What “Two and a Half Stories” Actually Looks Like

The 2040 Minneapolis Comprehensive Plan has proposed that we open all single-family homes and duplexes to being bulldozed and replaced with fourplexes. This has, rightly, alarmed many people.  Some parts of the City would benefit from more density but indiscriminately bulldozing homes would destroy the fabric of many of our neighborhoods.

Housing advocates have said that these concerns are overblown. They counter by showing pictures of 100-year-old duplexes and triplexes built in the parts of town developed primarily from 1895 to 1905 as proof that higher density housing is not ugly and out of scale with existing housing. These pictures are substantially misleading however. First, they show housing on larger lots than are throughout much of the rest of the City. They also show construction styles from 100 years ago, which had peaked roofs and limited mass.  Today, developers use every square foot they can lay their hands on to maximize their profits.  Modern housing is built to take up the full lot, front to back, side to side. It has a flat roof, meaning the issue is not height but mass. Three units are built by having one unit partially underground, thereby meeting the 2 ½ stories requirement.  The presumption is that the 35-foot height maximum would remain (this is yet to be seen as the zoning code will be rewritten in the next two years).  Even if this height limit remains, the issue is not height but mass.

What does this look like? First, we can look to Seattle to see what is being built there.  As you can see, it is easy to build at a 35 foot, 2 ½ story height and have it be completely out of scale with the surrounding neighborhood.  This is from the Ballard neighborhood, where much of this kind of construction has happened.

Picture courtesy of Navid Baraty.

Here is another view of this same two houses, so you can see the problem with mass:

Picture courtesy of Navid Baraty.

 

Another one from Seattle.  You can see the cheap construction methods:

Picture courtesy of Navid Baraty.

These are not cute 100-year-old triplexes.  These are dreadnaughts on the urban landscape.

Is there housing like this in Minneapolis already?  Yes. If you go down the alley behind Elsie’s in Northeast Minneapolis, you can see exactly what the City has in store if this policy goes into effect.  What blows you away when you see this three-plex is the scale. The mass of this building is completely out of context for the rest of the neighborhood.  This is what it looks like from the front:

But this is what it looks like from the side.  It was hard to get the whole thing in the picture given it takes up the whole lot. It completely obscures the neighbor’s back yards.

Minneapolis is a city that has never respected its history, nor the things that make it unique. We bulldozed the Metropolitan Building. We bulldozed the Warehouse District. We bulldozed much of the West Bank. We bulldozed much of North Minneapolis. We bulldozed in the name of progress. And we lost our history. If we really try hard enough, we can be a city populated with cheap, soul-less, modernistic, ugly housing. Or we can choose differently. We can put higher density housing where it belongs and also preserve the best of our city.

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143 Responses to What “Two and a Half Stories” Actually Looks Like

  1. Eric Anondson
    Eric Anondson May 25, 2018 at 3:02 pm #

    These are perfectly fine.

  2. Justin D May 25, 2018 at 3:13 pm #

    “Soulless?” The souls live inside the house.

  3. Nathan Heller May 25, 2018 at 3:15 pm #

    “We can put higher density housing where it belongs and also preserve the best of our city.” – this article has not bothered to describe this ideal dream location.

    This high density housing isn’t going to materialize on some empty plot of land in the center of the city. Something is going to have to be replaced, and the most logical thing is to replace existing housing with MORE housing. Yes, we should respect the history of the city and old buildings, I’ll be the first to support that, but that crusade should not come at the expense of those who lack affordable housing.

    • Carol Becker May 27, 2018 at 5:10 pm #

      High density housing has occurred over the last 20 years in downtown and around the University. Using our existing zoning.

      I do agree with you about needing more affordable housing. But the reality is that NO new housing will be build without subsidies from the government. Housing costs are too great. The housing that was approved by the Affordable Housing Trust is in the $250,000 to $275,000 per unit range. You can see what was approved here:

      https://lims.minneapolismn.gov/RCA/1318

      The City steadfastly refuses to put requirements like if a fourplex is built, one unit must be affordable. Or other schema that would ensure affordable housing.

      • Alex Cecchini
        Alexander Cecchini May 27, 2018 at 7:32 pm #

        Hi Carol,
        I’m curious what you think it would cost per unit to buy a single family home and then subdivide it into 2-4 units, which would be allowed under the “fourplex” proposal. I’m also curious if you’ve talked to smaller-scale developers about cost per unit if we removed lot size per dwelling unit requirements (and other elements of the zoning code” to allow smaller and more units in more places of the city where land costs are lower than places like downtown or University (where housing developers are competing with office and many other potential uses).

        I’m interested in your take on what drives the cost point per unit you cite, your feelings on parking requirements, and if there’s any conflict there.

      • Adam Miller
        Adam Miller May 27, 2018 at 9:08 pm #

        Your city council member is the chair of a new committee on housing policy and has explicitly stated an interest in adopting an inclusionary zoning policy. He did so last week, at an LCC sponsored town hall you attended. “Steadfastly refuses” is a lie.

        • Carol Becker May 29, 2018 at 12:27 pm #

          When I wrote this, it was the truth. The world evolves because we put pressure on it. That is the way things are supposed to be.

          • Adam Miller
            Adam Miller May 29, 2018 at 12:31 pm #

            I don’t think it was the first time Cam expressed support for inclusionary zoning, but even if it was, that town hall was May 22. You wrote that comment on May 27.

            • Carol Becker May 29, 2018 at 12:42 pm #

              It is something my group and other folks have been talking about for a while. I wrote this piece a while ago. If Cam has been talking about it, good. Other Council Members had not been. If they are now listening, that is a good thing.

  4. Gabe Ormsby May 25, 2018 at 3:16 pm #

    I’d guess that the first Georgian terraced housing in Kensington looked a bit out of sorts, too. Eventually, the SFH’s will be the ones that are “out of scale” and don’t fit with “neighborhood character.” We’ll be fine.

  5. Sean Hayford Oleary
    Sean Hayford Oleary May 25, 2018 at 3:17 pm #

    I think it’s a fair point that the 100+ year-old duplexes are not representative of what the market is building today. But I think we should consider the counterpoint that the small one-story or story-and-a-half houses pictured — and in much of Minneapolis — is not representative of what the market is building today for SFHs, or what’s allowed by code.

    I found this example a little jarring, 6-unit 5605 Nicollet next to one-story commercial and a one-story house:

    5605 Nicollet

    But would I feel the same way if the house next door were one of those urban McMansions of Linden Hills? Even outside LH, new houses in Minneapolis are almost universally two full stories + attic.

    Unless we are prepared to also limit single-family homes to a very small size, it seems unfair to limit new development based on 100-year-old development next door that is much smaller than a future SFH replacement would be.

  6. tmart May 25, 2018 at 3:17 pm #

    Are the pictures supposed to be self-evident? If this is the apocalyptic scenario some envision under the draft comp plan, I have to say I don’t see the problem here. These look like perfectly good neighbors! Yes, some of them look a little different–though the triplex shown from Northeast does a pretty dang good job of blending in, IMO–but nothing here makes a strong case that these buildings will cause an undue nuisance for the city or for their neighbors.

    Furthermore, when we weigh these changes against the financial hardship, inequality, and environmental impacts caused by our ongoing housing crisis, it becomes even harder to justify retaining our exclusionary policies so that the author can enforce her aesthetic preferences upon her neighbors.

    • Scott Walters May 27, 2018 at 12:48 pm #

      There is one problem…the front yard privacy fence shouldn’t be allowed. In Saint Paul, it wouldn’t be, thankfully.

      • Eric Anondson
        Eric Anondson May 27, 2018 at 3:24 pm #

        A privacy fence along the front sidewalk is a huge improvement over the far too common practice of planting shrubs and hedges along the front sidewalk. Shrubs and hedges (and other garden plants) along the public sidewalk are too often not trimmed from obstructing the public sidewalk. A privacy fence doesn’t get in someone’s way like the inconsiderate “gardeners”. And I’m not a fan of privacy fences anywhere.

