Why Our Streets Minneapolis cares about Minneapolis 2040

The way we build our streets and neighborhoods shapes our days. It determines whether we have a real choice to walk, roll or bike as we run errands, go to work, or visit friends and family. It ups (or eliminates) the odds of bumping into our neighbors, or chatting with passers by.

All images from https://minneapolis2040.com unless otherwise noted

  • Are our neighborhoods complete, with access to employment, retail services, healthy food, parks, and other daily needs via walking, biking, and public transit?
  • Can all Minneapolis residents afford and have access to a quality home throughout the city?
  • Do people of color and indigenous peoples feel safe [re: police and from crime] in every neighborhood? Is the air safe to breathe in every neighborhood so human-powered travel is safe?
  • Does a well-designed physical environment in Minneapolis foster positive interactions? Does it promote commerce, pedestrian activity, safety, and health?

These are questions Our Streets Minneapolis works on.

And, the answer in each case comes back to how we have built and continue to shape our communities (and a whole host of related policies). As a City, the Minneapolis 2040 comprehensive plan will be our instruction book for the next 20 years. The plan we adopt will guide what and where and how we approve new buildings. Not sure what Minneapolis 2040 is or how it affects you? Check out this intro.

The final adopted Minneapolis 2040 plan will directly impact Our Streets Minneapolis. Here, we share what parts of the plan are important to our work. Before I outline them, here’s a review of our mission and vision, and what Minneapolis 2040 aims to achieve.

Our Streets Mission/Vision

Our Streets Minneapolis works for a city where biking, walking, and rolling are easy and comfortable for everyone.

We envision a city where:

  • Biking, walking, and rolling are easy and joyful for people of all backgrounds and identities in all parts of Minneapolis.
  • Streets and trails are vibrant community spaces with people walking and biking year-round and at all times.
  • Kids and families feel safe and comfortable walking and biking to neighborhood schools, parks, and businesses;
  • Older adults and people with mobility challenges are healthy, independent, and connected with their communities through streets and sidewalks designed for them; and
  • Abundant biking and walking contributes to happy people, a healthy environment, and a strong economy.

 

Minneapolis 2040 vision

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. The draft covers topics such as housing, job access, the design of new buildings, and how we use our streets. As the city grows, everyone must benefit from that growth. Historically, not everyone has. This draft plan is one opportunity to undo barriers and overcome inequities created by a history of policies in our city that have prevented equitable access to housing, jobs, and investments.

Overlap and Agreement

There’s a lot we support in the Minneapolis 2040 draft.

Critically, the 2040 plan actively works toward racial equity. And Our Streets prioritizes “people of all backgrounds in all parts of the city” in our work, and offers more details in our equity statement. With racial equity as core to Our Streets work, we support that focus in the plan. It’s the right thing to do and it is critical to our shared future.

Three 2040 Goals, Reduce Disparities, Complete Neighborhoods, and High-quality Physical Environment, match Our Streets goals. Two topics, Transportation and Land Use and Built Form read as though we were plan advisors (we were not). Under these goals and topics, 2040 includes strong policies that align with Our Streets positions. Because they reflect Our Streets mission and reinforce our success, we support for the intent of these policies.

As always, though, there are details that could be better. We invite members and supporters to join us reviewing the details of these policies to identify specific comments. As an example, the Vision Zero policy includes enforcement measures that reinforce racial disparities. We will comment (and we encourage you to comment) that enforcement be removed from that policy. To join the people reviewing and drafting comments for the policies supporting these goals and topics, please e-mail ethan@ourstreetsmpls.org

We care about housing, too

The 2040 draft plan highlights the rising cost of renting and owning a home in Minneapolis. The plan pays particular attention to the impact of rising home costs on residents of color and indigenous people as one of our biggest challenges, in part because of large income disparities.

Housing access matters whatever your lens. Employers can’t attract employees if workers can’t find homes. Kids struggle in school when their families struggle to stay in their home or with homelessness.

Our Streets focus on pedestrian advocacy gives us a unique lens on housing issues. Anyone who walks or rolls knows that distance is critical to accessibility. A couple blocks matter in a very different way to people walking than it does to people who drive or even ride a bike. As walking and rolling advocates, abundant homes with proximity to jobs, amenities, transit, and green space is crucial.

As pedestrian advocates, we are working for a city where walking is easy, safe, and convenient. Making it easy to walk down sidewalks in the winter and safe to cross the street isn’t enough. We must ensure more people have places to live close to the things we want to walk to. We must also build the things we want to walk to in more neighborhoods across the city. Walking shouldn’t be a viable transportation option only in the most amenity-rich south and southwest neighborhoods of Minneapolis; it must be possible in every corner of the city.

Housing access also matters to us because housing policies created and reinforce our racial disparities. We actively seek and listen to diverse perspectives beyond our membership. We heard the imperative they place - and they ask us to place - on proactively addressing the threats of displacement and rising costs. These pressures are greatest in historically disinvested neighborhoods. Policymakers used redlining, racial covenants, and low-density zoning to exclude people. They created the wealthy, white neighborhoods of south and southwest Minneapolis by excluding people of color. Today, displacement pressures in less expensive neighborhoods are driven by the same land use policies. If we as a city want to ensure people can stay in their communities, we must do two things. First, we must identify proactive anti-displacement policies. Second, we must insist historically exclusive neighborhoods welcome their share of population growth. We must dismantle race-based exclusionary zoning.

Given Our Streets Minneapolis' priorities, the draft Minneapolis 2040 plan is headed in the right direction. (Thank you Minneapolis 2040 team!) BUT, it doesn’t go far enough. It must explicitly address displacement pressures and neighborhood disparities created by past racially-based policies. As the comprehensive planning process moves forward, we commit to partnering with others who are also advancing equity in housing.

Image credit Alex Cecchini


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