Minneapolis fights housing segregation
December 10, 2018 10:57 AM   Subscribe

On Friday, the Minneapolis city council passed a 481-page plan called Minneapolis 2040, "a comprehensive plan to permit three-family homes in the city’s residential neighborhoods, abolish parking minimums for all new construction, and allow high-density buildings along transit corridors." Single family home zoning is a major contributor to housing segregation.
posted by soelo (70 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sweet.
posted by humboldt32 at 11:08 AM on December 10, 2018 [1 favorite]


Minneapolis is far from perfect, but it is better at consensus decision-making than many US cities. This paragraph from the article highlights some of the reasons why [emphasis mine]:
Several things made this possible in Minneapolis, observed Paula Pentel, coordinator of the University of Minnesota’s urban studies program. First was the election of a very progressive city council dedicated to making room for more housing in the city. Second was the emergence of various activist groups who came out to community meetings, put up lawn signs, and generally voiced their support for reforming the system wholesale. Third was the city’s extensive years-long effort to make sure public outreach didn’t involve only the usual suspects. Instead of waiting for residents to come to planning meetings, planners found residents where they were—at weekend street festivals, for example.
posted by theory at 11:11 AM on December 10, 2018 [23 favorites]


I am Minnesota's biggest booster - and I think the Twin Cities are the awesomest - and even I can't believe that Minneapolis was able to pass this.

Triplexes (or duplexes or ADUs) can now be built in all residential parts of the city. No more single-family housing only zones! Minneapolis has a housing shortage and a long history of redlining and other racist policies, and this is an attempt to solve both issues. This is an AWESOME step forward that most (all?) other cities in the US haven't been able to take.

Oh, but there has been pushback. TONS of pushback. My folks live in a part of Minneapolis that is on the Tony side - almost all single family homes, great schools, close proximity to parks and lakes, the whole shebang. SW Minneapolis seems to be the front lines of the Lawn Sign Wars (NIMBY! YIMBY!) and it's been brutal. The houses are old and some of them are - in the opinion of the most annoying HGTV-esque House Hunter - far too small. So these little houses are being bought, torn down, and replaced with McMansions. What is the difference between a 5,000 sq ft one family McMansion and a 5,000 sq ft triplex? One of them maintains the status quo - only the wealthy may apply - and the other welcomes all to the neighborhood.

On preview - here's an article on what theory's talking about above: the secret sauce of Community Engagement with in the planning process.
posted by Elly Vortex at 11:17 AM on December 10, 2018 [32 favorites]


Yay! Good for us.

I found a link to the plan.
posted by Autumnheart at 11:19 AM on December 10, 2018 [4 favorites]


This is really great - having spent a lot of time and knowing a bunch of folks in Minneapolis theres just so much room to increase density there - as Elly Vortex points out large swaths of S Minneapolis are just scattered with tiny homes. Hoping this will be great.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 11:20 AM on December 10, 2018 [3 favorites]


South Minneapolis resident here. This is a good thing. More multi-family homes means more affordable living. Property values are increasing to the point where lower-income people are basically priced out of an entire house right now. (heck, if we hadn't moved to South Mpls years ago, WE would be priced out of the neighborhood!)

However, I would really like it there were limits on the McMansions in residential neighborhoods. Seeing a 3 story monstrosity in a street full of 1- or 2-story houses? Ugh. The daylight angle is low enough in winter that one giant house on a block can shade out the little sun we get for an awful lot of neighbors. It's entirely possible to have a home that is not a hulking sun-devouring beast.

It would be MUCH easier to accept the larger houses if they were multifamily. And there are PLENTY of larger homes already existing that could be remodeled into multi-family units while still keeping the neighborhoods looking very much like they already do. If you want a McMansion, move to Woodbury and enjoy your commute.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:27 AM on December 10, 2018 [9 favorites]


It'll also be a good model for transforming the suburbs, which suffer from a lot of the same issues. Apart from the geographically entrenched racial segregation, other challenges include the fact that a huge proportion of the Twin Cities has been relatively static in terms of population and growth for decades, and also that the positioning of lakes and wetlands around the Twin Cities makes it hard to build straightforward public transportation corridors. You inevitably have to go around a lake, there are a lot of them, and older communities have roads and property maps that are laid out concentrically, like tree rings, instead of in a grid pattern. (I'm thinking of White Bear Lake and Minnetonka as two examples.)

