Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here:

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Second Ward July 2015 E-newsletter

News from Cam Gordon
Council Member, Second Ward

Tobacco Ordinance.  The Council has unanimously adopted the tobacco regulation ordinance changes I authored with my colleague Blong Yang.  These changes will become effective on January 1, 2016 and set a minimum price of $2.60 per stick for cigar products, (which currently sell for as little as three for 99 cents) and prohibits the sale of flavored tobacco products except at specialty, adult only, tobacco shops (stores for which tobacco accounts for over 90% of what they sell). This ordinance was based on the recommendations of our Youth Congress that these types of tobacco products are the most common entry point into tobacco use and nicotine addiction for our youth.  I want to thank the advocates – especially the youth – and our Health Department staff for making this ordinance change possible.

Protected Bikeway Plan.  The Council has approved a Protected Bikeway Plan that calls for more than thirty miles of new protected bikeways to be built by 2020.  I strongly supported this plan, and have advocated for years for more protected bikeways.  Protected bikeways are physically-separated bike lanes that make more people – old and young, men and women – more comfortable riding a bike for transportation.  When we look at the best bike cities in the world, like Copenhagen, it is clear that a network of protected bikeways is a large part of what has made them so successful.  This plan responds to a recommendation from the Climate Action Plan, making clear that this is part of our ongoing work to fight climate change, as well as having major benefits for health and community vitality.   This plan’s adoption follows a year-long planning process and staff analysis of bicycle demand, traffic conflict and network integration along various corridors. Staff worked with the Bicycle Advisory Committee to identify 19 corridors for further evaluation. Of the 19 corridors, 17 were further evaluated by a team of Minneapolis Public Works and Hennepin County staff. The approved plan prioritizes three tiers of potential future protected bikeways. Tier one projects will be put in first and include 15 miles of new bikeways.  Some of the projects in Ward 2 include a connection from 15th Ave SE and University to the Diagonal Trail (via 15th Ave SE, Rollins Ave SE, and 18th Ave SE), University Ave SE, Oak St SE, the 10th Avenue Bridge, 19th Ave S, 20th Ave S, and Washington Ave S.

Funding for Protected Bikeways.  The City has received over $3.8 million in federal transportation funding through a Met Council solicitation to build protected bikeway infrastructure.  This includes funding for the routes near the U of M (19th and 20th Avenues S, 10th Ave SE, 15th Ave SE, Rollins Ave SE, and 18th Ave SE).  I consider this a great example of the importance of adopting the Protected Bikeways Plan.  I expect that we will get more funding from outside sources, along with the funding already committed by the City, to implement this plan.

Tiered Rental Housing.  The City has completed ranking all the rental properties in the city into the new three tier system first approved by the Council in 2011 and recently strengthened this spring to include increased fees for tier 2 and 3 properties.  The results show that, of a total of 17,104 single family, duplex and triplex rental properties, 82% are in tier 1, 16% are in tier 2 and 3% are in tier 3.  Of the 6,477 larger apartment buildings, 95.8% are in tier 1, 3.7% in 2 and only 0.5% (or 34) are in tier 3.
Tier 1 properties have no or few problems and are considered to be well maintained and managed. Tier 2 properties are maintained to minimum standards but have some issues that require some city services.  Tier 3 properties are ranked as poorly maintained or managed and require excessive city services.  Properties in the higher tiers will be inspected more frequently and charged higher fees. Properties in the lowest tier will be inspected less frequently and have lower fees.  All properties will be evaluated annually to determine the tier they will be assigned to.

Ward and Neighborhood Profiles on Housing. The The Department of Regulatory Services unveiled a new initiative that makes a wealth of data available to the general public. Reports, interactive maps and profiles can be used to see trends, to obtain specific information, to learn more about what the department does and to find further resources and tools.  This includes very informative and detailed ward-level and neighborhood-level profiles. It is a gold mine of information for policy makers and community activists alike. I encourage you to dig in and use it.  

City Participation in Community Solar Gardens.  The City has sent a letter of interest to the Met Council to participate in a Request for Proposals (RFP) process the Met Council is leading, to become a subscriber to a Community Solar Garden project.  I enthusiastically support going out for this RFP and having the City support the development of solar in our state.  I am also pushing the City to work on another, City-led RFP for community solar.  My hope is that we can release an RFP this fall and have a contract signed with at least one Community Solar Garden developer by the end of this year, for a City-led project to be constructed in 2016.  Having the City lead an RFP process will give us the capacity to define all of the benefits around this contract, and will likely make subscriptions available to other Minneapolis residents and businesses.

PUC Action on Community Solar Gardens.  I was disappointed to see the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission take a position in June to limit the size of Community Solar Gardens.  While this is good for some smaller local solar developers, make no mistake: this ruling will limit the amount of solar that will be installed in Minnesota.  That's why I sent a letter to the PUC supporting Fresh Energy and many of the solar companies, urging them not to adopt this arbitrary cap.  Let's be crystal clear: this was Xcel Energy's doing.  Despite all of their pro-renewable rhetoric, they have successfully cut the amount of new solar capacity that will be installed in Minnesota in half or worse.  

