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, September 06, 2020

Second Ward September 2020 E-newsletter

 


 

News from Cam Gordon

Minneapolis City Council Member, Second Ward       

http://www.minneapolismn.gov/ward2

http://secondward.blogspot.com

www.facebook.com/camgordonward2

 

Census Deadline. The deadline for the 2020 Census is September 30. The State Demographer, Susan Brower, reported in August that in college campus neighborhoods and immigrant communities, census response rates are below 50%. In and around Ward 2, the Como, U of M, Prospect Park and Cedar Riverside neighborhoods have census tracts that are only 50% completed. Data from the census is used to determine the boundaries and representation for Wards, Park Board, State and Federal legislative districts, as well as representation on the Electoral College in the election of our president. It also impacts funding for food and housing assistance and Head Start and is used to plan and support roads, businesses and health and public safety decisions in our communities. Over $800 billion dollars in federal funding is allocated to our communities based directly on data that is obtained from the census. If you haven't completed your 2020 Census form yet, please do it as soon as possible. You can do it at https://my2020census.gov/. If you have already completed the census, please encourage your friends, family, neighbors and everyone else to do it. Please share census information on social media, post www.my2020census.gov and inform everyone you can about the importance of getting counted.

 

National Night Out. The City’s official date for our National Night Out this year is Tuesday, September 15. The Health Department recommends that events are outdoor, people keep their masks on when they’re not eating or drinking, stay at least 6 feet from others not in their household and use their own food, beverages, utensils, tables and chairs. National Night Out is an annual nationwide event that encourages residents to get out in the community, hold block parties and get to know their neighbors to prevent crime. I will try to make it to as many gatherings as possible that are listed and please feel free to reach out if you think my presence would be especially valuable at your event. Find out more about National Night Out at www.minneapolismn.gov/nno.

 

Coronavirus COVID-19. As of September 3rd, we have had 9,299 people with positive cases, 1,083 people hospitalized throughout the pandemic and 224 people die due to COVID-19 in Minneapolis. To see the more about COVID-19 in Minneapolis see http://minneapolismn.gov/coronavirus/dashboard and http://www.minneapolismn.gov/coronavirus/index.htm.

 

Free COVID-19 Testing. All are welcome to four free COVID-19 testing events the City is offering in September: 12:00 noon to 4:00pm on Friday, September 11, and Saturday, September 12 at Shiloh Temple, 1201 W Broadway Ave N; noon to 5:00pm on Saturday, September 19, and Saturday, September 26 at Abubakar As-Siddique Islamic Center, 2824 13th Ave S; and from 1-4:00pm on Fridays starting September 11 at the Brian Coyle Center, 420 15th Ave S. You can expect to get your test results in about two days. The test is free, and you do not need insurance for the test. You can also use this directory to find a testing location near you: https://mn.gov/covid19/for-minnesotans/if-sick/testing-locations/index.jsp.

 

Recovery Efforts For Businesses. In August, the Council was updated about City efforts to support business since the start of the pandemic, especially through expertise, funding and adapting processes. Our economic development staff have connected with more than 2,000 businesses, provided more than 3,000 hours of assistance, changed licensing and regulatory processes to save businesses $1.4 million, and helped business access more than $3 billion in funding since the start of the pandemic. This included making 173 loans totaling $1.55 million to businesses in targeted areas. The program provided $5,000 and $10,000 loans to meet immediate needs such as payroll and employee benefits, rent or mortgage payments, and payments due to supply chain. The City also streamlined reopening for 112 businesses expanding outdoors and reopening in early June by creating a guide; modifying processes and ordinances; and coordinating with the State of Minnesota, Metropolitan Council and Metro Transit.

 

Rebuilding and Taxes and Fees. I was surprised and disappointed with reports of delays and hurdles faced by the small businesses that suffered damage or destruction of their businesses in the unrest following the murder of George Floyd. I, and the entire City Council, have been very been clear in wanting us to waive fees and have the maximum flexibility we can regarding state tax collection requirements. We have been advocating for state law change on this and we approved several emergency demo permits without this requirement. Going forward, I have been assured that we will issue demo permits for buildings damaged as a result of civil unrest, irrespective of tax payment status. We will waive all demo permit fees for buildings damaged in the civil unrest. I offer special thanks to the leadership of Intergovernmental Relations Chair, Council Member Andrew Johnson, and the diligent work of City staff, for helping to make certain those obstacles are being removed.

