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

Thursday, September 09, 2021

Second Ward September 2021 E-newsletter

News from Cam Gordon 

Council Member, Second Ward 

www2.minneapolismn.gov/ward2/   

secondward.blogspot.com  

facebook.com/MinneapolisWard2  

2021 Election. Election Day is November 2, and early voting starts this month on September 17. The Early Vote Center at 980 E Hennepin Ave opens at 8:00am on the 17th for voters who wish to cast their ballot early and in person. Also, on September 17, Minneapolis Elections & Voter Services begins mailing ballots to voters who have requested to vote early by mail. See https://vote.minneapolismn.gov/voters/ and vote.minneapolismn.gov for the most complete information about this year’s election.

On the Ballot. The offices of Mayor, City Council, Board of Estimate & Taxation, and Park & Recreation Board will be on the ballot this year. There will also be three questions that propose amendments to the City Charter: government structure, public safety and rent stabilization. Information about the ballot questions can be found at https://vote.minneapolismn.gov/voters/ballot/ and a sample ballot will be available there 45 days before the election. You can find the list of all candidates who filed for municipal offices at https://vote.minneapolismn.gov/run-for-office/candidate-filings/. Due to the timing of State and City redistricting, City Council members elected in 2021 will serve a two-year term. In 2023 an election will be held for another two-year term for council members. No other City offices will be on the 2023 ballot. City Council terms will return to a normal four-year cycle with the 2025 municipal election.

Ranked Choice Voting. Minneapolis voters will once again use ranked choice voting to elect a mayor and members of the City Council, Board of Estimate and Taxation, and Park and Recreation Board. Ranked choice voting is a way of voting that eliminates the need for separate primary elections. Voters rank up to three candidates for each office. The ballot has three columns, and choices are made from left to right in those columns. You can learn more about Ranked Choice Voting at https://vote.minneapolismn.gov/ranked-choice-voting/.

Ballot Question #1: Government Structure. The Council voted to adopt the following language for the Government Structure (also known as “strong mayor”) ballot question: "Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to adopt a change in its form of government to an Executive Mayor-Legislative Council structure to shift certain powers to the Mayor, consolidating administrative authority over all operating departments under the Mayor, and eliminating the Executive Committee?" As with the Public Safety Charter question, I felt that this language, without the “explanatory note,” was much clearer, more concise, and less biased. Again, I look forward to hearing from voters about their support or opposition to this idea for reducing the Council’s power and increasing the Mayor’s power.

Ballot Question #2: Public Safety. After a lengthy process that included two court challenges, to mayoral vetoes, and a series of emergency meetings, on September 7 the Council was able to approve ballot that I believe will appear on the ballot this year on the Public Safety Charter amendment as follows, “Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to remove the Police Department and replace it with a Department of Public Safety that employs a comprehensive public health approach to the delivery of functions by the Department of Public Safety, with those specific functions to be determined by the Mayor and City Council by ordinance; which will not be subject to exclusive mayoral power over its establishment, maintenance, and command; and which could include licensed peace officers (police officers), if necessary, to fulfill its responsibilities for public safety, with the general nature of the amendments being briefly indicated in the explanatory note below, which is made a part of this ballot?”  It will also include the following note, “Explanatory Note: This amendment would create a Department of Public Safety combining public safety functions through a comprehensive public health approach to be determined by the Mayor and Council. The department would be led by a Commissioner nominated by the Mayor and appointed by the Council. The Police Department, and its chief, would be removed from the City Charter. The Public Safety Department could include police officers, but the minimum funding requirement would be eliminated.” While not necessarily my preferred phrasing, I think this language is relatively objective, understandable, and fair and clearly lets the voter know which charter amendment they are voting on. I encourage everyone to read the actually proposed charter amendments and research all the ballot proposals on their own before casting a ballot.

Ballot Question #3: Rent Stabilization. The Council also voted to send forward both rent stabilization Charter amendments that I coauthored – one which will empower the Council to pass a rent stabilization law, and the other which would empower the people to gather signatures to put a question on a future ballot. The mayor vetoed the second, people-led pathway. The majority of the Council joined me in voting to override his veto, but we did not reach the nine votes required for the override. The end result of this is that there will be one rent stabilization question on this year’s ballot. If it passes, the Council will be empowered to adopt a rent stabilization law, or put such a law on a future ballot. I view this as a good outcome, and look forward to passing a strong rent stabilization ordinance if the Charter amendment passes this fall.