Neighborhood and Community Engagement Plan. The Neighborhood and Community Relations (NCR) department is seeking comments on the draft Blueprint for Equitable Engagement Plan, by Friday, August 14. This is a multi-year plan to improve the community engagement system in Minneapolis, and guide the work of NCR and the Neighborhood and Community Engagement Commission through 2020. Called the Blueprint for Equitable Engagement, it is intended to foster more inclusive and authentic participation in the City’s community engagement work. I expect a final draft to be considered by the City Council by the end of this year. And believe that this could be an effective tool to strengthen the work of neighborhood organizations and make them a more useful and permanent part of our city into the future. One informational meetings on the draft plan was held  Tuesday, July 14, at Van Cleve Park, and a second will occur on Tuesday, August 11, 6:30-8:00p.m. at the Heritage Park, Community Room, 1000 Olson Memorial Hwy. You can also provide your comments in writing to Visit here to learn more.

New Director of Development Services. Steve Poor has been hired as the new director of Development Services for the Community Planning and Economic Development Department. Steve has more than 25 years of experience working at the City and has held a variety of positions in Zoning Administration and Planning in the Development Services Division, including as Zoning Administration manager since 2007.  As director of Development Services, he will manage a staff of approximately 100 in Zoning Administration; Land Use, Design and Preservation; Construction Code Services; and the Development Review Customer Service Center. He will be responsible for integrating urban design principles into the City’s housing and economic development efforts and for protecting the safety and welfare of the public in the development of the City’s built environment. He is a lifelong resident of Minneapolis I have appreciate working with Steve on many issues and problems since taking office in 2006 and I look forward to working with him in his new role.

Sign Up for Organics.  Nearly thirty thousand Minneapolis households have signed up for organics collection service from the City.  This is about 28% of the eligible households.   Solid Waste and Recycling staff have shared the percentage of households that have signed up in Ward 2 neighborhoods: 18% in SE Como, 0% in the University neighborhood, 13% in Cedar-Riverside, 32% in Prospect Park, 51% in Seward, 33% in Longfellow, and 38% in Cooper.  If you haven’t yet signed up for organics, I encourage you to sign up here:

Parking Reform.  I was happy to support Council Member Lisa Bender’s change to parking minimums along transit corridors and reduce the amount of required off-street parking in certain areas.  The change passed unanimously.  In most zoning districts, the City requires that apartment and condominium buildings provide parking spaces equal to the number of dwelling units in the building. Exceptions apply in selected areas of the city.  With this action, smaller-scale (50 units or less), multifamily residential developments within one-quarter mile of frequent bus service and one-half mile of rail service will have their off-street parking requirement eliminated. For larger-scale multifamily residential developments in those same geographic areas, parking requirements will be reduced by 50 percent, to one-half space per dwelling unit. Since 2009, the City has not had parking requirements in its downtown zoning districts.  I view this as a step towards making it easier to build more affordable housing, and a useful reorientation of our society away from cars and towards walking, biking and transit.  I know that there were advocates for this change who would have liked to see it extended to the University District, which has its own parking overlay.  However, the University parking overlay was just made significantly more flexible in October of 2014, after a year-long community engagement process.  It was simply too soon to have a new parking discussion in the district.  I will also note that the University District rules are actually more lenient and progressive for many projects, especially large projects with small unit sizes (one and two-bedrooms) than the newly-adopted City rules.

Police Body Cameras. The pilot project on police body cameras is complete and the Police Department reports that they are generally very pleased with the results. We are waiting to see if we are awarded a federal funding grant for them and responses to a recent request for proposals are being evaluated. The Minneapolis Police Conduct Oversight Commission is seeking public input on the use of police body cameras in Minneapolis prior to the rollout of the program in 2016. The Commission is hosting three listening sessions in the next two months that will guide research and drafting of a written policy for body camera use. Topics include whether members of the public support police use of body cameras, when body cameras should be turned on and off, how to protect the privacy of those recorded, and public access to body camera footage. The first two listening sessions were on June 27th and July 11.  The third is on Saturday, July 25 at 10:00am at the Minneapolis Adult Education Center at 2225 East Lake Street (right by the Lake Street light rail station). For more information or to share your input about the implementation of body cameras, please contact the Office of Police Conduct Review at or (612) 673-5500.

2014 Financial Report.  The City’s 2014 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report is now available at
It is a good reference document to have now as the process for drafting the budget for next year is getting underway.  Departments have already submitted budget recommendations and the Mayor is scheduled to make her budget address and presentation on August 12.

New Street Closure and Construction Updates. The City has added two websites which will be updated frequently and will give vital information regarding upcoming street closures related to this year’s busy downtown construction season. Please click on the link below which includes all proposed downtown construction for the 2015 season.  By clicking on the colored lines or boxes, this map gives information regarding project name, Contractor, type of closure, estimated start/end times. Link to Proposed Construction Also, to access current construction projects please click on the website link below. By clicking on the lines or boxes, information will include the type and duration of closure.  Link to Current Construction and Events. 

Our Town Grants.  The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Our Town guidelines are now available, with an earlier application deadline of August 3 for considering partner applications. The Our Town grant program supports creative placemaking projects that help to transform communities into lively, beautiful, and resilient places with the arts at their core. Read more at  Our Town Arts Engagement, Cultural Planning, and Design Projects require a partnership between a nonprofit cultural (arts or design) organization and a local government. Matching grants range from $25,000 to $200,000.Each local government -- whether applying as the lead applicant or as the primary partner with a nonprofit organization -- may submit up to two (2) applications. Based on the NEA guidelines, the City of Minneapolis will select up to two (2) projects to apply for/partner with. You may contact the City of Minneapolis Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy program for assistance to develop your potential partnership application with the City. Contact program director Gulgun Kayim at or 612-673-2488.

