Sunday Summary – January 24, 2016

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Headline news

The Star Tribune’s January 19, 2016 story “Bicycle lobby to seek lower speed limit for cities in Minnesota” (and others with similar titles on other media outlets) predictably provoked the usual anti-bike backlash without really explaining the issue. Julie Kosbab provides a valuable public service in the latest “We Read the Comments” installment We Read the Speed Limit Comments So You Don’t Have To (she read the parking meter and pedal pub comments, too); commenters discuss the comments and the information not provided by the Strib story.  Julie followed up by explaining in How To Frame the Urban Speed Limit Issue :”The real issue is that speed limits in Minnesota are set by state statute. State rules provide a limited set of circumstances for local authorities to change speed limits” (Strib poll: Should Minnesota cities reduce the speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph? continues the misinformation).

Other current events

Alex Cecchini says Let’s Legalize Short-Term Rentals and looks at the issues surrounding Airbnb and other short-term rentals which are increasingly being reviewed and regulated by cities. Legality here is mostly zoning regulations plus some consideration of how to help short-term rentals meet other requirements: “In any case, short-term rentals offer up a more locally-sourced option for leisure, and even business, travelers while providing a potential source of income to folks much lower on the income ladder than typical hotel owners. I think they should be legal.”

In What Is City Pride Worth? Alex Schieferdecker asks for some answers to that question after the NFL approved the St. Louis Rams’ request to move to Los Angeles by thinking about how and why cities convince teams to stay: “What convinces a city like St. Louis or Minneapolis to put down tremendous sums of money to keep teams around?…Politicians finance sports stadiums because they fear that their constituents will punish them for losing the team, or reward them for keeping or attracting it. Push past the inflated economic figures and the dubious redevelopment claims, and it boils down to civic pride.”  Commenters toss around the relative civic pride in Minneapolis and Saint Paul plus some consideration of Saint Louis, Portland and Seattle.

One Air BnB rental

One Air BnB rental

Pictures, history and more

Wolfie Browender takes us on another summer bike ride in Saint Paul to the Great Northern Pond which is Hidden, but Not Really. Along the way, we get to visit MacQueen Equipment which “is much like an auto dealership, but for municipal equipment” and “the former United States Bedding Company/King Koil Mattress factory on Vandalia Avenue.”

Fire and Ice in Prospect Park North takes Evan Roberts to the scene of the recent “fire at the Harris Machinery warehouse in the “Prospect North” neighborhood. In an area full of potential and challenge for redevelopment, the Harris building was one of the few old buildings with realistic prospects of re-use” and features the spectacular ice formations from firefighting and includes is a quick history of urban fires.

Ice from the water used to fight the fire

Ice from the water used to fight the fire


Bloomington: Monte Castleman continues his coverage of Bloomington with The Case of Bloomington’s Disappearing Street Lights (previous posts are here and here). Bloomington has been removing aging streetlights, but Monte presents a much dimmer picture of Bloomington’s lighting compared to Minneapolis, Richfield and other nearby cities.

Downtown Minneapolis: The Downtown Home-free Zone is Adam Miller’s answer to the oft-asked question “what’s wrong with downtown retail?” There are only “351 housing units, total, within the central business district of downtown. That may not be the only problem for downtown retail, but it is certainly one of the problems. Without the sort of built-in customer base that comes from being the closest available option, downtown retailers face a somewhat unusual obstacle. They have to get almost all of their customers to pass by a closer-to-home option to come shop in their stores.”

Mankato: Suburban Annexation is a Bailout for Mankato’s Southview Heights No.2 subdivision at the end of the first life-cycle of infrastructure “and this hamlet of 61 homes is unable to tax itself the necessary amount to fix the things that need repair” but once annexed “the tax base necessary in this well-to-do neighborhood to support basic infrastructure just isn’t there.” Nate Hood uses this situation to get at the elephant in the room “‘If not annex, then what?’ For starters, we need to limit this type of development in the first place. Secondly, there isn’t a good answer. Not allowing them to hookup to city infrastructure will cause financial heartache, but hooking them up will do the same.”

The No-Home Zone

The No-Home Zone

Quick looks

Photos: Photo Essay: The Vacant Storefronts of Lyn-Lake shows us the empty storefronts in a rapidly developing area.

Charts of the Day of the Week: Golf Course Opportunity CostsDowntown East Commons Fundraising Shortfall vs. Local Fortune 500 Company Profits, 2015 and Twin Cities Rents, January 2016.

Map: Map Monday: The Twin Cities’ Urban Heat Island.

LynLake Sidewalk & Banner

And that’s the week on We welcome new writers to extend ideas, add new perspectives and expand the conversation on land use and transportation. Have a great week!

Betsey Buckheit

About Betsey Buckheit

Betsey rides her pretty blue city bike, walks her energetic black dogs, and agitates for more thoughtful, long-range decision-making in Northfield, MN. You can follow her blog at