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: http://secondward.blogspot.com/2006/05/disclaimer.html#links

Monday, February 27, 2017

A Look Back at What We Have Accomplished So Far

When I first I ran for office, I identified five aspirational values that I believe the people of Ward 2 share: social and economic justice, environmental sustainability, grassroots democracy, nonviolence, and community-based economics. I use them every day to guide my work.

I want to share with you some of what we have accomplished together, so far, by using them to make this a better city:

I have led on justice for all, by:
·         Making us address our history of institutional racism, by authoring the Equity in Employment Resolution in 2008, establishing a task force, drafting an action plan, setting City goals to reduce racial disparities in employment and income in 2012, passing a subsequent Resolution declaring institutional racism a serious problem and continuing to push for racial equity since. This has included repealing racist, antiquated ordinances like those on “lurking” and spitting, requiring the police to better track information about the people they stop, creating and staffing a new Office of Equity and Inclusion, getting the City to hire and contract with more people of color to accomplish new hiring and retention goals, and more.

       Calling for workplace protections for workers, including a $15 minimum wage for all, earned sick time, fair scheduling, an end to wage theft, and standing with unions as they organize in the Ward.

       Standing up against unnecessary subsidies for billionaires like the Vikings Stadium.

       Ensuring that all people in Minneapolis have access to healthy food by requiring staple food in grocery stores and allowing new mobile grocery stores.

       Addressing our affordable housing crisis, from flexibility for overnight and short term emergency homeless shelters to allowing intentional communities, and from supporting hundreds of new transit-oriented residences to policies like accessory dwelling units and parking reform.

       Protecting the health of our kids by prohibiting flavored tobacco except at tobacco-only retailers, setting a minimum price for cigars and cigarillos, and prohibiting e-cigarettes in all indoor places where smoking is prohibited.

       Protecting the residents of the Glendale Townhomes area by stopping an alarming redevelopment plan and preventing gentrification and the loss of their homes.

       Bringing forward an updated, improved and necessary Americans with Disabilities Action Plan.

       Protecting renters from unscrupulous landlords and unhealthy buildings with an updated low-heat, no-heat ordinance, an ordinance prohibiting landlords from having unpaid legal judgments against them, an ordinance establishing guidelines for lead abatement in rental properties, and requirements for disclosure to tenants of known soil or other contamination like arsenic and Trichloroethylene (TCE).

       Reaffirming our City as a welcoming place, authoring the Standing with All Members of Our One Minneapolis and the Supporting the Resettlement of Syrian refugees in Minneapolis resolutions in the aftermath of the 2016 election.

I have led on environmental sustainability by:
       Pushing the City to do more about climate change in a host of ways, including approving a strong, comprehensive Climate Action Plan, forming the Clean Energy Partnership between the City and our energy utilities, ensuring that our energy franchise agreements are shorter and allow the City more flexibility to raise franchise fee revenue for clean energy, adopting and modeling an 80% carbon emission reduction goal, signing the City up for two community solar gardens, authoring a fossil fuel divestment resolution and supporting divestment by our banking partners, advocating for a district energy system for Prospect North.

       Making it easier to walk, bike and take transit in Minneapolis.  That means many miles of new bike paths and trails, a strong Complete Streets policy that prioritizes people over cars, ensuring that the Green Line and Blue Line are successful and have spurred transit oriented development, passing a plan for at least 50 miles of new protected bikeways, ensuring City sponsorship of Open Streets events, and pushing for better winter maintenance of bikeways and sidewalks.

       Investing in Parks and Streets through a funding package that provides $10 million to parks and $20 million to streets annually for the next 20 years.

       Protecting the environment right here in Minneapolis by adopting a new Urban Forestry Policy that protects boulevard trees from construction damage, authoring the Managed Natural Landscape ordinance to let residents have purposeful plantings over eight inches in height, supporting the planting of thousands of trees through the annual City Trees program, making all new skyways bird-safe, and calling for the Vikings Stadium to be bird-safe, and making Minneapolis a pollinator-friendly city.

       Reducing waste and increasing recycling by requiring recycling in commercial buildings, calling for single-sort recycling and compost collection by the City, establishing an aggressive recycling and waste diversion goal, winning state funding for a commercial recycling and waste diversion study, passing the Bring Your Own Bag ordinance to reduce plastic bags, requiring recycling chutes in new multifamily buildings, supporting a recyclable or compostable packaging requirement through the Green to Go ordinance, and significantly increasing the amount of composting that can occur at community gardens, market gardens and urban farms.

·         Fighting for environmental justice by authoring a resolution to create a strong Green Zones policy to focus on neighborhoods that have faced more than their share of pollution and the Green Business Program that has removed more than 30,000 pounds of air pollution.

       Embracing the local food movement by creating the Homegrown Minneapolis Food Council, authoring Urban Agriculture policies to legalize urban farms, allowing more flexible rules for farmers markets, allowing mini farmers markets, allowing limited production and processing in commercial areas, supporting seed sharing libraries, allowing urban farmers to make much more use of farmstands to sell directly to their neighbors, opening up more City-owned land for food growing, and supporting reforms to make it easier to keep honeybees and chickens.

       Reducing toxins by authoring a resolution calling for the phase-out of triclosan from cleaning products, responding to the arsenic contamination in Longfellow and Seward and the trichloroethylene plume in Southeast Como, supporting revising the City’s pollution control fees to tie them directly to emissions, supporting legal action against Northern Metals, supporting a ban on the toxin perchloroethylene (or “perc”) in new dry cleaners, and more.

