Five Reasons to Support the Snelling Avenue South Zoning Study

The Saint Paul City Council hearing on the Snelling Avenue South Zoning Study is on September 6th, 2017. Highland District Council, Macalester Groveland Community Council and Union Park District Council voted to support the Study.

Current Zoning

The Snelling Avenue South Zoning Study recommends Traditional Neighborhood rezoning of Snelling and its commercial nodes.

Traditional Neighborhood zoning will encourage multifamily housing and mixed-use development over the next 40 to 60 years. Traditional Neighborhood zoning puts out the welcome sign for developments that will bring more neighbors to Saint Paul.

  1. More neighbors means that the cost of road maintenance, schools, recreation centers, police & fire services are shared among more people.  Of all Minnesota counties Ramsey County has the highest effective property tax rate at 1.32 percent.
  2. More neighbors means homeowners nearby are likely to see an increase in or no effect on property values
  3. More neighbors means more money in the local economy, which supports more viable businesses. And more local businesses helps with climate change and & public health because neighbors can easily walk and bike to more places.
  4. More neighbors means more pedestrians, more bikes and more transit users, because renters own fewer cars. This type of robust street life is attractive to young professionals who want to live in places rich in transit and cultural amenities. “If you look at world-class cities, what people love about them is the activity, the street life, … you don’t get a vibrant street life without people on the street.” (Minneapolis City Council Member Jacob Frey, quoted by Shannon Prather, “Minneapolis, St. Paul lead suburbs in growth”, Star Tribune, July 24, 2016.)
  5. More neighbors leads to a more equitable city. If you want to live in an awesome neighborhood, but don’t have money for a down payment on a house you might be out of luck because of laws that effectively build invisible barriers. It took us ten years to afford our neighborhood. Street.mn contributor Scott Shaffer wrote,

    In some high-opportunity areas builders spread high land values among a lot of units, to bring down the cost of each home. In other high-opportunity areas low-density zoning creates artificial scarcity. The neighbors who hoard the opportunity are rich enough to afford entrance, or were lucky enough to get in before the invisible gates went up.

    … American land-use regulation has a huge effect on who can live where, and how much they pay. In many cities, including Minneapolis and Saint Paul, boring laws about minimum lot sizes, parking requirements, maximum floor-area ratios, shoreland overlay districts, and locally-designated historic resources reinforce dramatic social problems like the urban housing shortage and economic and racial segregation. Basically, the problem is that we have laws prohibiting the construction of less-expensive housing in certain areas, and this leads to exclusive government-enforced country club districts.

Rezoning allows four to seven-story buildings with minimal parking requirements, which provides opportunity for developers to remove some barriers for young professionals, hard-working second-generation immigrants, empty nesters, and those aging or with disabilities needing ADA environments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am in favor of more neighbors along the Snelling Avenue corridor. I support the South Snelling Avenue Zoning Study.

The hearing is on September 6, 2017 at 5:30, Room 300 at Saint Paul City Hall. In addition, written comments can be emailed to Tony Johnson, City Planner, tony.johnson@ci.stpaul.mn.us or mailed to:
Office of the City Council
310 City Hall
15 Kellogg Boulevard West
Saint Paul, MN 55102

You can also write your City Council Member.

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4 Responses to Five Reasons to Support the Snelling Avenue South Zoning Study

  1. Nathaniel M Hood
    Nate Hood September 1, 2017 at 3:19 pm #

    Thanks for writing! I’m writing the City in support over the weekend!

  2. Dan September 9, 2017 at 12:27 pm #

    A few comments.
    1) This is only true if those new neighbors contribute more in taxes than they consume of those things. The evidence suggests otherwise since almost universally larger denser cities have higher tax rates than smaller ones.

    2) This only matters if you are planning on moving out of the neighborhood. For those who don’t plan on moving it just means taxes consume a larger part of their income.

    3) Some truth about the efficiency of living near the things you consume. However there are costs as well. They tend to have much higher tax rates which contribute to an generally higher cost of living.

    4) You are describing an aesthetic choice. Some people want that, some don’t and some don’t care. It isn’t inherently better than the alternatives. In fact higher density environments have been shown to have adverse mental heath consequences leading to higher rates of depression and psychosis. There is a reason one of the first things people tend to do with disposable income is to purchase more space. This has been true forever and continues to be true everywhere in the world.

    5) I don’t see why this would increase equity. Areas where property is expensive rental rates are equally high. Who rents vs. who buys in any given neighborhood is typically driven by age and not socioeconomic background. More rentals might have a very small effect since they have higher turnover. Portland has largely priced out all but the generally well off and wealthy after following the same types of policies you are describing.

    • Monte Castleman
      Monte Castleman September 10, 2017 at 2:01 pm #

      Everyone says “first world problem” when I bring it up, but I guess I’m not the only one that thinks their property value rising isn’t an unmitigated blessing. My sister and I have made close to $75,000 on paper just by buying during the last recession and sitting here, but all it means to us is rising property taxes since we’re not leaving our house until the undertaker carries us out.

      • Adam Miller
        Adam Miller September 11, 2017 at 10:05 am #

        You’re $75,000 richer. Sure, you’ve got a cash flow problem to solve, but that doesn’t change your net worth.

        And there are ways to take advantage of that wealth without selling your house.

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