Ironically enough, Woodbury is mostly townhomes, not McMansions. They overbuilt like crazy in the early oughts before the housing crash. And 15 years before that, it was a cornfield. Heck, I live in an area that was a cornfield 15 years ago. So a plan like this will be great for city planning for areas that could see a lot of growth in the next 20 years, so that it can be developed with these principles in mind.
posted by Autumnheart at 11:33 AM on December 10, 2018 [2 favorites]


Zoning policy isn't sexy, but this really is a big deal. The zoning plan, along with abolishing parking minimums, is the first time a large-ish US city has managed to take such a step attempting to reverse some of the damage done - in terms of racial justice and addressing the problem of sprawl - in urban America.
posted by theory at 11:34 AM on December 10, 2018 [18 favorites]


I do wonder how much the Hiawatha encampment has to do with getting the 2040 plan passed - it's hard to deny that we have a significant issue with housing shortages and racist housing policies when there is an extremely visible tent city in a transit corridor.
posted by dinty_moore at 11:40 AM on December 10, 2018 [9 favorites]


Is there something in this that prevents creation of 3-unit luxury condos instead of typical working-class 3-family houses? Because, at least where I live, all the existing 3-family units that get sold end up getting snapped up by investment companies, gutted, and condo-ized as 3 luxury units. Any smaller homes similarly get snapped up and converted into the largest possible set of luxury condos that will fit on the land by law. So, "housing supply" increases but none of it is especially affordable.

Maybe Minneapolis is different, but will this plan increase the affordable housing supply or just the luxury housing supply?
posted by delicious-luncheon at 11:47 AM on December 10, 2018 [9 favorites]


My city is pretty good at engagement and the city council actually passed a much more toothless plan than this, but guess what? The detractors have gotten a case all the way to the state supreme court on whether a city can even create a comprehensive plan that isn't directly voted on by the public. It includes radical things like bicycle lanes that aren't simply for exercise (they go to shopping and work centers) and some land zoned for mixed use.

Engagement is great, but having a large throng of generally great people helps too. Minneapolis apparently has that, and the city should be thankful, and think of ways to continually cultivate their goodness. Or keep doing what they are doing - I guess they got their contingent of bastards to move to some other place.
posted by The_Vegetables at 11:50 AM on December 10, 2018 [4 favorites]


Is there something in this that prevents creation of 3-unit luxury condos instead of typical working-class 3-family houses?

Yes, the fact they they upzoned *everywhere*, and not just a limited number of locations. The limiting of the locations forces luxury. because the locations open to development are so limited.
posted by The_Vegetables at 11:51 AM on December 10, 2018 [7 favorites]


It’s been *so fun* to hear all the complaints about this from racist old white people for like, years. Glad it’s finally passed. Could go further.
posted by odinsdream at 11:59 AM on December 10, 2018 [14 favorites]


The limiting of the locations Capitalism forces incentivizes luxury

FTFY
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:02 PM on December 10, 2018 [6 favorites]


Is there something in this that prevents creation of 3-unit luxury condos instead of typical working-class 3-family houses?

No, but new build in location and style that ppl with money actually want can put the brakes on this and this and this and this shit.
posted by everythings_interrelated at 12:09 PM on December 10, 2018 [1 favorite]


There's no explicit provision for affordable housing in the plan but as The_Vegetables pointed out, the fact that upzoning will be citywide helps somewhat. There are more targeted plans for addressing affordable housing and tenant legal services, some of which are also first-in-the-nation efforts.
posted by theory at 12:12 PM on December 10, 2018


I saw this mentioned briefly on the news and skimmed over the plan. Minneapolis already does cool stuff like ranked-choice voting and is generally pretty progressive but the plan itself almost reads as if it was put together as a response to an Ask.Me post from the city.