        The old “must-preserve-this-much-land-for-a-crop-of-green-turf-grass” Midwest aesthetic shouldn’t be imposed. I’d like to see more residential property in neighborhoods nearest to the urban commercial districts be allowed to build right up to the sidewalk like was once allowed.

  7. Troy Davison May 25, 2018 at 3:23 pm #

    I fail to see your point with the photos you shared. I can show you dozens of photos of single family homes built in the last decade that are just as overpowering to surrounding homes. Carol, have you ever tried to look at this issue from the side of the less fortunate?

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke May 25, 2018 at 3:54 pm #

      You can make your point without calling out Carol personally, i hope.

      • Go Lisa Bender! May 26, 2018 at 8:59 am #

        This comment was deleted by moderators. It did ask why we shouldn’t personally attack people on streets.mn. This shouldn’t require explanation. Even if you disagree with someone or you perceive their comments/language/etc as rude, we can have a better comments section if we all decide to take the high road. Like I tell my children, just because he did it doesn’t mean you have to.

    • Carol Becker May 27, 2018 at 5:14 pm #

      High density housing has occurred over the last 20 years in downtown and around the University. Using our existing zoning.

      I do agree with you about needing more affordable housing. But the reality is that NO new housing will be build without subsidies from the government. Housing costs are too great. The housing that was approved by the Affordable Housing Trust is in the $250,000 to $275,000 per unit range. You can see what was approved here:

      https://lims.minneapolismn.gov/RCA/1318

      The City steadfastly refuses to put requirements like if a fourplex is built, one unit must be affordable. Or other schema that would ensure affordable housing. All of the new housing will be completely out of reach of the poor.

      We will see the continued reduction of starter homes though as they will be the ones that will give developers the largest bang for their buck. This neither retains existing affordable housing nor produces new affordable housing.

  8. Sam May 25, 2018 at 3:45 pm #

    A lot of existing SFHs in Minneapolis are at best mediocre bungalows/cottages that have been completely stripped over time of their architectural character and often decked out in vinyl and new (cheap) windows. Ironically, one good example of this could be the photo used from NE (although the new triplex is pretty ugly too). Maybe if we’re so concerned about the remaining historic fabric of this city then we should pick specific especially good examples of bungalows, victorians, craftsmans, etc that exist in clumps and make them harder to tear down. Saving every existing house is just silly.

    • Carol Becker May 29, 2018 at 12:54 pm #

      There is actually discussions going on about this exact thing. That some places we would designate historic neighborhoods like we designate other historic districts. That way we could have some of both – both neighborhoods that have retained their historic nature and also those that would be up-zoned. Then you could retain both options for residents. But the proposal is one blanket proposal regardless where you are in the City.

      • tmart May 29, 2018 at 1:12 pm #

        Carol, thanks for coming back to respond to questions and comments.

        My belief is that the blanket proposal actually protects residents from having any single neighborhood or area be radically or disproportionately impacted. By using a citywide change, we spread the burden of accommodating the new residents, and therefore mitigate the impact on any particular neighborhood. Given the choice between subtler changes throughout the city, or radical changes in a few neighborhoods, I would strongly prefer the former. It will hopefully make displacement less concentrated, and allow the ongoing changes to be more gradual and organic.

        Obviously you disagree with this perspective, but I would like to hear more about why.

  9. Bill Lindeke
    Bill Lindeke May 25, 2018 at 3:52 pm #

    For another perspective on this, check out my article “in praise of housing diversity” with lots of examples of large homes next to small homes, four-plexes next to single family, only all of them are at least 50 years old and are scattered all over the place on the West Side. it’s a great place to live and the diversity of the housing stock is one of the biggest assets!

    In general, I’m against homogeneity of housing, and in favor of building housing that fits the population’s needs. Most people don’t need or want single family homes any more.

    https://streets.mn/2016/04/19/in-praise-of-housing-diversity/

  10. Patrick May 25, 2018 at 3:52 pm #

    I don’t understand this at all. Nothing in any of the photographs appears to be out of place in a big city. What am I missing?

  11. Nick Magrino
    Nick Magrino May 25, 2018 at 4:00 pm #

    Going to assume good intentions here (usually a good idea!) but I’ve gotta say, this is fairly misleading—the actual zoning code rewrite that would follow the comprehensive plan adoption is where specific things like setbacks and lot sizes and floor area ratios/densities will be decided for the different zoning districts.

    The comprehensive plan is a policy document that outlines at a high level what should and shouldn’t be allowed to accommodate our projected growth and our different goals. Including actual building stories in the built form map was kind of a new thing for us and may or may not have been a good idea depending on who you ask. Right now, everything else in there is fairly general, e.g. allow medium-sized apartment buildings here, don’t allow oil refineries there, etc.

    From the beginning, the conversation has been premised on allowing up to four units on lots across the city within the types of building envelopes that are currently allowed. Meaning that where a 3,600 square foot, 2.5 story single family house is currently allowed, you’d be able to build four 900 square foot units in a 2.5 story building. I think Ballard’s nice, but those regulations, which will follow the comprehensive plan adoption, will keep Lynnhurst from becoming Ballard.

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke May 25, 2018 at 4:05 pm #

      I like Ballard.

      • Carol Becker May 27, 2018 at 5:17 pm #

        My friends in Ballard no longer do….

      • GlowBoy June 6, 2018 at 1:39 pm #

        Having actually lived in Ballard – in a 2 1/2 story triplex! I am not making this up! – I feel compelled to comment here.

        I liked Ballard then (early 1990s), when it was an underrated blue-collar neighborhood characterized by lots of elderly Scandinavian-Americans, and looked down upon by people from fancier parts of town. Even though it’s now highly sought-after, and fancy, and heavily populated by Amazon workers with obscene amounts of money, I still like Ballard today.

        I just don’t see the problem in these photos either, at least if the new buildings being put up are more than one unit inside.

    • Carol Becker May 29, 2018 at 12:56 pm #

      I would note that there is no grace period between the adoption of the Comp Plan and the new zoning code. So whatever the Comp Plan says, it will be implemented the day it is adopted. And we have no idea what the zoning code will say. Most likely it will be different than whatever is in there now. But today’s zoning code will have to conform to the adopted Comp Plan.

  12. Matt Steele
    Matt May 25, 2018 at 4:24 pm #

    These look like some of the 2.5-story single family houses in my neighborhood. Nick, I’m not assuming good intentions here.

  13. Nick Minderman May 25, 2018 at 4:40 pm #

    Dear Streets.MN board,

    I think you need to have an ethics agreement for posters to ensure that those who are taking a position on a topic (rather than doing more general journalism) are prepared to engage in a debate rather than make a mike-drop post. Allowing someone to post opinions (in good or bad faith) as fact and not be responsible for providing supporting evidence is bad journalism. I expect more from Streets.MN than what I’m seeing here.

  14. Jack Norton May 25, 2018 at 4:57 pm #

    Amazingly, the Seattle photos in this post are the same images posted by fear-mongering and mendacious website https://minneapolisforeveryone.org. On that site the photos are posted without credits or location.

    Becker doesn’t like the aesthetic of modern housing (the images in her post are literally titled Ugly House 1, 2, 3, and 4- inspect the page elements). As a personal preference, that doesn’t bother me. As a public policy, that’s a disaster.

    I see fear mongering in much of the opposition to the 2040 plan. There are reasonable voices attempting to shape the Plan’s direction, but suggesting bulldozers are coming for our single-family homes is inaccurate (residential deconstruction doesn’t use bulldozers generally- back hoes, sure, but bulldozers are too much power) and scare tactics.

