This summer, we worked on the Minneapolis 2040 comprehensive plan. We shared why you might care about the plan. (tl;dr it shapes everything the City of Minneapolis does for the next 20 years). We shared why Our Streets Minneapolis cares about the plan. (tl;dr it guides how we build our communities, which determines whether Minneapolis is a city where biking, walking and rolling are easy and comfortable for everyone). We shared Our Streets’ priorities and asked you to comment on the draft plan.
The City received more than 10,000 comments on Version 1 of the plan, and you provided hundreds of the comments. So, what happened?
All images from https://minneapolis2040.com unless otherwise noted
The Long Range Planning staff at Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) heard your comments. On four of Our Streets Minneapolis’ five priorities, they strengthened the plan in Version 2. Thank you!
Here are the details of what changed for each of our five priorities:
1. We support the goals and priorities shaping the plan and feel it needs to go further
What's new: The plan keeps equity, sustainability, and welcoming people front and center.
The general direction stayed the same. Minneapolis 2040 focuses on equity, sustainability, and welcoming more people by allowing more homes. This draft goes further and is more explicit on tools to combat displacement.
2. We support the focus on more homes and complete neighborhoods
What's new: The focus remains largely intact, and it goes further to combat displacement.
It’s helpful to review what we said in our initial comments.
We support that the plan allows more homes in all parts of the city. That's part of creating complete neighborhoods. Complete neighborhoods are places where everyone can meet their basic needs in their own neighborhoods without driving.
As our population grows in Minneapolis, we have a shortage of homes. More housing is important to having enough space for people to live in Minneapolis. While more housing alone will not ensure affordable housing for everyone, we cannot achieve more affordable housing and less displacement of low-income people without allowing more homes in all neighborhoods.
This draft keeps its focus on complete neighborhoods. That's true, despite pulling back from fourplexes and lowering building heights along transit corridors in the parts of Minneapolis furthest to the north and south. Adding complete neighborhoods in the places that do the poorest job meeting people’s daily needs near those areas will be tougher. But on the plus side, the plan goes further to identify policies to combat displacement. It keeps the door open to innovative strategies, and it strengthens tenant protections. Overall, that’s a win.
Here are four specific improvements, quoted from the plan:
- Create strategies to retain naturally occurring affordable housing (NOAH) and existing housing types that are typically not constructed in the marketplace, such as, single room occupancy. [This is part of the anti-displacement additions.]
- Invest in the training and expansion of housing code enforcement to monitor and ensure owner-occupant and investment properties are meeting the standard of building maintenance and health conditions. [This is a tenant protect addition.]
- Review existing policies, programs, and regulations to identify and remove barriers to innovative, energy efficient, and creative housing options, such as multi-generational housing that supports large family structures.
- Explore ways to reconnect neighborhoods divided by freeways and highways.
3. We support building design requirements that make walking enjoyable and safe
What's new: The requirements are significantly improved!
Of our five priorities, the biggest improvement supports enjoyable and safe walking. We praised the “Pedestrian-Oriented Building and Site Design” policy in the first draft. This policy prioritizes people walking in the way we design buildings.
Here are some specific improvements in this draft, quoted from the plan.
- Encourage multiple storefront bays with direct connections to the sidewalk where active or commercial ground floor uses are required.
- Orient buildings and building entrances to the street. Encourage multiple entrances to multi-family residential buildings. The number of entrances in non-residential uses should increase in proportion to the length of the building and be located along main corridors or at the street corner.
- Discourage multiple curb cuts within a development for automobile passenger drop off and pick-up. Limit, consolidate, and narrow driveways on pedestrian routes. In addition, discourage driveway access on Service and Goods corridors.
- Encourage safe and convenient pedestrian connections through development sites and mid-block connections in the downtown core.
- Consider topography and site grading so snow melt is directed away from roads and pedestrian areas to avoid icy conditions.
4. We support the focus on walking, biking, and transit, but more details are needed to make it real
What's new: There are meaningful improvements, and untapped potential.
We are excited about the transformative vision offered in Minneapolis 2040. At Our Streets Minneapolis, we exist to support a “multimodal [transportation] network that prioritizes walking, biking and transit.”
"The policies are intended to achieve outcomes that increase equity in our transportation system, address climate change and reduce carbon emissions, improve human health through improved air quality and increases in active travel, and enable the movement of people, goods, and services across the city."
That is a vision that focuses on mobility and people. It starts with people-oriented public space, and makes sure we're accommodating the goods and services we need in a way that doesn't harm people. In our original post, we noted a gap between the vision and the plan. In the second draft, the details needed to achieve the transformation haven't been added, yet. It maintains an auto-focused system, incorporating walking, biking, and transit into that system.
And, there are some notable improvements, too! In particular, the Pedestrian policy added sidewalk winter maintenance, which is our biggest campaign at Our Streets Minneapolis. Here are two other improvements:
- Consider alternative funding options for public realm improvements to ensure that all areas of the city have opportunities to benefit. [This is critical for equitable street quality around the city.]
- Restore the street grid where appropriate, taking advantage of opportunities to restore the street grid when appropriate in conjunction with new development and through capital projects. Where restoring auto access is no longer feasible or aligned with other City plans, the City will pursue restoring streets for use by pedestrians, bicyclists, or transit users.
Some important details are still missing. Greenways are still only mentioned as part of parks, not part of transportation. There is still no mention of protected bikeways, nor a focus on a network of bikeways accessible to everyone.
We hope the details will be in the Transportation Action Plan that is under development right now.
5. It’s good Vision Zero is included, but it must be improved
What's new: Vision Zero is improved.
We supported including Vision Zero and the City’s goal to end traffic fatalities by 2027. However, we strongly advocated for eliminating enforcement as part of Vision Zero. Enforcement amplifies racial disparities. References to enforcement are gone.
It’s also true CPED removed most of the details related to this policy. That's because the details will be part of the Transportation Action Plan.
There are two public hearings scheduled, the first one a week from today. There’s also one last chance for online comment. Use at least one of those opportunities! Tell leaders you support the plan and want to see our transportation network prioritize biking, walking and transit.
From the 2040 site:
The revised draft of Minneapolis 2040 was released in Fall 2018 for consideration by the Planning Commission and City Council. Public comments can be submitted to the Planning Commission and City Council online.
The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on October 29, and the City Council will hold a public hearing the week of November 12. The City Council is expected to vote on the Comprehensive Plan in December before submitting the plan to the Metropolitan Council.
Scheduled Public Hearings
Monday, October 29, 2018 at 4:30 pm
City Hall, Room 317
350 S 5th St, Minneapolis, MN 55415
Week of November 12
Date, time, and location to be determined
What can you do?
- Show up to the public hearing. [wear something i.e. an Our Streets Minneapolis t-shirt?]
- Sign up to offer your comment. Use the comments above to draft your talking points.
- Submit your comments online before October 29th. Only one comment per person is permitted, so consider drafting what you want to say before you start.