Our eleventh response is from Lisa Goodman, (incumbent) candidate in Ward 7, which includes downtown and the Kenwood neighborhood.
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?
There are many different land use and transportation issues that will be debated, discussed and implemented in the next few years picking one as the “most” significant is not possible. Form based zoning, protected bike lanes, density in neighborhoods and on corridors all come to mind as issues to discuss. To me one issue that comes up again and again and has for years is the location of affordable housing. Some would say our city has enough low income, supportive and workforce housing, make the suburbs take some. I would argue in some neighborhoods in our city affordable housing rents are market rate and ruling those locations out risks a lack of investment where it is needed most. In the ward I represent the loss of single room occupancy ( SRO) units and truly affordable privately owned apartments is a major concern. I have worked on this issue for years and believe short of a “no net loss policy” we will lose more than we will gain from new development, we can’t buy ourselves out of this affordable housing crisis, we need to focus on preserving and improving the affordable housing we have. I will continue to work to ensure new development, especially surrounding the Twins and Vikings projects, that has any City involvement includes at least 20% affordable units as mixed income projects are an important part of the mix. Many developers in the past “bought” their way out of this requirement paying into a fund to build the units else ware, that is no longer an acceptable option unless we want all affordable units to be concentrated in a few areas of our 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?
As a downtown resident for 20 years living on Hennepin avenue I do think the needs of pedestrians need to be a primary focus for downtown. There is so much on the line when the pedestrian experience isn’t positive from quality economic development to public safety, people on the street level walking outside on all of our major streets will improve the retail, restaurant and environment for public safety. I have also come ot believe that we need protected bike lanes, meaning lanes with a curb separating the bikes from cars. We do not need to favor one mode over another, we need to come closer to treating them more equally. The street system is not just in place to get people in and out of downtown faster at the beginning and end of a work day, the system needs to work for those who live along it too. Building road capacity to get people in and out takes up right of way that could be used for better bike facilities and better short term parking for retail, if we want it to succeed downtown. We do need to maintain our roadways better, focus on enforcement of existing rules of the road for all who use them bikes and cars and foster an environment that values all modes of transportation.
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?
Funding any new initiative in this environment is a challenge. We have been blessed with a lot of federal funding for bike and pedestrian infrastructure over the past 5 years and I don’t’ believe this level of funding will be coming in the future. Much of the funding for roadways both new and maintenance comes from the State or from the City’s 5 year CIP and this funding competes with all Capital funding for infrastructure. The City can only borrow so much in our 5 year Capital plan so long term planning as well as making choices about priorities will be critical. Land Use plans and the City Comprehensive plan are not plans for city driven or funded development but a guide for how we want to see our City grow over time. These planning documents should be the guide to those who are investing in development in the City about the overall public view and expectation on density, height and public amenities.
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?
Those who have worked with me know I have been a voice for my constituents on development issues. I support high density development where our comp plan and zoning calls for it and oppose developments that work hard to push the boundaries and change the rules for developers own economic benefit. I have been involved with and worked on more than 50 multifamily condo and apartment projects in the ward I represent over the years. I have worked to get developers to work with neighborhoods and immediate neighbors to address concerns about change while moving a large number of projects forward. Grant Park, The Carlyle, Eitel Apartments on Loring Park and the two new high-rises under construction right now are a very few examples of projects were neighbors had concerns about height and density but bringing together all sides provided for a positive outcome and some very good high quality projects that have added much needed density to our City. I have been known to fight high density projects in my ward where the zoning and comp plan didn’t support that kind of development, where big projects would change the essential character of a neighborhood or area and in each case development did move forward simply not as tall or as dense as the developers initially demanded.
5. Where is your favorite place to walk (in or outside of Minneapolis)?
Walking our dogs Sadie and Finn is a highlight of each day for me. I have the good fortune to live close to JD Rivers and Theodore Wirth Parks and walking thought the woods where the hardwoods meet the evergreen trees is a really special place for us, we walk this path almost daily. Living on Hennepin Avenue for 20 years however made Loring Park my favorite place to walk. The combo of walking down Hennepin and enjoying the hustle and bustle of MCTC and the shops and Theatres combined with the pond, paths and dog park in Loring Park make that a nice way to see what’s going on in the City but feeling like you are in nature too.
As someone who has lived in Ward 7 or in adjacent wards for nearly my entire life, I have not seen strong positive movement towards higher density and affordable housing that isn’t car-centric, nor have I encountered clear efforts to listen equally to the voices of renters. Population densities in many pockets of Ward 7 appear to be decreasing as family sizes decline and houses that were once duplexed become single family homes; this creates a “suburban” feel and side streets devoid of pedestrians during the day. I’ve spoken to neighbors and former neighbors who have been or are worried about being priced out of the neighborhood as white flight reverses and the city becomes desirable to the wealthy and privileged again. What have you done or what do you propose doing to protect long-term residents from the negative effects of gentrification while also increasing affordable housing stock to increase the diversity and sustainability of the community and to create a more equitable Minneapolis?
I find that the use of the phrase “character of the neighborhood” tends to be code for preserving property values, something that primarily benefits those who view their property as an investment rather than a home in a community/neighborhood. I have found the “character of the neighborhood” has declined significantly even in my lifetime with gentrification and an increasingly economically homogenous population.
I find Loring Park one of the least pleasant places to walk, as it can be sporadically deserted (and thus feels unsafe), and the last path redesign was done without consideration of the park as a transit thoroughfare.
Have you taken steps in the new multi-unit developments to decrease our car-centric culture and to provide for bikers? At a Ward 7 neighborhood meeting a number of years ago, I had other residents (homeowners) literally shouting obscenities in my face for suggesting that a proposed condo development near Lincoln and Bryant didn’t need dedicated parking spots for every unit since it was a very walkable location. Growing up in Minneapolis, I never needed to learn to drive and I still don’t drive or have a car, and I am not unique among my friends and family (many others are very infrequent drivers). Many I know use their bikes as their primary transportation. At the same time, I have yet to hear of a building in Minneapolis that incorporates bike parking into its design. Generally the best-case bike scenario is a bike rack in the basement, but these areas are often require one to carry a heavy bike up and down stairs, and/or are plagued by theft/other issues. What are you doing to help ensure that cyclists are considered in new developments and in renovations?