    The unspoken fear mongering in some of the opposition to the 2040 plan is just old fashioned racism in new bottles. Seventy-five percent of black households rent. Opposition to density is defacto racism, because the existing neighborhoods emerged out of systems designed to exclude people of color. (Source: http://www.startribune.com/already-low-homeownership-rates-of-twin-cities-minorities-fall-further-down/441087863/, https://www.mappingprejudice.org).

    I can’t read a sentence such as “We can put higher density housing where it belongs and also preserve the best of our city.” as anything other than a dog whistle appeal to keep Minneapolis white. That’s not a fair critique of Becker, but that’s how her words read. Look at this map (https://dsl.richmond.edu/panorama/redlining/#loc=12/44.9186/-93.3158&opacity=0.8&city=minneapolis-mn) and tell me that the greatest opposition isn’t in the same places that were “best” or “still desirable.”

    • Tyler May 25, 2018 at 6:02 pm #

      One improvement to the plan would be to remove or substantially limit the policy about the city acquiring and combining parcels to spur large scale affordable housing projects near transit”. That’s probably where the eminent domain comments heard at the last open house comes from, and maybe it’s partially behind the bulldozer scenario.

      The acceptability of 2-3-4 freyplexes more broadly through the city will come down to how large they are allowed to be built. We all live close to our neighbors in the city, relatively speaking, compared to the burbs, but just like the huge tear-down infill houses have negatively impacted neighbors who suddenly have no space between the houses, or no trees, or no sunlight, or runoff problems from a house with no yard, these would happen here.

      And it seems that some of the same people who feel sympathetic for the neighbor in this scenario who is imposed upon by the mansion next door are satisfied to shrug their shoulders if that big building is a 4 plex and chalk it up to life in the city – and that’s hypocritical. The same considerations that limited those rebuilds and led to a short moratorium need to be enforced here no matter how social justice feel-good the addition of 4 units vs 1 would be.

      • Jack Norton May 25, 2018 at 6:20 pm #

        I don’t hear anyone talking about eminent domain, except for those wishing to scare homeowners. It’s a non-issue. The words aren’t in the plan (I searched). I understand that line of fear, but I don’t think it’s grounded in reality. That said, acknowledging that fear could be important in moving forward.

        As for mansions vs four plexes, I can’t say I know much about large homes next to small homes. But I’ve lived next to a four plex that has four parking spaces and is built close to the property lines, and it’s been lovely. I worried when we moved in about living in a single-family home on a block with mostly apartments, condos, and townhomes and now those worries seem baseless and a bit silly.

      • Sean Hayford Oleary
        Sean Hayford Oleary May 25, 2018 at 7:33 pm #

        It has been illegal in Minnesota to use eminent domain for redevelopment/private purposes for over a decade. Which is unfortunate, because I trust our local elected officials to make decisions in the public interest at least as much as I trust our state elected officials. But that’s the law.

        However, Minneapolis has shown relatively little interest in using eminent domain at all, ever, even for the very cut-and-dry public purposes it is allowed for. It seems incredibly unlikely they would try to use it for something like combining lots for redevelopment.

        If property owners voluntarily sold lots to an HRA/EDA/Port Authority type entity, that would be a different matter. But I’m not aware of Minneapolis actively doing this stuff either.

        • Monte Castleman May 25, 2018 at 10:58 pm #

          I really think the general public is ignorant of that law; they remember Best Buy and don’t realize the law has changed and assume that cities can still just seize whatever land they want and throw hundreds of people out of their homes for any purpose whatsoever.

    • Carol Becker May 27, 2018 at 5:26 pm #

      I will use backhoes instead of bulldozers in the future.

      The idea that multi-family housing isn’t throughout the City is inaccurate. It would have been accurate 20 years ago but today, there is multifamily all over. I was just driving 38th today and noting how much multi-family has grown through the City. Even in those parts of the City that had racial codes. The difference is that they are along transit routes and not spread out so they don’t show as much on maps. Southwest has a ton of new multi-family. In fact, I was talking to someone from Cedar-Isles-Dean, what you would think of as the richest and whitest parts of the City and they have had a slew of new multifamily housing.

      • Adam Miller
        Adam Miller May 27, 2018 at 9:12 pm #

        Multi family is everywhere because it was built befire the downzonings of the ’60s & ’70s that outlawed it.

        • Carol Becker May 28, 2018 at 10:23 am #

          I was driving down 38th yesterday and noting all the new multi-family housing. I was driving up in Northeast too, up along Central, also noting all the multi-family housing. It surely has not been outlawed over the last 20 years.

          • Adam Miller
            Adam Miller May 28, 2018 at 2:13 pm #

            There are two new building on 38th street so I guess we’re done building housing then.

    • Monte Castleman May 27, 2018 at 6:34 pm #

      Calling it “racist” to not want your sunlight blocked and your privacy invaded by one of hulking monstrosities going up next to your home is a good example why no one pays attention to the term anymore. I’d venture to say the people that oppose these things would still oppose them if they were built with racial covenants restricting rental to Swedes and Norwegians, just like they tend to be the same people that oppose modest affordable houses next door being replaced with the hulking monstrosity variant of a single family house.

      • Bill Lindeke
        Bill Lindeke May 29, 2018 at 9:37 pm #

        Lots of people pay attention to the term. Maybe not enough, but still a very large percentage.

        • Jack Norton May 29, 2018 at 10:02 pm #

          You can’t look at where different racial groups live in Minneapolis and conclude with evidence that housing size and massing has created our current housing system. Look at Page and Hale: tons modest homes, some close to the airport, in an area that is incredibly white. That’s not home owners keeping bigger buildings out, that’s society keeping people of color out.

          So yeah, opposing apartments, especially apartments that are are of the same size as existing housing, is racist, and many people pay attention to the term.

          https://demographics.virginia.edu/DotMap/index.html

          • Adam Miller
            Adam Miller May 29, 2018 at 10:11 pm #

            It’s both. Our house in Hale had a racially restrictive covenant when built. When that wasn’t allowed, we moved to keeping multiple unit buildings out.

            • Jack Norton May 30, 2018 at 7:35 am #

              I like that you used “we.” We all played a part in housing as it stands, and so all have a role in fostering a new, fairer, system.

  15. Monte Castleman May 25, 2018 at 5:11 pm #

    I know I’d never make the biggest investment of my life in a neighborhood where something like that would be allowed to be built. I don’t have any problem with the modern design, just the complete lack of privacy I’d have and the complete lack of sunlight if they were built on the east, south, or west sides of my property.

    • Sly May 25, 2018 at 7:33 pm #

      I think it’s a problem that a place to live is the biggest investment a family is likely to make. Housing ought to be addressed as a basic human need, not a wealth generation tool.

    • Justin H May 26, 2018 at 9:41 am #

      This is nothing new from today. Someone could build a 2.5 story teardown next to your house today and you’d lose “your” sunlight and privacy. You don’t have any control over them now. There is nothing in the comp plan that changes this status quo.

      • Julie Kosbab May 26, 2018 at 1:56 pm #

        Heck, doesn’t this already happen in Linden Hills and Edina, with tear-downs? Only difference is people are building mini-mansion SFHs.

        Of course, these are rich people.

        • Adam Miller
          Adam Miller May 26, 2018 at 2:39 pm #

          We have to stop characterizing it this way. It’s not just SW and Edina. It’s all over the city. It’s why there are no more starter homes.

          There are five I can point to in my immediate neighborhood. You don’t have to travel far from any point in south Minneapolis to find tear downs replaced with large SFHs.

          • Bruce Brunner
            Bruce Brunner May 27, 2018 at 7:12 am #

            Apparently tearing down an affordable SFH since that happens with frequency is ok, but doing it and replacing it with a 2,3 or 4 unit building that meets zoning code for size and mass is terrible?

            • Carol Becker May 27, 2018 at 5:27 pm #

              Nope – I don’t think the teardown of starter homes is OK either. But the City has steadfastly resisted stopping it.

