I think a lot about the future of our city. Will we choose to address our worst-in-nation racial disparities? Will we plan proactively for our changing climate? Will we invest heavily enough in safe transportation choices that everyone has real choices? If we don't, what does that mean for our children's health, access to opportunity, and lives?
That's the reason I advocate for a better city. I'm thinking 20 years out, doing my part to shift from old habits to calling out racist policies and creating a community equitable for every single person.
That's also why I think Minneapolis' Comprehensive Plan, branded Minneapolis 2040 is important. It's our city envisioning the future we want, planning a path to get us there -- and inviting all of us who live, work, or play to weigh in.
So, what's the big deal with the plan?
Every 10 years, Minneapolis writes a Comprehensive Plan
The City of Minneapolis is in the middle of writing an ambitious comprehensive plan. It sets a vision for the next 20 years. This version focuses on addressing two critical challenges: racial disparities and climate change.
Called the “comp plan,” this massive document guides policy and projects over the next decade. It covers everything from transportation, housing, and job access, to arts & culture, parks, and technology (here’s the full list of topics).
Required by state law, the Metropolitan Council oversees the process, and it takes years. City staff began working on this version in 2016. They get input from neighborhoods, community organizations, leaders, and the general public to make sure they are addressing the needs of the City. They also get a lot of input from elected officials, particularly the mayor and the City Council. (source)
Why does the plan matter?
Minneapolis 2040 will be the roadmap for many aspects of the City’s work for the next ten years. Minneapolis has a long history of delivering on it's comp plan priorities, so we want to set them right! It is especially important around how new development happens in Minneapolis. New development proposals are evaluated and approved, adjusted, or rejected based on the framework of the comprehensive plan. Zoning, which regulates the use and form of buildings in the city, will be changed to align with the comprehensive plan.
For transportation, the Minneapolis 2040 plan provides the broad framework that Public Works will use for its more detailed Access Minneapolis plan, which they will be working on this and next year.
Here is one example of ways the comp plan impacts things related to walking and biking. There's a policy titled “Pedestrian-Oriented Building and Site Design.”
The image shows some action steps under the policy, like:
- prohibiting new drive-throughs and gas stations,
- expanding zoning regulations and incentives that promote bicycling,
- requiring active uses on the ground floor of new buildings with direct connections to the sidewalk.
What the draft plan says
“Minneapolis is growing, and will continue to grow. Done right, this new growth can help our city become a healthy, sustainable, and thriving place for all. Minneapolis 2040 is a draft Comprehensive Plan that shapes how the city will grow and change.”
Minneapolis 2040 offers an explicit vision of connected, complete neighborhoods throughout the city. In it, people can meet their daily needs through walking, biking, and transit. Well designed streets and buildings make it pleasant to walk, bike and roll to parks, groceries, schools. Embedded in every part of that vision is the foundation of actions that tackle climate change and racial disparities. The Minneapolis 2040 draft is a set of interlocking pieces that work at many levels. There’s a very big vision, a supporting set of 14 goals, 97 policies, and each policy has action steps.
Examples of topics relevant to our work
The plan is organized around a list of ambitious goals the City Council approved in a 2017 vote. They reflect values that are emerging in our city and frame a vision of how our city will look in 20 years. Our Streets Minneapolis is pleased that our priorities are highlighted in the plan. For example:
- Complete neighborhoods: In 2040, all Minneapolis residents will have access to employment, retail services, healthy food, parks, and other daily needs via walking, biking, and public transit.
Reduce disparities: In 2040, Minneapolis will have significantly reduced economic, housing, safety, and health disparities among people of color and indigenous peoples compared with white people.
Minneapolis is actively seeking comment on the draft plan. And it is a DRAFT. They're participating in more than 100 meetings around the city answering questions. Go to a meeting. Comment online. Every policy has a comment box asking for your thoughts. Let them know what you like, and suggest ways to make other things better!
And if you know of opportunities where you'd like Our Streets to voice support for Minneapolis 2040 or have suggestions for how Our Streets should engage around Minneapolis 2040, please let us know.