2022 City Budget AddressOn August 13, Mayor Frey presented his proposed City budget for 2022. The proposal includes increasing the total amount we can levy (or collect) from property taxes by $21.6 million, from $395.8 million in 2021 to $417.4 million in 2022 or 5.45%. The Mayor's recommended budget also includes a plan for using $119 million in America Rescue Plan Act funds to replace General Fund revenues over the next three years. The largest portion of that total is to replace lost sales tax revenue from 2020 and 2021. With all additional revenue, the total budget is roughly $1.599 billion. I was glad to see that the Mayor placed a priority on investing in affordable housing, youth programming, community safety, and our economic recovery. He is recommending $15 million for the City’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, a $2.6 million increase for The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board for youth programming, more ongoing funding for the Office of Violence Prevention, and funds for five recruit and cadet classes to hire new law enforcement officers. I am sorry he did not propose using the City’s authority to implement a Housing Levy as a tool to ensure a long-term investment in the preservation and creation of the new Public Housing to serve all those who qualify. We have the authority to levy up to $8 million a year for this purpose and I believe that we should do so. Additionally, I would like to have seen more targeted investments in restorative justice, Truth and Reconciliation, Children’s Savings Accounts, increasing base funding for neighborhood organizations and addressing our climate emergency. The Council will now begin its process of reviewing department budget recommendations, conducting hearings and considering changes to the Mayor’s proposal. In the weeks and months ahead, I will be reviewing the budget details, reaching out for feedback from you, and all my constituents, and considering amendments. Final approval is scheduled for December. To learn more and see the Mayor’s full proposal go to https://www.minneapolismn.gov/government/budget/.

2022 Budget Calendar. The Council’s formal engagement on the budget will kick off on September 13th with a budget overview presentation at the Budget Committee at 1:30pm followed by a Public Hearing on the tax levy on TuesdaySeptember 14th at the Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET) in the late afternoon. Throughout September and October there will be departmental presentations on the Mayor's Proposed Budget in the Budget Committee, and then two formal Public hearings: one on TuesdayNovember 16th at 1:30pm and the other on Wednesday, December 1st, 6:00pm. The Council will consider amendments after that last hearing and also at their meeting on FridayDecember 3rd. Final budget approval is tentatively set for Wednesday, December 8th.

Public Health State of Emergency Extended.  With the Delta variant spreading and COVID-19 cases increasing in Minneapolis, the Council has approved extending the COVID -19 state of local public health emergency through November 7, 2021. Minneapolis is in the Center for Disease Control's (CDC)’s high-risk area category, with the community transmission rate exceeding 100 cases per 100,000 individuals and increased rates of positive test cases since July 2021.  This will allow the City to conduct the election with safety precautions in place. Voters will be asked to wear face coverings when coming to vote in person, either during the early absentee voting period or at the polling places on November 2. The City will offer disposable masks and will follow additional health and sanitation protocols in all polling locations to protect both voters and City employees.   

COVID-19 VaccinationsThe strongest defense against the delta variant is through vaccination. Get a free COVID-19 vaccine at a Minneapolis Health Department clinic. Walk-ins are welcome, and the vaccinations are free. You don’t need insurance, you don’t need an appointment and you don’t need an ID. Find more information, updates, and new free community vaccinations at https://coronavirus-vaccine-outreach-cityoflakes.hub.arcgis.com/.

Federal Grant for COVID-19 Response. The Council has accepted a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for over $4 million through May 31, 2023, to address COVID-19 health disparities among high-risk and underserved populations. This will help the city work with community partners to implement strategies that will decrease disparities and the overall rates and impact of COVID-19 as well as expand services among populations at higher risk and that are underserved.

 

Health Literacy Grant. The City Council has accepted a $2 million grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services for a two-year period to support advancing health literacy about COVID-19. The Health Department will use the funds to partner with 6 community-based organizations to get messaging out where it is most needed. 

