City of Minneapolis sent this bulletin at 03/29/2021 04:46 PM CDT
News from Cam Gordon
Council Member, Second Ward
A Minneapolis Green New Deal. Please join the Ward 2 Forum on a Minneapolis Green New Deal, on Tuesday, March 30, at 6:30pm. In recent years I have been working with others to equitably fight climate change and we have laid the foundation for a coordinated and equitable approach in Minneapolis. We have approved a Climate Action plan, established Green Zones, formed a Clean Energy Partnership, created a Green Cost Share program, passed a Climate Emergency declaration, set clean energy goals, and identified a Social or true Cost of Carbon. Now we are moving forward with our Energy Disclosure ordinance that will be implemented this fall, Inclusive Financing, and a proposed District Energy system in the Towerside area. What do you think a Minneapolis Green New Deal needs in order to be successful? How could we put a fair price on carbon pollution to fight climate change while equitably investing in helping people save energy, creating green jobs, promoting clean energy and reducing energy costs at the same time? Here’s the link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82033781369.
Follow-up Block Conversations about the Future of Community Safety. Last fall, I organized more than twenty small group conversations, across Ward 2 communities, about the future of community safety in Minneapolis. Hundreds of people attended, and they shared their hopes, fears, and ideas for alternative responses to calls for help. In the few months since we met, my staff reviewed and grouped the hundreds of comments we heard into some broad themes. We are hosting another set of these small group conversations to report back about what we heard last year, the impact of this feedback on the 2021 budget, and possible next steps. These include the public safety charter amendments, proposed amendments to our civilian police oversight system, and continuing community engagement on the future of community safety. I am also willing to organize meetings with groups that didn’t have a block conversation last fall. If you would like to set up a small group meeting on your block, please email my Policy Aide Robin Garwood at email@example.com.
Roof Depot Hiawatha Public Works Expansion. Many people have been contacting me about this project that will be coming up next month when the Council will review an Environmental Assessment Worksheet. I opposed the original action for the City to move forward with purchasing the Roof Depot site. Since then, I led the effort to create environmental justice Green Zones, including one on the south side that includes this site and the surrounding neighborhood. I think that between that action, the recent actions by the Council to declare racism a public health emergency and to start a process for racial truth and reconciliation in Minneapolis, the time has come to end the City’s efforts to turn this site into a public works facility. I am working with the Council Member from that area, Alondra Cano, and other colleagues, to put forward a motion at next month’s committee meeting to stop the demolition, end this part of the project, and start the process of selling this land for another use that would have more community support. You can find the EAW at https://www2.minneapolismn.gov/business-services/planning-zoning/environmental-assessments-worksheets/pw-hiawatha-facility-expansion/
Minneapolis COVID-19 Cases. As of March 26, in Minneapolis there have been 34,205 total positive cases of COVID-19, 2,382 people hospitalized, and 401 people who have died because of the virus. March 11 marked the one-year anniversary of the first case in Minneapolis and March 27 marked the anniversary of our first death. This sad memory was commemorated with several city actions including a special lighting of the 35W bridge, ringing of bells and a mayoral proclamation.
New Vaccination Web Tool. The City has a new web tool to help residents find information in multiple languages on the current status of the vaccination rollout, what to expect when getting the vaccine, and the safety of getting a vaccine. It provides up-to-date status of the phased vaccination rollout and shows which groups of people are being vaccinated now and which groups are next. Find the City’s new COVID-19 vaccine web tool at https://coronavirus-vaccine-outreach-cityoflakes.hub.arcgis.com/.
