The third candidate response to the Streets.mn Voter guide for the city council candidates is from Kendal Killian, candidate in Ward 10, which includes the Uptown area of southwest Minneapolis.
1. What do you believe is the most significant land use and/or transportation issue facing Minneapolis in the next 5 years and how do
you hope to address it in office?
I think we have a unique opportunity at this moment to finally build a 21st century transit system in Minneapolis. The state has been slowly providing additional funding mechanisms for transit in recent years. Now transit advocates chair both transportation committees at the Capitol, we have a Governor on our side, we have allies at the Met Council, two supportive US Senators and an Administration in DC that has showed a commitment to rail, in particular.
So the question is, how do we build a transit system in Minneapolis that serves both new riders and the existing users that depend on it? In our area that means Nicollet Avenue, and the question, should it be a streetcar or enhanced bus service?
We need make sure we leverage public investments in transit, in order to build up our tax base. The growth along the Hiawatha line has been slow, for example. As we make future investments in transit, we have to remove the roadblocks to the subsequent development along those corridors. If we do that successfully, we can parlay federal and state transit investments boosting the tax base all over the city.
2. How do you think the needs of pedestrians, cyclists, transit users and drivers can be met most effectively? Would you prioritize one or more of these modes over others?
I am most interested in traffic calming measures. While cars to some extent are a necessary evil, there is no reason they have to move so fast through our neighborhoods. As I have been out campaigning door to door, I have literally seen two car accidents right before my eyes.
I think if we create side friction and utilize other mechanisms to slow traffic, we can still allow cars to pass through but we also create an environment that is more safe and comfortable for pedestrians and cyclists.
My priority will be transit solutions for those who are most in need.
What’s important to always keep in mind is the diversity of our Ward and the fact many people rely on public transit to get to work, school, childcare, and grocery stores as well as for recreation destinations.
There’s been a lot of talk in the race about additional bikeways and bicycle opportunities, I’m all for that.
The caveat I’ll add is that we cannot focus solely on transit modes that disproportionately favor one group of residents over the needs of others.
Large shares of our neighbors make choices that are necessitated by financial considerations, not health or leisure. We have to be careful not to project our values onto other people in an ethnocentric way. We have to meet people where they are at and find solutions that are sensitive to different cultures and economic realities.
3. Minneapolis has many plans for land use, transit, road and cycling infrastructure improvements in plans like Access Minneapolis, the Bicycle Master Plan and the city’s comprehensive plan. How do you think the city should fund these improvements in the future? Other than funding, are there other obstacles to realizing these plans and how would you address them?
One question is, do we make these improvements as we go along, over a longer period of time and integrate the costs into normal road maintenance and improvements?
I would like to see ways to recoup revenue from biking and reinvesting it into the biking infrastructure. What I want to avoid is rededicating funds that today go to programs and services people depend on.
One issue I have heard about with cycle tracks is one around snow plowing. I am sure there are smarter people than who can develop a solution for that.
4. As a council person, how would you respond to concerns about development impacts in your ward? Outside of your ward? Is there a recent controversial project (land use or transportation) that you would have handled differently?
Well, I will always listen and respond to concerns about potential impacts of development. We do want to maintain the unique character of our neighborhood. I think that the present zoning regulations and overlay districts were put in place with a broad strategy in mind. And we should nearly always stick by that. I think an idea that we should never make exceptions (as the incumbent as stated) is a little too rigid, though.
On the other hand, there are bigger picture considerations we need to think about. First of all population increases are good for the city in terms of added tax base and more customers for businesses. Also more people in Minneapolis is good for climate change if it means less people commuting from the exurbs.
I don’t have a lot of patience for NIMBY attitudes. The same reasons we love it here are the same reasons people that don’t yet live here would love it too. We always need to be welcoming and open-minded when it comes to attracting new neighbors.
I also disagree with the notion of downzoning. This is something Councilperson Tuthill publicly supported in her campaign in 2009. But, interestingly, it’s missing from her website and literature this time around.
At our first candidate debate this year I mentioned how I used to work at Dayton’s. There we had a corporate mantra called “yes first.” What that meant was that if a guest wanted something, we should find a way to say yes and satisfy the guest.
That idea would apply to a lot of city projects. A recent example was the Trader Joe’s issue.
If Trader Joes wants to come to our area, do we look at it each potential site on a case-by-case basis, shooting each proposal down one by one and drawing out the whole process for years and years? Or do we bring everyone together and agree to the general idea that, yes, we want them in our area. Now, let’s find a site that works.
In my mind, nearly every idea that comes forward is, at its core, a good one. I mean, if someone wants to open a business in our area or build something; that is his or her dream. We have to give people the benefit of the doubt and trust that their dream is nearly always not a deliberate attempt to undermine our neighborhood. We want our neighborhood to be a place where dreams can turn into reality.
5. Where is your favorite place to walk (in or outside of Minneapolis)?
Right here at our corner of 36th and Bryant Ave, we have an awesome diner, Our Kitchen. We also have a pet supply store, an independent grocer, hair salon and one of the most popular coffee shops – Gigi’s – all on one corner. I believe this is such a perk of living in this area, the fact most of our day to day retail needs can be taken care of without ever getting in our car.
While I agree with much of what you wrote (especially in regards to protecting the rights and access of those who don’t drive because they can’t afford it), I tend to find myself suspicious at talk of “maintaining the unique character of our neighborhood.” The phrase itself seems to be code (in my past and limited experience) for not increasing housing density (even while population density has decreased through smaller family size and desire for larger homes, thus changing the fabric of the neighborhood) or working to create affordable housing. I’ve never seen it used in conjunction with discussion of how to keep our elderly residents living independently in their homes longer, or how to avoid gentrification pricing long-term renters out of the places they’ve lived for decades, or how to protect long term residents (rather than short term investors/absentee landlords) from being priced out by skyrocketing property values and property taxes. It’s the people that make up a neighborhood, not the buildings, no matter how historic. I strongly agree that we need to be open to and welcoming of new residents in any neighborhood whether they’re moving two blocks or two thousand miles (the racial/financial segregation of Minneapolis is an embarrassment to our otherwise great city), but I fear that often our decision-makers forget that historic buildings l
I’ve lived in Ward 10 and adjacent wards for most of my life and experienced various traffic calming measures. I have yet to encounter any that have had any benefit I know of. When traffic circles (not sure of the name — essentially giant concrete flower pots about 6′ in diameter) were tried, the only noticeable slow-down was for busses and emergency vehicles as they maneuvered around them with some difficulty. These calming measures don’t address (as far as I can tell) the speed of traffic on Hennepin and Lyndale. While I understand that those are considered major streets, they’re also major commercial streets that draw cyclists and pedestrian traffic with denser housing along them. (For the record, I find the surest traffic calming occurs when I walk with an elderly relative with white beard and cane–cars yield more often and far earlier to him and wait longer before driving behind him.)
Attention given to traffic calming is another way of continuing to prioritize cars over other forms of transit. The majority of pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users see at best distant and unclear “trickle-down” benefits from things like speed bumps, especially when they’re placed on little used side streets. How would you propose calming traffic on streets like Hennepin, Lyndale, and Lake?