Housing Strategy Report. In August the Council received an update of our housing strategies called “The Way Home: Safe, dignified and affordable housing for Minneapolis residents, 2018-2020 Progress Report. The report highlights our housing strategies and the key results of City programs, policies and investments that advance the City's housing goals. You can find the full report at https://lims.minneapolismn.gov/RCA/8429

Minneapolis Homes. The City Council has approved $14 million of financing for our Minneapolis Homes programs. These investments will create 104 affordable homeownership units in Minneapolis, 62 new construction, 42 acquisition and rehabilitation. I was very glad to see that 70% of the homes will be perpetually affordable through a shared equity homeownership land trust model; that 70% of homebuyers will be Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC). Current or former residents dating back to 2007 of certain neighborhoods in the Near North, Powderhorn, Northeast, Phillips, and Camden communities that were most impacted by redlining and the more recent 2008-2012 foreclosure crisis will have a preference for the purchase of half of the homes created through a newly adopted preference policy. Also, 20 of the homes financed will be built to a net-zero or passive housing standard and be models for how to use innovative design to address the climate crisis. Homes are available for purchase starting in 2022; the next application process will begin this fall. For more details see https://www2.minneapolismn.gov/government/programs-initiatives/homes-development-assistance/minneapolis-homes/

Emergency Rent and Utility Bill Assistance. The City Council has accepted over $10 million in Emergency Rental Assistance funding from the U.S. Treasury to help cover costs of rent, utilities, and related costs for low-income renters experiencing housing instability due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  We also approved a contract with Hennepin County for Emergency Rental Assistance Program Processing Support for up to $2 million to administer the Emergency Rental Assistance Tenant Application Program.

Right to Counsel. The Right to Counsel ordinance I am co-authoring has been drafted and will be coming forward in the weeks ahead. The purpose of this ordinance is to codify in law that renters facing eviction will be able to expect to be represented by an attorney. We know that renters who face eviction stand a much better chance of being able to stay in their homes if they have legal representation. I hope to have the new ordinance passed and in effect before the eviction moratorium is lifted in October. This will also help inform the 2022 budget – I will be advocating for the City to allocate sufficient resources to meet this new Right to Counsel commitment.

Help Paying Energy Bills. The Minnesota Department of Commerce Energy Assistance Program can help eligible renters and homeowners by paying up to $1,600 for energy bills, providing more assistance if needed for past due bills; repairing or replacing furnaces, and by providing referrals to the Weatherization Assistance Program for free home improvements to conserve energy and lower future energy bills. For more information visit https://mn.gov/commerce/consumers/consumer-assistance/energy-assistance/ 

Homeowner Financial Assistance. We are partnering with the County and the Minnesota Homeownership Center on a new program called, the Hennepin Homeownership Preservation Program (HHPP). The program will provide limited financial assistance for past-due mortgage and utility payments will be available to homeowners who are below 50% of area median income (AMI), were economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and have completed foreclosure counseling. The City is also lending support to City Lakes Community Land Trust (CLCLT) with their Project: Sustained Legacy which focuses on assisting existing homeowners facing the potential loss of housing remain in their home. CLCLT invests in debt restructuring for a sustainable housing payment and/or significant rehabilitation in exchange for the homeowner enrolling in a perpetually affordable housing model that will sustain a home’s affordability to future purchasers. Call 612-594-7150 to learn more about CLCLT’s program. TO learn more about HHPP call 651-236-8952 or visit https://www.hocmn.org/HennepinHPP/.

Water Conservation. The city remains in a drought phase as defined by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, although the Mississippi River flow did recently move above 1,500 cubic feet per second. Currently, sprinkling lawns is NOT allowed from noon to 6 p.m. on any day. On even-numbered calendar days the even-numbered side of the street CAN sprinkle lawns and on odd-numbered calendar days the odd-numbered side of the street CAN sprinkle lawns as long as it is outside of the noon to 6:00pm timeframe. To learn more about the City’s Water Treatment & Distribution Services visit https://www2.minneapolismn.gov/government/departments/public-works/water-treatment-distribution/.