 

Minneapolis Forward. The Mayor’s Minneapolis Forward: Community Now Coalition has issued the first round of recommendations aimed at rebuilding the city in the aftermath of civil unrest surrounding the death of George Floyd. The first round focused on business retention, prioritizing Black, Indigenous, people of color and immigrant/minority-owned businesses, supporting entrepreneurs who invest in the community, and real estate and investment. You can learn more here http://www2.minneapolismn.gov/minneapolisforward/WCMSP-225515 

 

Longfellow Rising and Rebuild Longfellow. I was excited to learn that the Longfellow Commuity Coalition and Business Association have been meeting and working hard to coordinate and lead redevelopment planning efforts in “downtown Longfellow,” at and around Minnehaha and Lake Street. As the Longfellow Community Council (LCC) is partnering with consulting firms to Rebuild Longfellow and the business owners, nonprofit leaders, artists, economic developers, community organizers, and residents of Longfellow have formed as a coalition, called Longfellow Rising, I will be working with my colleagues to see how we can add City staff and resources to support, join and reinforce these promising efforts. I am ready and willing to use my position and invest my energy to make these community initiatives as successful as possible.

 

COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program. The state’s Housing Assistance Program has started covering more housing expenses including rent, mortgage, utilities, or other housing-related costs. To apply for assistance call the Greater Twin Cities United Way’s 211 Resource Helpline at 651-291-0211, 211unitedway.org or text “MNRENT” or “MNHOME” to 898-211. The 211 Helpline has dedicated multilingual staff to answer questions about the COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. For more information see http://www.mnhousing.gov/sites/np/covid19housingassistanceprogramFAQ.

 

Loans For Those Affected by Civil Unrest. Minneapolis individuals, property owners, businesses and nonprofits can now apply for low-interest disaster loans. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved a disaster declaration for areas in Minnesota affected by the recent civil unrest. There are home disaster loans for homeowners or renters to repair or replace disaster-damaged real property; physical disaster loans to repair or replace disaster-damaged property owned by businesses and nonprofits including real estate, inventory and equipment; and economic injury disaster loans to help small businesses and nonprofits meet their financial obligations that cannot be met as due to the disaster. For help preparing financial documentation, Minneapolis businesses can consult with an advisor through the City’s Business Technical Assistance Program (http://www2.minneapolismn.gov/business/B-TAP) or contact our Small Business Team at 612-673-2487 or SmallBusiness@minneapolismn.gov. You can apply at https://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/s/ by October 2 for physical disaster loans and May 3, 2021, for economic injury disaster loans. You can find a fact sheet with more information at https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/news/MN_16567_Agency_Fact_Sheet.pdf. Business and property owners with questions about the loan application can contact the SBA Virtual Disaster Loan Outreach Center at 571-422-6078 or 571-422-6871 or FOCE-Help@sba.gov.

 

Expanded Public Transit Service. Starting on September 12, Metro Transit schedule changes will offer more options and space for transit users. Local bus routes, the METRO A Line and the METRO C Line will have about as much service as they did before the COVID-19 pandemic. And the Blue Line and Green Line will offer 10-minute service throughout most of the day. Approximately 50 express bus routes will remain suspended and the Northstar Commuter Rail Line will continue to operate on a limited, weekday-only schedule. For more info see https://www.metrotransit.org/expanded-bus-light-rail-service-coming-in-september

 

Primary Turnout Highest in 50 years. The final tally is in for voter turnout in this year’s State primary. All told, 130,888 ballots were cast in Minneapolis. Of those, 85,217 (65%) were cast early. This marks the first time ever that an election in Minneapolis had more people voting early than on the day of an election. Since 1968, the only year with close to as many votes in a primary was 2018, with 101,266 ballots cast. 

 

Voting By Mail for November 3 General Election. People can apply now to get a ballot for the general election on November 3. Ballots will be mailed out starting September 18 to ensure that there is plenty of time to receive your ballot, vote and then return your ballot using the postage-paid envelope. You can apply on the Minnesota Secretary of State's website at https://mnvotes.sos.state.mn.us/ABRegistration/ABRegistrationStep1.aspx. To learn more about how the City is working to ensure a safe election during the pandemic visit http://vote.minneapolismn.gov/COVID-19/index.htm.