I have led on grassroots democracy by:
       Spearheading the process to put Ranked Choice Voting on the ballot in Minneapolis, working for its adoption, and ensuring that our first ranked choice elections have been a success.

       Leading the effort to produce and distribute a Voter’s Guide to every Minneapolis household every election cycle.

       Pushing for an Early Voting system for elections, including 4 early voting centers and increased hours, and supporting mandatory provision of voter registration information by landlords.

       Protecting funding for neighborhood groups and recently restoring $9 million back to neighborhoods for neighborhood revitalization plans.

       Building off the foundation of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program towards a more permanent, inclusive and sustainable system of civic participation through creation of the Community Engagement Taskforce and report in 2010 that resulted in the creation of the Neighborhood and Community Engagement Commission and the new city Neighborhood and Community Relations department as well as continued funding to support the work of neighborhood organizations.

       Putting more accountability and support for diversity into our community engagement system through the Blueprint for Equitable Engagement, an external evaluation of the Neighborhood and Community Relations department, a language access plan for better serving people with limited English proficiency, and regular diversity audits to better track the demographic makeup of the people who serve on City boards and commissions and neighborhood groups.

       Helping to create community-based stakeholder groups to advocate for the interests of Ward 2 neighborhoods, like the University District Alliance, the Prospect North Partnership, and the Cedar Riverside Partnership.

       Doing what I can to communicate well and be present in Ward 2 neighborhoods by attending monthly neighborhood group meetings, distributing monthly reports online and in each neighborhood, creating the City’s first Council Member blog, holding office hours in the Ward every week, and responding to your calls and emails.

I have led on nonviolence by:
·         Redefining youth violence as a public health crisis, and being the City Council lead on passing a ground breaking Blueprint for Action to prevent youth violence, as well as leading implementation efforts through the creation of a steering committee, hiring of dedicated staff and creation of programs including the Inspiring Youth program that supports youth identified to be at greatest risk of involvement with violence, the Next Step  hospital-based program aimed a youth who are victims of violent injuries, the work readiness Build Leaders program, three parent support and education programs and the more recent Group Violence Intervention program.

·         Facilitating better collaboration with schools, parks and the county as Chair of the Youth Coordinating Board, which supports the Minneapolis Youth Congress, created and expanded our Youth Are Here youth outreach worker program, developed the Afterschool Network (What’s Up 612) program finder for youth, and more.

       Reducing police violence by creating a mental health co-responder program that pairs police officers with mental health professionals to respond to people experiencing mental health crises, pushing for implicit bias and de-escalation training for all officers, standing up for strong civilian oversight of police, supporting a safer police Use of Force policy, and investing in body cameras for police.

       Taking livability concerns seriously by passing a strong Social Hosting ordinance, strengthening the noisy and unruly assembly ordinance, updating the City’s noise ordinance and more.

I have led on community-based economics and development by:

       Facilitating the construction of hundreds of new units of housing along transit corridors, while protecting the character of our neighborhoods.

       Creating the conditions for small businesses of all types to thrive, leading to a boom in business on our commercial corridors and nodes like Lake Street, Franklin Avenue, Stadium Village, University, Washington, and Como/15th.

       Assisting in bringing larger employers like Surly Brewery to the Ward and being personally engaged in the transit-oriented development of the Prospect North/Towerside area.

       Pushing to start and expand citywide initiatives like the Great Streets program, Business Made Simple, the new Cooperative Technical Assistance Program and more, while working to make sure our treatment of businesses is fair, equitable, open and transparent.

       Advancing community led planning and development initiatives like the Como Blueprint small area plan, several Light Rail Station Area plans, the University Avenue Innovation District, the University Area Overlay District, safe routes to school, plans for the Dinkytown Greenway, the Big Picture Project and the Seward Longfellow Greenway Area Land Use and Pre-Development Study.

Without community support, and the work of residents, advocates, staff and colleagues, as well as institutional and organizational stakeholders and partners, none of these accomplishments would have been possible. I am grateful for all the collaboration and cooperation that has made these accomplishments possible, but there is much more left to do.

We are living in challenging times and it is vitally important that we commit to continuing to make progress where we can, especially at the local level. Clearly, we have a great deal of work ahead of us. I am committed to working as hard as ever to help make this a more democratic, peaceful, just and sustainable city that works well for everyone. I’m all in and I hope that you are too. It’s up to us.


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Second Ward January 2017 E-newsletter

Second Ward January 2017 E-newsletter

News from Cam Gordon
Council Member, Second Ward

No Ban No Wall. I am very alarmed by the recent actions by the Trump administration on immigration and refugees. By providing a safe landing place for refugees and immigrants we not only do what we can, as a developed and resource abundant country, to help others in need, but we enrich our own communities. Trumps new policies are tearing and keeping families apart and obstructing the efforts of the University of Minnesota, Augsburg College and to be true international institutions of research and learning. To respond to the disturbing Presidential orders related to immigration and refugee resettlement, the Council’s Intergovernmental Relations Committee with discuss them at its next meeting on Tuesday, February 7 at 9:30 am in the City Council Chambers in City Hall. There, we will hear from our City Attorney and community agencies, including the American Civil Liberties Union, about how these new rules will impact our City and how we can help respond to better protect our people. We will explore ways the City can take action to strengthen the protections we can offer our immigrant, Muslim, and refugee families. You are welcome to join us. I will continue the fight against what I see as this administration's immoral, cruel, and likely illegal behavior towards some of the most vulnerable people in our communities and our world. For a more of my thoughts on this see: https://www.facebook.com/camgordonward2/posts/722858671209828.