              • Morgan May 31, 2018 at 5:43 pm #

                Did I miss your campaign to make such a policy?

            • Carol Becker May 28, 2018 at 10:24 am #

              Adam – what things are those? Can you explain?

          • Bruce Brunner
            Bruce Brunner May 27, 2018 at 4:31 pm #

            I have a tear down/Mcmansion being build 3 doors down from me. It’s achieved the maximum mass/height/sq footage possible without getting a variance. Why are people so concerned if it was a 2-3-or 4 unit building the same size instead of a Single Family House? I think it’s better to provide housing for more people instead of 1 family that happens to be rich. But then again, that’s just me.

        • Sean Hayford Oleary
          Sean Hayford Oleary May 26, 2018 at 2:39 pm #

          Of course, now that I think about it — people also really dislike the mini-mansions in Linden Hills and Edina. Didn’t Linden Hills go so far as to have a temporary moratorium to “study” (delay) the matter?

          Edina has had many articles about neighbors opposed to very large new, single-family homes.

          I actually went to a ULI event a couple of years ago where Edina officials specifically discussed designs they used to minimize the visual impacts of these new houses — like avoiding high walls near side setbacks, and doing very deep basements to add space. Apparently doing like a 20′-deep basement under a garage for a “sport court” is a popular way to add a very big amenity with no visual impact to the outside.

          Anyway, the nice takeaway of this is that resistance to new structures isn’t just for multi-family, even if this post is mainly about that.

          • Adam Miller
            Adam Miller May 26, 2018 at 2:42 pm #

            People hate the McMansions so much that they’re clamoring to make sure that’s all that can be built.

            • Blake May 26, 2018 at 3:36 pm #

              Many of the people who oppose 2040 zoning in totality would roll back house sizes as well to get new construction back to more typical neighborhood sizes.

              • Adam Miller
                Adam Miller May 26, 2018 at 6:29 pm #

                Yes, I think that’s true.

              • Carol Becker May 28, 2018 at 10:25 am #

                Not our group. We think we should focus development in the downtown, around the U (where our walkable environments are) and in high frequency transit nodes. You can do that without backhoeing (is that a word?) 100 year old houses.

                • Adam Miller
                  Adam Miller May 28, 2018 at 2:15 pm #

                  Nithing is old or historic near the U or downtown…

  16. Alex Cecchini
    Alex Cecchini May 25, 2018 at 5:24 pm #

    I will pull a Bill and shamelessly plug some older streets.mn posts I wrote for those perusing the comment section. These posts temper the language that describes what housing of the type the author shares does to a neighborhood. Phrases like “dreadnaughts on the urban landscape” “destroy the fabric” and on. I

    https://streets.mn/2015/09/17/high-rises-and-the-transect/
    https://streets.mn/2016/10/13/dense-development-belongs-in-neighborhood-interiors-too/
    https://streets.mn/2016/02/07/no-large-apartment-buildings-wont-devalue-your-home/

    As for how the cheap and soulless housing the author believes will Mpls 2040…
    https://danielkayhertz.com/2015/09/24/the-immaculate-conception-theory-of-your-neighborhoods-origins/

    Also, everything will be fine.

  17. Chris Moseng
    Chris Moseng May 25, 2018 at 5:25 pm #

    It’s clear from the first few sentences that this is a polemic, so I don’t expect much in the way of a respectful back and forth afterwards. The author really wants to convey a future where heavy construction equipment is taking homes “indiscriminately” which sounds like something out of a prequel to Mad Max, not a land-use policy debate.

    It shows bad faith and a shameful, irresponsible approach to leadership. I hope at least it provided some catharsis.

    • Carol Becker May 27, 2018 at 5:29 pm #

      I am here to have a respectful back and forth. What do you think?

  18. Nicole Salica
    Nicole Salica May 25, 2018 at 7:02 pm #

    Is the bio accurate? What kind of chopper are we talking about, foot powered or gas?

    • Carol Becker May 27, 2018 at 5:31 pm #

      1976 KZ400 hardtail chop. Custom tank. Custom paint. Custom fender and lights. I made the seat. Little dirt track bars. Pretty much a death trap to ride but looks cool. Drop me a PM and I will send a pic.

      • Carol Becker May 28, 2018 at 10:26 am #

        Can someone tell me how I can put up a picture?

        • Bill Lindeke
          Bill Lindeke May 29, 2018 at 9:40 pm #

          It’s difficult. We’ll take your word for it. My mom’s cousin is/was a right-wing politician from Canada who drove a motorcycle all the time. Steven Harper was her intern, before he became P.M.

  19. Jon May 25, 2018 at 7:15 pm #

    I don’t think that arguing that it could be ugly and that modern architecture sucks is the best idea. Personally, I think areas like Stevens Square and North Loop which is all apartments, are good looking too. I think variety is better looking than “keeping the character of the neighborhood”. Neighborhoods like Marcy Holmes and the Wedge have plenty of decently sized apartment buildings while mostly being SFHs, it doesn’t disrupt the character.

    • Janne Flisrand May 25, 2018 at 9:48 pm #

      I learned the Wedge is 7% SFHs from their neighborhood association’s president, so I might temper that “mostly.”

      • Sean Hayford Oleary
        Sean Hayford Oleary May 25, 2018 at 9:57 pm #

        7% of the residential buildings are SFHs? Or 7% of the households reside in SFHs?

        I assume the latter. Which is still a big consideration, of course, but means the on-the-ground appearance would be quite a bit different from 93% of structures being multi-family.

        • Katie Jones May 28, 2018 at 7:33 am #

          Correct – 7% of housing units in the Wedge are SFHs. Another 14% of units are in duplex/triplex buildings.

          Source: http://www.mncompass.org/profiles/neighborhoods/minneapolis/lowry-hill-east

          It’s an interesting way of looking at housing in our neighborhood, because when you walk around, if feels like there are lots of what we think are traditional houses. In a way, it feels like the density is hidden.

          • Bill Lindeke
            Bill Lindeke May 29, 2018 at 9:41 pm #

            That’s a very common mistaken perception in Minneapolis.

  20. Tim Brackett May 25, 2018 at 8:22 pm #

    The author begins her post by telling us developers do not build triplexes with peaked roofs anymore, then spends the bulk of her post describing flat-roofed triplexes in Seattle (including pictures) as an example of what developers have in store for Minneapolis. She begins to end her post by asking “Is there housing like this in Minneapolis already?” Answering her own question, she says “Yes” before telling us about such a unit in NE Minneapolis, across the alley behind Elsie’s. The unit she is describing has been built within the past five years (according to a Google Image capture from August 2013) and has…a peaked roof!

  21. Ben Frank May 25, 2018 at 8:37 pm #

    So, if I think that more homes should be allowed by-right for more people in all parts of Minneapolis, I am an “advocate of bulldozing” and the destruction of history??? I’m failing to understand how this is considered informed commentary on land use.

  22. Derek May 25, 2018 at 9:43 pm #

    Why should someones aesthetic tastes trump someone else’s right to shelter?

    • Carol Becker May 29, 2018 at 12:33 pm #

      My group and I are not saying don’t build more housing. We are saying build housing where it belongs – in high frequency transit nodes and existing walkable environments. You don’t get density by scattering housing all over the place.

      • Jeb Rach
        Jeb Rach May 29, 2018 at 12:46 pm #

        So instead we should have single-family homes scattered all over the place? The best way to get density is to allow more density across the board instead of restricting it to a few select areas. We’re not talking about an outer-ring suburb here either; we’re talking about the most populous city in Minnesota, the urban core.

        By the way, most of Minneapolis has at least every-30-minute bus service for most of the day. There’s also sidewalks throughout the city. 30-minute bus service may not be especially frequent, but it may be enough for people to live a car-light lifestyle or allow someone with limited mobility who can’t get a driver’s license to still get around. Why should they be restricted to only select areas if they’re not able to purchase or rent their own house?