Rooftop Solar. If you are interested in seeing whether rooftop solar makes sense for your home or business, you can get a free personalized assessment through the City-supported Grow Solar Twin Cities program. In the program, homeowners and business owners pool their buying power to get discounts on solar equipment and installation. You can sign up now for a free, no-obligation solar site assessment or start by attending an upcoming virtual info session on TuesdaySeptember 14, from 8:00 to 9:00pm, ThursdaySeptember 23, from 4:00 to 5:00pm, and WednesdaySeptember 29, from 6:30 to 7:30pm. For more information and to register for any of the sessions see https://www.growsolar.org/twin-cities/. The presentations offer an overview of the program, a discussion of costs and benefits, and time for your questions. The more people go in on this together, the more affordable solar gets for all participants and solar installations can pay for themselves over time through utility bill savings, tax credits and utility incentives. Minneapolis property owners may also be eligible for no-interest financing and additional incentives from the City’s Green Cost Share program.

Release of Memo on “Less Lethal” Weapons. In April, I authored a resolution calling for Minneapolis police to stop using certain "less lethal" weapons against protesters in response to a report we heard from the U of M which made clear how much harm these weapons had done recently to people in Minneapolis. That resolution also directed the City Attorney's Office to state whether, under the existing Charter, the Council can impact the City’s use of these weapons. The City Attorney's Office submitted a legal memo to the Council on May 14. That memo was covered by attorney-client privilege, meaning that the only people who can read it were Council Members and other City employees. I believe the people of Minneapolis both need and deserve to be able to read this memo. It is clearly very germane to questions that will be on the ballot this year about how our government should be structured. For that reason, I moved to waive the attorney-client privilege on this memo. That motion passed the Council and the memo has since been released.  You can find it and more information at http://lims.minneapolismn.gov/File/2021-00473 and http://lims.minneapolismn.gov/Download/FileV2/24272/Charter-Authority-of-Mayor-City-Council-Regarding-Police-Department_Less-Lethal-Munitions-Resolution-by-City-Council.pdf. The memo makes clear that under the existing Charter, the Council has no authority to regulate the use of these kinds of weapons by the police department. I believe people should keep this in mind as they think about the Public Safety Charter and the Government Structure (or “strong mayor”) Charter campaigns this fall.

Jaleel Stallings Trial Result. The results and record of the trial of a man named Jaleel Stallings have revealed a disturbing, violent approach to providing safety in our City. Court records describe how officers used “less lethal” weapons in this case, how they beat Mr. Stallings when he was on the ground and posing no threat and how they lied about what happened in this incident. So far, none of these officers have been held accountable, and a complete investigation has yet to be completed for these actions, more than a year later. You can find more details about the case at https://minnesotareformer.com/2021/09/01/jaleel-stallings-shot-at-the-mpd-a-jury-acquitted-him-of-wrongdoing/. 

Theft Reports to 311. In September, I expect the Public Health and Safety Committee to get a full report about how our first alternative to police response was implemented, which was transitioning all theft report-only calls previously responded by police to 311.  It appears that we have seen an increase in the use of online reporting, and 311 has absorbed the volume of calls where residents require support. 

Mobile Behavioral Crisis Response Teams. The contract with Canopy Mental Health, the company responsible for providing the mobile behavioral health crisis response, has been finalized and signed. With this milestone reached, I expect an update to be coming soon to the City’s website with information and documents about the process used to find and work with Canopy, as well as a Frequently Asked Question document for the program. The program is expected to be formally launched in November. For more see https://www.minneapolismn.gov/government/programs-initiatives/community-safety/focus-areas/alternatives-police-response/behavioral-health-response-teams/

MPD Operational Assessment. I was sorry to learn this month that the timeline for the long anticipated final report on police operations and staffing has been extended to January 2022. The consultant’s reports, however, will be delivered in two portions and I have been assured that they have committed to submitting some findings with the greatest 2022 budget implications in mid-November to help inform our budget decisions.

Lawsuit by Communities United Against Police Brutality.  The City Council has approved settling the lawsuit brought by Communities United Against Police Brutality against the City of Minneapolis, (Court File No. 27-CV-19-17749), by paying $22,500 to Communities United Against Police Brutality and its attorneys. The lawsuit regarded possible violations of state law by the City in its response to CUAPB's requests for information under the Minnesota Data Practices Act.

