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Mis-information on Density

Jack Zipes, a Southwest resident, asked us to post this letter which he submitted to the Star Tribune editorial board in response to the paper’s June 18 Editorial about Density.

Correcting Mis-Information about Urban Density
The writers of the June 18 editorial “Urban density brings variety and vitality” should hang their heads in shame for their offensive remarks and demeaning attitude toward people living in neighborhoods affected by the proposed 2040 plans to shape Minneapolis like New York City and other large metropolitan cities in the States. Moreover, the claims made in this editorial are misleading and ignorant.

I am an ex-New Yorker and a professor emeritus of the University of Minnesota. I am also the son of a wealthy New York real-estate speculator who loved to pull the wool over citizens and investors to enrich himself and his company. This is one reason why I never joined his company, and it is another reason why I moved to Minneapolis where I have lived for the past thirty years and have come to love the democratic way neighborhoods have developed their own character, customs, and government.

Unfortunately, all this has changed, and city politicians along with homegrown and out-of-state real estate speculators have used their power to homogenize and gentrify neighborhoods. The sham meetings held by the city councilors under the authoritarian rule of the council president to discuss the 2040 plans have been organized to give their actions a semblance of democracy while essentially the deal is done: density has already arrived, and the Star Tribune blindly and foolishly declares without any facts that “the case for density is a no-brainer.” The advantages, this newspaper claims, are less driving and more walking, biking, and transit-riding; more efficient use of utilities and infrastructure; better environment, less energy consumption, cost savings, and marketing appeal, more investments and diversity.

Well, I like to use my brain a good deal, and what I have already seen and experienced in the Uptown neighborhood, where I live is: more driving, less parking spaces, rare biking and often irresponsible biking on pot-holed streets; more and more congestion that cause greater pollution; less diversity, variety, and vitality because the new glitzy apartment buildings are too expensive for people of color and lower-middle class people including students; disappearance of small shops and growth of corporate businesses; less funds for schools and poor facilities for older people; higher rents and less affordability.

What is most disturbing is that our own councilor, Lisa Bender, refuses to have honest meetings with the ECCO neighborhood to discuss how we might contribute to the future planning of our neighborhood. Decisions are made top down, and we are compelled to live with them as laws and zoning are twisted in favor of speculators. Perhaps the members of the Star Tribune editorial should come and live in Uptown for a while to understand what is really happening to my neighborhood and others throughout the city. We are not alone. Fortunately, we no-brainers do have the smarts to resist the dishonesty of councilors and speculators.

Jack Zipes, Minneapolis

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