The City released its revised 2040 Comprehensive Plan on Friday. Then the website went down for much of the weekend. Hopefully it is back up by the time you read this.
If you want to read the revised plan — Draft 2, it is available at the same website, www.minneapolis2040.com. There is a PDF on the front page, top upper left, but it is just the new plan and not a marked-up version of Draft 1. If you want marked-up pages, so you can see the old text and the proposed new text together, you have to go to each of the 93 policy pages. (There are 93 policies and each one has its own page. Sigh.)
So what has changed? Not much.
Draft 2 still up-zones the whole city. What this means is that the plan changes current zoning so any single-family home can be replaced with higher density without any needed sign-off from the City. This also means that any single-family home can be replaced with higher density without any input from the community. Our voice gets completely cut out of the process.
For the grey part of the City on the map on the right, nothing changed from the first draft of the plan. The up-zoning to fourplexes remains.
In Draft 2, the brown parts on the map can have single family homes demolished and replaced with triplexes, instead of the fourplexes specified in Draft 1. This change was not made because of public opposition to triplexes. This change was made because fourplexes trigger the Americans with Disabilities Act, which means that fourplexes would have to have at least one accessible unit, making them cost-prohibitive. You can read about this under Policy 1 or on Page 102 of the PDF.
Areas with More People of Color Get Denser Zoning
And if you note that the parts of the City with large portions of white people are treated better than those parts of the City that have concentrations of people of color, you would be right.
Much of Minneapolis was built on a transit grid, which means that almost no house is more than four blocks from a transit route. This means out of eight streets, one is a most likely a transit route and two streets are adjacent to that transit route. You can see this density of transit routes on the map to the left. Draft 1 allowed towers of up to 10 stories on transit routes and up to six stories one block off any transit route. For areas south of 38th Street and above Lowry (the brown part of the map above), the plan was changed to allow only four-story buildings on transit routes and only two-and-a-half stories on streets next to transit routes. For the areas above 38th (the grey area in the above map), nothing changed.
Again, the parts of the City with high concentrations of people of color are treated worse than those with high concentrations of white people.
Residential Streets Become Commercial Streets
There are also quite a number of streets that are mostly residential that are zoned to become commercial streets. These are mostly streets that have commercial nodes that the City wants to turn into full commercial streets. They include all of Cedar Avenue S., all of Chicago Avenue S., all of 50th S., west of Lyndale, all of Penn Avenue N., all of Fremont Avenue N., all of Johnson N.E. and other streets beyond these. Businesses could move in on these streets and other streets even though the block is completely residential. Residents would have no say or ability to stop a business moving in next to them. These streets are shown with dotted lines. The map above shows these streets for a portion of south Minneapolis. If you want to see if you would be affected, go to the built form map here: https://minneapolis2040.com/topics/land-use-built-form/. If you go to the larger map, these lines disappear.
Rivers and Lakes Lose Protection
Chapter 11 calls for rewriting the Minneapolis Shoreland Overlay District. The Shoreland Overlay ordinance, written to comply with State Statute, says that you can’t build more than two-and-a-half stories within 1,000 feet of our City’s lakes or the Mississippi River. The Mississippi overlay area is part of a 72-mile-long district that restricts building right next to the river to preserve its vistas and protect birds. We have already been told that this is going to be rewritten to allow for much higher buildings along the river and also around the lakes.
Neighborhood Plans Are Overruled
The small area plans, the plans that neighbors help put together for how their neighborhoods develop, are gone in both drafts. According to the Comp Plan, “portions are incorporated” into the new plan. What that really means is they are ignored — basically eliminated. You can read more about this on page 248 of the PDF version. This basically takes away neighborhoods’ input on how their own neighborhoods develop and turns it over to developers to choose how their neighborhood will look and feel.
Purposely Make It Hard to Drive
Regarding transportation, Draft 2 is more aggressively anti-driving than Draft 1. The first draft prioritized transportation modes for the physically fit: “walking first, followed by bicycling and transit use, and lastly motor vehicle use.” It said streets are to be narrowed. Minimum requirements for off-street parking are be eliminated. Under Draft 2, no project has to provide any parking. A business moves in next to your house? It doesn’t have to provide parking for its patrons. The new draft (Policy 6) prohibits the establishment of any new gas stations, and in some areas, auto repair shops. Policy 10 talks about making some streets unavailable for use by automobiles. Policy 19 talks about minimizing curb cuts for drivers turning out of business parking lots or garages because they “hinder bicycle comfort.” (I can’t make this up — those are the literal words.) It doesn’t matter to the City if a business needs employees or customers to be able to get to it, or if a resident needs access to a garage.
The City is already working on the implementation of the transportation policies through its Transportation Action Plan, despite the Comprehensive Plan not being done. If you haven’t seen the planning for the new Transportation Action Plan, you should know that it has chapters for biking and walking and transit but literally has no chapter for travel by automobile. Today, 85 percent of travel in Minneapolis is done by automobile but the City refuses to plan for it. Don’t believe me? This is the link to the plan: http://www.minneapolismn.gov/publicworks/gompls/index.htm
You can take the survey about why you don’t walk, bike or take transit here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/gompls .
Eliminate Neighborhood Organizations
Draft 2 retains a chapter that lays the groundwork for eliminating neighborhood groups. In Goal 14 planners talk about the need to engage citizens — but. what they do is quite different. In fact, they publicly acknowledge that while preparing the plan, they intentionally excluded neighborhood groups and other organizations that didn’t agree with their vision. This is part of the effort to end neighborhood organizations in Minneapolis. The City has strangled neighborhoods of their funding over the last four years, and now there are plans to defund them completely over the next two. This just concentrates more power in the hands of City Hall and silences the voices of citizens.
What You Can Do
You do have the opportunity to comment on the new draft. Comments on the plan are being taken online at the www.minneapolis2040.com website. You have to follow the “How to Comment” instructions to leave a comment. If you leave a comment, note that only one comment is going to be accepted per computer so say everything you want to in your one post. Definitely do this.
You can also comment at a Planning Commission public hearing on October 29, and a City Council hearing the week of November 12. Times and locations have not yet been posted.
But honestly, the best thing to do is to contact your council member and tell them how angry you are that you were not listened to. If you follow the link below, you can find your council member.
The final vote will be December 7th. Aptly.
After 10,000 comments – the overwhelming majority negative – pretty much nothing has changed. There are a few bones for the privileged but by and large, the vast majority of people’s comments were ignored. People should be angry because what they want from their government doesn’t matter. Don’t believe me. Look at the Plan. www.minneapolis2040.com