even though I know it was a disappointment to some. I will continue efforts to assist with the broader community concerns, including ongoing work to address other pollution sources within the community.

Two additional updates

Good news! Lake Hiawatha will be getting a new litter collection system this summer. The system will connect to the stormwater pipe and capture litter that flows down the pipe from the roadways. We will also be receiving recommendations later this spring from my staff direction for permanent infrastructure fixes to address litter and water quality impacts from the stormwater system.

And finally, as Intergovernmental Relations Chair, I want to share my excitement for all the work happening over at the State Capitol this legislative session. There is an energy in the air with the current "trifecta" of power between the House, Senate, and Governor's Office. We have seen important work moving forward on every front. This includes helping the City of Minneapolis reduce the $1 billion dollars of remaining taxpayer obligations for U.S. Bank Stadium. Funding critical statewide assets, such as major bridges, stormwater infrastructure, and emergency training facilities. And passing bills such as transitioning to 100% renewable energy statewide by 2040 and Drivers Licenses for All. I want to thank in particular our Minneapolis delegation members, including Ward 12’s Senator Mohamed and Representatives Greenman and Sencer-Mura for their tireless leadership at the Capitol. I look forward to bringing you more updates from the City’s perspective as the session continues.

Wishing you the best,

~ Andrew

Community Calendar

Lottery to buy $30 trees now open through March 31


Minneapolis property owners can now enter a lottery any time through March 31 to buy a $30 tree for their Minneapolis property. The tree sale is so popular, a lottery will determine who can buy a tree this spring. The City will offer 2,000 5- to 8-foot shade, fruit, evergreen and flowering trees.

One entry is allowed per Minneapolis address.

Those selected in the lottery will get an email in April with the date when they can order.

Those who buy a tree can pick it up May 20, 21 or 22 (subject to change). The location is to be determined and will be emailed to people who bought a tree.

In the past 18 years, the City Trees program has provided more than 25,000 trees for planting on private property. Since 2006, the City of Minneapolis has funded the City Trees program, a low-cost way for folks to help the city’s tree canopy grow and enjoy all the benefits of trees.

Benefits of trees

Trees help clean the air and reduce outdoor temperatures in the summer. They save energy and lower utility bills by providing shade in the summer and protecting against wind in the winter. Trees reduce the amount of stormwater runoff into lakes and rivers. They even help reduce stress. Larger trees provide more benefits than smaller trees.

To register for the lottery, see what kinds of trees will be offered and get more information on the program, visit mpls-tree-sale.myshopify.com.

Keep sidewalks, garbage and recycling carts, fire hydrants clear of snow and ice


Please clear your sidewalk of snow and ice all winter to keep Minneapolis accessible for everyone. In Minneapolis, around 10-15 snow events each year from freezing rain to blizzards cover sidewalks with snow or ice and make it difficult to pass. Many in our city rely on the sidewalks to get to work, school, errands, appointments and more.

One- and two-family dwellings have 24 hours after the snow stops to clear their sidewalks. All other properties must have clear sidewalks within four hours. If you don’t clear your sidewalk, you could get a warning letter and bill from the City to remove snow from your sidewalk. A typical bill is $229.

Resources are available for people who are unable to shovel or clear their sidewalks. Several for-hire contractors and a few nonprofit organizations can help. If you need help, you can call 311 to find the best match in your area.

Visit the City website for more information and resources or to report an issue.

You can check the status of uncleared sidewalk snow and ice cases in Minneapolis using the City's interactive dashboard.

Garbage pickup reminder: shovel around your carts

Remember to shovel out your garbage, recycling and organics carts. If the collection crew cannot easily wheel your carts to the truck, they cannot empty them. Clear away snow or ice and the crew will empty your carts on your next collection day.

Please do not shovel snow into the alley or street as it makes collection more difficult for our crews, it makes maneuvering through alleys difficult for you and your neighbors, and it’s not allowed under City ordinance.

Fire reminder: shovel out your fire hydrant

A buried fire hydrant can cost firefighters valuable seconds. With more than 8,000 hydrants in Minneapolis, can you be a hero and help Minneapolis firefighters by clearing a 3-foot path around your nearest fire hydrant? Find your nearest hydrant.

