Streets.mn Voter Guide – Jackie Cherryhomes

Our first Minneapolis mayoral candidate to submit their Streets.mn Voter Guide questionnaire is Jackie Cherryhomes.

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 if elected?

Transportation is central to economic growth in our city. Thousands of Minneapolitans take public transit, bike or walk as their main mode of transportation and as an alternative to cars.  As Mayor, my focus will be to adopt a Transit First policy to address major issues facing walkers, bikers and transit users.

The main transportation issue that Minneapolitans should focus on in the next 5 years is to improve and enhance the transit infrastructure that is currently in place.   Before introducing new projects to enhance the accessibility of transportation in our city, we must focus on the problems that we currently face.  As Mayor, I will work with the MTC to insure that our bus system is safe, timely and accessible.  It is not simply about building up the transit system, but making sure the transit system we already have is running smoothly, and attaining its full potential.

As Mayor, I will also work to continue developing a robust multimodal transit system.  We need to strengthen our bus system.  Simultaneously, we must pursue the Bottineau and Southwest Transitway routes.  This is a way to enhance the quality of our transportation system by continuing to improve what is already there, while reaching out to more parts of Minneapolis that do not have easy access to bus routes.

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 more and more Minneapolitans increasingly utilize services such as mass transit, biking, and walking, it is essential that the interests of this population is placed high on the Transit First Policy’s priority list. It is not about valuing one mode of transportation over the other, but making sure that each transportation option works effectively alongside the other, giving Minneapolitans the choice between many viable options.

By supporting the Complete Streets program through my Transit First Policy, I will advocate for those who choose to bike as their main mode of transportation. More and more Minneapolitans choose biking as a healthy, green, affordable transit option. For this reason, protecting bikers is essential to a more well-rounded and developed transit plan and would be a major component to my Transit First Policy. I will make improvements by supporting workplace bicycle commuting, passing a Minneapolis Complete Streets Policy, and continuing to review studies that show the economic benefit of biking.

In order to make biking a more viable option in our city, creating safer bicycle parking facilities is a priority. These projects would include the creation of sidewalk bike racks, on-street corrals, racks in garages, and bike lockers. Strengthening our bike share program is another way
to make this mode of transportation easier to access. Stations containing shared bikes every few blocks provide residents with the option to utilize the system while taking other forms of transportation and without having to own a personal bike.

Implementing a stronger rideshare program for those who choose to drive around Minneapolis is another way to reduce our carbon emissions, as well as decrease the amount of traffic around the downtown area. Sharing a ride is not only beneficial to our city, but also to those who save on gas and parking prices by choosing to carpool. Incentivizing this mode of transportation would reduce street congestion created by cars, and support a fuller Complete Streets program where every transportation option is viable.

Focusing on areas that are not as accessible to transit, expanding the bus routes and metro system to areas of Minneapolis most in need of them, will broaden options to those who have previously struggled with traveling without a car. Transportation is essential for economic and job growth, and not having access to a viable transit option not only hurts an individual, but the City of Minneapolis. I would expand transit by supporting a widening of Minneapolis’ current services to neighborhoods, and supporting streetcar studies that are currently underway.

Making sure our modes of transportation work well, are effective, and do not exclude certain neighborhoods and options is vital to the success of travel for each Minneapolitan. By utilizing this philosophy in my Transit First Policy as mayor, there would be exponential improvements made by giving programs in place the resources they need.

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, what are the obstacles to realizing these plans and how would you address them?                                                                                                  

Access Minneapolis has already made great strides toward improving our transit system, however, there is still much work to be done. Many of the obstacles facing the attainment of these plans have faced monetary hardships. Supporting and advocating for a transit sales tax to insure broad-based funding for transit needs of research and plans that have already been constructed will meet the funding needs of these projects.

During my time in the City Council, I broadened the tax base to fund various projects. I have learned from this, and know the best ways to utilize the funds we already have, and fund new projects through federal grants and city taxes. As mayor, I will support and advocate for a transit sales tax to insure broad-based funding for transit. This includes utilizing federal funding as in the Minnesota State bill that gave the city funding for the alternative analysis for the Nicollet and Central Avenues line as well as city funding through a transit sales tax.

We are lucky enough to have the following plans in place that are already dedicated and well on their way to improving transportation in Minneapolis. However, we can always seek to improve these plans as times and transportation needs change.

My administration will tackle the following goals of the Downtown Action Plan that seek improvements:

  • Fostering stronger connections between the downtown and surrounding neighborhoods.
  • Improving the transit infrastructure by emphasizing walking, biking, and transit as the main priorities of the Transit First initiative.
  • Continue to make bike, pedestrian, and transit an effective alternative to driving.