At least one of the Minneapolis city council members has to be a MeFi member. Please stand to receive your ovation/favorites.
posted by VTX at 12:18 PM on December 10, 2018 [3 favorites]


Big win MN!

I sort of feel that nearly the whole point of zoning is to keep the poors where they belong and restrict the services/amenities available to them, and that society would be better off if zoning were entirely abandoned (or, if not, then at least massively massively scaled back).

...err, you'd still need a competent EPA/state equivalent, plus the usual noise rules and so on, because usage impacts are still a thing but that's quite distinct from zoning itself.
posted by aramaic at 12:24 PM on December 10, 2018 [2 favorites]


The_Vegetables: Not to say that it can't be challenged on some level, but Minneapolis is required by law to develop and implement comprehensive plans like this every decade or so.
posted by theory at 12:29 PM on December 10, 2018 [1 favorite]


Some other reporting:

Minneapolis City Council adopts 2040 plan (Dan Gunderson, MPR News)

Why Minneapolis Just Made Zoning History (Kriston Capps, Citylab)

Minneapolis City Council approves 2040 comprehensive plan on 12-1 vote (Miguel Otárola, Star Tribune)
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:37 PM on December 10, 2018 [2 favorites]


City Council votes 12-1 to approve Minneapolis 2040 plan (Alex Wittenberg, Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal)

Suggests a mixed response from residential developers.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:41 PM on December 10, 2018


I sort of feel that nearly the whole point of zoning is to keep the poors where they belong and restrict the services/amenities available to them

Yes, that has always been the explicit point of city zoning. Back when racism was ok, it was more explicit than it is today. For example, the original zoning plans for San Francisco called for bulldozing all the existing buildings that didn't conform to the new zoning, and it was explicitly done to support higher property values.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:56 PM on December 10, 2018 [1 favorite]


At least one of the Minneapolis city council members has to be a MeFi member. Please stand to receive your ovation/favorites.

I don't know if this counts, but a good friend of mine is personally acquainted with Jacob Frey (the mayor). I'll tell him to pass it along. :-)
posted by Autumnheart at 1:09 PM on December 10, 2018 [4 favorites]


Can anyone familiar with the new zoning say whether it has any resident-ownership requirements?
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 1:31 PM on December 10, 2018 [1 favorite]


I felt a great disturbance on Nextdoor, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror...
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 1:47 PM on December 10, 2018 [17 favorites]


They can all move up to Stearns County with the rest of the numskulls.
posted by Autumnheart at 1:50 PM on December 10, 2018 [5 favorites]


I sort of feel that nearly the whole point of zoning is to keep the poors where they belong and restrict the services/amenities available to them, and that society would be better off if zoning were entirely abandoned (or, if not, then at least massively massively scaled back).

Houston, TX is notable for its lack of zoning laws. The rich have plenty of tools available for keeping the poors out.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 2:51 PM on December 10, 2018 [5 favorites]


Houston may not officially have "zoning" but it has all the familiar land-use regulations that are de facto zoning laws. They just don't call it zoning. Here's a debunking of the belief that Houston doesn't have zoning, which lists things like deed restrictions, buffering ordinances, and density rules that cause Houston to end up looking pretty much like all the other cities in the US that do have "zoning" laws. And, as noted in the article, Houston implements these rules haphazardly without the benefits of a comprehensive plan.
posted by theory at 3:06 PM on December 10, 2018 [4 favorites]


Gott damm.

St. Cloud-adjacent comeuppant Twin City frequenter and also budget airline Beijing-dwelling jetsetter here.