 

2021 City Budget. In August Mayor Frey delivered his 2021 budget address which focused on maintaining core City services while responding to COVID-19, and making changes to our public safety system. The Mayor is recommending continuing an enterprise-wide hiring freeze, reductions in spending across the board, and broad departmental reorganizations to maintain current service levels while facing an estimated $30-60 million in lost revenue, mostly from sales taxes. His proposed budget includes a 5.75% levy increase for 2021, but the overall growth to the city’s tax base means that median valued homes ($281,500) will likely see a 3% decrease ($47) under the proposal. Other highlights include making the Stable Homes Stable Schools housing program permanent; including $2.5 million in ongoing funding for the Office of Violence Prevention to implement a violence intervention initiative based on the Cure Violence model; allocating funding to provide staff from the Office of Violence Prevention with an office space in community; and adding positions to 311 to answer crime-report only calls. In September the Council will begin getting budget presentations for each department. The Council will hold public hearings on the budget on November 7 at 9:30am, December 4 at 6:05pm; and on December 11 at 6:05pm where the final budget will be adopted. We will have a session dedicated to budget amendments on December 6 at 10:00am prior to the last hearing. For the full calendar and for more on the proposed budget see http://www2.minneapolismn.gov/budget/

 

2021 License Fee Schedule. The Council has approved making no increases to any license fees for next year. You can find more details at https://lims.minneapolismn.gov/File/2020-00709

 

Future Zoning Regulations for New Buildings Proposed. The City has released a proposed set of regulations to guide future development of new buildings and additions based on the Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan. We will be taking the next 45-days for the public to review and comment on the regulations. These regulations will govern issues such as building height, floor area ratio (FAR), lot sizes and setbacks from property lines and are intended to provide more predictability for the scale of new buildings and additions in different areas in the city, including neighborhoods, downtown, production/employment areas and areas served by high-frequency transit.  People can learn more about draft built form regulations and sign up for updates at https://minneapolis2040.com/implementation/built-form-rezoning-study/.   You can also attend an online open house hosted by City staff on:  September 23 from 5-6:00pm (https://www.facebook.com/events/441545906762116/), September 29 from 5-6pm (https://www.facebook.com/events/1051278365330337) and October 7 from 3-4:00pm (https://www.facebook.com/events/312341833161256).  

On October 19 there will be a public hearing before the Minneapolis City Planning Commission, which will forward a recommendation to the City Council. The Council is expected to vote on built form regulations in November.

 

Council Committee Restructuring. In August the Council, with my support, voted to restructure our committee work to add two additional standing committees and modifying the two operating committees that had been handling most of the Council, and City’s, workload during the pandemic. Starting in September the Council will have 4 basic committees, in addition to the Executive and Budget committees, which have remained intact. The new standing committees, all of which I will serve on, are:

  • Business, Inspections, Housing and Zoning – (6 members – quorum 4): Goodman (chair); Schroeder (vice chair); Reich; Gordon; Fletcher; and Ellison; and Osman. It will oversee licensing and permitting, land use and zoning applications, as well as economic development; housing policy, employment and training programs; and all inspection functions.
  • Public Health and Safety - (6 members – quorum 4): Cunningham (chair); Fletcher (vice chair); Gordon; Ellison; Cano; and Palmisano. The PHS Committee will oversee public health and social service programs; sustainability; civil rights; equity; immigration; outreach and community engagement; and oversight of policies and service delivery related to public safety and emergency management.
  • Transportation and Public Works - (6 members – quorum 4): Reich (chair); Bender (vice chair); Gordon; Fletcher; Johnson; and Palmisano The TPW Committee oversee infrastructure improvements, traffic and traffic management issues; special service districts; bicycle and pedestrian plans and initiatives; recycling and solid waste disposal issues; and appeals relating to block events and encroachment permits.
  • Policy and Government Oversight - (13 members – quorum 7): Jenkins (chair); Ellison (vice chair); Reich; Gordon; Fletcher; Cunningham; Ellison; Warsame; Osman; Goodman; Cano; Bender; Schroeder; Johnson; and Palmisano. It will oversee matters tied to general City operations, strategic direction and priorities and any initiatives or programs not otherwise covered by the expanded committee structure. Under the purview of the Policy & Government Oversight Committee, there will be two Subcommittees: Finance, with Fletcher as chair; and Equity, with Ellison as chair.