        • Carol Becker May 29, 2018 at 1:12 pm #

          Jeb – We are talking about a 1/2% a year growth in the number of housing units. You can scatter those across literally dozes of miles or you can cluster them. That means restricting development in some places and encouraging it in others. That is what the City has done for 20 years now and that created the North Loop, downtown housing and the housing around the U. That is a good thing. If you want more density, you won’t get it by scattering it all over, not at least in our lifetime.

          30 minute frequency transit isn’t a high enough frequency for most people. 15 minute service is the standard for high usage. Putting new housing by these high frequency services makes it easier for people to use these services, especially in the winter. Most people are not going to walk blocks to get to a 30 minute frequency bus. That is why only about 5% of people in Minneapolis use transit.

          • Gordy Moore May 29, 2018 at 4:03 pm #

            “5% use transit.” That statement, based on data for the city proper of Minneapolis I’ve seen/read, does not seem to be correct. This chart: https://streets.mn/2014/02/26/chart-of-the-day-city-of-minneapolis-mode-share/ had the 2012 ACS mode of travel for “means of travel to work in city of Minneapolis” at 12%. Even if the work figure has gone down since then, you also have to factor in people who don’t use transit for work but use it for recreation or shopping and the like. For sure more than only 5 percent of Minneapolis residents use transit! Where is your 5% figure from?

          • Chris Moseng
            Chris Moseng May 29, 2018 at 6:50 pm #

            This is an argument for improving transit, not restricting development.

  23. Alexa May 25, 2018 at 10:44 pm #

    So now this website is playing the “both sides” card? Since when does “pro-housing” mean “pro-bulldozer”? This piece reads like it came from someone who has housing stability who
    also wants to keep more people out of her city, unless they live her same lifestyle. I was under the impression that streets.mn promoted progressive land use, but now that Minneapolis is on the verge of a decent plan, you’re running scare pieces on how a two-story building is going to block out the sun?

    • Dana DeMaster
      Ddemaster May 26, 2018 at 6:39 am #

      The streets.mn editorial policy does not take a position and the mission only promotes conversation, not a particular belief. This article meets all editorial guidelines.

      https://streets.mn/streets-mn-editorial-policy/

      • Chris Moseng
        Chris Moseng May 26, 2018 at 8:22 am #

        Thanks for linking to this. As a layperson, I’d just point out that even without changing the editorial policy the board could easily refuse to publish posts that use disingenuous and misleading characterizations like “indiscriminately bulldozing”
        for not promoting conversation.

        One of my longtime criticisms of the local newspapers is their willingness to publish falsehoods as long as they are packaged in an “opinion” format. This seems to be exact the same situation. Only, streets.mn could recognize that this practice doesn’t encourage conversation—it stifles it, because the conversation then has to focus on correcting falsehoods and other patently misleading rhetoric rather than anything constructive.

        • Mike May 26, 2018 at 9:17 am #

          So I’m not saying this to defend the article (I agree it’s over the top on some characterization) but I don’t agree you should be imposing editorial filtering on phrases.

          If you read the first few lines of this again, what is written is accurate.

          1. If the zoning code changes you will in fact be able to use a bulldozer to take down a single family home and replace it with a 4 plex. It doesn’t say you have to, but it says it will become an option. This is true, it is not an option today.

          2. The article says indiscriminate bulldozing is bad. I have not heard anyone argue the counter point, that indiscriminate bulldozing is good, but that doesn’t cancel someones right to state the obvious.

          3. “Advocates of bulldozing” is a sensationalist way of saying advocates of multifamily infil, focused on the emotional dramatic act of taking down the old single family house. It may also be innacurately narrow since some existing houses could be retrofitted to multi-family and presumably density advocates would not have a problem with that.

          So with the exception of #3 being sensataionalist and narrow these are not necessarily false claims. I’m not agreeing with the article but I don’t think that disagreement is justification to put the verbage through an extra filter.

          • Chris Moseng
            Chris Moseng May 26, 2018 at 1:04 pm #

            The words, in the order they are written don’t just suggest that indiscriminate bulldozing is bad, but imply that it is is a likely or possible result of the comprehensive plan. That’s false.

            I appreciate that the article appears to have been edited to remove “bulldozing advocates.”

            • Adam Miller
              Adam Miller May 26, 2018 at 8:20 pm #

              Honestly not sure if that edit is better or worse. Clearly it would be better had it been written this way originally, but not sure it helps for editors (who I know are trying their best!) to make the sentiments sound more reasonable.

          • Julie Kosbab May 26, 2018 at 2:00 pm #

            Some houses are better torn down than not, to be honest. There has been debate about this in St. Paul, near UST. Several houses up for redevelopment are not financially viable to preserve.

          • Adam Miller
            Adam Miller May 26, 2018 at 2:36 pm #

            They took down to houses at 50th & Bloomington this spring. No bulldozer involved. (Because that’s not really how you take down a house, especially if you’re not trying to destroy utility connections and the like).

            But those are being replaced by much larger SFH, so I guess we don’t care?

            No reasonable person thinks “indiscriminate bulldozing” is on the table, or what anyone is advocating for.

          • Carol Becker May 27, 2018 at 5:34 pm #

            Thank you.

  24. Bruce Brunner
    Bruce Brunner May 25, 2018 at 11:02 pm #

    I find this article disingenuous as opinions are stated like they are facts. No one is advocating bulldozing entire sections of the city. Things like this are old style rhetoric to scare older home owners.

    I’m about to break ground on and build a triplex in South Minneapolis in the Lyndale neighborhood. If anyone can tell the difference between this triplex and a single family home, I’d be surprised since it isn’t “ugly/modern” as the author asserts developers build. It has an open front porch, single door entrance, pitched roof, and fits into the fiber of the neighborhood. I guess it just doesn’t fit that narrative that’s trying to be told. As for massing the entire lot like the author claims developers are doing, the footprint on this triplex is 1247 sq ft on a 4650 sq lot so that’s just a little more than 25% of the lot. I have a 30′ front yard set back where 20′ is required and I am 43′ from the back lot line. Oh, and the building is 30′ high, same as the buildings next to it so it’s 5′ less than allowed. Not exactly taking up every single sq foot as the author asserts everyone does-so the article doesn’t represent what has to be followed in zoning and construction. Ultimately, this it is exactly the type of building people are constructing right here, right now. It happens to be in a neighborhood that includes single family homes, duplexes, condos, townhouses, fourplexes and now a triplex.

    • David Brauer May 25, 2018 at 11:32 pm #

      Pictures or it doesn’t count.

      • Bruce Brunner
        Bruce Brunner May 26, 2018 at 6:55 am #

        yea, I tried to add a picture and failed. Must be this format or you actually have to be tech savvy

        • Carol Becker May 28, 2018 at 10:30 am #

          I had the same problem. Can someone tell us how to post pictures here?

          • Bill Lindeke
            Bill Lindeke May 29, 2018 at 9:46 pm #

            It’s not a thing.

          • Ben May 31, 2018 at 2:06 pm #

            Guessing you could upload pictures to Google Photos or something similar and post the link to them.

            • Sean Hayford Oleary
              Sean Hayford Oleary May 31, 2018 at 2:09 pm #

              We do not host comment images. I recommend Imgur, then using the link they provide.

              Anyone can copy-paste a link. If you want to actually display the image in the text, you must log in with a contributor or commenter account, and use an HTML <img> tag, like this:

              <img src="https://www.website.com/image.jpg" alt="Image Description" />

              For most users, pasting in the URL is easier.