So like, if you wanna dig back in my comment history you can find some detailed ranty rants about my housing history, but suffice it to say that Beijing has supplied me with prefab concrete apartments aplenty, 'cause that's all there is, and Indonesia (which I currently call my second home, but there were detours through Singapore, which has Beijing's issues, and Cambodia and Malaysia, which have Indonesia's), specifically Jakarta and south Bali, dear god is urban planning even real do we need more villas/shantytowns/it takes an hour to go 5km and two lanes are the size of one car wtf who planned this and this is all 20th century construction and public transit do you speak it wtf. If you don't want to dig back through my comment history, them's the pertinent highlights.

Fuck yeah Twin Cities. Fuck yeah. Plan it right so the rest of the world learns. I forwarded this to like 4 Jakartans, and they didn't read it because it's way too long, but one day they will, and then they'll realize that Minnesota is indeed the Promised Land.

Seriously though, the world is watching, and yeah, when a country that's not the US has a good idea, some adopt it, but when the US does it, prestige-chasing fools the world over redraw city plans. This is a good day for Earth.
posted by saysthis at 3:20 PM on December 10, 2018 [4 favorites]


but having a large throng of generally great people helps too. Minneapolis apparently has that, and the city should be thankful, and think of ways to continually cultivate their goodness. Or keep doing what they are doing - I guess they got their contingent of bastards to move to some other place.
posted by The_Vegetables at 3:50 AM on December 11 [2 favorites +] [!]


In my post-reading-all-the-comments-comment I just want to say that if Minnesota does one thing right, one thing that keeps me claiming it as home despite living so many other places, it's not breeding "great" people so much as engaged people. The civic community in Minnesota, the Twin Cities specifically, is incredible, and has to be experienced to be believed. Minnesotans, for a lot of reasons, but mostly for just telling one another, will give a crap to the end of next Sunday in 2099, note the NIMBY/YIMBY about everything (and I don't live there now! but I have opinions! did you read the thing we did? you have opinions donchano!). I can't point to why, but I can say if you can generate community momentum, you can keep people going. Get out there and engage your community because this is what happens when you do!!!!!
posted by saysthis at 3:30 PM on December 10, 2018 [6 favorites]


Houston, TX is notable for its lack of zoning laws. The rich have plenty of tools available for keeping the poors out.

Massachusetts has an express ban on snob zoning.

Which means elected cannot ever defend a zoning rule based on its intent to keep the poors out.

They can still try things like insane parking minimums, but that has turned out to be a terrible poison pill. (Developers comply, and then you get the poors and actual honerst-to-goodness blight from the parking lot you required the developers to build and which the poors aren't using.) So we actually are getting urban infill.
posted by ocschwar at 3:35 PM on December 10, 2018 [3 favorites]


and actual honerst-to-goodness blight from the parking lot you required the developers to build and which the poors aren't using.) So we actually are getting urban infill.

One more comment and then I'm done, but here's a thing that's true - cars aren't going away until public transit and electric bikes take its place, and probably but not necessarily until a really strong hand bans people from buying gas-burners and single-person cars at all. This (with the strong hand) can work - I've seen it in my neighborhood in Beijing, where 3 years ago traffic was horrid and smog was legendary, but now I'm 20 minutes from anywhere inside the city center and 2 hours to anywhere in the suburbs, because of the jams outside the heavy-hand control areas and great public transit inside it. Also I'm 40 minutes to the airport, including foot-to-subway time. At times I feel like I live inside a yuppie zoo, complete with retiree neighbors and enforced black pantsuit galleries next door. Outside of the historical district, it's not like this.

Whole-city parking requirement removal and zoning removal is the ONLY way for the free hand of the market to save us. Otherwise...the thing above.
posted by saysthis at 3:54 PM on December 10, 2018 [2 favorites]


I hope that Toronto - Canada's Minneapolis - pays attention to this. It's sorely needed here too.
posted by Flashman at 4:43 PM on December 10, 2018 [2 favorites]


Hopefully this plan also helps make homeownership achievable and/or implements strong rent control and tenant's rights so communities can thrive and long-term relationships can form. What sucked most about SF and NY was how people kept leaving because of cost.
posted by grumpybear69 at 5:22 PM on December 10, 2018 [1 favorite]


The City of Minneapolis/the Metropolitan Council saw the writing on the wall and decided to deal with it. The reality is the increasing cost of providing infrastructure services to an expanding population. Sprawl is hugely expensive (even more so in a northern climate requiring snow removal) and inefficient.

