Map of Lowry Hill East and Whittier neighborhoods from 2016

Sunday Summary – July 2, 2017

The Summer Picnic is July 15! which means it’s getting closer. will provide grill-ables (animal and vegetable); you bring conversation, food you’d like to share, and your friends. board members will also host an informal meeting for about an hour before the picnic with updates on the organization and giving you a chance for input for your input for 2017-2018. The event is free, but we’ll also ask for money to fund our work at – a non-profit, 100% volunteer run organization.  And have you noticed a few changes in the comment section? In the screenshot below, you can see the little flag on the right to, yes, flag comments for moderator attention (here’s the link to our new comment policy) and the little shield by someone’s name (like our board chair Bill Lindeke) indicates that person is one of our new comment moderation team.

New comment badges

Big Ideas

Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing Shortage Rooted in Downzoning of 1970s considers a new multi-million dollar loan program from the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund to help non-profit housing organizations purchase and restore naturally occurring affordable housing (or NOAH).  “A vast majority of current NOAH properties in Minneapolis were not built to provide affordable housing. They were built as market-rate apartments, and have gradually become less expensive as time passes,” and there aren’t many such properties because, says Anton Schieffer, downzoning 40 years ago prevented development of the sort of buildings which would now be affordable.  The post contains many maps documenting the zoning changes and commenters consider the claims, debate reasons for the downzoning

It’s Not the Non-Profits that Keep Saint Paul Poor, It’s Their Parking Lots says Bill Lindeke.  Moving beyond the often uttered criticism that non-taxpaying entities like government and non-profits hobble Saint Paul’s city finances (and in the wake of the court decision against the city’s street maintenance fee for non-profits), this post considers “The basic rule of thumb is this: for every non-profit or government building, there is also almost always a corresponding parking lot that is at least as large in surface area. For every lovely tax-free historic church, ivy covered classroom, or Brutalist bureaucratic office complex, there is a much larger (by surface area) tax-free non-historic asphalt slab nearby. And if we’re going to focus on a solving the tax-base issue, we should focus on the second part of that equation” and the excess parking is required by city ordinance. Commenters consider both the parking requirements (which apply regardless of tax status) and the special issues of how to generate revenue from more of the city’s land.

Not a policy post, but a very personal one, NoMi Love: Flowers for the Fourth Precinct is Angelina McDowell’s second post taking us to North Minneapolis.  This one responds to both location (the 4th Precinct is where Jamar Clark was killed by police) and the recent verdict in the Philando Castile case with a story:  “A few weeks ago while picking up flowers for some new neighbors, my son was insistent on my getting flowers and cookies for the police officers. He really wanted to give the police officers flowers and cookies because in his words, ‘they help us’”  but knowing the current reality of being a Black boy is not being able to count on police for safety, but they can be a threat just because he’s Black.

Walking, etc.

Al Davison continues his look at getting around Little Canada moving from transit to Little Canada’s “Other” Transportation Infrastructure: Walking. This post documents the current sidewalk network ranging from pretty good to not (yet) existent, looks at Ramsey County planning and possible projects, plus adds some commentary.

The Positive Power of Walking by Jay Walljasper anticipates the upcoming 2017 National Walking Summit with the theme “Vital and Vibrant Communities—The Power of Walkability” which will be held in Saint Paul (the first outside Washington, DC) this September. The post catalogs many benefits of walking (with links to research) from health to social justice to economic opportunity and tells us how these will be showcased at the summit.

Considering obstacles to walking, asks Are Minnesota Drivers Really as Good as They Say?  Twin Cities drivers have been ranked as some of the best in the nation, but this post points out that distracted driving is still a huge issue even with Minnesota’s laws to limit distractions. Commenters are thrilled to have some coverage of this issue plus some comparisons with drivers in other areas (and Twin Cities drivers don’t rate very well) as well as considering better road design, too.

County Road C, Little Canada


Regular features

Listen: The latest Here To There Episode 6: FLEXIBILITY | car-sharing on commuting looks at car-sharing (find earlier podcasts here).

Look: Chart of the Day: Mode Share and Housing Type from the Metropolitan Council’s Travel Behavior Inventory and we see “People who live in multifamily housing travel almost half as much as those who live in single family houses. Residents of multifamily housing not only travel less, but they make more of those trips on foot, on transit, and by bike than single family house residents do.”

Mode share differences by housing type

Source: 2010 Travel Behavior Inventory, Metropolitan Council

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