Free COVID-19 Tests. The City of Minneapolis is offering free COVID-19 saliva tests. Testing is encouraged and available to everyone, whether or not you have symptoms. It’s one of the best ways to stop the spread of COVID-19 and help prevent exposing your loved ones to the virus along with wearing masks correctly, keeping 6 feet from anyone you don’t live with and handwashing. Find a current list of free COVID-19 tests at https://www2.minneapolismn.gov/government/programs-initiatives/coronavirus/
Free and Affordable Food. There are many places to get local, affordable or free emergency food in Minneapolis. Find a map and hours of food shelves and food distribution pop-ups for emergency food in Minneapolis at http://www2.minneapolismn.gov/sustainability/homegrown/WCMSP-185913
Chauvin Trial Plans. The City, with partners from the county, state and other local law enforcement agencies, has made extensive preparations for the trial of Derek Chauvin, that started in March. Some buildings downtown, especially the government buildings including the Government Center and City Hall, have extensive physical barriers put up around them and some streets downtown near the Government Center are closed. You can learn more at the City’s Trial Support and Safety webpage at https://www.minneapolismn.gov/government/programs-initiatives/trial-support-safety/
Operation Safety Net. A collection of law enforcement agencies called Operation Safety Net (OSN) has been formed to “ensure everyone can safely have their voices heard before, during and after the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was charged in George Floyd’s death.” Its mission is to “Preserve and protect lawful First Amendment non-violent protests and demonstrations. Prevent large scale violent civil disturbances, assaultive actions, property damage, fires, and looting to government buildings, businesses, and critical infrastructure. The OSN has its own website at https://safetynet.mn.gov/Pages/about.aspx where public information is posted as well as various social media sites, including at https://www.facebook.com/MNOperationSafetyNet. Members of the OSN hold weekly media briefings Mondays at 2:00pm appearing on YouTube at https://youtu.be/Wbsv20ANgRU.
Community Outreach & Support Contracts. The Office of Violence Prevention’s has a community stakeholder leadership group that is meeting throughout the trial and will be contracting with community groups to provide positive outreach and community engagement, provide informal de-escalation, mediation, and conflict resolution if needed, and share information about existing City and community resources and supports.
City Contact Numbers During Trail. People can use existing call lines for emergencies, suspicious activity and informational needs: 911 for emergencies where someone’s safety is at risk that require an immediate response from police, firefighters, or medics; 612-692-TIPS (8477) for reporting tips to the Minneapolis police about any suspicious activity that doesn’t require an immediate response (like reporting a fast-moving car without license plates or spotting something odd in an alley); 612-673-2499 for general questions from business and commercial property owners about preparations before the trial, operating during the trial and local regulations (questions can also be sent by email to SmallBusiness@minneapolismn.gov); and, 311 for all other non-emergency concerns.
Violence Interrupter Contract. The Council has approved contract extensions with the Corcoran and Central Area Neighborhood Development Organizations to June 30, 2021, for continued violence interruption services under the MinneapolUS Strategic Outreach Initiative. More details are at https://lims.minneapolismn.gov/File/2021-00278
Public Safety Charter Amendment Moves to Charter Commission. The City Council voted In March to send the Public Safety Charter Amendment to the Charter Commission for a mandatory review before it can be put on the ballot this November. The Amendment, if approved by the voters, would establish a new Charter Department of Public Safety to establish, and maintain public safety services to create safer communities for everyone in Minneapolis. It would remove the Minneapolis Police Department as a charter department and establish a Division of Law Enforcement within the Department of Public Safety responsible for the core functions of law enforcement and the mandate for a minimum number of Police employees. You can read the full amendment language here https://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/MPLS/2021/01/28/file_attachments/1675134/Transforming%20Public%20Safety%20Charter%20Amendment%20Ordinance.pdf and a Frequently Asked Questions document at https://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/MPLS/2021/01/28/file_attachments/1674937/Transforming%20Public%20Safety%20charter%20amendment%20FAQ.pdf. I strongly supported moving forward with this effort. Changing the charter to establish a more modern department of Public Safety, managed jointly by the Mayor and City Council just as all the other departments are, is one of the best steps we can take to improve our approach to public safety to ensure that it works better for everyone.
Behavioral Health Crisis Services. The Request for Proposals for the mobile behavioral health crisis response pilot program has been issued. Collaboration between organizations has been encouraged. If you or your organization is unsure if you should apply, you can submit questions to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can help. Proposals are due March 31 by 4pm with a selection date estimated to be April 14.
Request for Proposals for Violence Interruption Services. Following the Office of Violence Prevention’s MinneapolUS initiative last year that included outreach teams of violence interrupters to prevent violent conflicts, the City is issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for similar services in 2021 and, potentially, longer. Once agencies have been identified as qualified through this RFP, the Office will work with selected agencies to create a network of providers to comprise a coordinated, citywide approach.