National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice.  In June, I attended a community meeting and received a report given to the City Council about an exciting new federal initiative that Minneapolis will be a part of .  Led by the National Network for Safe Communities, through John Jay College of Criminal Justice, this is a three-year, $4.75 million grant program in six cities called the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice.  It can bring proven and newly developed interventions into cities to help address issues of trust and fairness in criminal justice practives. I am excited about the potential this could have to address structural racism in our system and bring in resources for victims of domestic violence and other crimes, youth, and the LGBTQI community. It will highlight three areas that hold great promise for concrete, rapid progress: Reconciliation that will facilitates frank conversations between communities and law enforcement that allow them to address historic tensions, grievances, and misconceptions between them and reset relationships;  Procedural justice that focuses on how the characteristics of law enforcement interactions with the public shape the public’s views of the police, their willingness to obey the law, and actual crime rates,  and; Implicit bias that focuses on how largely unconscious psychological processes can shape authorities’ actions and lead to racially disparate outcomes even where actual racism is not present.  I look forward to partnering more with the national research team in the future and seeing how I can help leverage this opportunity into meaning change in Minneapolis.

What’s Up 612.  The Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board’s (YCB) Minneapolis Afterschool Network has launched its citywide program finder. What’s Up 612! is an online resource of things to do outside of the classroom in Minneapolis. The program finder is a citywide resource where youth, parents, educators, youth workers and persons who know young people can find afterschool and summer activities for children and youth ages 5-21. What’s Up 612! brings together afterschool opportunities offered by the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minneapolis Public Schools, Minneapolis Parks & Recreation Board and community organizations. The website is one component of the YCB Minneapolis Afterschool Network, the citywide out-of-school time system created to ensure all of Minneapolis young people have access to the kinds of comprehensive, high quality afterschool programs that support positive youth development, educational achievement, and career and community readiness.

Life and Breath Report. This month The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency released a new report, “Life and Breath, How air pollution affectspublic health in the Twin Cities,” that examines the health burdens of air pollution in the metropolitan area.  Using 2008 data they estimate that “in the Twin Cities metro area, fine particle pollution caused an estimated 2,152 deaths, 321 hospitalizations for heart and lung conditions, and 402 emergency department visits for asthma. Ground-level ozone pollution in the Twin Cities metro area caused an estimated 23 deaths, 47 hospitalizations for asthma, and 185 emergency department visits for asthma.”  This is a stark finding for the region and is even of more concern for is in Minneapolis as death and hospitalization rates are higher in Minneapolis than most parts of the twin cities. 

MPCA Environmental Justice Framework.  On May 15, the MPCA released its draft Environmental Justice (EJ) Framework 2015-2018 for a two month comment period. The development of the framework involved an extensive two-year process that was led by a full-time MPCA staff and supported by self-identified environmental justice advocates in the community, as well as input from other state and local agencies.  The MPCA recently renewed its commitment to fully integrate its environmental justice policy and goal into their programs, regulatory decision making and activities. The agency’s EJ policy and goal call for the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of Minnesota communities, ensuring that pollution does not have a disproportionate negative impact on any group of people. The MPCA’s draft EJ outlines how the MPCA will implement environmental justice goals, strategies, and tools in four key areas, including: regulatory programs; monitoring, assessment and consideration of cumulative impacts; prevention and assistance; and equity in rulemaking, policy development, and program implementation. The City’s submitted formal commentsCouncil Member Alondra Cano and I also submitted a letter calling for the MPCA to have clear and required procedures that result in meaningful participation of low-income populations, communities of color and Indigenous peoples and for the MPCA to identify and address disproportionate, cumulative environmental and public health impacts during rulemaking and permitting.

Americans with Disabilities Act turns 25. Viewed as the most comprehensive civil rights law for people with disabilities, the Americans with Disabilities Act became law in July 1990. The law bans discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, public accommodation, public services, transportation and telecommunications. To mark the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Minneapolis is hosting a celebration Noon-3 p.m., Thursday, July 23 in the Minneapolis City Hall Rotunda, 350 S. Fifth St.  

Zero Waste Plan. The Council has approved the resolution I authored with Council member Riech calling for Minneapolis to recycle and compost  50 percent of its citywide waste by 2020, and 80 percent by 2030. The goals also call for the City to achieve a zero-percent growth rate in its total waste stream from levels set in 2010. Reducing waste levels is an important step toward making Minneapolis a zero-waste city. Along with producing less waste, the zero-waste philosophy focuses on turning all discarded materials into resources for other uses through processes like recycling and composting. This action also means that we will now develop a zero-waste plan for City Council consideration in spring 2016.