Syrian Refugee Resolution. The resolution that I authored supporting resettlement of Syrian refugees in Minneapolis passed the Council unanimously on January 13, prior to the Presidential action banning Syrian immigration indefinitely. You can find the resolution here: http://www.minneapolismn.gov/www/groups/public/documents/agenda/wcmsp-191930.pdf  

Minimum Wage Community Meetings. The City is holding a series of listening sessions on the proposed raise in the minimum wage. All meetings are open to the public and are listed here: http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/minimumwage/MINIMUM-HOME. Upcoming meetings include: Tuesday, February 7, 5:30-7 p.m. All My Relations Gallery (Powwow Grounds), 1414 E. Franklin Ave.; Tuesday, February 14, Minneapolis Downtown Council and Northeast Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce, 4-5:30 p.m. DID conference rooms (TBD); Wednesday, February 15: 3-5 p.m. NEON, 1007 W. Broadway Ave.; Tuesday, February. 21: 6-7:30 p.m. Sabathani Community Center, 310 E. 38th St.; Thursday, February. 23, 6-7:30 p.m. Urban League, main gathering room, 2100 Plymouth Ave. The study, led by the University of Minnesota’s Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations and Justice, on the impact of increasing the wage to $12 and $15 per hour phased in over five years, is available here: http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/www/groups/public/@clerk/documents/webcontent/wcmsp-187333.pdf. Questions and feedback about the minimum wage can be sent to MinWage@minneapolismn.gov.

Earned Sick and Safe Time. I was heartened to see the courts side with the City in the Earned Sick and Safe Time ordinance lawsuit that was brought by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, and others.  The judge’s ruling makes clear that the City does have the legal authority to adopt ordinances that bear on topics the state has also regulated, when we are not explicitly preempted.  This is great news for the workers who will now get the sort of workplace protections that many of us take for granted.  It is also good news for the City as we consider adopting a local minimum wage. Still, I understand that the Chamber has appealed this decision, which is discouraging. No one from the Chamber has reached out to me to discuss their opposition to allowing the City to set these minimum protections for workers.

Restoring NRP Phase 2 Funding. On Monday at the Health, Environment and Community Engagement Committee I moved a resolution that I have been working on for several months that, if approved by the full Council on February 10th, will restore full funding to all the neighborhood organizations that lost a portion of their allocated Neighborhood Revitalization Program funding as part of an unexpected budget amendment in December of 2010.  This is possible, in part, because the revenue from the specially approved Tax Increment Financing District has been higher than expected, and is expected to be higher than projected for the next few years, before it expires in 2020. In 2026 in yielded over $10 million more than projected or needed. The amounts the Ward 2 neighborhoods can expect to see restored over the next four years are as follows Cedar Riverside - $211,372; Longfellow (which includes Cooper, Howe and Hiawatha) - $691,943; Prospect Park - $91,225; Seward - $44,639; Southeast Como - $122,142; and, University - $4,512. You can find the full staff report and payment schedules here http://www.minneapolismn.gov/meetings/legislation/WCMSP-193147.

Public Health Advisory Committee. This month I learned that my outstanding appointee to the City’s Public Health Advisory Committee (PHAC), Laurel Nightingale, had to resign.  I thank Laurel for her commitment and service to the City. Now, I am looking for someone who lives or works in Ward 2 with experience, expertise and/or a strong interest in public health to serve on this committee. The committee has a long track record of providing valuable advice on health policy to the City Council, and Minneapolis Health Department. The advisory group reports to the Health, Environment and Community Engagement Committee, which I chair. It also serves as a link between the City and the community in addressing health concerns.  I am hoping to get some applications in for review by February 15, 2017. The group meets the fourth Tuesday of the month from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. in City Hall. For information on the application process visit http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/boards/openings/WCMSP-190346. For more information about the committee feel free to contact me or visit http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/health/phac/index.htm  or contact Margaret Schuster, Sr. Public Health Specialist, at 612-673-2643.

Fossil Fuel Divestment. I was very disappointed to learn that the new president is pushing forward the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines, selling our children's futures for private gain for a few companies. This makes it even more important that Minneapolis divest not just from direct investments in fossil fuels, but from the financial institutions that underwrite these pipelines and other fossil fuel extractive industries. I'm proud to have coauthored a staff direction as part of the budget adoption in December, for staff to return with a report on practices in other city and further options worth exploring. My goal is for our decisions about our financial services providers to match our values. Better systems might include a publicly owned and democratically controlled local bank or credit union. If you are interested in learning more about this topic, here is a good place to start: http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/www/groups/public/@council/documents/policydocument/wcmsp-193172.pdf