Floyd Family Lawsuit Settlement. In March, following a closed session, the City Council approved, paying $27 million to settle the wrongful-death lawsuit filed by George Floyd’s family against the City. This is the highest settlement amount the City has ever paid and is more than the $20 million paid to the family of Justine Damond, who was shot and killed by a Minneapolis police officer in 2017. With this settlement, Minneapolis has now paid more than $72 million to settle lawsuits related to police misconduct and violence since 2003. This is a stark and powerful reminder of our flawed and failed system of providing public safety for the people of Minneapolis. The current structure and system of policing is broken. It is morally indefensible and fiscally irresponsible to allow the status quo to continue. At the press conference one of the family’s attorneys said, “History will judge us by how we respond to this tragedy….and history won’t judge us just on the eloquence of our words, but by the power of our actions.” I hope we can act to make meaningful and lasting legislative and policy change at the national, state and local levels. Let us pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in the United States Congress. Let’s build on the successful work at the state legislature last year and continue the work on police accountability and repairing the arbitration process. And let’s pass the Public Safety Charter amendment and a new and more effective Police Oversight Ordinance this year in Minneapolis. To help, I encourage everyone to watch the full and lengthy press conference where some of these issues are called out by members of the Floyd family’s legal team at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoIbKrMmIR0. You can learn more about the federal bill, H.R.7120 – George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 at https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/7120.
Police Officer Conduct Claims Paid. With my recommendation and urging I am glad that the City has now created a way for the public to review and track payouts made by the City in response to lawsuits involving police conduct. I invite you to see the payments the City has made as part of officer conduct claims and lawsuits at https://www.minneapolismn.gov/government/government-data/datasource/officer-payouts-dashboard/.
Police Use of “Less Lethal” Munitions. I was very concerned by a report the Council’s Public Health and Safety committee received from an interdisciplinary team from the University of Minnesota about the serious injuries caused by so-called “less lethal” munitions like rubber bullets and tear gas during the unrest that followed the killing of George Floyd. In response to the report, I the committee, I moved a staff directive to direct the Police Chief to report back on the topic to the committee. That directive, however, (due to how our Charter gives total control of the police department to the mayor) had to be phrased as a “request” based on opinions of the City Clerk and the City Attorney. As a request, the committee approved “Requesting the Minneapolis Police Department to provide a description of policy and procedure changes intended to eliminate the kinds of injuries caused by the use of ‘less lethal weapons’ described by the interdisciplinary team from the University of Minnesota, and to provide that information to the Public Health & Safety Committee at its regular meeting on April 1, 2021.” The Court restraining order we got after being sued by the State already stipulates that any use of these weapons must be authorized by the Chief, but I do not believe that is sufficient. I believe, based on this evidence and the manufacturer’s own guidelines, that these weapons should no longer be used in any crowded environment or shot down from roof tops. At least I think that we should ban their use until we are able to have a more thoughtful, public process in order to determine if they should ever be used. The Council is not in a position to make this policy decision, unfortunately, because of the flawed charter provision. To see the disturbing presentation and recommendations, go here: https://lims.minneapolismn.gov/File/2021-00275.
Minneapolis Police Operational Assessment. In March the Council got an update on the City Coordinator’s Office of Performance and Innovation decision to combine two studies and contract with the CNA Center for Justice Research and Innovation to complete both the Police Department Staffing & Efficiency Study and the 911 Problem Nature Code Prioritization Study. The new study is called the Minneapolis Police Operational Assessment. It is not expected to identify a specific number of officers the city should maintain, nor what exact functions the police should or should not perform, but it could be a valuable tool to help policymakers make more informed decisions. We should have results and recommendations from the study in the fall of 2021 in time to help be used in setting the 2022 budget. To learn more about nonprofit CAN Center, see https://www.cna.org/centers/ipr/jri/. To learn more about the study visit https://www.minneapolismn.gov/government/programs-initiatives/community-safety/background/
Immigration and Refugee Affairs. Our Minneapolis Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs and Saint Paul Immigrant and Refugee Program is hosting weekly forums on immigration from 4:30-6:00pm on Tuesdays co-hosted with the Saint Paul Immigrant and Refugee Program. Please see https://www2.minneapolismn.gov/government/departments/ncr/immigrant-refugee-affairs/immigration-refugee-events/ for links and more information.