The two biggest infrastructure challenges the Twin Cities metro is facing is the expense of adding to and maintaining its sewer and water utilities. Every foot of pipe costs a hell of a lot of money. The more households served with a shorter run of pipes, the less expensive it is. Surfacing and plowing roads out in Sprawlland and adding ever more sewer/water lines is financially insupportable with the present no-new-taxes mentality.

The Met Council has steeply increased the cost for new sewer and water hookups as a result. The developer/Republican backlash claims the higher fees are pricing new homes out of the reach of most residents. Well, people, here's part of the solution, and part of the new reality: as our population expands, so does the demands on our infrastructure. You can either pay a whole lot more, or build more wisely.

Most of the younger generation understand this. Seems like the middle-aged and the I-got-mine-crowd simply refuse to acknowledge it. I'm the owner of a little home on a big lot in suburbia, and I'm actually looking forward to having a developer approach me in my old age with a proposal for multi-family housing on this property. Because it just makes sense.
posted by Lunaloon at 5:46 PM on December 10, 2018 [5 favorites]


I couldn’t get the article to load on my internet device, but my city council person was the lone vote against the plan, so you can guess where I live. One of the most unbelievable Nextdoor.com posts was by a woman two blocks away from me who said, “Hey neighbors, I heard of a way we can stop upzoning on our block: restrictive covenants.” MY BRAIN EXPLODED.

Tonight my 5 year old and I went to a Metro Transit open house at our neighborhood park about converting our local bus route to a rapid transit route with real infrastructure, and I was like “why are you planning to circumnavigate the lake to connect to the light rail - take advantage of this opportunity and choose a direct route” and my kid put stickers on a map of all the places we regularly visit via bus. Bring it on, Minneapolis! (and please never fix my street because the craters and waves in the pavement act like intentional traffic-calming measures)
posted by Maarika at 6:02 PM on December 10, 2018 [8 favorites]


I hope that Toronto - Canada's Minneapolis

I—what?
posted by Automocar at 6:29 PM on December 10, 2018 [4 favorites]


This is good. Seattle is struggling with the same problem. Booming economy in a city where all the “close in” neighborhoods to downtown are bedroom communities.

Density is coming. Whether you like it or not. You can either build condos and fill in with multi family buildings and create infrastructure around that, or you can ignore the problem like Seattle is doing and the people come anyway. They just live in tents under the freeway driving down your property values instead of moving in next door and driving up property values.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:01 PM on December 10, 2018 [5 favorites]


I didn't know which council person had voted against it, but of course it was ward 13. Ugh.
posted by Ickster at 7:15 PM on December 10, 2018 [1 favorite]


So can someone explain why not requiring adequate parking is a good idea? It seems like Minneapolis is already short on parking. Or maybe I don't understand what "abolish parking minimums" means.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 7:16 PM on December 10, 2018


A parking spot is 300 square feet of land. It's an insanely unproductive use of real estate to require that it be used for storing cars. In Boston, where it's legal to partition your property so you can sell off your parking, a deeded parking spot on the outskirts of the city can sell for $60K. Downtown, deeded spots have changed hands for $250K. Anywhere in the country, the market rate for land, per square foot, times 300, should make it clear that parking is nto a good use for the space.
posted by ocschwar at 7:38 PM on December 10, 2018 [1 favorite]


If you have parking minimums, you get giant sprawling parking lots everywhere and everything is drive-to, everything's built for cars. If you don't have parking minimums you look like NYC or Chicago - dense and walkable, built for people.
posted by Ansible at 7:40 PM on December 10, 2018 [5 favorites]


Gilgamesh's Chauffeur, others can likely explain it better, but my understanding is that requiring parking raises the cost to build new housing. Parking minimums raise the $/sq foot of the finished building and also incentivize people to drive, when cities are actively trying to move people away from driving alone.

