Don’t Leave North Minneapolis Out of Parking Reform

After having worked in the for-profit, non-profit, and government arenas, I have seen great progress, great ideas, and great mistakes. I believe that the parking ordinance change that has been presented to the Minneapolis City Council is a great idea, making progress in development of walkable, bikeable, safe, healthy communities.

But a proposed amendment to keep the Northside out of the change is a big mistake. This move to reduce parking requirements in multi-family development along transit corridors is a good idea–not just for portions of the City, but for the City as a whole.

North Minneapolis, particularly Camden, needs multi-family development. Being exempt from the parking ordinance–increasing development costs by hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars–will keep developers from considering Camden.

Multi-family housing is expensive and the additional costs of underground parking (building it and maintaining it) make developing much needed housing a challenge for any developer. The ordinance change will reduce the construction and maintenance costs. The truth is that unrealistic parking requirements add costs to development projects. Developments along transit corridors need less parking and currently the City allows for developers to request a variance to reduce parking. The proposed ordinance change will allow for multi-family development without variance requests.

An apartment building currently under construction at Penn & Golden Valley Road

Furthermore, the City’s population is shifting. Cars are not necessarily the highest priority for the next generation of renters and homeowners. Only 77% of young people are driving cars. To attract more young people into our neighborhoods, we, as a City, have made enormous investments in making our City more walkable and bikeable. With assistance from the Metropolitan Council we are working toward better transit options to alleviate the need for cars.

Creating housing opportunities along transit corridors will give residents more options for housing and more options to use alternative transportation modes. Let’s be very clear here: if we don’t create more multi-family housing options with greater density, increasing the population along our transit corridors, we will not get those improved transportation options.

Loss of population, loss of jobs, and loss of housing has created a community filled with great need and great potential! Currently there are no multi-family developments proposed for the Camden area of North Minneapolis. It has been years since the last project was completed. Pulling our community out of the ordinance change is short sighted-and unproductive. Those of us who live in Camden would like to have less pollution, more access to transit options, more housing options, and feel like we belong to the City of Minneapolis in general. Camden needs to be part of the City and part of the ordinance change! is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.

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9 Responses to Don’t Leave North Minneapolis Out of Parking Reform

  1. Sam Newberg
    Sam Newberg July 7, 2015 at 10:29 am #

    Kris, great post. But can you provide a little more background? Why is Camden or other parts of the north side being left out? Is it because of a lack of transit service or political shenanigans?

    Who can we contact to get this right?


    • Kris Brogan July 8, 2015 at 8:25 pm #

      Council Member Barbara Johnson is opposed. contact her office and the offices of Blong Yang (who supports the ordinance change up to Highway 55 and then supports CM Johnson) and CM Lisa Bender who has proposed the ordinance.

  2. Matt Steele
    Matt Steele July 7, 2015 at 10:46 am #

    Barb Johnson is going to offer an amendment exempting the North Side from the parking minimum changes to be voted on by the council this Friday. From what we hear, she does not have enough votes for her amendment to pass.

    One northsider posted a claim that North Mpls would need to be exempted from the parking requirements. There’s heavy skepticism of developers on the Northside, with good reason due to past problems.

    But, as many have pointed out here and elsewhere, removing parking minimums would make good urban infill and the “missing middle” more likely to happen on the Northside, where good investment is truly needed.

    • Sam Newberg
      Sam Newberg July 7, 2015 at 10:52 am #

      Thanks Matt. I suspected it was political, even though transit coverage could certainly be improved on the north side overall.

  3. Matt Steele
    Matt Steele July 7, 2015 at 10:47 am #

    Even SEIU Healthcare has endorsed this common-sense reform. An excerpt from their letter to the City Council:

    “It seems unbelievably cruel to force people who can’t afford a car to pay extra for the convenience of car owners who make twice what they make. … Our local has rarely weighed in on municipal issues and even less often on land use issues, but we are becoming more engaged by these issues as the cost of housing escalates and as restrictive city policies add to those costs. … Providing a decent life to low wage workers is the moral crisis of our time. Housing is the biggest part of any low wage family’s budget. We urge [the Mpls City Council] to act now to reduce that burden.”

    Rather convincing case for equity, I’d say.

  4. Julia July 7, 2015 at 11:38 am #

    Thank you for writing this!

    So CM B. Johnson’s suggestion is to once again keep the Northside out of the progress of the rest of Mpls? Given that NoMi has among the highest rates of transit usage (despite negligently poor service and amenities) and lowest rates of car ownership of the city, how does she justify this request?

    The only (benevolent) logic I can come up with is that the Northside is so socially/physically isolated from the rest of the Twin Cities, and so far from walkable, that CM B. Johnson thinks that the right to park a car is more worth fighting for than the right to live in a neighborhood that doesn’t require car ownership for a basic standard of living. The Northside is far less walkable than many other parts of Minneapolis, and yet a huge percentage of households manage to live without cars (though we as a society penalize them for their dependency on public transit by providing extremely substandard bus service/amenities).

    Why isn’t CM B. Johnson’s attention focused on how to improve transit and transit-oriented development, increase walkability, increase connections with other parts of the city (that the 32 doesn’t run in the evenings is very telling!)? She seems to either not understand how healthy cities function or she is advocating from a place of fear to protect the short-sighted interests of a small percentage of her constituents at the expense of the majority of residents and communities of the Northside.

    Since she has abdicated her responsibilities to NoMi’s residents, I hope our other city council members step up to include all residents of Minneapolis in our city’s progress and successes.

  5. Joseph Totten
    Joseph Totten July 8, 2015 at 12:19 am #

    The reasoning everyone has given so far (aside from at the Planning Commission subgroup meeting or whatever it was…) is essentially that there was little outreach to the northside. I see some people noting that it was Barb Jonson’s job to bring it to their attention but I don’t see it entirely that way.

    I’ll try and whip up a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy post on it.


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