 

Security Personnel Requirements for Special Events. As the result of a staff direction I made in mid-June, the Council has formally changed the Off-Duty Police Requirements for Special Events Policy so that businesses will no longer be required to hire Minneapolis City employees for security. The previous policy allowed only off-duty police to work at certain special events. The new policy gives event organizers a choice of licensed private security, volunteers/employees, and/or off-duty police. More details can be found at https://lims.minneapolismn.gov/RCA/6520. In addition, the few businesses that had adopted conditions or security plans that required the use of off-duty MPD officers are now in the process of having those requirements lifted. I am still working to get greater transparency from the Police Department about the list of businesses that use off-duty police officers for security.

 

New City Attorney. The Council has approved the appointment of Jim Rowader to the position of City Attorney for a two-year term beginning January 2, 2020. Rowader most recently worked as a Vice President for Target. Previously, he was an attorney for the National Labor Relations Board in Detroit. He is also a board member of the Minnesota Justice Research Center and the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, served as vice chair of the Minneapolis Workplace Advisory Committee.

 

Cultural Districts. The City Council has approved an ordinance establishing seven new cultural districts in Minneapolis, along portions of 38th Street South, Cedar Avenue South, Central Avenue, East Lake Street, Franklin Avenue East, West Broadway and Lowry Avenue North. The goal of cultural districts is to advance racial equity, prevent displacement, preserve cultural identity and fuel economic growth in areas with a rich sense of cultural and/or linguistic identity rooted in communities significantly populated by people of color, Indigenous people and/or immigrants. The ordinance allows the City to prioritize these areas in deploying resources to equitably advance cultural and linguistic identity, commercial vitality, stable housing and infrastructure. To learn more see https://lims.minneapolismn.gov/File/2020-00446.

 

2020 Hennepin County Transit Oriented Development Projects. The Council has formally supported several promising projects that have applied for funding from Hennepin County. This includes the Family Tree Clinic Expansion at 1925 Nicollet Ave, the Juxtaposition Arts Campus Acquisition at 2007 Emerson Ave N, the Minneapolis American Indian Center Expansion at 1530 Franklin Ave E, and the West Lake Quarter Calhoun Towers project at 34th and Lake St W. For more details visit https://lims.minneapolismn.gov/File/2020-00813.

 

National Endowment for the Arts "Our Town" Grant Applications. In August, the Council approved a grant application to the National Endowment for the Arts, in the amount of $150,000 for a one-year period, to implement artist-led community engagement as part of the City's redistricting efforts and support the delivery of business events tailored to the needs of diverse creative sector workers, businesses, and organizations in response to the economic conditions faced as a result of COVID-19.

 

Contract with ABM Parking Services. The Council has approved renewing a contract with ABM Parking Services, Inc., in the amount of $122,000,000 for a three-year term, with two one-year renewal options, for professional management of all our municipal parking ramps and lots.

 

Short-term Rentals Ordinance. The Council has approved taking up a new ordinance amendment, being authored by Steve Fletcher, regarding improving regulations for short-term rental units.

 