Appointments no longer required for animal adoptions


Minneapolis Animal Care & Control no longer requires appointments for animal adoptions. Appointments had been required since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anyone wishing to adopt can visit the shelter at 212 17th Ave. N. from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. They will be partnered with a staff member or a volunteer “matchmaker” to help them find the right pet.

Vaccinations and other services performed by Animal Care & Control will continue to require appointments. Those appointments can be made online or by calling 311.

Minneapolis Animal Care & Control works with residents to create safe and healthy communities for people and animals. Its staff includes two veterinarians, three veterinary technicians, four animal care technicians and a dozen animal control officers who, among other things, rescue animals, enforce laws pertaining to animal welfare and investigate animal crimes. In addition to staff, volunteers spent more than 7,000 hours of their time working with animals at the shelter.

Find more information on adopting animals, volunteering and supporting Animal Care & Control on the City website.

Save the date: 2023 Community Connections Conference scheduled for June 10


Save the date. The Community Connections Conference is planned for 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, June 10. This yearly event brings together residents of Minneapolis, community groups, neighborhood groups and local government.

The conference will be held in the Minneapolis Convention Center, lower level, Hall A.

Last year's conference featured dance, music, kids’ activities, food, community conversations about interesting topics, and more than 100 exhibits. Details about the 2023 conference are coming soon.

Find more information as it develops on the City website.

Ride with Metro Transit for $1 with the Transit Assistance Program

Metro Transit Customer Relations

Metro Transit’s Transit Assistance Program helps make public transit more affordable for people with lower incomes. The program provides a yearlong reduced fare pass on a Go-To Card. Customers can use a bus or train for just $1 per ride – even during rush hour – with a two-and-a-half-hour transfer.

Signing up is easy

  1. Apply or renew online or at an in-person location.
  2. Show an identity document with your name and address and an accepted document (see details on the Metro Transit website) to show that you meet the income guidelines.
  3. Once approved, you’ll get the discount pass added to a new Go-To Card or your existing card – then just add value and go.

Watch a video about how to apply and find more information on the Metro Transit website

Find free or discounted internet

You might be eligible for free or low-cost internet services. The City is partnering with local providers to help make the internet more accessible.

Resources include:

  • Discounted internet for household use.
  • Free temporary internet access at Wi-Fi hotspots.
  • Free internet access to public sector information including City, County and State resources.
  • Low-cost computers.
  • Public computer access.
  • Personal help from a “digital navigator.”

Call 311, email 311 or look on the City website to find details, a list of resources and how to find out if you qualify for different internet services programs.

To help others find these resources, Hennepin County has developed flyers in four languages to share.

The Affordable Connectivity Program helps households pay for internet service and get a discount on a device. Find out if you qualify for the program on the Hennepin County website.

Protection from utilities being shut off, help with utility costs

Minnesota has three ways to protect people from utility shutoffs during the winter: the Cold Weather Rule, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Programs and the Gas Affordability Program.

The Cold Weather Rule is a Minnesota law that prevents heat disconnections during the winter months with payment arrangements. The Cold Weather Rule protects customers from having electric or natural gas shut off between Oct. 1 and April 30. More information is available in English, Español/Spanish, Soomaali/Somali and Hmoob/Hmong.

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program helps income-qualified households with heating and cooling energy costs, bill payment assistance, energy crisis assistance, weatherization and energy-related home repairs by awarding grants. This program is open to people who rent or own their home. Applications are available in multiple languages. Eligible applicants will also qualify to have the additional cost of a winter storm surcharge removed from their gas bills. The City of Minneapolis is encouraging anyone who may qualify to apply for assistance, even if you have applied in previous years and didn’t receive funding. For example, a family of four making $55,500 or less would qualify.

The Gas Affordability Program is a State-mandated program available to residential customers who have received assistance from the Energy Assistance Program since Oct. 1 this year. It helps with gas utility bills based on a percentage of household income spent on heating and helps resolve late or incomplete bills.


Contact Information

Please do not hesitate to contact me if there is anything I can help you with. You can reach me by email, phone, and on social media.


Neighborhood Organizations

Request accessible format

If you need help with this information, please email 311, or call 311 or 612-673-3000.

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