Air Quality. In January the Health Department presented the results of its nearly 3 yearlong air quality study. The study provides data about air quality at the neighborhood level. From November 2013 through August 2015 volunteers helped collect a series of 8 air samples, collected quarterly. At each collection approximately 120 samples were collected from locations across the City. Each sample was analyzed at our contracted lab, PACE in Southeast Como, and 61 Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) were reported. In addition, during the seven sampling events between February 2014 and August 2015, approximately 20 possible sampling devices were placed to analyze formaldehyde along two corridors. The results were compared to the Minnesota Department of Health, Health Risk Values (HRVs) for chemicals in ambient air. Of the 62 VOCs analyzed, five, benzene, formaldehyde, naphthalene, tetrachloroethylene, and trichloroethylene, were found at levels over their defined HRV. Further study will be completed in the next few months to better understand ways to reduce the high levels of these five VOCs The full report is available at http://www.minneapolismn.gov/environment/air/airquality_index

Minneapolis for a Lifetime: An Age Friendly City Action Plan. The Council is poised to approve Minneapolis for a Lifetime: An Age Friendly City Action Plan.  The plan (http://minneapolismn.gov/meetings/legislation/WCMSP-192521 ) identifies the following goals: 1) affirm and improve all housing options for Minneapolis residents as they age; 2) strengthen and promote safe transportation options that meet the needs of Minneapolis residents as they age; 3) partner to expand and promote older adults’ participation in health and wellness initiatives throughout the City of Minneapolis; 4) Establish and maintain valued social and civic roles; 5) Contribute to the economic life of the community; and, 6) participate in the social, educational and cultural life of the neighborhood and community. The first three, housing, transportation and health/ wellness are top priorities. I am excited to see this plan coming forward and believe that it offers clear recommended action steps that we can begin working on this year.http://www.minneapolismn.gov/environment/air/airquality_index

10 Year Street Funding Plan. I was very impressed and pleased to see the updates to this plan for how we will invest our street maintenance, renovation and reconstruction funding over the next decade. Most noteworthy is the focus on racial and economic equity that is being incorporated into these decisions at what may be an unprecedented level for the City.  The report offers a clear, comprehensive and transparent look at the equity filter that the city will use in its analysis to make future funding decisions.  As the report says this is “only the beginning” and we will regularly be re-evaluating this approach and your input would be appreciated. If this is an area of interested to you please review the report (http://www.minneapolismn.gov/www/groups/public/@clerk/documents/webcontent/wcmsp-193199.pdf) and share your feedback.

Youth Violence Prevention Report. . In January the 2015 Youth Violence Prevention Results Minneapolis report was issued. It tracks, graphs and analyzes 26 indicators over 9 years (2006 to 2015). While the 9 years trend lines show a general decrease in youth violence, a few key indicators show a disturbing increase between 2014 and 2015.  This includes an increase in gunshot victims under age 25 from 104 in 2014 to 130 in 2015 and homicides going from 11 in 2014 to 24 in 2015.  I plan to have it presented to the Health Environment and Community Engagement Committee in February or March when we will have some 2016 data available as well. You can find the full report here: http://minneapolismn.gov/www/groups/public/@health/documents/webcontent/wcmsp-189736.pdf

Healthy Food Access. The City has generated a report on healthy food access as part of the ongoing Results Minneapolis program.  You can find the report here: https://tableau.minneapolismn.gov/views/Healthyfoodaccess/Healthyfoodaccess?:embed=y&:showShareOptions=true&:display_count=no&:showVizHome=no.

SolSmart Gold designation.  Minneapolis has received an award from SolSmart, a program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.  A SolSmart designation signals that the community supports solar businesses and helps attract solar industry investment and jobs. To achieve a designation, cities and counties take steps to reduce solar “soft costs” to save money for consumers. Minneapolis efforts include updating zoning requirements, reducing solar permitting time and costs, education and outreach, training staff and solar installers, advocating at the Public Utilities Commission, placing solar capability on City-owned buildings, and committing to community solar gardens.

Minnesota Clean Energy Community Award. We also received an achievement award from the state as part of Minnesota’s first Clean Energy Community Awards program. The award acknowledge work done by Minnesota communities’ programs, policies and technologies to further the state’s clean energy goals and encourage energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy generation. The Minnesota Commerce Department is the sponsor and coordinator of the awards program with financial support from the U.S. Department of Energy and The McKnight Foundation. Minneapolis received its award for the formation of the Clean Energy Partnership that is committed to helping us reach our Climate Action Plan and Energy Vision for 2040 with goals of a 30 percent greenhouse gas reduction by 2025 and an 80 percent reduction by 2050.

Inspiring Bold Action on Tobacco.  I was honored to join my colleague and coauthor, Blong Yang, in accepting an award on behalf of the city at the Inspiring Bold Action 2017 Minnesota Tobacco Control Conference, on January 24.  At the conference the city was recognized, along with St. Paul and Shoreview, for the flavored tobacco and minimum tobacco pricing ordinance we passed in approved in 2015.  I am proud of the work we’ve done to protect kids from the flavored tobacco products that are clearly designed to get them addicted, and I look forward to continuing to make progress on tobacco control policies.

Community Connections Conference.  The fifth annual Community Connections Conference – Your Voice, Your City: CommUnity – will be held at the Minneapolis Convention Center Saturday, April 1. The Neighborhood and Community Relations Department hosts the free conference annually in partnership with City departments, neighborhood organizations, and community partners. It is designed to showcase and build successful community collaborations between neighborhoods, cultural communities, residents, and the City.  Check here for updates.