Artists for Nicollet Mall. Four artists have been selected to work with the Nicollet Mall design team to create and integrate new works of art on the mall. Their draft design concepts will be presented to the City this fall. The artists selected are: Blessing Hancock of Arizona, commissioned to design suspended lanterns as part of the mall’s “light walk” between Sixth and Eighth streets; Tristan Al-Haddad of Georgia, commissioned to design a key feature on the mal; Ned Kahn of California, commissioned to create one large-scale, iconic art piece for the mall; Regina Flanagan of Minnesota, commissioned to work with the design team on integrating public artwork into the redesigned mall. We received 217 applications from artists who were interested in developing new Nicollet Mall art. The mall is second only to Walker Art Center’s Sculpture Garden for having the city’s largest collection of public and private artworks. The opening of the new Nicollet is scheduled for 2017.  For more information on the project, visit

Historical Photos. The City, in collaboration with the Minnesota Historical Society and the University of Minnesota Libraries has digitized more than 4,500 historical aerial photos of Minneapolis. All of the large-scale, detailed aerial photos, dating back to 1938, are free and available to the public.The Minneapolis photos were added to the library’s existing Minnesota Historical Aerial Photographs Online collection, which includes more than 121,000 aerial photographs from around the state that date back to 1923. 

Household Hazardous Waste. Hennepin County is holding a collection event for residents to dispose of unwanted garden and household hazardous waste. They will be open to the public 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, August 20-22 at the Public Works Garage (Off Snelling Avenue) at 3607 44th St. E. For more information, including directions and a complete list of acceptable and non-acceptable items, call Hennepin County Environmental Services at 612-348-3777 or visit

Open Streets. Several Open Streets events are occurring this summer. During them a street is closed to automobile traffic for four to six hours to allow families and neighbors to walk, bike, skate, have fun and shop in a safe, car-free environment. This is the fifth year for Open Streets, and there are more events than ever before. The Open Streets events in or near Ward 2 coming up are: Sunday, August 2 on East Lake Street from 42nd Avenue to Elliot Avenue by the Midtown Global Market; Sunday, August 16 on  Franklin Avenue From Portland Avenue to 28th Avenue; Sunday, August 23 in Downtown; Saturday, September 12 near the University on Oak Street SE from East River Parkway to University Avenue, on University Avenue from Oak Street SE to 14th Avenue SE and on 14th Avenue SE from University Avenue to Fifth Street SE. Open Streets Minneapolis is an initiative of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition presented by the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. It is co-sponsored by the City. To learn more about bicycling in Minneapolis, visit the City’s bicycling website.

On Soccer. In June, I voted against a motion to create a soccer stadium work group.  I opposed it not because I opposed the creation of the group but because it was walked in to the Council meeting without committee review and without any opportunity provided to me to review the language prior to the meeting. Additionally, I found the language far too suggestive or a potential public subsidy, which I oppose and say the move as an effort to try to show support for public financing when non has officially been approved. I strongly oppose publicly subsidizing a new soccer stadium in Minneapolis.  I am very open to the idea of Major League Soccer coming to the twin cities area, but I do not support using Minneapolis tax dollars to build or operate it. I opposed giving public money to the Vikings Stadium without the vote that is required by the Charter, I went on record asking the Hennepin County Board to put their subsidy of Target Field on the ballot, and I oppose this stadium as well.  Our residents and businesses are already burdened with supporting 3 sports venues and adding a 4th is a terrible deal for the people of Minneapolis.  Perhaps the most compelling reason for me to oppose this public subsidy is because it is fundamentally unfair: we do not extend any similar property tax exemption to any other business in Minneapolis.  I’m thrilled to see the community coming together to organize against public subsidy for this stadium, including by forming a new Facebook group.  I encourage everyone who thinks there are higher priorities for our tax dollars than subsidizing a single business to like this page, get involved, and make your voice heard.

Emergency Overnight Shelters. Council Member Bender and I are working on an ordinance amendment to better regulate “Overnight Shelters.” To help us have a broader community conversation about this important but sometimes controversial subject, we are holding a community meeting at the North Regional Library (1315 Lowry Ave N) – Monday, July 27 from 5:30pm to 7pm. Please join us and learn more about our current rules, what other cities do and help us create a vision of what an ideal shelter system would look like in our city.

Plastic Bag Regulations. The Minneapolis Community Environmental Advisory Commission (CEAC) has  formally made recommendations for a plastic bag ban (and single-use paper bag fee).  I plan to formally introduce the subject matter of an ordinance about this in late July.  I plan to do significant public engagement on this ordinance, including both broad-based resident outreach and specific targeted conversations with businesses that will be impacted, recycling facilities, and environmental groups. 
I am also working to coordinate efforts with St. Louis Park, where a similar ban is also being considered. I believe that it would be valuable to move forward in conjunction with peer cities, both in terms of passing and implementing single-use bag regulations.

Open Data Portal. I was excited to see our efforts to make more information and data available to the public through out Open Data Policy approved last year.  To learn more please see our first annual Open Data Compliance Report here.  

National Night Out. National Night Out is August 4 and there is still time to register your event and apply to close your street/alley online here. Generally, bus routes and high traffic streets cannot be used for block events and you will need permission of 75% of your neighbors to be approved for street closure. If you register by July 21 you can block your street for free. If you register from July 22 through July 29, there is a $100 fee. You will not be able to block off your street if registering after July 29.