Hennepin County Funding for Behavioral Health Services. I was glad to see that the county has set aside $20 million to increase equity and access to mental health supports. The funding will come from the federal American Rescue Act Plan and focus on communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19. I expect it to increase youth and family access to support, in schools, through family home visiting, expanding services to reduce the need for out-of-home placement, and work to divert youth from justice involvement. I was especially interested to see initiatives outlines to improve mental health crisis response, reduce justice system involvement through creating an alternate response to 911 calls that are related to mental health, and expanding programs at 1800 Chicago to provide round-the-clock, walk-in care. For more see https://hennepin.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/CoverSheet.aspx?ItemID=12558&MeetingID=1214

Minneapolis Workers Benefiting from Minimum Wage. The Civil Rights Department has entered into a settlement agreement with MN Professional Health Services Inc. and ensured payment of $46,850 in back wages and penalties owed to 260 home health aides under the City’s sick and safe time and minimum wage ordinances. If you think your employer has failed to pay you the minimum wage as required by law, please report by calling 311, fill out an online form or in person at City Hall, room 239. Enforcement of workers’ rights supports the City’s goals of stimulating inclusive economic growth by reducing economic and racial disparities. For more information about the ordinance, visit minimumwage.minneapolismn.gov, call 311, or email minwage@minneapolismn.gov.

Health Department Food Security Request for Proposals. The City has issued a community food security funding request for proposals (RFP) for organizations to implement projects that increase food security, increase access to healthy foods, and build the capacity of organizations to reduce food insecurity in Minneapolis. Organizations can apply for funding in amounts of $5,000 up to $150,000 and have until May 31, 2023, to implement projects. Applications are due by noon on Friday, September 10.

Funding Survey. The City of Minneapolis is seeking feedback on how to spend the second round of American Rescue Plan Act funding awarded to the City to address economic and public health impacts from the pandemic. To get that a survey will be open through September 24. Results will assist City leaders as they determine funding priorities for the remaining federal funding awarded to the City. Take the survey to rank funding priorities at https://www.minneapolismn.gov/government/budget/american-rescue-plan/.

Testing or Vaccines for All City Employees. The Mayor and Council are putting in place new emergency regulations requiring City employees to be tested regularly or to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. We continue to uphold mask mandates for City staff and City-owned buildings, while all residents are encouraged to continue masking when indoors.

Artist-led Community Health Grants. The City has approved funding for 15 artist-led working teams for projects that provide creative healing and support to Minneapolis communities that continue to be directly impacted and affected by the stress and trauma of the past year. Along with the lasting effects of the pandemic, communities continue to grapple with ongoing challenges related to the murder of George Floyd. In 2020, the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy repurposed resources provided by the Kresge Foundation to support the work of local artists and designers on urgently needed community healing-focused projects. See https://www.minneapolismn.gov/news/2021/september/grants-awarded-for-artist-led-community-healing/ to learn more.

National Preparedness Month. September has been designated National Preparedness month and is good time to think about preparing for disasters protects everyone you love. Ready.gov/plan has templates to download and ideas to use to create your own plan. It is recommended that you discuss your plan with members of your household, consider specific needs for each member, write your plan down and practice your plan. See https://www.ready.gov/ for more information.

Elections and Voter Services Awards. The National Association of Election Officials awarded two honors to the City of Minneapolis Elections and Voter Services (EVS) Department, recognizing the department’s youth outreach and high quality of work in administering six elections last year. Former EVS Director Grace Wachlarowicz also received a Lifetime Member Award and was inducted into the Election Center Hall of Fame. I offer my congratulations and thanks to this outstanding department and to the well-deserved recognition to gives to our outgoing director. 