  25. Tyler May 26, 2018 at 2:56 am #

    lets’ play the “how do you get there” game. The often quoted number for Minneapolis growth is 40,000 new residents by 2040. If you assume an average of 2 people per household, and you wanted to use exclusively the 4-plex approach to solve the gap (assume here the city is at capacity, since our vacancy rate hovers 2-3% and will never go to zero) – you would need to replace 6,000 already occupied single family homes in the city with 4 plexes each with at least 2 people per unit, and build out all the vacant lots of North Minneapolis.

    For comparison the teardown epidemic in SW Minneapolis which has been going on for years is cumulatively measured in the hundreds. The city has somewhere around 100,000 single family homes I believe so you need to replace 5-6% of the housing stock with 4 plexes to go that route exclusively.

    Do you like the building at 36th and Bryant, the 40 unit infill apartment building? If so, you just need to add 499 more of them across the city and there will be plenty of housing. Do we have 499 parcels that size in those types of locations?

    If you are more into massing and large scale urban building, then it’s just a math exercise – but a 200 unit apartment building with 2 people per unit – so probably in the 20 story range, would only need to be replicated 99 times across the city for that approach to close the gap

    In reality I know that we’d expect that housing growth is a blend of the above – but the magnitude of addition needed, coupled with the ambiguous language in the 2040 plan, coupled with public statements like those from Jacob Frey that we are going to have affordable housing in every corner of the city and anyone should be able to live in the neighborhood of their choice, you start seeing how people with a skeptical eye torwards City Hall will not trust leadership is really going to just let the market decide.

    “On affordable housing, “We need affordable housing in every single neighborhood in the city. We have an obligation…that we are doing everything possible to make sure everything is affordable,” Frey pledged.

    He added that “deep levels of affordability” are necessary to ensure that all Minneapolis residents can afford housing. “We need affordable housing in North Minneapolis, but we also need it in South Minneapolis, downtown Minneapolis, and Northeast.”

    The mayor’s housing proposals include building more affordable housing throughout the city, especially in predominately White neighborhoods, and providing more owner-occupied multi-family housing. His “4d” program, if approved, would offer landlords property tax breaks “if [they are] willing to rent 20 percent of their unit to [persons] at or below area median income,” Frey explained.

    “We want to create neighborhoods with a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. You [should] have the ability to live in the neighborhood of your choice,” he pointed out. Asked how this will help tenants in light of rising rents throughout the city, Frey told the MSR, “We have proposals that will directly benefit the renter,” without providing further specifics.

    http://spokesman-recorder.com/2018/05/02/some-see-big-battles-looming-for-mayor-frey/

    So when a plan requires that level of new growth in the city limits, and there isn’t space today for that many builds without some replacement going on, and the rate of replacement would be several times what the city has been experiencing recently, people get nervous.

  26. Karen May 26, 2018 at 7:39 am #

    I moved from MN to Northern CA to in the late 1980s and often visited a friend in LA area in the 80s and 90s. In LA, I saw them mowing down cute arts and crafts bungalows for both what we considered then tacky apartments, and closer the the beach, is was tear-down McMasion type things.

    I mourned LA’s bungalows’ death because I lived in a wonderful bungalow with two roommates in Oakland. I loved the house and the charming Rockridge neighborhood within walking distance of BART.

    But I remember my friend who lived in LA moving back to Boston where she was from in the 90s and her commenting how much more expensive Boston would be for her and her husband. They had rented a sort of tacky 70s ish apartment a few blocks up the hill from the beach on their dual, but modest salaries.

    Now I look back at the stats and costs of things then and have some context for what I saw.

    The death of those bungalows and general willingness to let developers build supply to market demand had meant a very nice place to live, LA, was reasonably priced. It still seemed expensive to me compared to MN but it was far cheaper than many other big cities. The death of those bungalows was a large part of the affordability of the town.

    Given how rents are eating away so many working people’s earnings now and how much more difficult it is for young families to avoid being at whim of landlords and buy a house, I have a different sort of feeling about the passing of those bungalows now.

    All the bungalow deaths were stopped in LA and now it is one of least affordable cities around.

    Oakland where I lived also preserved its bungalows…. So the 1500 s.f. bungalow I lived is now worth 1.7 million (it sold for 1.6 mill in 2016, so maybe more?). Those bungalows in that neighborhood were originally built as affordable housing for working class people. The old timers in neighborhood told me that many of the second round of residents in those houses (firsts one moved in 1915s) had been garbage haulers.

    Somethings gotta give. Historic preservation and affordability are often directly at odds.

    I get taking a long view on the value of certain built environments and history but when it comes at the cost and economic harm to at least half of our population, the half that already is struggling the most, the young, the single person or single parent household, the working class, the less than perfectly healthy etc..it is a very steep price.

    And to add to this inequity, it is the ones who enjoy and benefit from the charming, historically preserved neighborhoods, becuase they already live in them, who are same ones who get the windfall wealth appreciation that a lack of supply brings. Historic preservation doesn’t eat into their house value, it adds to it, as it takes away earnings of renters.

    And those who can’t afford these historic places, who may even risk arrest for walking in these walkable charming neighborhoods, they are the ones who keep seeing more and more of their earnings taken by rent, more and more abuses as landlords have all the power in a ‘sellers” market.

    I suppose there is one way we can historically preserve and still keep more affordable housing costs. That would be to take a big chunk of the appreciation or land rent value of these high-in-demand, historic properties on land that we have disallowed new supply to be created (thus increasing their value) and give that money to renters. Would those who love history and have 100s of thousands in equity would be willing to dedicate a big chunk of that to such an effort?

    • Carol Becker May 27, 2018 at 5:39 pm #

      We feel the better option is to cluster housing in transit nodes where it is easy to take advantage of transit and in the downtown and around the U, where we already have good, walkable environments established. That is what we have been doing for the last 20 years and we have added somewhere around 20,000 housing units with this approach. You can do this and still retain your bungalow communities. Density is a good thing but to have density, you have to…well…put things closer together. You don’t get that by scattering 500 fourplexes around the City. Either you are for density or you are for fourplexes.

      • Eric Saathoff
        Eric Saathoff May 27, 2018 at 11:05 pm #

        We should absolutely cluster housing around transit nodes and established walkable neighborhoods to increase density, but building fourplexes is not the opposite of increasing density, as you suggest in the last sentence here, regardless of where they are built.

        We want more walkable neighborhoods than the ones that currently exist. Part of the reason housing costs increase is a lack of supply. That lack of supply can exist in terms of individual units but it can also be in terms of the number of walkable neighborhoods. Fewer walkable neighborhoods means that fewer people can live in them (scarcity).

        I understand people don’t think that new housing can lead to lower prices, but there will still be old apartment buildings in the city. Those aren’t necessarily the buildings being replaced. Those old apartment buildings are the ones that will continue to offer lower prices because housing suppliers will have increased competition. If we don’t build more apartment buildings (such as fourplexes) the existing, old stock of apartments will increase in rent because there is competition among renters to get the few apartments available.

        • Carol Becker May 28, 2018 at 10:40 am #

          The question of lack of supply is a national one, not just a Minneapolis one. It isn’t a feature of our zoning but a feature of being the ninth year of an economic expansion, of millennials, the largest cohort ever, entering the housing market, historically abnormally low interest rates, cost of construction going up and developers not building as fast as the market wants. It takes some years to get a development project started. I had talked to a couple developers who thought peak demand had passed a couple years ago. It was only seven years ago that we were all screaming about how little demand there was.

          On the question of a shortage of housing. Let’s look at the data. Here are the median home values for Minneapolis and the median home value adjusted for inflation:

          Median Value
          Year Home Value Inflation-Adjusted
          2001 $125,000 $178,151
          2002 $143,000 $201,503
          2003 $165,000 $226,618
          2004 $183,000 $246,590
          2005 $202,000 $264,341
          2006 $209,000 $263,020
          2007 $208,000 $256,438
          2008 $192,200 $227,233
          2009 $184,500 $218,064
          2010 $177,000 $203,847
          2011 $171,500 $194,342
          2012 $160,500 $176,708
          2013 $161,000 $174,475
          2014 $172,500 $184,032
          2015 $183,500 $195,943
          2016 $190,500 $200,662
          2017 $205,500 $216,462
          2018 $225,500 $225,500

          The moral of this story is that demand ebbs and flows. Just because we are at a peak at the moment does not mean it will persist.