Public Safety Career Fair. For those interested in a job in law enforcement, firefighting or another public safety area, a July 25 career fair will provide an opportunity to learn more about these professions and apply for positions. Candidates of all ages, experience levels and industries are encouraged to attend the Minneapolis public safety career fair from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Saturday, July 25 at Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC), 2001 Plymouth Ave. N. The agencies taking part in the career fair include: Minneapolis Police Department;  Minneapolis 911 and 311; Minneapolis Fire Department; Minneapolis Regulatory Services; Saint Paul Police Department; Hennepin County Medical Center; Minneapolis Park Police; Metro Transit Police Department; Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office; Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office. You are encouraged to bring your resume. 

Sibling Cities International Conference. The 59th annual Sister Cities International Conference, “Bridging Generations for Peace,” is being held in Minneapolis this month. There will be an ice cream social -5 p.m., Sunday, July 19, at Nicollet Island Pavilion. This family-friendly event will showcase Minneapolis’s 12 sister city relationships with multicultural entertainment, exhibits and children’s activities. Founded in 1956 by Dwight D. Eisenhower, the sister city program promotes peace through people-to-people relationships through cultural exchanges, shared research and development projects between cities. Minneapolis Sister Cities include: Bosaso, Somalia; Cuernavaca, Mexico; Eldoret, Kenya; Harbin, China; Ibaraki City, Japan; Kuopio, Finland; Najaf, Iraq; Novosibirsk, Russia; Santiago, Chile; Tours, France; Uppsala, Sweden; and, Winnipeg, Canada. For more information visit

Dinkytown Historic District. With my strong support the Council has approved designating Dinkytown an historic district approved. The new Dinkytown Commercial Historic District includes the 23 properties evaluated and listed in the designation study as within the proposed boundary for 1899-1929 period of significance, rather than the proposed slightly larger areas that also included properties considered resources because of the significance they played in more recent times up to the 60s and 70s. Additionally, CPED staff were directed to work with the Third Ward Council Member and Zoning and Planning Committee chair on creating guidelines for the Dinkytown Historic District that allow for maximum flexibility in retaining the eclectic nature of the district; will not give deference or historic designation to under-utilized space such as surface parking lots; will value the façade facing the streetscape with less value given to the backside of the buildings; and that will not limit height and the evolving character of the district.

Roof Depot Site. Despite community concerns and my “no” vote, the Council approved taking a first step to begin negotiations to purchase the Roof Depot site located at 1860 28th St E and 2717 Longfellow Ave. The City’s Property Services Division of the Finance Department has proposed to purchase this property in order to relocate the Public Works water meter shop from E Hennepin Ave and possibly consolidate other city operations at this site, which is strategically located adjacent to the existing Hiawatha Yard facility. This vision for the site clearly conflicts with what some in the community want for the area. With so many community members seeing no benefit, and voicing concerns in this already overburdened area, I was unwilling to support moving forward. If we the city does end up buying the land I hope we can develop a clear community benefits agreement and perhaps set aside a certain portion for a community embraced redevelopment.

Community Innovation Fund. The Health Environment and Community Engagement Committee has approved is the first round of funding for the Community Innovation Fund (CIF). This program provides funding to neighborhood organizations for projects that address City goals. Unlike the Community Participation Program, which provides funding to neighborhoods on a formula basis, the CIF allocates funding on a competitive basis. The source of the $300,000 in funding is from the Consolidated Tax Increment Financing District. Some of the more interesting project include the following: Longfellow Community Council was awarded $18,000 to partner with the Metro Blooms, the Longfellow Business Association and Project for Pride in Living to develop 40 raingardens throughout the neighborhood; the Lyndale Neighborhood Association, partnering with the Corcoran, Powderhorn Park, Central and West Bank neighborhood organizations, as well as HOME line, Lyndale will receive 30,000 to be the lead organization in developing the Minneapolis Renters Coalition. This group works on renters issues within Minneapolis. The Prospect Park Association will get 15,000 to partner with residents of the Glendale Public Housing development on engagement efforts in the propose redevelopment of Glendale.

Grain Elevator Tragedy. I was saddened and shocked to learn that Emily Roland, a 20 year-old University Student from Cottage Grove, fell to her death in the vacant Bunge grain elevator in Southeast Como last month.  This is the second tragedy to take place at this building during my time on the Council.  Back in 2006, in my first months as Council Member, Germaine Vigeant fell to her death in this building. My deepest sympathies go out to Emily’s family and friends. I am working with City staff and staff from Project for Pride in Living, the owner of the building, to better secure the property in the short term and also to move more quickly to a permanent long term solution. I understand that this community landmark has historical and emotional value to many, and that we were hoping to see this portion of the old elevator preserved and reused.  It appears that that may not be a realistic option.  I am seeking to quickly find a long-term, permanent solution for this building – and many of the other vacant, dangerous grain elevators in Minneapolis.  You can see a news story on this terrible incident hereRead about the past incident here.

Oak Street Southeast.  The City will be constructing one of our first protected bikeways on Oak Street SE this year.  The bikeway will be a two-way facility on the west side of the street, from East River Parkway to Washington Ave SE.  This will be a major improvement for bicyclists on Oak, and folks trying to make the connection from the Parkway to the University east bank campus.  I’m looking forward to continuing this facility to the north of Washington as soon as possible, up to the Dinkytown Greenway.