Changes to Fraternity and Sorority Regulation. The ordinance amendment introduced by Council Member Frey last June is slowly moving forward and discussed at the Planning Commission Committee of the Whole this month. It would loosen regulations of fraternities and sororities in response the growing “Greek” community in and around the University of Minnesota Minneapolis campus. Representatives from the area’s “Greek” community are seeking the changes to the zoning code to allow more flexibility and opportunities for existing and new fraternities and sororities. Currently Fraternities and Sororities are a conditional use in the OR2, OR3, R4, R5, and R6 districts. They have a minimum lot area of 10,000 square feet and a minimum lot width of 80 feet. They are limited to 2.5 stories in height and a Floor Area Ratio of 1.5. Geographically, fraternities and sororities must be located within ½ mile of campus. Changes being sought include allowing for the use to be established on zoning lots that were not previously used as a fraternity or sorority, removing the limit of thirty-two (32) maximum persons served. allowing on-site services to be used by all members or guests; revising the ordinance to be similar to building bulk requirements for Community Residential Facility by reducing the minimum lot area from 10,000 square feet to 5,000 square feet, the minimum lot width from 80 feet to 40 feet and increasing the maximum height from 2.5 stories, 35 feet to 4 stories, 56 feet. You can learn more here. http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/www/groups/public/@cped/documents/webcontent/wcmsp-192027.pdf

Occupancy Ordinance. Council Member Frey has introduced an ordinance amendment that would amend occupancy requirements.  I believe that this is premature, considering the recent intentional communities ordnance that I believe offers a well-reasoned, appropriately cautious approach to addressing problems with the current ordinances without lifting the occupancy limits entirely, or dramatically increasing them across the board.  I encourage people to watch this closely as the specifics come forward in the weeks ahead. I will do the same.

Charter Amendment. With the support of, and at the request of, the Charter Commission, the Committee of the Whole has voted to recommend Amending Article IX, Section 9.4 of the Minneapolis City Charter relating to Finance: Debt to address a technical amendment to the City Charter pertaining to bond proceeds.  This would strike the language related to § 9.4 Debt, (c) Premium from bonds. That stipulates that “Any premium received from selling bonds must service those bonds unless the law provides otherwise,” and replaces it with the following: “the City may treat any premium from selling bonds as additional bond proceeds.”

Community and Commercial Garden Implementation Report. This month we learned that the number of garden parcels increased, from 60 garden parcels in 2015, to 85 in 2016 and 94 in 2017. The majority of the additional parcels available for gardens are undevelopable or undersized properties. Many of the parcels available for garden lots are unsuitable for gardening because of shade, soil conditions or other issues. Yet, the number of available parcels for gardens and the number of parcels leased for gardens is increasing, as are the number of inquiries about gardening on other lots. The Council, on a motion made by Council Member Frey, directed the Department of Community Planning & Economic Development staff to work the Department of Public Works staff to compile a list of additional vacant City-owned parcels that may qualify for the community and commercial gardening program, and report back with the list to the CDRS Committee on February 28th.

Minneapolis Public Housing Board Reappointments. The Council has approved the mayoral appointments to the Public Housing Authority Board of Cara Letofsky from Ward 2 and Chuck Lutz from Ward 11.  Both of these are reappointments and I have talked to both Board Members about the needs and concerns of the residents of Glendale Townhomes. I am hopeful that they can help us find a path to make sure that immediate and long term needs are address to preserve and improve this needed family-oriented affordable housing in our Ward.

29th Street Closure at the Greenway. On January 31, the Council's Transportation and Public Works committee received a welcome report from Public Works staff about the intersection of 29th Ave S and the Midtown Greenway. The staff recommendation was in line with the desires of the community: to close the intersection to cars while keeping it open to people on foot and on bikes. This is part of a broader plan to build two bike boulevards in Seward and Longfellow, one on 29th Ave S from Franklin to Lake Street, and one on 24th St E from Hiawatha to the river. These bike boulevards meet right at Matthews Park and Seward Montessori, and are a great example of Safe Routes to School projects. The original idea for these bike boulevards came from the community, and they were pushed forward by organized parents, teachers and students at Seward Montessori School. There has been a test closure in place for more than a year, and the City heard overwhelming support for making it permanent. Both the Seward Neighborhood Group and Longfellow Community Council took positions in favor of it. When the Council approved the overall design for these bike boulevards late last year, I directed staff to come forward by the end of this month with design options including a full closure. I was delighted to learn last week that staff were recommending the full closure, and had come up with such a great design solution. Special thanks goes to Lisa Herr, a teacher at Seward Montessori who help organize her students around this issue and brought them to City Hall twice to advocate for the closure. I am also grateful to neighborhood activists and parents like Matthew Hendricks, Hillary Oppmann, Sheldon Mains, Doug Wise, Joshua Houdek and my colleagues Andrew Johnson and Abdi Warsame, who joined with me in advocating for the community's position. I commend the community for their persistent, constructive advocacy, and I commend staff for their flexibility and willingness to listen and to innovate.

Malcolm Yards. I recently met with land owners and developers John Wall and Steve Minn recently about future development they are considering north of the University Transitway at the old Harris site along Malcolm Ave. They are calling it Malcolm Yards and so far it includes a proposed climbing wall building and business, a “Food Hall” in part or all of a rehabilitated Harris building, and two potential mixed use apartment buildings with commercial and residential uses. The city’s comprehensive plan prohibits residential development on the site which sites within the SEMI Employment District. So the developers intend to apply for a comprehensive plan amendment to take a portion of the area, where the mixed use apartment buildings will go, out of the employment district, so that it could potentially be rezoned to allow for a mixed use apartment buildings. The City Council and the Met Council would both have to approve the amendment before it would go into effect.

