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

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


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