Polling Place Change Considered. We are considering a split of Ward 2 - Precinct 1 located in the Longfellow area.  We are considering breaking it into 2 precincts, adding a precinct and leaving roughly ½ of the voters to vote at the current 2-1 location at Holy Trinity church, with the other ½ voting at a new polling place, Broadway (Longfellow) School (31st & 31st). Current registered voters at the 2-1 precinct hover around 2,800, which is higher than ideal. With a split of the precinct as proposed, along 31st Street, the number of registered voters that would remain voting at Holy Trinity would drop to near 1,300.   Voters south of 31st Street would be in a new precinct, with approx. 1,500 voting at Broadway High School (Longfellow School). The reduction in the numbers of voters being served at each site will help to minimize the potential for lines for the affected voters. In order to make the best decision about this I am trying to see Longfellow area voters think of this. Please let me know your thoughts.

River Parkway Mudslide Reconstruction. Construction is scheduled to begin this month repairing the riverbank and opening the West River Parkway where the mudslide occurred last year. The road is expected to re-open, and work to be completed by the end of October. The plan includes construction of a series of retaining walls. I know this has been an enormous inconvenience for many people and have been impressed by the general understanding, tolerance and patience of people while the city and the park board have worked to assemble the financing, expertise and company to restore this valued recreational and tranist corridor. The MPRB's Board of Commissioners awarded Veit & Company the contract to repair the slope. You can learn more at the Park Board’s website here .

Glendale.  In communication with an organized group of Glendale Residents and a Propsect Park neighborhood  committee, I was able to successfully and indefinitely delay any formal action on the plans for the city to formally partner with the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA) to engage in planning to redevelop the Glendale Public Housing owned and managed by the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority. Due to the large number of comments, questions, and serious concerns raised about  the proposed development, I was convinced that the matter was not ready to even be considered by the Council. After consulting with my collagues we determined that it was best to cancel the public hearing and not take any action on the Plan at this time. So, with my support, the Minneapolis City Council’s Community Development and Regulatory Services Committee did not even consider this in July and the matter many has been deleted from the Committee’s, and City Council’s, agenda. I am hoping that this will provide ample opportunity for all stakholders to better understand the problem, develop a shared vision for what the future of the Glendale community should be and then identify the best acceptable strategies to realize that vision.  The MPHA has assured me and City leadership that it is committed to providing clear information and will continue to further study and assess the feasibility of redevelopment options.  In addition, the MPHA has committed to continuing to meet regularly with the neighborhood association and Glendale residents to establish a path to future redevelopment activities.  I share the desire to preserve high quality, affordable public housing in the community. I am commited to continue to work  with residents and the MPHA and I support its mission to provide quality, well-managed affordable housing. It was inspoiring and helpful to have such a high level of community engagement in this issue so far.  I hope it continues and I thank all those who got invovled for taking the time to participate and engage with your community. If you would like to stay informed and involved please feel free to contact either Carrie Flack, CPED Senior Project Coordinator, at 612-673-5240 or or MPHA Development Project Manager Dean Carlson at 612-342-1213 or  The MPHA has also created a website with more information about this project.

Bus Shelter Removal. Through an agreement with the City of Minneapolis, Metro Transit recently acquired 150 transit shelters in the City of Minneapolis from CBS Outdoors, a private advertising agency. CBS Outdoors originally selected shelter locations to maximize visibility of its advertising. A number of the shelters do not serve high ridership bus stops, are 30 years old and are in poor condition. Each of these shelters has been assessed to determine which should be replaced or removed permanently. Through this process, we have identified approximately 20 shelters at bus stops for permanent removal, including two for low ridership in Ward 2.  One is at University Ave at the University Rec Center eastbound and the other on at 39th Ave S and East Lake Street, east bound. The transit shelters at the locations listed above are scheduled to be removed on or after July 24, 2015. Metro Transit’s current guidelines require a transit stop in Minneapolis to have a minimum of 40 daily boardings to be considered for a shelter.  It is our practice to permanently remove transit shelters from bus stops where ridership falls below 50% of the minimum daily boarding requirement or at bus stops with less than 20 customers boarding each day.  Both these stops average 8 passnegers a day.  

4th St SE Street. The Transportation and Public Works Committee has approved the project layout for the reconstruction of 4th St SE between 29th Ave SE and Malcolm St SE. This is an important step supporting Propsect Park North vision and property owners preparing for majoy new development north of Univeristy Ave. in Prosepct Park. Staff Reports: 4th St SE RCA & Project Map; 4th St SE Project Layout.

Zoning of Former Tri-State Bearing Building.  The City Planning Commission and the Zonging and Planning Committee have recommended that the City Council deny the application for rezoning the property at 3414 25th St E, from the R1A/Single-Family District to the C1/Neighborhood Commercial District, based on the following findings: the uses within the closest proximity to the address are zoned residential; this site is not located on a commercial corridor, community corridor, or neighborhood commercial node; the change of nonconforming use application process is available to the applicant so it is premature to rezone the property to a commercial district; if there is interest in adding more commercial properties to this area, a rezoning study would be a more appropriate policy approach; the rezoning is solely for the interest of a single property owner; and, there are reasonable uses for this property through the change of nonconforming use process.  I have followed this issue carefully and greatly appreciate the engagement of the community and the neighborhood association in it.  At this point I am supportive of the Planning Commission and Committee’s recommendation. A full Council vote will take place on July 24. If the rezoning does not succeed, I look forward to working with the community and building owners on a change in nonconforming use process for a particular commercial use.