Harris Food Hall. The Council has approved a 2016 Hennepin County Transit Oriented Development Grant for the Harris Building at 501 30th Avenue SE. The award is for $300,000 and will help fund work related to utilities, sidewalks, trails, storm water management and building stabilization.  This will assist with the larger renovation of the existing Harris Machinery Warehouse building into about 12,000 square feet of food service and restaurant and 6,000 square feet of small office space.

Prospect Park Senior Housing. The Council has authorized submittal of an application to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development [DEED] Redevelopment Grant Program for $225,000 in funding for the construction of a new senior oriented apartment building located at 3033 University Ave SE, 3000 & 3024 4th St SE). The developer, Oppidan Holdings, intends to construct two buildings (6-story and 12-story) with multiple levels of senior housing, including 142 independent living units, 104 assisted living units, and 39 memory care units. DEED funding is being sought for site demolition, removal/rerouting of public and private utilities, and the construction of transit/street amenities. The projected total development cost is projected to be $75,000,000.

4th Street SE Reconstruction. The Council has approved the final plans for 4th St SE, or Green Fourth, from 25th Ave SE to 29th Ave SE.  This includes adopting assessments of $450,161.25 and bonding of $450,160 for the reconstruction project, and $113,030 in assessments for streetlights. Now we can move forward with seeking bids for the street reconstruction this summer for all four blocks, from 25th to Malcolm.

World Expo 2023. With full city support, an application has been submitted to have Minneapolis be a host city for a 3-month World Expo in 2023. Large, six-month Expos are organized every five years with one smaller, three-month version held in between. The location that has been identified includes the University of Minnesota and area known as Prospect North, or Towerside, north of University Avenue in Prospect Park. To learn more about the proposal see http://expo2023.info/ and http://www.startribune.com/a-day-of-big-events-and-one-on-which-to-ponder-big-goals/391460041/

Green On Fourth - 2901 4th St SE.  The redevelopment of at the old Boeser site into an apartment building took a step forward this month when the development team filed their land use applications.  They are applying for a rezoning from I1 (Light Industrial) to C3A (Commercial Activity Center), a conditional use permit to increase the maximum building height, variances to reduce the minimum north rear yard setback and to increase the maximum south front yard setback along 4th St SE and Site Plan Review to allow a new 243 unit residential building. The City Planning Commission will meet on Monday, February 6, 2017 at 4:30 p.m., in Room 317 City Hall, 350 S. 5th St., and hold a public hearing and vote on the applications. People are welcome to attend and speak at the public hearing. Minneapolis Prospect Park Properties purchased the property from Cornerstone, and is co-developing the property with Bloomington-based Timberland Partners. To read more details and the staff recommendations please visit www.minneapolismn.gov/meetings/planning for the agenda with staff reports that will be updated by the end of the day Wednesday prior to the meeting date. If you have questions about the project, or would like to submit comments in writing contact Peter Crandall, City Planner – 250 South 4th Street Room 300, Minneapolis, MN 55415, (612) 673-2247, (612) 673-2526, Peter.Crandall@minneapolismn.gov

Augsburg Apartments. In January the Council approved a modification and extension of a 1991 city loan to Holy Trinity Owned apartments at 2015 Riverside Avenue.  The original loan helped them to construct the apartment building and this loan modification and 5 year extension will help make sure that this quality apartment and preserve 16 units of affordable housing (42% of the total units) with rent and household income restrictions at 60% area median income

Lao Szechuan.  Full Happiness Food and Culture, LLC, doing business as Lao Szechuan and located at 317 Huron Blvd SE has applied and was approved to get an On Sale Liquor Class E with Sunday Sales License.  This is a new business in the Ward. The owner and manager of the restaurant is Gaoxiang Yang. He has four years of experience in the food service industry, but this is his first venture as an owner. The restaurant will operate in 3,339 square feet of space on the first floor of the newly constructed mixed use apartment building there. It will be a full-service restaurant which will accommodate 101 guests. There will be no live entertainment or outdoor seating area.  Lao Szechuan has business operations Chicago and Los Angeles, but this is the first one to operate in Minnesota. It will be offer a wide variety of Chinese meals to their guests, including shrimp, beef, fish, chicken and vegetable entrée items and will be serving cocktails as a compliment to the dining experience. The hours of operation for the restaurant will be 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily. I wish Mr. Yang the best of luck in his new business venture.

Afro Deli is moving from their Minneapolis location at 1929 S 5th St. to 720 Washington Ave SE and I am very excited to see that they will be opening in the new location on February 13. I am also glad that the City has been able to help with a $75,000 low interest loan to help make this possible.