Public Charge Test. I was glad to learn that the Department of Homeland Security has announced that a widely criticized 2020 change to the “public charge test” will no longer be enforced. The public charge test is used to determine whether certain applicants for permanent residence, or green cards, are likely to primarily depend on government assistance. For information on this development and how it affects people, contact Mid Minnesota Legal Aid at 1-800-292-4150.
Immigration Presentation. The Council had a very information presentation with remarks from U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar and an overview of federal immigration developments and local immigrant initiatives In on March 10th. You can watch presentation at https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=A10KUEZdiIw&feature=youtu.be
Resolution Supporting Asian Americans. The council passed a resolution condemning the racialized harm against Asian American/Pacific Islander individuals and communities. We expressed our unwavering commitment to combatting anti-Asian hate and discrimination by protecting AAPI Minneapolitans and holding accountable those who cause them harm.
Discrimination Helpline. The State of Minnesota has a helpline for people facing discrimination. Discrimination based on someone’s race, ethnicity, religion or other protected class is prohibited. If you or anyone in your community faces discrimination, please call 1-833-454-0148 or complete this online form to report the incident. The helpline is staffed 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Translation services are available and information about the helpline is available in 17 different languages on the State of Minnesota website at https://mn.gov/mdhr/covid-19/languagesinfo.jsp.
Cuba Resolution. In March, the Council 2 passed a resolution I authored that calls for the City to increase collaboration and learn from the medical expertise of the Cuban government, its workers, tools and equipment and on all levels of government to lift all restrictions to further collaboration and cross-training in the fight against the COVI-19 epidemic. My thanks to the Minnesota Cuba Committee and the Solidarity Committee of the Americas for leading on this and to Greg Klave for bringing this to my attention.
CPED Director Appointed. The Council has approved the appointment of Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) interim director Andrea Brennan to be the department’s more permanent director. Brennan has served as interim director since June while continuing to lead the Housing Policy and Development division of CPED. She began serving with the City in 2016 as the department’s housing director. Prior to that, she was the Director of Community and Economic Development for the Dakota County Community Development Agency. I look forward to working with her and helping her make this important department even more efficient, responsive and effective in the months ahead.
Tenant Opportunity to Purchase. The Council has passed a staff direction from my coauthors and I (Council Members Fletcher, Ellison, and Schroeder), for the City Attorney’s Office to draft a Tenant Opportunity to Purchase ordinance and bring it back to the Council by July 1 of this year. The staff direction goes on to lay out a framework for a strong TOPA policy. I invite you to read the details of the policy here: https://lims.minneapolismn.gov/file/2021-00288. The framework or this ordinance is based on the work that was done by Twin Cities LISC and the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development, which was presented to the Council late last year. Everyone can read the final report here: https://lims.minneapolismn.gov/Download/File/4846/Opportunity%20to%20Purchase%20Policy%20Options%20for%20the%20City%20of%20Minneapolis%202020-01178%20update.pdf. I strongly support passing a robust Tenant Opportunity to Purchase ordinance for Minneapolis, because tenants need and deserve this kind of autonomy and control over their homes, and protection against involuntary displacement.
Rent Stabilization Charter Amendment. The Council has voted to put the rent stabilization charter amendments that I am coauthoring on the ballot this November. If approved by the voters, one amendment would give the City Council the authority to pass a rent control or stabilization ordinance, and the other would add a provision in the Charter to allow initiative and referendum for the sole purpose of passing a rent control or stabilization ordinance. The Charter Commission can review it for 150 days before making a recommendation to the Council. Regardless of their recommendation, the Council can then vote to submit it to the voters at the November 2 municipal election. You can visit https://www.minneapolismn.gov/government/city-council/ward-2/ward-2-issues/ to learn more about rent stabilization, read frequently asked question about the Charter amendments and track the Charter amendments through the legislative process.
Rental Eviction Protection. I am also co-authoring an ordinance that would protect renters and more fairly regulate evictions, by adopting a “Just Cause” requirement similar to what St. Paul recently adopted, and a pre-eviction notice requirement similar to what St. Louis Park has recently adopted, to offer tenants the opportunity to address concerns and get help before being forced out of their homes. You can learn more here: https://www.minneapolismn.gov/government/city-council/ward-2/ward-2-issues/.