Electric Steel Elevator.  The owners of the Electric Steel elevator are moving forward with an application to demolish these structures.  Their application will come forward for a public hearing on July 28th at the Heritage Preservation Commission, at 4:30pm in room 317 of City Hall.  I have heard from the owners that they are seeking this demolition because the buildings are now vacant and no longer used for grain storage, cannot be used for another purpose, and are an attractive nuisance that are nearly impossible to keep ‘urban explorers’ from entering and taking serious risks inside.  While I have no position on this application at this time, I am especially sensitive to the public safety concern given the recent death of another U of M student at the Bunge grain elevator in SE Como. has submitted a Demolition of Historic Resource application for the removal of all existing structures at the properties located at 600 25th Avenue SE and 649 26th Avenue SE, formerly the Electric Steel Elevator. The property is not currently locally or nationally designated.  Interested parties are invited to attend and speak at the hearing. After hearing from the public, the Heritage Preservation Commission will make a determination based on required legal findings of fact. Please visit here for the agenda with staff reports (web page will be updated by the end of the day Monday prior to the meeting date). If you would like to submit comments, you can make them verbally at the meeting or submit them in writing toLisa Steiner, City Planner, 250 South 4th Street, Room 300, Minneapolis, MN 55415, 612.673.3950 Ÿ Fax: 612.673.2526 Ÿ Email:

8th St SE Street.  The City has approved all necessary funding and design for the project to reconstruct the small section of  8th St SE to the east of 15th Ave SE, and install pedestrian level lighting.  We have also signed an agreement with the University of Minnesota making them the lead of this project in order to have it completed as part of the larger project they are completing in the area. I thank the University of MN for stepping up to help fund this very necessary street reconstruction project, but was disappointed to learn that it will be delayed until next year because of the challenges they have faced finding a suitable contractor available to complete the project this summer at a reasonable cost.

Pedestrian Advisory Committee.  I want to thank Prospect Park resident Julia Tabbut for her continuing service on the Pedestrian Advisory Committee.  She has been a strong and active supporter of better pedestrian infrastructure and is being recommended for reappointment for another term beginning July 1, and ending June 30, 2017.

Hotel at Essex and Huron.  The Planning Commission will approved additional applications made by CPM Development for their proposed hotel at Essex and Huron.  In May, the Planning Commission approved a site plan, conditional use permit, and variance applications to allow for the construction of this five-story hotel at 501 Huron Boulevard SE and 2510 Essex St SE.

Openings on Boards and Commissions. Applications are now being accepted for some of the City’s boards and commissions. I am still seeking applicants for the Second Ward representative on the City's Bycycle Advisory Committee. If you're interested let me know or visit the City's webpage  for more information about openings and how to apply.

Open Office Hours in the Ward. I usually hold open “Office Hours” in the ward every Thursday morning from 9:30 to 11:00 am.  Please feel free to call the office at 673-2202 to reserve some time or just stop by for a visit.
First Thursdays at the Oren Gateway Center,  Nabo Café, 2211 Riverside Avenue;
Second Thursdays at Black: Coffee and Waffles, 1500 Como Ave SE;
Third Thursdays at Overflow Café, 2929 University Ave SE;
Fourth Thursdays at Blue Moon Coffee Café, 3822 E Lake St.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Second Ward May 2015 E-newsletter

News from Cam Gordon, 
Minneapolis Council Member, Second Ward

Rail Safety Meeting. In response to growing concerns about the significant increase in dangerous rail traffic in Minneapolis, Council Members Reich, Frey and I are co-hosting an Eastside Minneapolis Rail Safety Forum on Thursday, June 18, from 6:30 – 8pm, at East Side Neighborhood Services, 1700 2nd Street NE.  Panelists will include Congressman Keith Ellison, Rep. Frank Hornstein, Sen. Kari Dziedzic, Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel, Grant Hosmer from City of Minneapolis Emergency Management and representatives from BNSF, CP Rail and MN DOT.  The forum will allow the community to learn more about strategies in place to ensure public safety, as well as an opportunity to share questions and concerns with local, state and federal officials as well as railroad representatives.

Clean Energy Partnership Sets Work Plan.  The Clean Energy Partnership between the City and our energy utilities approved its first two-year work plan on May 29th.  This plan calls for the City and utilities to increase energy efficiency, increase renewable energy, and develop strong City-utility coordination.  The work will be done in five key segments: 1-4 unit residential, multifamily residential, small commercial buildings, large commercial buildings, and the City enterprise.  I’m especially excited that we will be doing more to increase energy efficiency in rental housing, increase renewable energy use in all segments, get the City to adopt some new policies like energy transparency at time of sale or rent of housing units, and move the City towards more sustainable practices like using renewables ourselves, transitioning to LED streetlights, and supporting innovative pilot projects like district energy in large redevelopment areas.  I look forward to working on implementing this plan over the 18 months and I thank the members of the Energy Vision Advisory Committee (EVAC), and the City and utility staff Planning Team, who did a lot of work in a compressed timeframe to develop this work plan.