Redistricting Advisory Group. The Minneapolis Charter Commission has appointed members for a new Redistricting Advisory Group, beginning the redistricting process that will change the boundaries of all 13 Minneapolis City Council wards and six Park & Recreation Board districts. Redistricting takes place every 10 years to provide equal representation for everyone living in Minneapolis. Boundaries for wards and districts are established so each member of the City Council and Park Board represents roughly the same number of people. Using data from the 2020 census, the Charter Commission is responsible for redrawing ward and district maps to account for shifts in population that took place over the past decade. The new ward and park district boundaries will be completed by March 29, 2022. The group’s nine members will work with the Charter Commission, collectively known as the Redistricting Group, to initiate an educational outreach and communications plan. The Group’s members are David Aron, Cynthia Callanan, Veronica Cary, Glen Johnson, Jonathan Kim, Kayseh Magan, Anita Newhouse, Isaac Russell, and Jennifer Schaal. The Redistricting Group holds a series of public listening sessions to prepare new Minneapolis ward and park district maps. The first of these listening sessions is 5:00-6:00pm Tuesday, September 21, and will be virtual. To sign up to speak and for information see https://www.minneapolismn.gov/government/programs-initiatives/redistricting/

Trans Equity Summit. The eighth annual Trans Equity Summit: Routes to Joy, Community, and Social Change, will be held on October 3rd and 4th. The Summit is an event for trans and gender non-conforming community members to connect and learn about issues impacting their communities. This year’s keynote speaker is Erica Woodland, a licensed clinical social worker who has worked at the intersections of movements for racial, gender, economic, trans and queer justice and liberation for more than 15 years. Visit https://www2.minneapolismn.gov/government/departments/coordinator/race-equity/what-we-do/ongoing-work/trans-equity-summit/ for more information.  

Citizenship Day and Welcoming Week. September 17 is Citizenship Day and part of Welcoming Week. Welcoming Week (September 10-19) is an opportunity for residents to learn about each other, build strong connections and work together towards a more welcoming and inclusive society. This Citizenship Day, from 10-11:30am, the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs and the City of St. Paul Immigrant and Refugee Program will do a presentation on how to become a United States citizen. You can watch the event on at https://www.facebook.com/cityofminneapolis. See  https://welcomingamerica.org/initiatives/welcoming-week/ to learn more.

 

Puerto Rico Self-Determination. In August, the Council passed a resolution supporting the Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act of 2021; Congressional Bills H.R. 2070 and S.865. These bolls establish a process for the people of Puerto Rico to vote on the political status (e.g., statehood) of the territory. If passed, this legislation would provide for a true self-determination process for the residents of Puerto Rico, a country whose status is currently governed by the Territorial Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Survey on Aging. As the older adult population in Minneapolis continues to increase, it is vital that the City integrates aging into more of our work and decisions. To help with that, staff have created a short survey to better understand both what is currently working well, and what challenges elders and older adults face, particularly in historically underrepresented communities. All older adults are invited to take this survey by Friday, September 24: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RQVK72N.

Help Clean Up Litter. My thanks go out to all the people of Ward 2, and the City, who regularly help make our City cleaner by picking up litter.  Thank you. Please know that as volunteer to pick up trash before leaves fall and the snow flies, the City will provide free gloves, trash bags and litter grabbers when you clean up public sidewalks, curbs and boulevards and storm grates. You can find more information and request litter cleanup supplies at https://www.minneapolismn.gov/government/programs-initiatives/clean-city/litter-cleanup/. Please allow 14 days for the delivery of your supplies.

New Department of Arts & Cultural Affairs. The City Council has approved the creation of a new Department of Arts & Cultural Affairs charged with advancing a diverse and active arts and cultural environment that recognizes and draws on the full potential of Minneapolis’ artists and arts organizations; promoting the city as a center for arts and culture; fostering Minneapolis’ arts and culture assets; advancing cultural equity, equality and inclusion and developing and implementing arts and culture programs and initiatives to encourage greater participation in, and increased public access to, arts and culture in Minneapolis. The budget for the new department will be determined through the 2022 City budget process.

New City Service Center Now Open. The City of Minneapolis Service Center is now open at the skyway level of 505 Fourth Ave. S. At the Service Center you can apply for and renew permits; apply for and renew licenses; pay utility bills; get personalized help for permit and license applications, renewals and payments, utility bills and more; and, connect with police record research specialists. Learn.  more and find hours of operations at https://www.minneapolismn.gov/contact-us/building-locations/public-service-building/service-center/

Director of Regulatory Services.  Our Director of Regulatory Services Kim Keller has resigned from her position to take a new position as City Manager for St. Louis Park.  I have appreciated Kim’s work with the city and was happy to support a resolution honoring Kim Keller for her vision and commitment to the City of Minneapolis. You can find the full resolution at https://lims.minneapolismn.gov/File/2021-00847. I was also happy to support the appointment of Saray Garnett-Hochuli as the new Interim Director and look forward to working with her.