Apartments will likely still be built with parking, because that is what the market might demand. But by not requiring parking, the city is effective giving a rent cut to those willing to live without a parking spot / car.
posted by aleatorictelevision at 7:40 PM on December 10, 2018 [1 favorite]


Flashman: "I hope that Toronto - Canada's Minneapolis - pays attention to this. It's sorely needed here too."

This would be huge boon to Vancouver.
posted by Mitheral at 7:41 PM on December 10, 2018 [1 favorite]


Requiring parking in an existing urban neighborhood generally means you are requiring structured parking. Which means that you are forcing a developer to build about 350 square feet for every car. So a 500 square foot studio apartment that could be built and rented for $900 a month becomes a 500 square foot studio apartment with one parking space that requires $1200 a month to rent to have a viable project. If you mandate parking and an affordable housing percentage (say 20% of units must be affordable to those making 60% of median area wages) you likely have a 500 square foot unit that must net a minimum of $1400 a month in rent. This is why all new construction is branded as "luxury", because you can't justify that price for a "non-luxury" unit, and you can't build for a cheaper rent. The real luxury is a roof over your head and a few hundred dollars thrown at a couple nicer appliances and maybe a good shower surround.

(Numbers are arbitrary, but pretty realistic.)
posted by meinvt at 7:42 PM on December 10, 2018 [3 favorites]


So can someone explain why not requiring adequate parking is a good idea? It seems like Minneapolis is already short on parking. Or maybe I don't understand what "abolish parking minimums" means.

On the commercial side, That fucking Kmart wouldn't be half as egregious if it didn't have a giant parking lot outside of it, usually completely empty except for three taco trucks - you could fit the entire building structure in a third of the footprint and cause less of a disturbance. The strip mall directly south of it also wouldn't be so unpleasant to walk through, same with the wells fargo.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:23 PM on December 10, 2018 [5 favorites]


(Parking is also stupid cheap and easy to find throughout most of the city compared to most major metro areas, with the exception of Loring Park)
posted by dinty_moore at 8:28 PM on December 10, 2018 [2 favorites]


Canada's Minneapolis has to be Edmonton or something, not Toronto.

But: upzoning across a huge area. All the mostly-SFH cities need to do this, which is to say most of the cities in the US and Canada.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 8:48 PM on December 10, 2018


Regarding the parking question, people’s perceptions of parking availability and actuality are very different. Most Seattle neighborhoods have ridiculously low parking occupancy even at peak periods (like seriously 40% or less occupied) but any attempt to remove even small numbers of parking results in outcry about how hard it is to park (and this is just street parking typically). But even if perceptions matched reality, the idea that mandating parking in a city could lead to equitable outcomes is absurd. That we’ve designed our cities to require even the poor to own and maintain a vehicle is absurdly unjust and recessive — and then on top we’ve artificiality inflated the cost of housing with parking requirements.

*ragss some more-*

I live in Seattle and do some housing advocacy on the side. I have a lot of anger but also joy that Minneapolis was able to get this done.
posted by R343L at 9:36 PM on December 10, 2018 [4 favorites]


I live in Stearns County. Sure, Michele Bachmann was our US Rep for a few years, but she's from Stillwater, the east side of our gerrymandered district. I'm still quite the blue dot in this county of red, though.
posted by jillithd at 9:56 PM on December 10, 2018 [3 favorites]


I too am located in the 6th.
posted by Autumnheart at 4:13 AM on December 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


On the commercial side, That fucking Kmart wouldn't be half as egregious if it didn't have a giant parking lot outside of it

More on that fucking k-mart if anyone is interested. The 70's were rough years for redevelopment.
posted by Think_Long at 5:34 AM on December 11, 2018 [3 favorites]


Heh. I used to live in Minneapolis, the Nicollet and Franklin area, and I knew exactly what was meant by "that fucking K-Mart". It's so obvious, but still I never thought to note how easy a reference to the city that stupid building was. Thanks for the link, I always wondered what teh story behind that building was.