Temporary Relocation of 3rd Precinct Police Station. The Council is currently reviewing a proposal from Property Services staff to relocate the 3rd Precinct Police offices and headquarters into the Seward West industrial area at 2633 Minnehaha Ave. I moved to send this proposal back to committee from the full Council on August 28th, and it will be discussed at the Public Health and Safety committee on September 10, and again at the Policy and Government Oversight committee on September 16. The staff of the precinct are currently spread out operating out of the Convention Center, from their homes, and from City Hall. The recommendation from staff is to authorize a three-year lease with an option to renew, which would give the City time to make a longer-term plan. This has been a difficult and very fast-moving conversation, since I first heard about this proposal three weeks ago. I have done what I can to engage the near neighbors, both residents and businesses, to hear people's feedback, concerns, and even fears. I hosted an online meeting and an in-person meeting in Matthews Park the next day. I attended meetings of the Seward Civic and Commerce Association, the Longfellow Business Association, the Seward Neighborhood Group, and the Longfellow Community Council. The results of all of that engagement are pretty clear to me: the community is not ready to have a relocated Third Precinct in this space. While some people did support this, many more were opposed. Some of the reasons I heard people express include opposition to the City making further investments in the current model of policing, fears about what might happen to the surrounding community if this building were to become a target for violent protest as the old Third Precinct building was, concerns about the speed of this process and the lack of public conversations the City has tried to have with the neighborhood since the murder of George Floyd, and the subsequent unrest. The Seward Neighborhood Group took a formal, public position urging the City to delay this decision. In addition to the community concerns, I feel there is a need for a more thorough Racial Equity Impact Analysis directly related to relocating police offices at this location and that my new colleague in Ward 6, Jamal Osman, needs a better opportunity to learn about this proposal. In the coming weeks, I want to hear more from staff about how they will try to address and mitigate the real and legitimate concerns from the residents of Seward. I want to see a full and forthright analysis of the racial equity impacts of this proposal. I want to see more engagement with the folks who will be most impacted by this - hopefully with more sufficient notice. I also want to be clear that I share my colleagues' concerns about the costs - both financial and human - of continuing to have Third Precinct officers work divided between City Hall, those few working from home and at the Convention Center. It is not an ideal long-term situation, for a number of reasons. The public conversation about this relocation of the Third Precinct building has shown me just how hungry and impatient the people of our communities are to dig into the larger, harder conversation we need to have about the future of community safety in general. I recognize the truth and the pain in the statements that several of my constituents made: that they are deeply upset and disappointed that we have not done more to heal and transform our system of community safety since the murder of George Floyd and the unrest that caused so much destruction in their neighborhood.

 

Charter Amendment Blocked by Charter Commission. On a vote of 10-5, the Charter Commission has delayed action on the Council’s proposed Charter amendment that would have created a new Department of Community Safety in Minneapolis. While I am disappointed in this outcome, I will continue to push, with my colleagues, to transform the way we provide for public safety in Minneapolis. That will include the deep year-long engagement that the Council has committed to conducting, which has been codified through a Future of Community Safety Workgroup, the 2021 budget, and potential changes to the Police Oversight and Police Department ordinances. I believe that that transformation will also have to require a Charter amendment in 2021, and I am committed to ensuring that such an amendment goes on the 2021 ballot, and that it passes.

 

Policy Change Announced on Police Use of Force.  In August, Mayor Frey and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced changes to the Minneapolis Police Department’s (MPD) use of force policy. The new policy requires that officers use the lowest level of force needed to safely engage a “subject” and that officers first consider all reasonable alternatives before using deadly force. The changes also prohibit behavior that incites or escalates a situation. Frey and Arradondo are also advancing a ban on shooting at moving vehicles and effecting a fundamental shift in department policy by replacing long-held standards for what is “legally allowable” with overarching principles and best practices to oversee use of force. Some of the changes were made possible by new latitude afforded by the recent Minnesota Police Accountability Act, including the restrictions on deadly force. While these changes appear to be positive, I am concerned that they lack a more comprehensive and inclusive review. Consistent with the current charter, which prohibits police department policy from being a Council and Mayoral approved City policy (as is the case with all other departments), these changes were not reviewed by the Council and were not reviewed by the public prior to being approved. I do not believe they were even reviewed by the Polcie Conduct Oversight Commission. Due to the magnitude of the Police Use of Force Policy, I believe that a full community discussion and Council review would be wise, even if it is not required or allowed within the current flawed City Charter.

 

Fossil Fuel Divestment Resolution. The Council has approved a resolution I coauthored with my colleague Jeremy Schroeder calling on the State Board of Investment to divest from fossil fuels. The State Board of Investment oversees the retirement savings of state and local employees, including current and former Minneapolis employees. It is made up of the Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, and Auditor. Minneapolis has taken action before to urge all major investors to divest from fossil fuels, as well as committing to remain divested ourselves. This new resolution more specifically urges the SBI to act. We are joining with a number of advocates and activists, including MN350, the Sunrise Movement, the Minnesota Youth Climate Strike, Divest-Invest MN, and a number of labor unions, retirees, churches, and others. You can read more here: https://lims.minneapolismn.gov/File/2020-00814.

 

Litter Be Gone. This year’s fall City-sponsored litter clean up will run from October 1 to 10. People will be picking up litter on their own street or joining teams to clean up the whole neighborhood before leaves fall and winter arrives. People can use their own gloves and bags or pick up free gloves, bags and litter grabbers (while supplies last) from 9:00am to 1:00pm on October 3 at several locations including at the Midtown Farmers Market, thanks to the by Corcoran Neighborhood Association, in the lot on the north side of Moon Palace Books at 3032 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55406. For more information visit http://www.litterbegone.org/.