Great Streets Grants. The Community Development and regulatory Services Committee has recommeded authorizing contracts for the Great Street Façade Improvement Grant Program Administration, in a total amount of $235,000, with five organizations. The two that work in the Second Ward are the Lake Street Council, recommended for a $50,000 contract and Seward Redesign, Inc. also recommended for a $50,000 contract. The city received five proposals in response to the 2016 request and recommended funding all five proposals. These five new contracts will join 11 existing contracts from prior years which cover other parts of the city. I expect this to approved at the next City Council meeting. For more information see http://www.minneapolismn.gov/www/groups/public/@clerk/documents/webcontent/wcmsp-192966.pdf

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 when I will be there or just stop by.
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 T Rex Cookie Café, 3338 University Ave SE;
Fourth Thursdays at Blue Moon Coffee Café, 3822 E Lake St.

Cam Gordon
Minneapolis City Council Member, Second Ward
673-2202, 296-0579


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Mission Statement

Mission Statement


I will work for a Minneapolis where everyone has decent housing, meaningful career and employment opportunities, high quality schools, rich cultural experiences and a safe, healthy environment within which to enjoy our lives, raise our families, and find happiness for ourselves and others. I will work for a Minneapolis where each of us has the freedom and opportunity to reach our individual potentials while caring for one another, improving our environment and promoting social well-being.

I will focus not only on our immediate needs, but also on the future we want for ourselves, our children and for generations to come.

I will strive to make Minneapolis demonstrate – to ourselves and the world – how the people of a large city in a large metropolitan area can live, work and play in harmony with nature and with each other.

I will take responsibility for the decisions I make and the actions I take to fulfill my commitments and responsibilities as an elected officer holder and I will listen, communicate and cooperate with others to solve problems and pursue shared goals. I will strive to ensure that we have a city government that responds to the needs and hopes of the people and empowers everyone to make wise choices and to plan and work together to create the more just, peaceful, democratic and sustainable city we want for our future.

Core Values

  • Ecological Wisdom
  • Social Justice
  • Grassroots Democracy
  • Peace and Nonviolence
  • Community-Based Economics and Development
  • Respect for Diversity




Goals

  1. Make Minneapolis an international leader in environmental sustainability and fighting climate change while creating green jobs and cleaning up our soil, water and air.
  2. Close the racial disparities in poverty, employment and health by raising the income and employment levels of more people in Minneapolis.
  3. Make Minneapolis a great place to raise children and a city that welcomes and supports children and youth.
  4. Strengthen and establish a more permanent community involvement system in Minneapolis that empowers and builds the capacity of neighborhood organizations and enfranchises everyone.
  5. Value and support small businesses in Minneapolis.
  6. Improve the cooperation between the work of the City Council and City staff and the work of the Met Council, County, School, and Park Board.
  7. Support and guide growth and development to serve the present and future needs of the city, while protecting what is best about our city and improving our natural and public assets, infrastructure and amenities.  

Strategic Initiatives


Environmental Sustainability

  • Reduce greenhouse gas pollution to levels that meet or exceed the goals of the Climate Change Action Plan (reductions of 15% by 2015 and 30% by 2025, from a 2006 baseline) and define a long term goal to reach towards zero emissions
  • Establish more democratic control of our energy future, by creating a municipal power utility or using our utility agreements to share energy decision-making with them, fight climate change and invest in renewable energy
  • Support more successful and thriving urban farms, community gardens, and small food producers
  • Set a zero waste goal and put a plan in place that will move us towards that goal through a citywide organic waste collection system, improved recycling and elimination of packaging that cannot be composted or recycled
  • More fully realize a comprehensive multimodal transportation system with commuter and light rail transit, streetcars and enhanced bus routes - as well as better standard bus service
  • Built at least 30 miles of new protected bikeways and improve pedestrian infrastructure
  • Stop the spread of invasive carp and other species
  • Clean up past pollution
  • Reforest and plant over 30,000 new trees in response to Emerald Ash Borer


Social Justice

  • Close the racial disparities in wealth, income, health and educational achievement
  • Ensure that every resident and visitor to Minneapolis has access to fresh, healthy food
  • Invest in our parks, schools, libraries and small business, not stadiums and other massive private developments
  • Preserve and create more affordable housing options, allow more shelters as needed and end homelessness with targeted investments
  • Fight gentrification, foreclosures and evictions through existing programs and new, innovative tools
  • Review, and when appropriate repeal unjust laws that do more harm than good by criminalizing poverty and homelessness
  • Fully implement a Racial Equity toolkit to dismantle institutional racism in city government and end racial profiling in all police, regulatory and other city practices
  • Implement work place protections and establish a livable minimum wage
  • Fund and strengthen the Civil Rights department to more proactively identify and end discriminatory housing and employment practices in Minneapolis

 Peace and Nonviolence

  • Implement an authentic and workable model of community policing that empowers neighborhoods
  • Hold police officers accountable through a strong, civilian-led police review process
  • Promote safety and reduce violence through a public health approach
  • Enhance controls over handguns
  • Have a healthy and robust system of restorative justice
  • Implement effective re-entry policies and programs for those returning from prison and other institutions


Grassroots Democracy

  • Implement a robust system of participatory budgeting
  • Build and fund a stable community involvement system that empowers residents and strengthens diverse neighborhood organizations
  • Amend the city charter to allow for resident lead ballot initiatives to be put before the voters for consideration
  • Respect the Charter, and never again devote millions of taxpayer dollars to a private entity without the required referendum
  • Fund and distribute to every household a Voter’s Guide for each municipal election
  • Continue to use Ranked Choice Voting, and use our new voting machines to increase voter choice and reduce counting time in 2017
  • Tighten local campaign finance and disclosure rules
  • Work to amend the state constitution, statutes and ordinances to allow non-citizens to vote in local elections