Also, is it just me that always has trouble remembering how to spell Nicollet?
posted by gusottertrout at 5:53 AM on December 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


Also notice that there are no required minimums. KMart can still build as much parking, and apartments can have as much parking as they can afford to build. There is no ban on parking, or on building parking lots.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:28 AM on December 11, 2018


how to spell Nicollet?
No, because we know there is a double letter and feel it should be the T, but it is the L.

I lived in the Stevens neighborhood on and off from 1996-2008 in apartment buildings that had between 12 and 48 units. We were all squished in there and street parking was hell. I didn't have a car for the first few years and my biggest challenge was grocery shopping. This was before Target came downtown, much less the grocery stores. Once I had a car, the biggest hassle was street parking. If we spread out the apartment dwellers into smaller units, street parking is not such a problem.
posted by soelo at 7:31 AM on December 11, 2018


The idea is also that in high-density neighborhoods , residents wouldn't need a car and on-street parking like maybe they did in the past. Commercial rezoning allowing for grocery stores/bars/restaurants, better metrotransit service, etc.
posted by Think_Long at 7:53 AM on December 11, 2018 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I meant to include the reasons I got a car and how most of them are ameliorated with better amenities. Better transit and more local stores would certainly have reduced my car needs back then.
posted by soelo at 8:09 AM on December 11, 2018


Also, is it just me that always has trouble remembering how to spell Nicollet?

My issue is that my husband very, very subtly pronounces it Ni-co-LETTE instead of NI-cu-lit. It's not so wrong that people misunderstand him, but it kind of makes my eye twitch when I hear it.
posted by Elly Vortex at 8:25 AM on December 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


I've lived in Minneapolis for four months now and I have just learned that I pronounce "Nicollet" wrong, but close enough to correct that it'll be very hard to fix.
posted by Kwine at 10:12 AM on December 11, 2018 [2 favorites]


I also pronounce Nicollet the same way as Elly's husband, despite being in the cities for ten years and having spent three years living on Nicollet (just a few blocks south of that fucking k-mart).
posted by dinty_moore at 10:17 AM on December 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


My issue is that my husband very, very subtly pronounces it Ni-co-LETTE instead of NI-cu-lit. It's not so wrong that people misunderstand him, but it kind of makes my eye twitch when I hear it.

That's the underrated reason why their attempt brand Nicollet as "Eat Street" once you were past "that fucking K-Mart" was so helpful, you could skip the mispronunciation eye twitching and go right to the eye rolls over the cutesy instead.


I lived in the Stevens neighborhood on and off from 1996-2008 in apartment buildings that had between 12 and 48 units. We were all squished in there and street parking was hell. I didn't have a car for the first few years and my biggest challenge was grocery shopping. This was before Target came downtown, much less the grocery stores. Once I had a car, the biggest hassle was street parking. If we spread out the apartment dwellers into smaller units, street parking is not such a problem.

Hey, that was exactly my life. Dollar store dinner or figure out a way to lug groceries a couple miles home on foot. And when I had a car the fun of parking half a mile away in winter and having to worry about moving when to move for that swell even/odd parking was all sorts of laughs. I had accumulated something like 13 or so parking tickets up to the point I decided to move. I ignored then figuring I'd be gone soon enough, only to have the cops pull me over for that many outstanding warrants, which made for some excitement as they made their approach to my car with guns drawn, not having checked the reason for those warrants.

Another fun fact I learned the hard way was once I paid off half the tickets and moved out of state it was brought to my attention that Minnesota had a reciprocal relationship with some other states regarding unpaid parking violations. That's another little civics lesson I learned the hard way. No arrest for that lesson, just had to leave my car abandoned alongside the road in the middle of nowhere and walk to a phone to have a friend pay off the rest of the fines. Oy, Minnesota winters, the gift that never stops giving.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:19 AM on December 11, 2018


More on that fucking k-mart if anyone is interested. The 70's were rough years for redevelopment.