 

Encampments in Parks. In August I got more directly involved with the camping communities that have been established in Ward 2. I have been working more closely with the Park Superintendent, Park Board President Jono Cowgill, and Commissioner LaTrisha Vetaw to better understand the regulations they have in place and the status of the camps. In August, the Matthews encampment, which was not allowed due to its proximity to Seward Montessori, was closed. Assistance in finding alternative housing was offered to all the residents and it was closed peacefully. In August the two camps at Riverside Park, which are allowed, received permits and now have sponsors who are helping to manage the sites. The Park Board has voted to grant a variance to allow the Brackett Park Safe Haven Encampment to remain in place until October 1. You can read that resolution here: http://minneapolisparksmn.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_LegiFile.aspx?Frame=&MeetingID=2151&MediaPosition=&ID=5171&CssClass=. I visit the camps regularly and both the Riverside camps and the Brackett encampment seem to be functioning well with a great deal of support from the community as well as from City and Park Board staff. I have been assisting in getting some resources to the camp, especially at Riverside where lighting and restroom accommodations needed improvements. I am also working with our City and County staff, as well as other agencies, to help ensure that better and more stable housing options are available by the end of September. For the latest information on encampment locations and Park Board actions, go to minneapolisparks.org/encampments.

 

Virtual Trans Equity Summit. The City is hosting the seventh annual Trans Equity Summit on September 13-15. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, all attendance this year will be virtual.

It will run from 2-4:00pm and 7-9:00pm all 3 days. This year's theme is "Claiming Our Power for Change: Caring for Community." The summit is free and open to the public, and we encourage anyone interested in furthering trans equity to attend. You can find more information at http://www2.minneapolismn.gov/coordinator/Equity/TransgenderEquity/index.htm.

 

Child Friendly Cities Initiative. UNICEF USA has announced its launch of the Child Friendly Cities Initiative (CFCI) in the United States with Minneapolis; Houston; San Francisco; and Prince George’s County, Maryland, as the first cohort jurisdictions to take on the ambitious, two-year process toward recognition as a UNICEF Child Friendly City. Now we will conduct a situational analysis of child well-being and use this to craft an action plan. The initiative aims to address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and systemic racism on children, work to combat discrimination and elevate young people’s voices in local governance and decision-making. We will identify objectives under five goal areas focusing on supporting children and young people including safety and inclusion, children’s participation, equitable social services, safe living environments, and play and leisure. For more information about Child Friendly Cities Initiative in the Unites States, visit www.unicefusa.org/mission/usa/childfriendlycities.

 

Minneapolis Homes. The Council has approved changes to the City’s Minneapolis Homes programs that reflect a citywide strategy to create sustainable homeownership opportunities and make a meaningful impact to close the homeownership gap between white households and Black, Indigenous, people of color and immigrant households. These changes are intended to help reduce property vacancies, create new housing units and sustain homeownership by providing educational, financing and property opportunities to homebuyers, homeowners and developers. Highlights of changes include focusing on lower income households that make less than $80,000 a year with concentration on households making less than $60,000 or $40,000 per year. All City-owned land suitable for residential development will be reserved for creating affordable housing moving forward. One- to 20-unit ownership projects throughout the city will be eligible and projects can be on City-owned or privately-owned land. Acquisition, rehabilitation, down payment assistance and new construction are all eligible activities.

We are also launching a model for perpetually affordable housing, which will sell homes at an affordable price and provide homeowners with a 2% rate of return annually in most market conditions. Learn more at http://www2.minneapolismn.gov/cped/housing/WCMSP-219469

 

Immigration Application Fee Increase. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will increase filing fees on many immigration applications and eliminate most fee waivers effect on October 2 unless halted by a federal court. These major fee changes include increasing the cost to apply for U.S. citizenship to $1,170 and to apply for permanent residency (“green card” status) to $2,270, imposing a filing fee for the first time on asylum applications, and eliminating or reducing almost all fee waivers. These costs will create enormous barriers for immigrants and refugees trying to change or obtain immigration status for themselves and their family members. If you are considering applying for immigration status, please take immediate steps to consult with a competent immigration attorney on filing an application before these fee hikes go into effect. For more information or to get help, please contact the City of Minneapolis Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, or see its list of trusted nonprofit legal service providers. The list ensures that residents have access to competent immigration legal services regardless of their ability to pay. You can contact the City’s Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs at oira@minneapolismn.gov or 612-394-6018.