Community-Based Economics and Development

  • Work with the Park Board to protect, preserve and improve our nationally recognized park system, complete the Grand Rounds and add programs, services and green space where they are needed
  • Revitalize and redevelop commercial corridors and areas like East Lake Street and the Southeast Minneapolis Industrial area (SEMI) in neighborhood-serving ways
  • Work with the University to support U-area neighborhoods through a strengthened and more effective the University District Alliance
  • Focus smart density near existing and planned transit corridors
  • Preserve and improve our livable, walkable neighborhoods, and make every neighborhood a “complete neighborhood”
  • Encourage local community self-reliance where more needs can be met close to home
  • Value and support creative arts as essential to our social-emotional well-being and quality of life, as well as to our economic vitality


 Second Ward Priories


Preserve what is best about our Ward while supporting and appropriately guiding future growth and development.

I believe that in the years ahead there is great potential for growth and development in the Second Ward both in terms of more people coming to live here and more buildings being built here for housing, as well as for commercial and industrial uses. Near the University campus, this growth has already been dramatic. With the Light Rail Green Line opening later this year, the continued success of the Midtown Greenway, the nearby Hiawatha Line and the revitalization of Lake Street, we will need to get better at anticipating as well as attracting housing and business development and helping guide and support the kinds of development that will best serve the present and future needs of the area. We will need to accommodate growth while preserving what we most value about our neighborhoods and ensuring that we maximize the community benefits.  We will also have to continue to balance the needs and interests of the diverse stakeholders in the second ward, where sometimes the expansion needs and plans of a well-liked business, institution, or much needed housing project must be thoughtfully balanced with the needs and concerns of current residents and businesses.

To get there it will take a clear and understood community-wide vision for what we want the Ward and neighborhoods to be like in 5, 10 and even 20 years.  This vision, hopefully incorporated in and consistent with the City’s master plan, will then inform a set of shared values and goals.  These then in turn can drive more detailed planning efforts, many of which are already in place or are being developed in the area. Finally, we will then need to employ targeted, inclusive and community-based approaches to individual projects with an eye on present and future community benefits.

Key to these kinds of efforts will be healthy and effective neighborhood organizations with actively involved residents and community-oriented and engaged city staff.

Maintain and improve existing public assets in and around Ward 2.

As we see more growth and development, pressure on both our natural and human made public assets will be enormous. Given all the great public amenities we find in and around the Second Ward, we must constantly be making sure we are maintaining, supporting and improving them for the future.

Our natural assets include the air, soil, water, and water bodies and paramount among these, for our Ward, is the Mississippi River. One of the most important things we need to do for the river is prevent the spread and introduction of aquatic invasive species.  I believe we can do more now to address the threat of Asian Carp. In Minneapolis there only two places where this invasive species can be stopped: the Ford Dam and the Saint Anthony Dam. The clearest action that falls within the City’s purview is to close the City-controlled Upper Harbor Terminal, to reduce the number of lockages through the dams.   We also must do more to promote best practices in landscaping and maintenance as well as in managing our stormwater to prevent unwanted nutrients and chemicals from entering the river and other water bodies. The City has done a lot to reduce stormwater runoff, but, especially since the loss of ash trees will negatively impact stormwater quantity and quality, we must do more.  Additionally we need to address the loss of trees and our tree canopy due to the devastation of Emerald Ash Borer. We must aggressively plant and care for new trees, replacing ash trees on boulevards and incentivizing residents to plant trees on private property

In addition to attending to the natural environment we also need to do our best at maintaining, operating and enhancing the human made infrastructure and other public assets that we have in our ward.  Indeed, the Second Ward is home to some of the most treasured parkland and parkways along the Mississippi. In addition to the parks along the river, the new Ward 2 is home to parts of two greenways (Midtown and Dinkytown) at least 7 city parks (and additional smaller tot lots and playgrounds), 5 public schools, one public library and the largest campus of our state university.  The critical resources and connections that these provide to residents, as well as workers and visitors, cannot be overstated.  These are civic treasures that provide vital educational, recreational, employment training, youth development, cultural and community building opportunities.  In order to reap the full potential benefits of these civic investments it will be important that various government jurisdictions, institutions, neighborhood, business and community groups work together to support, improve and maximize what we can have.  As a City Council member I will continue to work closely with the community and with the parks and schools to support the facilities and programs that are provided and to assist efforts to re-use, expand and renovate buildings in ways compatible with community plans and priorities, including those that have gone unused or underutilized

The ward is also home to some of the most significant public works infrastructure in the city, with eight bridges that span the river, a new light rail line, the Midtown and Dinkytown greenways and a number of commercial corridors that cross through the ward.  As Council Member I will work to make sure that we are making the investments we need to maintain, renovate and improve our infrastructure as needed.  Some roads in the ward are in dire need of reconstruction and some, like those north of University in Prospect Park, have yet to be built in the first place.  I am excited about the new Minnehaha Ave, a new “Green 4th St.” near the Prospect Park LRT Station in southeast, a new 4th and 15th (Riverside Extension) on the West Bank and improved bike connections to the University from downtown, including completion of the bike tunnel under the 35W bridge. Additionally there is the renovation of the 10th Avenue and Franklin Avenue Bridges, completion of the Grand Rounds and the Dinkytown Greenways and more.