Voter Guide – Dan Cohen

Our latest Voter Guide response is from mayoral candidate Dan Cohen. Rather than answer our questions sequentially, Mr. Cohen has submitted his responses by topic.

  1. Transit.

a. SWLT [Southwest Light Rail]. The governor’s call for a 90 day hiatus puts the decision on hold. We have to get thorough groundwater analysis before we can see if any route through the Minneapolis lakes area is possible.

b. The Strib says 85 percent of our transit needs are met by buses. The Mayor says its 90 percent. We can fill the other 10 percent with buses, but buses of a different type, small, 15 passenger, low emission buses that run on the narrower neighborhood streets with no more than a five minute wait between one bus and the next. That way, no freezing to death waiting for a bus during the winter months. I owe that proposal to Bob Carney, a civil engineer, and another candidate for Mayor.

c. No streetcars, an expensive and unnecessary $200 million toy, running a route that runs up to the backside of the Lake Street KMart. The only justification is if the streetcar could break through the KMart barrier and open up Nicollet from Lake Street to 42[nd Street], and reinvigorate that faded commercial corridor.

  1. Land Use.

a. I support urban farming. We need to cut the regs, make the vacant land available, and get the urban farmers on city agencies like the Planning Commission and City Council so they can have some clout when they go mana to mano with the developers.

b. Development. Take your choice, zoning drives marketing or marketing drives zoning. I’m on the Planning Commission and we have chosen the latter. Forty percent of our households are single family households. Women are marrying later, having careers. Urban living means more freedom to chose alternative life styles. People want entertainment, shopping, jobs close rather than a long commute. away. Urban politicians want more population to share the tax burden. As a result, we have lowered the residential zoning requirement to 390 square feet per dwelling unit to accommodate these changes.  We’ll keep tweaking the regs to meet the changes as they come.

  1. Vikings stadium. I am an opponent. I have written and campaigned vigorously on this subject. See Let me summarize:

We should have gotten the vote. Instead we got the shaft and bill for $500 million. The financing has been a disaster. $350 of pull tabs, the worst gambling proposition since Russian Roulette. Now we get the alternative, more taxes. And our business partner? a certified “civil racketeer.” We don’t even have “civil racketeers” in Minnesota. We can do better.

Sam Newberg

About Sam Newberg

Sam Newberg, a.k.a. Joe Urban, is an urbanist, real estate consultant and writer. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two kids, and his website is