Accessory Dwelling Unit Amendment. The Council has approved my amendment to the Zoning Code that eliminates the owner-occupancy requirement for certain accessory dwelling units. We will instead rely on standards set in the state building code. This is something that is called out as an action step in the Comprehensive Plan as part of Policy 35 – Innovative Housing Types. Essentially, it removes the homestead requirement for detached ADUs and attached ADUs with a separate entrance, while keeping it for the more “internal” kinds of ADUs that require one resident to access their unit through part of another unit. The intent is to give more flexibility for people to build more ADUs across the city, because I see this as a great way to preserve our existing housing stock while increasing the housing available. For more details see https://lims.minneapolismn.gov/Board/MarkedAgenda/CPC/2205
Just Deeds Project. The City is offering free services to help property owners remove racial covenants from their properties’ legal title. Racial covenants were recorded on residential properties in Minneapolis by developers and homeowners beginning in the 1910s to prevent the sale and use of these properties to non-white people. The Mapping Prejudice research project has compiled a map of over 8,000 properties in Minneapolis with racial covenants. Many of these are located in Ward 2. City staff will assist homeowners in completing the application process and Hennepin County will waive fees associated with the process. You can learn more about this promising project at https://www2.minneapolismn.gov/government/departments/attorney/just-deeds/ or by emailing JustDeedsProject@minneapolismn.gov.
Maximum Occupancy. A public hearing has been set for March 30 at 1:30pm on the maximum occupancy ordinance authored by Council President Bender. This ordinance will align the housing code’s definition of “family” with what we have already adopted in the Zoning Code. I am very supportive of this move, which will fix a discriminatory approach to defining family that I have opposed for a long time. To find out more, go here: https://lims.minneapolismn.gov/File/2018-00160.
Semi-Truck Parking. Semi-truck parking continues to be a persistent problem in many areas of the City. The City is preparing to take the next steps toward enacting a new ordinance that would prohibit semi-truck parking on all city streets. In March, I met with City staff and the authors of the ordinance that will, if and when adopted, prohibit large truck parking on-street citywide. The authors and I agreed on a goal of bringing it forward for a public hearing in May. If approved by the Council, I expect that there will be a period of education and outreach as enforcement measures are slowly increased. This will help drivers find alternatives places to park their trucks, and for those alternatives to be created. I have learned of some private landowners who are stepping up to at least explore having trucks park on lots they control. This is good news and could help drivers find an acceptable alternative for parking not too far away.
Travel Management Ordinance. A public hearing will be held on April 12 at the Planning Commission on the Travel Demand Management ordinance I am coauthoring with Council Member Fletcher. This ordinance will remove minimum parking requirements citywide, lower parking maximums, increase bicycle parking requirements, and require many more buildings to go through a Travel Demand Management process. One exciting thing about that process is that developers will be incentivized to do much more to promote transit, including giving residents free transit passes. To find out more, go here: https://lims.minneapolismn.gov/download/Agenda/1767/Text%20amendment%20-%20off%20street%20parking.pdf/53904/2293/Parking,%20Loading,%20and%20Mobilty%20Zoning%20Code%20Text%20Amendment
Blue Line Extension. The Metropolitan Council and Hennepin County have released new potential route options for the planned METRO Blue Line extension. The extension will connect the cities of Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center, Robbinsdale, Golden Valley and Minneapolis to the existing Blue Line light rail route. A community survey is available on the project website for community members wanting to give feedback on the initial route options by April 30. For more information see https://metrocouncil.org/Transportation/Projects/Light-Rail-Projects/METRO-Blue-Line-Extension.aspx
Hospitality Workers Right to Recall. The Council has passed the proposed “Right to Recall” ordinance, with my strong support. This ordinance would give hospitality workers who have been laid off due to the COVID pandemic the right to return to the jobs they lost, at the level of pay and benefits they were making when they were laid off. It’s important to know that the pandemic’s impact on workers was not equal and affected these workers much more than others. It’s also important to keep in mind that this workforce is disproportionately women and people of color. To find out more, see here: https://lims.minneapolismn.gov/File/2021-00108
Parklet Hosts Needed. The City is looking for community partners to host 3 City-owned parklets for the 2021 season. Parklets are unique public gathering spaces built in the right-of-way with seating, plantings and other amenities. Neighborhood organizations, street-level businesses, nonprofits, community organizations and Special Service Districts are encouraged to apply. The application deadline is Friday, April 23. City crews will setup the parklets at host locations in the spring after street sweeping is completed and will remove them in the fall. The City-owned parklets include the parklet structure (platform and planter boxes), plantings, chairs, tables, patio umbrellas and public parklet signage. For more information see https://www2.minneapolismn.gov/government/programs-initiatives/environmental-programs/parklet-program/ or contact email@example.com.