The Partnership Engagement Fund. The Council has approved Partnership Engagement funding in the amount of $226,500 for 18 projects where community-based organizations are partnering with recognized neighborhood organizations to further the City’s goals as stated in the Strategic Racial Equity Action Plan and Minneapolis 2040: “The people of Minneapolis will be socially connected, healthy and safe.” This new program was initiated in 2021 to support collaboration and partnerships between community-based organizations (CBOs) and neighborhood organizations to increase diverse participation through project development and implementation, engaging historically underrepresented residents on policies and programs that impact them. This is the pilot year for the fund. A total of 54 proposals were received, by the July 1st deadline, with $755,525.18 in funding requests. To see the funded projects and get more information visit https://lims.minneapolismn.gov/RCA/8363.

Opening on City Boards and Commissions. Thirteen City boards and commissions have openings for appointments this fall with an application deadline of October 1. We are looking for 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. These boards and commissions can have a significant impact on City policies ad have brought forward recommendations that resulted in important policies related to healthy and staple foods policies, wage protections, pedestrian safety and use of body cameras by law enforcement. You can learn more and apply by visiting www.minneapolismn.gov/boards/openings  and https://www.minneapolismn.gov/news/2021/august/diverse-applicants-wanted-for-boards-commissions/

Towerside District Energy. After years of work, City staff have come forward with a plan to help finance the Towerside Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage district energy system. This plan includes a $2 million subordinated loan from the City’s Common Bond Fund reserves, and additional resources from the McKnight Foundation. I am very excited to see this moving forward, and will be supporting implementing the staff proposal. I see this as a clear, concrete way for us to make good on the commitment we made through our Climate Emergency Declaration. I also see it as a tremendous model for future large-scale developments. We know that natural gas is the largest single source of carbon pollution in Minneapolis, and this kind of system can heat and cool every building connected to it with carbon-free energy.

Upper Harbor Terminal Park Plan. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) has published a concept plan for a new regional park at the Upper Harbor Terminal (UHT) site along the North Minneapolis riverfront. The concept plan will be open for a 45-day public comment period ending Thursday, October 21, 2021. The MPRB and City of Minneapolis have been working with community members to create a plan to redevelop the Upper Harbor Terminal (UHT) site since the closure of the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam ended barge traffic to the site in spring 2015. The MPRB is moving forward with plans for a 19.5-acre park at the 48-acre site. To learn more and comment visit https://www.minneapolisparks.org/park_care__improvements/park_projects/current_projects/upper-harbor-terminal-new-park/

Open Streets. Our Streets Minneapolis, in partnership with the City, has announced three Open Streets Minneapolis events this fall on SaturdaySeptember 11 on West Broadway; SundayOctober 10 on Lyndale; and, on SundayOctober 24, on Minnehaha Ave from Lake street to 46th Street.  All events will run from all from 11:00am to 5:00pm and are designed to gather communities together to interact with the streets they live, work and play on. For details about all events see https://www.openstreetsmpls.org/ and for Open Streets Minnehaha visit https://www.openstreetsmpls.org/minnehaha_2021

City Comments on Lake Street (21 Route) Rapid Transit Line. The City submitted comments of support for the new Bus Rapid Transit B Line that is being proposed by the Met Council for Lake Street in Minneapolis. Our comments included support of the balanced bus priority concept which combines measures to improve transit speed and reliability and roadway changes intended to address broader City and County goals for the corridor, including traffic safety and bicycle connections. However, and with my strong support, we emphasized our preference for more dedicated transit lanes wherever possible, if not throughout the corridor, to meet service, climate, and mode shift goals. Additional efforts that we support doing in coordination with the B Line BRT, includes 4-to-3 lane conversion with a bus lane in one direction for a significant portion of Lake Street; access management at unsignalized intersections to improve traffic safety; a connector bikeway east of Minnehaha in line with the City’s Transportation Action Plan; and, the addition of greening and green infrastructure within the corridor where possible and within the BRT stations areas. To learn more visit https://www.metrotransit.org/b-line-project.