These goals are ones that have already begun to see improvements. However, there is still more work to be done. The biggest obstacle, perhaps, is making sure that improving the transit infrastructure is at the top of the list, rather than overshadowed by newer projects.

For initiatives such as the bicycle master plan, the continued safety, mobility, and trips of bicyclists should be an essential component to the Transit First Policy. This includes continued innovation and incentives for bicyclists, increased education surrounding the benefits of biking versus driving, and development/ improvement of bike infrastructure projects that ensure the continued success of bike lane safety. Additional to safety measures, I would seek to foster a continued support of the goal that all residents are within 1 mile of a trail, ½ mile of a bike lane, or ¼ mile of a signed bike route by 2020. This allows the Bike Master plan to have an end goal, where success can be measured and valued.

The City’s Comprehensive Plan further ignites the vision of Minneapolis to be a sustainable, resourceful, arts and athletic epicenter. Central to this plan is housing affordability, and increasing the downtown area to reach it’s full potential. As mayor, I would increase the Comprehensive Plan’s vision of being one of the most transportation-accessible and green cities in the United States through the initiatives stated above.

There are a multitude of issues that these plans promote not yet tackled by Minneapolis’ city government. As mayor, the goals set previously would have realistic time-lines for completion based on funding availability and what is best for our city. Recognizing the many benefits that a good transportation system can provide (namely, increased access to jobs in the downtown area and more sustainable practices), my Transit First policy would address all the needs of the city, building on the plans and infrastructure already in place.

4. As mayor, how would you respond to concerns about development impacts around the city? Is there a recent controversial project (land use or transportation) somewhere in the city that you would have handled differently had you been in the mayor’s office?

If you travel around the country, the most successful cities are those that have figured out that density is a good thing and concentrating development along commercial corridors and transit lines will make a sustainable city.

These are exciting times in Minneapolis!

We are investing in transit and seeing major development projects follow.

Oftentimes major transit projects can be viewed as intrusive and unwanted by communities because residents cannot see the long-term effects that this investment will have in their neighborhood.  Projects like the Central Corridor or reopening Nicollet Avenue with streetcars are major investments in this city and will bring increased economic investment.  A strong mayor will recognize the long-term value for a community and should be a resource to residents, helping them understand the scope of these projects and encouraging neighbors to support investments in transit.

The mayor needs to illustrate the benefits to the neighborhood for the increase density. The community can receive benefits from projects as part of the new Planned Unit Development process that not only enhances public areas but in other communities go beyond the property. This can be a project grant to other local neighborhood efforts to preserve or enhance public parks, open space etc. It will be done as a specific investment in the neighborhood in exchange for the added density. It has more of a specific impact rather than just funds into the city coffers. The District of Columbia has used this significantly to exchange density for local investment in public space and programs. It makes change worth the effort.

In addition, if you have any comments or opinions on the recent designs or development process for the Minnesota Vikings football stadium or the Star Tribune blocks, or your vision for that area, please provide that here.

It’s very encouraging to look at the plans for the Star Tribune blocks that surround the Viking’s stadium.  It is about time that east downtown received some well-deserved attention. The mixed-use approach is a sustainable one and centering it all on a public park is a great idea, as long as it is managed well.  While residents of the downtown definitely want additional green space, it’s important to look at examples of existing downtown pocket parks that do not work well.  Whether it is a lack of programming or overall management, many parks become a place for loitering and actually detract from the experience of downtown living.

Ask downtown residents – this is a concern for the proposed “Yard” within the Ryan development and should be addressed from the outset, not in a reactionary manner.  The mayor needs to look to the longer term and a more comprehensive impact. The amount of land that we have for higher end housing development has been reduced significantly in the past 5-8 years. The remaining large area for development is in the east downtown area. It will and can be used up quickly without the fulfillment of downtown density that is needed to create a balance of housing/commercial/retail and office to create a vibrant livable downtown.

Based on this premise, the open space / park is too big. It appears to fit the scale of the stadium not the neighborhood.  It is a recognized impact that one open public block will generate four blocks of higher density development. All the land to the south of the “park” is government buildings or historic (Armory) and therefore the park adds no new growth to the downtown density development except for the Stadium and Ryan’s development.  The 70s plan for the 6th street esplanade as a linear park 120 wide lined with buildings with a one block park/plaza space at the stadium would be better urban open space planning to use as a tool for development synergy. .

The mayor needs to promote development but must do it in the context of a long-term plan. The Mayor can bring together the neighborhoods, with the developers and the design/planning community, to properly invest our community’s land base in future development that is holistic … The Pearl District in Portland, Oregon is one example of this approach that has been successful.

5. Where is your favorite place to walk (in or outside of Minneapolis)?

My favorite place to walk is along Theodore Wirth Parkway. You can find me out with my husband three times a week. Of course since it is an election year, I will be walking and talking to voters though out our neighborhoods.

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