 

Reinstating Rental Licenses for the Corcoran 5. I was delighted to join my colleagues in approving the reinstatement of the Rental Dwelling Licenses for the properties at 3105, 3112, 3116, 3122, and 3141 22nd Ave S, formerly held by Stephen Frenz, to be held by new owner, LB Corcoran 5 LLC. This represents a next step in the major victory for the tenants and Inquilinxs Unidxs Por Justicia (United Renters for Justice). The Land Bank Twin Cities acquired the properties with financial support from Local Initiatives Support Corporation Twin Cities and the City. The Land Bank plans to repair the buildings and Inquilinxs plans to help create a tenant cooperative that could purchase some or all of the buildings from the Land Bank. It is good to see that this affordable housing will be preserved, and displacement will be prevented. This is an amazing success story I hope can be more easily replicated throughout our City.

 

Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area (MRCCA) Ordinance. The City Planning department will bring forward amendments to this ordinance to the City Planning Commission on October 19thhttp://www2.minneapolismn.gov/cped/planning/WCMSP-225822. These follow changes are based on the state Department of Natural Resources model ordinance that can be found at https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/waters/watermgmt_section/critical_area/index.html. This ordinance has potential impacts on future develop along the east and west banks of the Mississippi River in Ward 2. I have already been meeting with some advocacy groups, including Friends of the Mississippi River and the Audubon Minnesota Chapter and am consider ways to strengthen the ordinance to better protect habitat and wildlife who use the area. To learn more see https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/waters/watermgmt_section/critical_area/index.html and https://fmr.org/mrcca-update-overview.

 

Surly Brewing. I am supportive of the move by Surly employees to unionize and was very disappointed that Surly decided, just as these plans were announced, to lay off all the employees and close its taproom. I encourage Surly to reevaluate this decision and hope that the taproom can remain open and that these workers can keep their jobs and be allowed organize as a part of a union if that is what they wish to do. Surly, and its taproom, has been a positive addition to the neighborhood, provided jobs in the community and has helped catalyze other development in the Towerside area.

 

Cedar-Riverside Recreation Center Project. The Park Board is moving forward with the Cedar-Riverside Recreation Center Predesign project that is exploring options for a new recreation center in the western portion of the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. The primary option is to renovate and/or expand the existing Coyle Community Center in Currie Park, on the neighborhood's west side. The Predesign Project Report will focus on this option but will require additional funding for construction. The Park Board will likely use the Predesign Project Report to apply for State Bond Funds to fund a Design and Construction project. Two upcoming virtual meetings of the project's community advisory committee (CAC) have been schedule where a draft report will be shared. Both meetings will be hosted by project staff from the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) and consultants. One will be held on Tuesday, September 22 from 4-6pm and another on Tuesday, October 20 from 4-6pm. For more information about this project visit

https://www.minneapolisparks.org/park_care__improvements/park_projects/current_projects/i-94_riverside_corridor_shared_facility/

 

Seven Corners Coffee. The Council has approved a new Sidewalk Cafe License for this coffee shop located at 1851 Washington Ave S. on the West Bank in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood.

 

Traffic Circle Near Glendale Townhomes. After extensive review and community conversations, the City has approved the installation of a temporary traffic circle at the intersection of Delaware and St Mary’s Ave SE. While we currently don’t have a roadway project slated for this intersection and would need that to make a permanent change, this temporary change will let us see if it is successful in slowing vehicles and changing driver behavior and then it can be incorporated into a permanent solution in a future project. This improvement was begun by a community process that the Public Works and Health departments organized, with the intent of improving safety and walkability in the Glendale area. I have been very supportive of this project and hope that this investment will make it safer and more pleasant for pedistrians walk in area.