          • Bill Lindeke
            Bill Lindeke May 29, 2018 at 9:50 pm #

            There are literally a hundred charts showing housing prices. Another super key metric is housing prices as a percentage of average wage, which have been flat or gone down (!) depending on your income quintile, over the last twenty years, or overall income inequality which has been getting worse since about the year I was born (1979).

            There are a dozen charts about this on this very website. I would urge anyone curious to look at those numbers.

      • Adam Miller
        Adam Miller May 29, 2018 at 1:40 pm #

        It is beyond telling that “you” don’t include Uptown, the densest, most walkable part of the city (i.e., the stuff you need to you can walk to) that’s also very well served by transit. Or for that matter “Downtown” Longfellow, which wouldn’t be hard to make walkable and is served by light rail.

        Downtown and “by the U” are already dense and don’t need help to continue to densify. “By the U” isn’t particularly walkable (e.g., there’s no grocery store) unless you mean heading east on University through Prospect Park, which is already adding or planning to add a bunch of new housing.

        Meanwhile, we have neighborhoods that were walkable with the slightly higher densities of the past and can be again by allowing a few more neighbors.

      • Jonathon June 3, 2018 at 4:10 pm #

        Why should new housing always be clustered near busy traffic nodes? What if new residents want to live in quieter neighborhoods? Have you lived in an apartment on a busy street? Firetrucks, semis, loud motorcycles zoom by. With the windows open, it’s quite loud. Restricting apartment buildings and denser housing only to busy corridors, while single family homeowners get to live on quiet, interior streets, is wrong.

    • Lindsey Wallace
      Lindsey Wallace May 28, 2018 at 11:22 am #

      This isn’t a very good comment, it should be it’s own article!

  27. Alex Schieferdecker
    Alex Schieferdecker May 26, 2018 at 10:20 am #

    Everyone is free to dislike contemporary architecture, but I don’t think aesthetic opinions about style are an acceptable excuse to deny people the ability to live in various neighborhoods throughout the city.

    Issues like massing and setbacks aren’t addressed in the Comp Plan, and would be hashed out at a later date when it comes to rezone the city. But that is tangential to the fourplex issue. You can have fourplexes and traditional design, setbacks, massing restrictions, etc.

    • Carol Becker May 28, 2018 at 9:29 am #

      I live on a 40′ by 124′ lot. My house is 1200 square feet. There is no way to put a fourplex on my lot without running it front to back, side to side and stacking it. It is just simple math.

      • Eric Anondson
        Eric Anondson May 28, 2018 at 9:40 am #

        A unit with the square footage of the old worker cottage on the ground front, upper front, rear back, and rear front would be okay.

      • Jack Norton May 28, 2018 at 12:48 pm #

        My neighbor fourplex has a larger lot (5850) to your 4800, but includes a large front yard, four parking spaces, 6 foot driveway and a garden yard. And it sits around 10 feet from my own and the other neighbor. It does have two stories, but is still lower than our single family home.

        I understand personal preferences against buildings of this size, but I’ve yet to see an evidence-based argument against fourplexes. They’re cheaper to build than larger apartment buildings (which makes fourplexes more affordable to renters or condo owners), and fit the scale of residential neighborhoods

        See the fourplex here: https://goo.gl/maps/BqAfsumbHMG2

        Another fourplex that is taller is nearby (the lot is 5200 sq ft) (https://goo.gl/maps/BqAfsumbHMG2) It includes a garage, and (crucially) a handicap accessible entrance. And it has a nice front yard in which kids play when they visit grandma who lives on the first floor. I’m not seeing evil architecture here. And the people who have lived in these two duplexes are heterogeneous: they are young, middle aged, and senior, white, black and latino, and all good neighbors.

      • Adam Miller
        Adam Miller May 28, 2018 at 2:11 pm #

        And yet you conclude not that there won’t be a fourplex there, but that it needs to be outlawed. And you ignore the language in the plan that say (with less specificity than ideal!) that significantly larger structure aren’t going to be allowed.

      • Mike May 28, 2018 at 6:23 pm #

        I think Alleys in some cases will be a huge benefit here. I don’t think the lot is too small – and you assume that in the future people will still want buildings that have parking options. You could put a 4 stall garage across the back with a short apron if you had an alley and still have room for a building more than 30″ wide that respected setbacks. Small lots with driveways would be more difficult to accomodate parking unless you left the vehicles across the front of the lot which would probably look bad, or just for those buildings go no offstreet parking accomodation.

        We have some big duplexes on our block on 40×125 lots where one unit is lower level and main, the second unit is 2nd floor and 3rd/attic – you could outfit a seperate unit on each floor if you wanted to, there is enough space. they would be 2 “big” units and 2 small – And they still have a driveway to garages in the back…

      • Bill Lindeke
        Bill Lindeke May 29, 2018 at 9:51 pm #

        FREE IDEA: streets.mn design contest for putting a tasteful four-plex on Carol’s lot.

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke May 29, 2018 at 9:51 pm #

      This is my take on aesthetics as well.

  28. Nathan May 26, 2018 at 10:35 am #

    If anyone is curious, you can explore the Seattle neighborhood that Becker references using Google streetview here:

    https://www.google.com/maps/@47.6752843,-122.3836948,3a,75y,230.65h,88.87t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sugNz-Ka9puAnCgLk7KvGDw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

    It looks like a nice area to me

  29. Shawn Lavelle May 26, 2018 at 2:05 pm #

    I’m happy there’s one article on streets.mn that actually seems to care about the people who live in neighborhoods now rather than the pervasive idealized post-gentrification articles that are normally posted.

    It’s a refreshing change of pace.

    • Carol Becker May 28, 2018 at 10:42 am #

      Thank you. I think it is simple to just demonize people who think differently than you. It is a hard swim upstream but I appreciate the opportunity to have dialogue. We need to discuss and debate to create a better world.

  30. Ryan May 26, 2018 at 4:37 pm #

    This post is out of line and is disrespectful to people who try to put effort into researching what they’re talking about on Streets.mn.

    There is no possible way that the draft comp plan reflects urban renewal of the past, which happened at a time when residents were implementing exclusionary zoning policies that got us to where we are today. If this were to happen again, you can bet there would be a stronger coalition of people to prevent another round of urban renewal.

    If anyone wants to read a balanced review of the comp plan, Neighbors for More Neighbors is publishing a series of deep dives into the comp plan policy topics, starting with access to housing. You can find that here: https://medium.com/neighbors-for-more-neighbors/minneapolis-comp-plan-review-access-to-housing-9a04556728f5

    Please share it and help counteract this bizarro world view of it published here.

    • Tyler May 27, 2018 at 12:32 am #

      Yes we should all be reading different views of the comp plan. And yes Neighbors for Neighbors is better written and more thoughtful than this post. However that doesn’t make it “balanced”. The agenda there is clearly pro big increases in density and anti single family housing in predominantly single family neighborhoods.

      If they were to go interview people who are concerned about serious upzoning of their block (go find a block of single family homes on a bus line that is targeted for 4-6 stories) and report on how they feel that change would be detrimental to them and their neighborhood they may achieve the title balanced. But i wouldn’t expect them to because they are an advocacy channel (the name is a hint) and there are other vehicles to get other voices heard- which you should also listen to even if you don’t agree.

      • Adam Miller
        Adam Miller May 27, 2018 at 7:32 am #

        NFMN clearly has an agenda. But being for one thing does not imply being anti it’s opposite, especially where that opposite is abundant.

