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:

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Accomplishments for 2015

It has become a tradition in the Ward 2 Office to look back at the end of each year and review our accomplishments.  There is little doubt that 2015 was a challenging year for the City of Minneapolis.  With the death of Jamar Clark in late November and through the protests that followed, we have had to face ongoing impacts of historical and present-day racism and injustice and our City government is struggling to find a way to respond with meaningful changes.    

But 2015 also saw the success of many initiatives the Second Ward office has championed.  Here is our list for this year:

For Justice:
-          I coauthored (with Council Member Blong Yang) the successful repeal of the City’s antiquated and unjust ordinances that criminalized “lurking” and spitting
-          I coauthored (with Council member Lisa Bender) an ordinance that allows more flexibility for siting emergency shelters for people experiencing homelessness
-          I stood with the community and actively supported the people’s right to peaceably assemble in response to the police shooting of Jamar Clark and the protests at the 4th Precinct
-          I authored a staff direction that required the Police Department and Attorney’s Office to provided a detailed multi-year report to the Council, for the first time, on low-level offenses with data on who has been arrested, where and what  the consequences of those arrests have been.
-          I opposed a last-minute amendment to devote more than $600,000 to security investments at the 4th Precinct
-          I fought for the City to adopt a fair scheduling ordinance, but was ultimately unsuccessful
-          The City hired our first Racial Equity staff in the Coordinator’s office, something I have advocated for years, and supported in last year’s budget

For the Environment:
-          I authored (with Council Member Linea Palmisano)a resolution declaring Minneapolis a pollinator-friendly city, pledging to not use synthetic pesticides, planting more forage for pollinators, and urging others to follow our example
-          I coauthored (with Council Member Alondra Cano)a resolution divesting from fossil fuels and urging other entities to divest
-          The Clean Energy Partnership, which I worked to create and on which I serve, appointed a strong Energy Vision Advisory Committee, adopted its first 2-year work plan and metrics, and funded free Energy Squad visits for low-income homeowners and zero-percent financing for energy efficiency improvements
-          The Council voted to subscribe to community solar, and directed staff to start a process to put out a City-led request for proposals for community solar
-          I submitted formal comments on the draft Xcel Energy resource plan, and the later draft of that plan includes significantly more reductions in fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions
-          I directed public works staff to overhaul the City’s Urban Forest Policy in light of the clear evidence from a Tree Failure Report that our sidewalk repair practices have damaged tree roots, leaving trees vulnerable to wind storms

For Smart and Equitable Development:
-          I authored a resolution that creates a new City designation for Innovation Districts, and authored a second resolution designating the University Avenue Innovation District to support Prospect North
-          I took a firm position against a tax giveaway for a privately-owned soccer stadium

For Local Food:
-          I authored an ordinance changes that allow more flexibility for “limited production and processing” in commercial areas, to support small local food processors
-          I shepherded a policy through the Council that opens up more City-owned land for food growing, for longer lease terms, and for the first time allows market gardeners to access that land
-          I authored an resolution supporting seed sharing libraries, which the legislature subsequently legalized in Minnesota
For Active Transportation:
-          The Council passed the City’s first protected bikeway plan, something I have advocated for years, and has fully funded its implementation
-          One of the first protected bikeways in the City opened this year on Oak Street Southeast, with the strong support and active participation of my office
-          Ward 2’s first-ever Open Streets events were held in the University area and on Lake Street
-          With leadership from my office, the Public Works department has begun a winter maintenance evaluation for bikeways and sidewalks
-          I coauthored a letter of support for Minneapolis to host the 2016 Winter Cycling Congress, and we were chosen as host city

For Youth:
-          Building on the strong advocacy of the Youth Congress, I coauthored (with Council Member Yang) an ordinance prohibiting flavored tobacco except at tobacco-only retailers, and set a minimum price for cigars and cigarillos
-          As Chair of the Youth Coordinating Board, I helped oversee development of the Afterschool Network citywide program finder: What’s Up 612! that launched in June. 

For Zero Waste:
-          The City, led by my office, sought and received funding from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to conduct a study on commercial recycling and waste diversion, and that study is underway
-          I coauthored a resolution establishing an aggressive recycling and waste diversion goal for the City and supporting the adoption of a Zero Waste Plan, which is underway
-          My office crafted an amendment that significantly increases the amount of composting that can occur at community gardens, market gardens and urban farms, while simplifying these regulations

For Democracy and Community Engagement:
-          The Neighborhood and Community Relations (NCR) department is finalizing a Blueprint for Equitable Engagement, to ensure that City-supported community engagement activities truly serve all members of our communities
-          I supported an external evaluation of the NCR department and neighborhood organizations
-          The Council has passed a major update to the City’s language access plan for better serving people with limited English proficiency

Local Issues:
My office also works on many issues of local importance for Second Ward neighborhoods.  A few of the local issues we worked on this year include: 
-          Staffing the University Avenue Innovation District and Prospect North Partnership
-          Ensuring that no development would occur in the Glendale Townhomes area without the support of Glendale residents and the broader community
-          Testing a closure at 29th Ave S and the Midtown Greenway, as part of a planned bike boulevard
-          Welcoming a host of new small businesses to our neighborhoods
-          Tracking major developments including 22 on the River, multiple new hotels, the Kemps/Overflow site and much more
-          Starting a Grain Elevator Task Force to respond to the dangers and opportunities created by the mostly vacant elevators in our city
-          Pushing the City to begin the process to purchase right-of-way for the Prospect Park Trail

Work led by my colleagues:
And, as always, my colleagues have been working on good policies that I have been happy to support, including:
-          A rail safety resolution coauthored by Council Members Reich and Palmisano
-          Council Member Bender’s significant reforms to the City’s off-street parking rules
-          Many equity-related activities led by Mayor Hodges including the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice
-          A 2016 Budget that invests more in racial equity, police accountability, biking and clean energy than any the City has ever adopted
-          An ordinance establishing a clear 1% for public art requirement for City projects, authored by Council Members Glidden and Reich

In addition, there are many initiatives that my office has worked on in 2015 that are not yet finished, but that I expect to pass in 2016.

For 2016:
-          An ordinance requiring Minneapolis employers to offer earned sick and safe time to all employees
-          A strong, visionary complete streets policy that will establish a clear, meaningful priority for walking, biking and transit
-          A “Bring Your Own Bag” ordinance prohibiting retailers from providing plastic bags at the point of sale, and establishing a fee for single-use paper bags
-          An ordinance to allow people to form intentional communities that are exempt from our maximum occupancy code
-          A Green Zones policy that will help address historical environmental injustices, help drive City environmental investments to where they are most needed, and support green jobs
-          Ending the requirement for food trucks at farmers markets to have more than one license