 

University Overlay District Amendments. The Council has approved and referred to committee the work I have started to amend the University Area Overlay District, which includes Prospect Park, Southeast Como, Cedar Riverside, and Marcy Holmes. The purpose of this amendment is to address some of the unique challenges related to certain types of housing development in the University area. As we have seen in the proposed building on the site of a former church in Southeast Como, sometimes in the University area a proposal for a four-unit building is functionally equivalent to something more like a twenty-unit building, because each unit contains four or five bedrooms, often each with their own bathroom. The existing University overlay regulations attempt to disincentivize this kind of development in an indirect way, by tying parking to bedrooms rather than units. As the church project in Southeast Como shows, this indirect approach is not always effective – and it continues to foster auto-oriented development patterns. I believe that it would be better to address the issue directly, by adopting some kind of formula for the University area, which would regulate the density of new buildings not just based on the unit count, but on the bedroom count as well. I am optimistic that we can develop an ordinance and pass it during the first quarter of next year. My intention is to work closely with you the Ward 1, 3 and 6 offices on this as well as with the University District Alliance, area neighborhood associations and the student associations.  I would like to put together a sounding board work group with representatives from each neighborhood selected by the Council Members and a student representative. Larry Crawford is the representative I would like to include from Southeast Como.

 

East Lake Special Service District. There will be a public hearing on September 10, to consider the proposed 2021 services and service charges for several special service districts, including the East Lake Special Service District in Ward 2. For more information see https://lims.minneapolismn.gov/File/2020-00755

 

1800 and 1806 Como Ave SE. The Council has approved an application submitted by Mike Swedahl to rezone the properties located at 1800 and 1806 Como Ave SE from the R2B Multiple-family District to the R4 Multiple-family District to construct a new three-story, eight-unit townhouse.

 

Bicycle Advisory Committee Ward 2 Rep Needed. I am looking for a new Ward 2 appointee to serve on this important advisory group that advises the City and Park Board on bicycling related issues; serves as a liaison between Minneapolis communities and the City and Park Board and coordinates between different agencies that interact with bicyclists. It consists of appointees from each ward, three at-large parks board appointees and voting members representing the City Council, City departments and partner organizations such as Minneapolis Public Schools, Metro Transit and MnDOT. If you are interested in volunteering for this and have questions, please let me know.

 

Capital Long-range Improvement Committee. I am also looking for a new appointee to serve on this advisory group that makes recommendations to the City Council and Mayor on capital improvement program development and annual capital improvement budgets. This is a very influential group that reviews and recommends investments in parks, roads, bridges, city buildings and other infrastructure each year. You can find more information here https://lims.minneapolismn.gov/Boards/clic. If you are interest in this, please let me know and I would be glad to answer questions.

 

Openings on Boards and Commissions. Twenty-four City boards and commissions have openings for appointments this fall. The City seeks applicants with a diversity of backgrounds and experiences representing the demographics of Minneapolis to strengthen the work of the City. Translation and interpreting services are available so all residents can participate. The positions are open until filled; application review begins September 30. People can apply through the open position pages linked below and stay up to date on vacancies, position descriptions and timelines by visiting minneapolismn.gov/board/openings. These 24 City boards and commissions have 97 open positions: Animal Care and Control Advisory Board; Arts Commission, Minneapolis; Bicycle Advisory Committee; Capital Long-Range Improvements Committee; Commission on Civil Rights, Minneapolis; Community Environmental Advisory Committee; Futuro Latino Empowerment Commission; Heritage Preservation Commission; Minneapolis Advisory Committee on Aging; Minneapolis Advisory Committee on Housing; Minneapolis Advisory Committee on People with Disabilities; Minneapolis Public Housing Authority ; Pedestrian Advisory Committee; Police Conduct Oversight Commission; Police Conduct Review Panel ; Public Health Advisory Committee; Racial Equity Community Advisory Committee; Transgender Equity Council; Workforce Development Board, Minneapolis; Workplace Advisory Committee; Violence Prevention Steering Committee; Zoning Board of Adjustment; You can find more information at 612-673-2216 or OpenAppointments@minneapolismn.gov.

 

City Update Sign-Up. You can subscribe to get City updates on a variety of topics by email or text at https://service.govdelivery.com/accounts/MPLS/subscriber/new

 

Office Hours in the Ward. I will be practicing social distancing and, weather permitting, I will be holding open “office hours” in parks on Mondays from 9:30 – 11:00am on:

First Mondays at Matthews Park at 2318 29th Ave S;

Second Mondays at Van Cleve Park at 901 15th Ave SE;

Third Mondays at Luxton Park at 112 Williams Ave SE; and

Fourth Mondays at Brackett Park at 2728 39th Ave S

 

 

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