Firefighter Recruitment. The City of Minneapolis is recruiting firefighters. The firefighter cadet application window is April 19-30. People can also find more information about becoming a Minneapolis firefighter at https://www.minneapolismn.gov/government/jobs/firefighter-jobs/
Severe Weather Awareness Week. April 12-16 is Severe Weather Awareness Week. As part of the week, two tornado drills will take place Thursday, April 15, so people can practice taking shelter in severe weather. Outdoor warning sirens will sound in a simulated tornado warning at 1:45 p.m. and again at 6:45 p.m. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota experiences an average of nearly 30 tornadoes per year. For more information see https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/hsem/weather-awareness-preparedness/Pages/default.aspx and for weather alerts of any imminent weather danger with email or text notices visit https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/hsem/weather-awareness-preparedness/Pages/alerts-warnings.aspx.
Garbage Burner. In March, the Council voted to approve an amendment to the City’s legislative agenda that I coauthored supporting “Legislation and administrative rule changes that classify energy sources from garbage incineration as nonrenewable energy sources.” This builds on the work that Representative Frank Hornstein has done in the MN House to classify the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center (also known as HERC or the downtown garbage burner) as not a renewable energy source. By allowing garbage incineration to be considered a renewable energy source, we are allowing electricity utilities not to invest in real renewables, like wind and solar, and still technically “meet” the state renewable energy standard. If you believe, as I do, that we should stop burning garbage, this is one necessary step to get there. I thank City staff for their work on this, the Sierra Club for bringing it to my attention, and Representative Hornstein for his good work on this at the Legislature. To find out more, go here: https://lims.minneapolismn.gov/RCA/7640
Recycling Information. A new Facebook group moderated by the City of Minneapolis Public Works Division of Solid Waste & Recycling offers a good space to ask questions about garbage, recycling and organics recycling (composting). If you’re unsure whether an item is recyclable or compostable, your friends, family and neighbors in this group and the City’s Solid Waste & Recycling staff will help you find the answer. Join the Solid Waste & Recycling Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/minneapolisrecycles/.
$25 Trees This Spring. City property owners can order a 5- to 8-foot tree for $25 each to plant on their private property. Property owners in Green Zones, rental property owners and property owners who haven’t gotten a tree in the City Trees program in the last two years will get a chance to order a tree earlier. The 2,000 trees in 24 varieties this year include large and medium shade trees, fruit trees, evergreens and smaller flowering trees. Comparable trees cost about $125 at a nursery.
Stormwater Management. The Council has amended and strengthened the City’s local Stormwater Management ordinance. The amended ordinance changes from regulating 1.0-acre or greater of land-disturbing activities to 0.5-acre or greater and gives the City Engineer authority to impose special conditions on any project within the City that may degrade the performance of the City’s storm sewer system. It also eliminates the exemption of reconstruction projects of an existing roadway, bridge, pathway, or walkway where the increase in impervious surface area is one (1) acre or less, but keeps exemptions for mill and overlay, underground utility, and disconnected sidewalk and trail projects. The changes also allow for the creation of a stormwater banking program for approved governmental entities and off-site management under certain conditions.
