StarTribune Letters to the Editor, July 19, 2018

These letters were published in the StarTribune on July 19th, 2018.

In response to recent letters and commentaries regarding the Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan, I add the following.

No, City Council President Lisa Bender and planning director Heather Worthington, all the residents of the 10th Ward are not fine with what is happening there. Rather, as citizens throughout Minneapolis are now experiencing, 10th Ward residents who express concern or propose modifications are labeled as NIMBYs, racists, classists or, at best, alarmists or simply resistant to change. This justifies dismissing any questioning of city leaders — who, by the way, never informed the public during their recent campaigns of their eagerness to reshape the entire city.

At the July 11 VFW meeting, Worthington called the desire to preserve open and green spaces “white pastoralism.” Really? Is she actually suggesting that people of color have no need for trees, grass, plants and unpolluted lakes? Or that only white people care about the environment? Or that research showing the positive effect of nature on physical and mental health is merely a reflection of white privilege?

Beyond the particular issue of green spaces, the use of phrases like “white pastoralism” reflects the divisive strategies of Bender, Worthington and Mayor Jacob Frey. Every step of the way, the discussion has pitted old against young; renters against homeowners; long-term residents against new or anticipated ones; the able-bodied against those with disabilities; drivers against those who can walk, bike or bus to work, shopping, day care, school, or friends and family.

As we all know, the current tone in this country is characterized by polarization and demonization of the “other side” — and it puts our democracy at risk. I am beyond disheartened to see it play out in our city and be promoted by some city leaders.

Tamara Kaiser, Minneapolis

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I agree with Bruce A. Center’s comments in his “open inquiry to Minneapolis city officials” (Opinion Exchange, July 19). My wife and I bought our rundown home in south Minneapolis in 1972 when suburban developments continued to attract Minneapolis homeowners. The IDS tower dominated the skyline, and a burro grazed on the tall grass surrounding shabby houses on Nicollet Island.

We recently sold our much-improved house in a much-improved neighborhood after 46 years. During those years, bad city planning resulted in the Kmart development on Lake Street. More recently, for many of us, bad city planning resulted in the new Vikings stadium. Good city planning resulted in large improvements in city parks. We’re astounded and encouraged by the positive riverfront and greenway growth.

We’re dismayed by the development plans for our residential areas. The reasoning behind them appears disingenuous. Large areas of this city zoned for commercial development are single-story buildings or blacktop. Green those, if you really intend to green the city and provide additional housing. I refer you to the experts in affordable, modest, well-built homes — Habitat for Humanity. They’ll remind you that, nationwide, 1 million evictions a year occur in rental property — leaving people sitting on the curb with their possessions and a badly damaged credit rating.

Please focus more of your planning on supporting current residential housing. Include in that plan low-cost home-improvement loans.

Paul C. Pederson, Minneapolis

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Four scenarios not talked about in the 2040 Comprehensive Plan:

• Scenario 1: Affordable housing is defined as 60 percent of a living wage going to housing. What about families paying 40 or 50 percent of their wages to housing? They will not be able to apply for inclusionary housing under this definition, and development always drives up rents and housing prices. Displaced.

• Scenario 2: Young family has bought an affordable house, which is then reassessed for more worth because it’s near a transit line or in an area that is being redeveloped, causing taxes to go up, which the family can’t afford. Displaced.

• Scenario 3: Older person/persons bought a house when houses were affordable and paid off their mortgage. They are on a fixed income. Taxes go up, but they cannot afford to pay the increase, nor can they find a house or apartment in the neighborhood they can afford. Displaced.

• Scenario 4: Long-term renter has been in neighborhood for 30 years. His/her building upgrades to keep up with newer buildings, and taxes increase as well. Renters must absorb the increase. Displaced.

The democratic process of city planning is over in Minneapolis, a loss to all of us. In the past, neighborhoods had self-determination through the small-area plans that were then made into a larger comprehensive plan. The 2040 plan is top-down, designed by city planners and City Council members, a single vision for the whole city, a very Trumpian plan for a tragically Trumpian time.

Carol Dines, Minneapolis

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The narrative flaw in the housing policy in the Minneapolis 2040 Plan draft is that it pretends to promote racial and income diversity when it is only promoting housing-type diversity. While exclusionary tactics of white, single-family neighborhoods were part of the racist conspiracy to limit black mobility, making them accept fourplexes will not make them more racially or income diverse.

Rents and sale prices will be determined by the existing neighborhood market. They will be unaffected by construction cost savings or the modest expansion of the housing supply in the market area.

Increasing density and multifamily housing is a good idea, but the city should work with neighborhood residents to identify locations and strategies that allow more density but respect the positive qualities of the existing neighborhood.

Tim Mungavan, Minneapolis

The writer is a nonprofit developer.


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