I checked out the north part of the wall on street view (the part near 29th), and wow, that is so half assed and ugly. My city has had its share of poorly thought out street closures for freeways, light rail and even city hall itself, but never did they just drop a wall in the middle of a street and call it a day. The painted lines are even still there!
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:04 PM on December 11, 2018


I wish we could get rid of that fucking Kmart and have Nicollet actually go through.

I have concerns about what the new zoning is going to mean for disability accessibility and folks on Section 8, but it's not likely to be worse than it is now.

I do wish this plan would allow more four plexes, because of their aesthetically pleasing symmetry.
posted by bile and syntax at 1:47 PM on December 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


Another thing with parking: There's a lot of talk in urbanist circles about how highway expansions induce load: people have a certain amount of "traffic" that they'll put up with, and if you build out the highway to reduce the time in traffic, more people find it viable to drive, so the "traffic" never improves.

There's a bit of a related dynamic for some kinds of parking. Here in Seattle, one of our worst areas during rush hour is South Lake Union, where a lot of recent offices have been built, each with their own underground parking lot, and not a lot else. The amount of parking you build in an area has a direct relationship to the amount of traffic that that can happen, in cases like this. If the capacity for parked cars is greater than the capacity for cars in motion, you get rush hour hell. Sometimes, you just need to not build it.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 4:18 PM on December 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


Vienna's affordable flats - "Apartments like these are everywhere in Vienna. The city owns 220 thousand of them. Two-thirds of people in Vienna live either in an apartment owned by the city housing association, or social housing."[1,2,3]
posted by kliuless at 6:11 AM on December 12, 2018 [2 favorites]


If the capacity for parked cars is greater than the capacity for cars in motion, you get rush hour hell.

In Calgary we have a dense downtown in the middle of an auto oriented city, but limited road capacity. Starting in the 70s, council realized they would have to restrict parking, build light rail, and dedicate an entire avenue to transit.

40 years later, the result is a 50% transit share for downtown commuters, and $400/month parking for those who choose to drive. And rush hour is not nearly as bad as it could be.

Seattle already has the light rail and the bus tunnel, but I don't know what the public appetite would be for limiting parking.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 9:56 AM on December 12, 2018 [1 favorite]


If there's a time for it, it might be now. We're entering a period time that has been officially called the "period of maximum constraint", which is that our busses are being kicked out of the tunnel, because of construction where they exit, additional train capacity is a few years off still, and one of our two downtown highways is going out of service a few months before it's replacement comes back. There's a lot of construction impacts with all of that.

Unfortunately, our current mayor has repeatedly shown that she doesn't care about transit, so I'm not hopeful that this particular pain point will be leveraged into anything that isn't already baked in other than more concessions for cars.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 3:52 PM on December 12, 2018


I've always thought of the pronunciation as being a smaller version of a $0.05 coin.

You know, not a full-size nickel, just a nickel-ette.

I hope this progressive trend continues in Minneapolis for decades. Selfishly my hope is that when Mrs. VTX and I are ready to retire we can sell our house in the suburbs and move to Minneapolis proper where they'll have been one of the first cities to use self-driving cars for public transport (along with buses and light rail).

I'd be able to walk for most things but be able to summon a little car to take me to the train station to get most other places? That's darn near an urban utopia right there. I imagine that a lot of people would still own a private car but it seems like it'd be pretty easy to build private garages off the rail line so you wouldn't have to keep your car in the city but you can still get to place where public transport still sucks.

Even without self-driving cars I still like this plan.
posted by VTX at 1:08 PM on December 14, 2018


I really do wonder how many place names around Minneapolis/Saint Paul have mangled pronunciations, and how that compares to other metro areas.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:43 PM on December 14, 2018




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