Energy Efficiency Award. The City received an Inspiring Energy Efficiency Award from the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, for the Energy Disclosure ordinance I coauthored with my colleague Jeremy Schroeder. This ordinance ensures that every person moving into a new home – whether buying or renting – will get information about the energy performance of that home to help then better understand and manage their housing costs. It resulted in 6,200 energy disclosure reports to homeowners in 2020. With each report homebuyers received information they can act on for meaningful efficiency improvements in attic insulation (4,190 homes), wall insulation (1,726), heating system (4,023), & storm windows (392). I hope that this will help other cities follow our lead. Learn more at https://www.meeaconference.org/awards/2021-innovation-city-minneapolis-home-energy-disclosure
Solar Financing Approved. It was wonderful to be able to approve 5 Property Assessment for Clean Energy (PACE) financing projects in March. The PACE energy program allows Minneapolis businesses to finance energy efficiency improvements, including solar energy installations through an assessment placed on the property. The recent properties approved include ELFE Bros. LLC, 2808 Washington Ave N; Judson Memorial Baptist Church, 4101 Harriet Ave S; Raimis Construction LLC, 1515 19th St E; CFPA Development Project, LLC, 3754 Pleasant Ave; and Sommers – Haas Project, 504-506 24th St E. For more on PACE financing, which is provided through the St. Paul Port Authority, see https://www.minnpace.com/.
8Health Mentor Programs. The Council has accepted a grant from the Youthprise Foundation, in the amount of $240,000 for the period of January 1, 2021, through December 31, 2021, to implement the Health Mentor Model at Henry, Roosevelt and South High Schools as part of our School Based Clinics work.
University Area Overlay District Changes. My proposal to adopt a maximum number of bedrooms for 1-3 unit buildings in the Interior districts in the University Overlay District is moving forward as part of a broader package of transportation management and parking rules changes. This whole package was reviewed at the Planning Commission’s Committee of the Whole meeting in March and the Commission will hold a public hearing and consider amending or approving it on April 12. I am optimistic that this change will better address the unique challenges of over-sized “McDorms” that function more like 10-15 unit buildings rather than triplexes, being proposed in on some larger lots in otherwise lower density areas. I welcome feedback on this policy, both overall and about its details. You can find out more information here: https://lims.minneapolismn.gov/download/Agenda/1767/Text%20amendment%20-%20off%20street%20parking.pdf/53904/2293/Parking,%20Loading,%20and%20Mobilty%20Zoning%20Code%20Text%20Amendment
Lake Street Recovery and Longfellow Rising. It is exciting to see so much progress being made towards recovery and rebuilding on Lake Street. You can find more information about City efforts at https://www2.minneapolismn.gov/government/programs-initiatives/minneapolis-forward/, as we work to follow and support the efforts of community members and businesses throughout the corridor. The Lake Street Council recently hired Russ Adams as Manager of the Corridor Recovery Initiatives at the Lake Street Council. He will be working to convene stakeholders and implement neighborhood rebuilding initiatives as the area recovers from the damage following the killing of George Floyd. The rebuild will focus on anti-displacement strategies, supporting the success of small businesses, BIPOC entrepreneurs and nonprofits, and listening to the community as we recover and re-imagine the corridor together. In the Ward 2 area, strong and inclusive leadership is being provided by Longfellow Rising. I have been glad to participate in Longfellow Rising’s recent meetings as this grassroots initiative started by local property and business owners has been leading planning efforts around rebuilding in the Downtown Longfellow Area. You can learn more about their work at https://www.facebook.com/Longfellow-Rising-110923477476621/ and see their February presentation at https://vimeo.com/522545829?fbclid=IwAR0Pb7uKcMGuQX57KE6nTVF7lu8oR1C0eVxbaQBoDrjer8UVaYt5vX7EWPQ.
American Rescue Plan Funding. Council Members have been given the opportunity to offer ideas to staff for the use of federal American Rescue Plan funding. I have submitted a list that includes programs for affordable housing and fighting climate change, and a specific focus on rebuilding the area around Minnehaha and Lake Street, in collaboration with Longfellow Rising.
Metropolitan Council Downtown Longfellow Grant Award. The City has secured a 2020 Metropolitan Council LCDA Pre-development grant of $97,500 for the Downtown Longfellow site at 2701 Lake St E and 3009-3017 27th Ave S. The City will pass the Downtown Longfellow grant through to Seward Redesign, who is acting as the project’s fiscal agent on behalf of the property owners. This project is exploring adding mixed-income housing on a group of parcels that were previously lower density commercial, providing a new destination public plaza, and studying the potential on Lake Street. Grant funds will be used to undertake community engagement, a market study, site planning, a building feasibility and partnership/wealth building model, and sustainability analysis.