Better Regulating Tobacco Products. A public hearing has been schedule for June 8th at 1:30 pm in the City Council Chambers regarding the ordinance Council Member Yang and I are co-authoring that would restrict the sale of flavored tobacco to adult-only tobacco shops, and establish a minimum pack size and price for cigars and cigarillos. Late last year, we heard from the Youth Congress – echoing data our Health Department staff has garnered from national studies – that these products are a principal ‘point of entry’ to nicotine addiction for youth smokers.  We hope that making it more difficult for children to get access to low-cost candy-flavored tobacco products will assure that thousands of kids never become addicted to tobacco, which is one of the leading causes of death and disease in our city.

Read more »

New Facebook Page

In order to better communicate with you and others I have added a “Cam Gordon - Minneapolis City Council Second Ward” professional Facebook page to my menu of communication tools. Find and “like” it at to stay better informed about my work as Council Member. This compliments my use of email, e-newsletters like this one, my web log and my twitter account (@CameronAGordon), as well the website, phone calls and face to face conversations to keep communication lines open and flowing.   

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Why Repeal the "Lurking" Law?

I am working to repeal Minneapolis’ “lurking” ordinance for four reasons:
1) It is poorly crafted,
2) It is unnecessary,  
3) It is ineffective,
4) It contributes to racial and economic disparities and injustice.

Here is the law, in its entirety:

“385.80. Lurking.  No person, in any public or private place, shall lurk, lie in wait or be concealed with intent to commit any crime or unlawful act.”

Find more detail on my reasons to repeal the lurking ordinance below the fold.

Read more »

Friday, May 15, 2015

Pepper Spray at Protest

Like most people, I was very disturbed to learn that a young African American boy was pepper-sprayed during a protest yesterday evening in downtown Minneapolis. I support the right of people to peacefully protest, and recognize that much of the progress we are making in our discussions about racial disparities in the criminal justice system are due to the power of grassroots organizing and protest.

 I thank Police Chief Janee Harteau and Mayor Hodges for taking this incident seriously and I look forward to hearing the results of those investigations.

 Here's Chief Harteau's statement:
"I am launching a full investigation into the concerns brought forth this evening. Our investigation will include gathering surveillance video and interviewing witnesses. I understand and appreciate people's concerns and will gather the full set of facts as quickly as possible. I assure everyone this will be a thorough investigation.”

Friday, March 20, 2015

On De-Criminalizing Spitting

This morning Council Member Blong Yang and I gave formal notice of our intention to bring to the City Council a motion to repeal two of the city’s ordinances that criminalize some instances of spitting and lurking.  I plan to write more about lurking later, and to address the city’s “spitting ordinance:” here.  

The basic ordinance we use today was passed in 1898. It was amended slightly in 1904 and perhaps later.  It apparently was used around the turn of the century.  According to records I found from the day, arrests went from about 200 arrests were made in 1904 to 21 in 1908 and back to 1 in 1909, although one source indicated there were as many as 400 arrests in 1909.  It is clear from reading the news and the Council proceedings from the time period that the passage of this ordinance was intended to help prevent the spread of Tuberculosis (TB) in a time when the use of chewing/spitting tobacco was common in Minneapolis, much more common that it is today. While today we know that TB is an air born disease spread when infectious people sneeze, cough, talk or spit, there was less certainty then.  Additionally, it appears use of chewing and spitting tobacco was seen as a nuisance. In 1904 passage of another related ordinance made tuberculosis reportable.  In 1909 in Minneapolis there were 356 deaths and 434 living cases of Tuberculosis reported. (from ATuberculosis Directory: Containing a List of Institutions, Associations andOther Agencies Dealing with Tuberculosis in the United States and Canada, NationalAssociation for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis, 1911)

It appears that arrests for spitting and depositing tobacco feel off quickly. Only a few years after the height of the tuberculosis epidemic in Minneapolis, in 1913, there were only 2 spitting violations reported of over 12,000 violations of all city ordinances reported that year.  One hundred years late, in 2013, as far as I can tell so far, there was only one citation given and in 2014 there were none. 

That said, I have heard individual reports of people being stopped for spitting.  Some of the attention to this ordinance comes from reports that it is sometimes used by police to initiate enforcement actions against people, and that those interactions are often with people of color.

Here is the specific language, which appears to allow spitting in some places (yards, ball fields, parkland, boulevards and even in the street itself) but prohibits spitting in most indoor public places and on sidewalks:

“213.30. - Spitting; depositing tobacco.

No person shall spit or expectorate or deposit or place any sputum, spittle, saliva, phlegm, mucus, tobacco juice, cigarette stumps, cigar stumps or quids of tobacco upon the floor, walls or stairway or any part of any public hall or building, depot, market, theater, church or place of public amusement; or upon, into or through any grating, area or stairway; or upon any sidewalk of any public street; or upon the floor, furnishings or equipment of any motor bus while it is in use upon the streets of the city. “

To my way of thinking this falls into a category of behaviors that would best be described as “things people probably shouldn't do, but shouldn't necessarily be a crime.”  There are lots of behaviors that are not particularly polite, and can spread disease.  For example, not covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough, and not washing your hands afterwards.  Those behaviors are most likely significantly more likely to spread disease, but they are not against the law in Minneapolis.  Spitting and depositing tobacco waste certainly are unsanitary and potentially offensive, but I am convinced that they no longer rise to the level of requiring an ordinance or the use of police and court resources to manage and regulate, even if they did in 1898 and in 1904.  Public awareness and education are better approaches.