Roof Depot Site. With my strong support, a Council committee has voted to end the City’s work to expand the Hiawatha maintenance facility onto the former Roof Depot site. I supported and helped author this motion and was glad to see the Council adopt it on a vote of 7-5. A subsequent motion I supported, to give the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI) exclusive development rights, failed on a 6-6 vote. This means that the City will no longer continue the process to design a public works facility on this site, and we will go forward with an open request for proposals process to find another use for this land and building. I think this is a good outcome for environmental justice in the Phillips area, and I’m proud of the role that the environmental justice Green Zones I led the effort to pass played in this outcome.

Crime Prevention Specialist Nick Juarez. I was sorry to learn that Nick Juarez has decided to leave his position as a Crime Prevention Specialist for the 2nd precinct with the City. I have enjoyed working with Nick, who has been with City for 13 years in the Prospect Park, University and Southeast Como neighborhoods. At the same time, I am happy that he has accepted a position with the University of Minnesota Police Department as a Community Engagement Specialist, and I look forward to working with him in that capacity.  I know that he will still be an asset to the community while working at the University, but it is a shame that he is leaving.  Nick has been great to work with. If you have any questions or need a Crime Prevention Specialist, you can contact Rashid Ali Crime Prevention Specialist, 2nd Precinct, 612-673-2874, Abdirashid.Ali@minneapolismn.gov, or Jose Velez, Crime Prevention Manager, Jose.velez@minneapolismn.gov.

Former Perkins Site. I am happy to report that the City has implemented a plan that has resulted in significant improvements at the old Perkins site. The Health Department’s homeless outreach coordinators had been in contact with the person who was living at the site. Staff also worked with the owners of the building to get the electricity, gas, and water shut off (as is required and proper for a vacant building), and to require them to secure the site with fencing or with security personnel. I am glad to see this short-term improvement and look forward a more lasting redevelopment solution in the future.

Funding for Agra Development at old Perkins Site. This Month the City accepted grant awards on behalf of Newport Midwest of $378,000 from the Metropolitan Council and $116,000 from the Hennepin County to help them build a project they are calling “Agra” at 901 27th Ave S. Their plan includes a 172-unit apartment building that includes a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments. All of the units will be affordable for people making 30%, 50% and 60% of Area Medium Income, including 18 units with project-based Section 8. Agra will include a roughly 3500 square-foot hydroponic greenhouse on a portion of the 1st floor, offering fresh, locally grown produce to both tenants and the surrounding community. The projected total development cost is $50,550,910. The awarded grant funds will be used for soil remediation and asbestos abatement. I am hopeful that they will break ground yet this year.

Malcolm Yards Affordable Housing. The Council has accepted a Hennepin County grant of $201,500 to support the Wall Company Development at 495 Malcolm Ave SE.  The company is planning a six-story, 142-unit apartment building, and 95 of the units (67%) will be considered affordable for people making at or below 60% of the metropolitan area income. This is located within in the University Innovation District and is close to the Prospect Park Light Rail station of the Green Line. The awarded grant funds will be used for soil remediation.

Wadaag Commons/Focus Arts Building. The City Council has authorized applying to the Metropolitan Council for funding that would support the Wadaag Commons/ Focus Arts Building (Seward Commons LLC) project proposed for 2115 Snelling Avenue South in Seward. This is the next phase of the Seward Commons Project. Wadaag Commons is a proposed a 32-unit rental housing project with rents that will be affordable to families making 30%, 50%, and 60% of the area median income. It also includes the creation of a 12,000-square-foot area for stormwater management, a green roof/urban farm, community gardens, and a farm/green roof on the Focus Arts Building. Grant funds of roughly $1.5 million are expected to be usublic space, public art, and bike facilities.

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. In-person office hours have resumed.  Cam will be holding open office hours on Mondays from 9:30 – 11:00am as follows:  

  • First and Third Mondays at Dogwood Café at4021 E Lake St.  
  • Second and Fourth Mondays at Black Waffle and Coffee at 1500 Como Ave SE.