Drive-thru Bank at 3600 E Lake St. US Bank has shared plans to remodel the former Tim Horton’s fast food restaurant at 3600 E Lake Street into a bank branch. They have now formally applied to the City to be allowed to increase the number of drive-through lanes from one lane to three lanes; to reduce the floor area ratio to 0.77 to include demolition of a walk-in cooler area; to increase the maximum parking limit from 8 spaces to 11 spaces, while reducing the previous parking on the site from 20 spaces to 11 spaces. The public hearing for the land use applications and site plan approval is expected to be held at the Planning Commission on April 26th.
Minnehaha Post Office. The Postal Service has made the decision to rebuild the full-service Minnehaha Post Office in South Minneapolis in the same location, 3033 27th Ave S. While there is not a current construction timeline, all services will continue to operate out of the temporary facility at 10 W Lake Street until further notice. No plans for the new building have been shared yet and I will be advocating that the community has input into any plans and that they coordinate with local businesses, especially those nearby who are also planning to rebuild, as well as with the business associations, neighborhood organizations, and Longfellow Rising.
Proposed B Line Arterial BRT (Route 21). Metro Transit is planning a major improvement to a transit corridor that is very important to Second Ward residents. The proposed B Line arterial bus rapid transit (BRT) would improve speed, reliability, and comfort for transit riders on Lake Street and provide dramatically improved bus service. To learn more go to https://www.metrotransit.org/b-line-corridor-plan.
Towerside District Energy Test Wells. The test wells have been drilled and testing has begun for the Towerside District Energy System. This represents real progress towards getting this crucial project complete so that it can serve the planned Malcolm Yards development, for a start, and can spread to serve more buildings in the future. I look forward to seeing the results and, and doing what I can to support this project, as the Council pledged to do last year.
Biochar. Our Health Department’s Environmental Services division is exploring siting a biochar facility in the Towerside area, potentially north of the United Crushers grain silo. Biochar is a proven way to sequester carbon in the soil, while improving the biological performance of other soil treatments like compost, and retaining more stormwater. This facility would produce biochar for use by the City, the Park Board, and urban farms and community gardens. It will also give off waste heat, which can be captured and reused by the proposed district energy system. This would potentially allow the area to become not just net carbon neutral, but even carbon negative – pulling more CO2 out of the air than the area emits.
Parking Restriction for Malcolm North of University. The City has put in signs and begun enforcement of limits to parking during the day on the east side of Malcolm North of University Ave, to help manage heavy truck traffic on Malcolm, especially at the intersection with University.
Safety on 4th St SE, Bedford & University Ave Area. Along with Prospect Park leader Britt Howell, I helped organize a conversation with the leadership of Valhalla Clinic and neighbors, including many residents of 4th St SE. I was pleased to see Valhalla step up express willingness to address community concerns. I will continue to monitor the situation in the area and encourage anyone who has continuing concerns to let me know.
Glendale Parking Area. The increase in the parking the “No Parking 8am-10pm” restriction to 7 days a week, “Except by Permit” in the Glendale Townhomes Critical Parking Area, based on engagement with and the support of Glendale residents, have gone into effect. We will be gathering feedback in the weeks ahead and are open to making some modifications in response to concerns raised by Luxton staff or others.
Liquor License Renewals. The City Council has approved the license renewal of several Ward 2 -Longfellow Grill, 2990 WEST RIVER PKWY Minneapolis, MN, (Ward 2) submitted by Blue Plate Restaurant Company, Inc.
Agra Project At Perkins Site in Seward. The City has accepted 2020 Metropolitan Council LCDA-TOD Development grants in the amount of $1,250,000 for the Agra project at 901 27th Ave S. The Agra project will develop 175 units of affordable housing along Franklin Avenue in the Seward neighborhood. The project includes a greenhouse and growing facility to provide space for hydroponic food production, as well as a stormwater management system for reuse in the hydroponic growing system. Grant funds will be used for site acquisition.
American Indian Center Expansion. The Council has also accepted $750,000 for the Minneapolis American Indian Center Expansion at 1530 Franklin Ave E. This project supports the expansion and renovation of the Minneapolis American Indian Center to accommodate their growing programs. The project will provide 45 jobs and strengthen the facility as a core gathering place for cultural, social, arts, and fitness activities for the Native community. Grant funds will be used for site preparation, stormwater management, and public art.