        In other words, there’s plenty of room for both more density and “single family neighborhoods” like the ones we have, where it’s mostly single family homes with some small multifamily units mixed in. We just need to allow a little more generous mix.

  31. Bill Lindeke
    Bill Lindeke May 27, 2018 at 10:35 am #

    As with the last post by this author, to me anyway the comment thread is far more interesting than the piece itself. Thanks to the commenters for your insightful reactions and dialogue.

  32. Carol Becker May 27, 2018 at 5:16 pm #

    High density housing has occurred over the last 20 years in downtown and around the University. Using our existing zoning.

    I do agree with you about needing more affordable housing. But the reality is that NO new housing will be build without subsidies from the government. Housing costs are too great. The housing that was approved by the Affordable Housing Trust is in the $250,000 to $275,000 per unit range. You can see what was approved here:

    https://lims.minneapolismn.gov/RCA/1318

    The City steadfastly refuses to put requirements like if a fourplex is built, one unit must be affordable. Or other schema that would ensure affordable housing. All of the new housing will be completely out of reach of the poor.

    We will see the continued reduction of starter homes though as they will be the ones that will give developers the largest bang for their buck. This neither retains existing affordable housing nor produces new affordable housing.

    • Monte Castleman May 27, 2018 at 6:40 pm #

      Would people still be willing to build fourplexes if one must be affordable? Or is making it so example of a required subsidy by the government?

      My recollection have done the math before noting that it’s financially marginal to replace a single family house in a nice area with multiple units. (So maybe all the hype about upzoning doesn’t reflect the reality of what’s likely to happen anyway) So the likely result is it won’t happen at all with such a requirement and no subsidy.

      • Monte Castleman May 27, 2018 at 7:49 pm #

        My recollection is that others here have done the math before…

    • Mike May 27, 2018 at 9:06 pm #

      It’s also not fourplex or nothing. Duplex, triplex- i dont See how you can force one of 2 or one of 3 to or one of 4 be affordable – you will end up subsiding your costs for that unit by the others and that is too few units to spread that cost across.

      People keep talking about how affordable it will be to do these small projects. In my experience renovating and remodeling several houses it was the bigger contractors who had their fixed costs covered across a larger book of Buisness who could compete with lower prices as well as them having more leverage with subs. While it’s true a small outfit can’t build a big massive project the idea they will automatically be affordable to build these 2-3-4 plexes i dont buy.

      I expect should this pass we will see more of the really big houses by the lakes turned into nice upscale duplexes or triplexes for the downsizing neighbor. This would be a nice change though one that would do nothing for affordable housing.

      • Katie Jones May 28, 2018 at 8:38 am #

        It pains me that my neighbor has 8 bedrooms but only 3 occupants. I live in a triplex that is slightly smaller in size yet houses twice as many people. Were my neighbor’s house converted to a duplex, a small bit of steam would be released from the pressure cooker that is our housing market. It would allow one more family to move to the neighborhood. This unit won’t necessarily be an affordable property in the context of whatever X% AMI goal, but it will slow the rise in rates across the market. Allowing more units to be developed doesn’t make units affordable unto themselves; instead it releases some pressure on our hot market. Converting large homes like my neighbor’s and adding more 2,3,4 unit properties are relief valves on market rate, which in turn releases pressure on the current NOAH properties. By lowering the pressure on NOAH, we keep more units affordable.

        As Lindsay said earlier, ‘yes/and’ thinking is needed here, because there is no silver bullet when it comes to affordable housing. Yes, we should allow more unit development within a single property as of right to slow the rise in market rate, AND we create do targeted affordable housing development (i.e. financial incentives for more affordable housing).

        • Monte Castleman May 29, 2018 at 7:29 am #

          That’s pretty common in my neighborhood. Bedrooms are left empty when the kids grow up an move out, but the parents stay in a mostly empty house. A huge old farmhouse two doors down from me has a couple living in it; a typical 3 bedroom ranch across the street has one person.

          I don’t see people living where they want to as a problem that needs correcting even if it results in underutilized space, and eventually that changes. The owners pass or just finally decide to move and the house comes on the market and people buying a house don’t normally buy more house than they need in terms of number of bedrooms.

        • Bill Lindeke
          Bill Lindeke May 29, 2018 at 9:54 pm #

          That’s like my dad’s house too. It’s not good, but it’s what is happening all over the Twin Cities in SFHs.

  33. Carol Becker May 27, 2018 at 5:32 pm #

    Adam – what do you think I am lying about? I have been very particular about documenting facts since the accusations I have been making things up. Let me know and I will clarify.

  34. Cory Ray May 28, 2018 at 8:39 pm #

    Who needs affordable housing when there’s multi million dollar mansions for sale around the (segregated) Lake of The Isles? Just tell people to stop being poor(or ethnic), it’s that simple.

  35. Mike May 29, 2018 at 10:33 am #

    There’s a little, funky part commercial+small living apartment building for sale now on W46th for like $225k or so, with a lot of frontage on 46th. While the realtor description highlights the flexibility of a small business with on-site living and a garden plot it will be interesting to see if it gets redeveloped instead as it could handle a big development in the new rules of zoning.

  36. Josh May 29, 2018 at 11:01 am #

    I’m always torn about the argument that some buildings have more mass than others and thus shouldn’t be allowed. Obviously there are apartment buildings next to homes all over the city and people who don’t want new apartments next to their homes argue that the new buildings overshadow their lot and infringe on their property rights. Which I get to a slight degree – I think It would be a minor annoyance. But it’s also the right of your neighbor to do with their lot whatever is legally allowed.

    So while shouting “property rights!” the counter argument is also “property rights!”

    Kinda funny if you think about it.

    • Carol Becker May 29, 2018 at 12:36 pm #

      Yes, yes it is. Sort of like both sides yelling about how important density and walkable environments are. We just think differently about how to achieve that.

      • Adam Miller
        Adam Miller May 29, 2018 at 1:43 pm #

        Your position is literally “no new walkable neighborhoods.”

        • Carol Becker May 30, 2018 at 6:51 am #

          It depends on what you think of as a walkable neighborhood. You can walk now to your grocery store living in Howe. That is a walkable environment.

          But if you want a place where you can walk to a grocery store, multiple restaurants, other services, you need much higher densities then you will achieve in Howe with fourplexes. It is just simple numbers. You see this kind of development in the North Loop. You see it around the U. You have to have much higher densities than you can achieve with fourplexes. You can also develop at high frequency transit nodes. That is what we have been doing. It is successful at creating the kind of environments that you have said that you want. Do we need new environments? We are not out of land in these places. Why would we not strengthen what is already working?

          • Adam Miller
            Adam Miller May 30, 2018 at 7:17 am #

            Yes, the issue is you’re erasing so many walkable neighborhoods by defining it not by what you can achieve by walking but where you think things are really dense.

            Never mind that there are many other just as dense and more walkable neighborhoods – because they’re less dominated by speeding cars (U) or actually have a full range of services (unlike U or North Loop).

            As I’ve said, we chose to live in Hale because we can easily walk to a grocery store and several place to eat (wish we had a pharmacy). We do that without anywhere near the level of density you’ve arbitrarily decided is necessary for walking (while also telling us you only drive)

            When I wrote about living where you can walk to stuff, I used Keewaydin as the example. There are walkable neighborhoods all over the city. They’d be more walkable and more people could enjoy them if we allowed them to add a few more neighbors.

            And we are pretty much out of land in those places.

          • Scott Shaffer
            Scott Shaffer May 30, 2018 at 11:16 am #

            I can walk to several grocery stores, 100 restaurants, and a thousand other services from my home in Longfellow. Let’s strengthen Seward and Longfellow and the neighboring areas by letting more people live here.

  37. Bill Lindeke
    Bill Lindeke May 29, 2018 at 10:19 pm #

    Congrats! You got to the end of this comment thread. (for now) Give yourself a pat on the back.

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