Fourplexes, Freeways, and Fearmongering

I’m very tired of white people using the words “bulldozing” and “eminent domain” to spread fear and misinformation about the 2040 Comp Plan, when literal city blocks of communities of color were leveled and replaced with bare pavement in living memory.

I hadn’t seen the redlining maps overlaid on the current-day city, or maybe just not in this way.

There’s a pattern that holds through the entire city, corner to corner to downtown. Take a look at David Cook’s map that pulls data from the Mapping Inequality Project and the Minneapolis 2040 site, and it’s plain as day.

I was at a 2040 meeting for held by my neighborhood (Elliot Park) association, and one of the residents hadn’t been super involved, but she had heard the fearmongering about bulldozing and eminent domain, and she talked about how she remembered what the area was like before the freeway went in.

How is a fourplex like a freeway?

It’s not.

I’m submitting comments about land use and transportation goals and priorities in the 2040 comp plan: join me. Maybe we can work on ameliorating the serious harms we’ve done to our communities.

Pine Salica

About Pine Salica

Pine lives in Minneapolis and works in Saint Paul. Pine hasn't owned a car for over a dozen years, and can count on one hand the number of times they've operated one in the last 12 months. Housing is a human right, car storage is not. Member of the Climate Committee.

173 thoughts on “Fourplexes, Freeways, and Fearmongering

  1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

    I have been feeling similarly pissed about the disinformation given Minneapolis’ long and storioed history of being structurally (and overtly!) racist in its land use and planning.

    1. Julie Kosbab

      We need moderate, middle class white people to recognize that the communities they are defending were built on white privilege, and ask themselves how they can use that privilege to support equity, instead of defend the status quo.

      1. Cobo R

        But all that comes across is bitterness and resentment against people who for the most part are just doing their best in this world.

        Society isn’t perfect, life isn’t fair. And being condescending about about the source some of the unfairness of the world isn’t a productive way of spreading a message or correcting the issues. It just fuels the back lash (eg right wing populism).

          1. Monte Castleman

            That’s exactly where the populism / white nationalism is coming from.

            We have people that lost their jobs in the steel mills and auto plants to the sweatshops in Mexico and China with at best callous indifference and at worst active involvement of both establishment political parties. There’s a government that’s done basically nothing but pick their wallet for programs that don’t benefit them. Now they see the government as trying to take away their light, their privacy, and yes, parking.

            1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

              Moderator’s note: This is an interesting debate but it would be better to keep the conversation on topic. In this case, Minneapolis’ history of racial inequality in the housing market and how it affects current policy.

              Large debates over the (toxic) state of national politics might be better in another post thread.

      2. Jenny

        Do we need white people to recognize? Or do we just *want* them to because it would be satisfying? We *need* to convince [white] people to make prudent decisions in broader society’s best interests. People who will be moved by arguments of historical injustice have already been activated. The NIMBYs won’t be reached with arguments of privilege, or a history lesson; they are concerned with property value, traffic and ‘safety’. We need data addressing these concerns. We must demonstrate that they will be happier, safer and wealthier in a post-SFH Minneapolis. Listen to the nutty comments in John E’s latest Wedge video and ask yourself how receptive these folks would be to your (fascinating and accurate) historical arguments.

        Being partisan is bad because it is tribalism; it creates an us-vs-them mentality which is exploited by populists, authoritarians and extremists. Partisans will favor their own bad candidate over the other party’s good candidate.

        Ideology is fine, provided that it does not prevent the holder from accepting new data. My favorite example: 1. Libertarianism (minimal regulation) is the best form of government and solves all problems. 2. Solving Climate Change requires regulation. 3. Therefore climate change does not exist. This is bad ideology, but a more benign version of the same ideology might be: “In general, we should favor less regulation.”

        1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

          I’m not so sure that south Minneapolis NIMBYs, almost all of whom self-identify as liberal or more left than that, and all of whom do not view themselves as racist, are unmovable by arguments of historical injustice.

          1. eric

            Much as I’m loathe to drag this further off of the (very intriguing) topic, ^ this sounds very reasonable Adam. I usually worry that “dear white people” type arguments tend to be a net negative since they so often only land well with the already-converted, but I think Nicole is smart here to aim it at South MPLS liberal whites. Especially the ones who find themselves at this corner of the internet.

          2. Jenny

            Ok. Then make historical arguments using reasonable, non-inflammatory language that does not compromise the movement. And when you’re done, devote some of your considerable time and intellect addressing the tangible issues that objectors bring up ad nauseam. Traffic, ‘Safety’, Property Value.

            1. Christa MChris Moseng

              The inflammatory language here is “bulldoze” and “eminent domain,” so you seem to be placing the onus not to say those things on the people explaining why they should not be said. You have the burden of not being inflammatory backwards.

              For people who claim to want to have a conversation about traffic, safety and property values, their lawn signs sure tell a different story. One that is both sensational, predicated on willful ignorance, and, boy, I’ll say this as reasonably and non-inflammatorily as I can: racially insensitive vis a vis recent history.

              1. Jenny

                The inflammatory language here is: “I’m very tired of white people……”

                Specifically the word “white”.

                Everything else is great.

                  1. Jenny

                    A false dilemma is a type of informal fallacy in which something is falsely claimed to be an “either/or” situation, when in fact there is at least one additional option.


                    It is inflammatory because it criticizes behavior based on the race of the actors. The inclusion of race was unnecessary, distracting and counterproductive.

          3. Zach

            Just had a discussion with my very anti 2040, very African American neighbor last night who was shaking her head with disgust over the potential upzoning (beyond 4plex) to our sw Minneapolis block. When I see her next lll be sure to ask her if she’s ok with her opinion being tagged as racism Vs the idea she personally prefers to not live amongst tall apartment buildings.

            1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

              Hi, Zach, assuming your neighbor isn’t apocryphal, that she happens to agree with with people who aren’t being sufficiently mindful of the racial implications of their preferences doesn’t make her racist.

            2. Christa MChris Moseng

              I encourage you to re-read the first paragraph and re-evaluate whether it has anything to do with your neighbor. And generally, I don’t recommend using people of color you know “the next time you see them”, or on internet forums, to prove points you might think you have about racism.

              1. Monte Castleman

                So it’s OK for minorities to use words like “bulldozing” or “eminent domain” but not white people because of something that happened 50 years ago?

                1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

                  Yes, kind of. You could make the same case about, for example, the largely white South Bronx community that was also bulldozed in the 60s, I suppose. That was a community literally bulldozed through eminent domain: (

                  The point is to call out alarmist rhetoric, and put in the context of actual federal and local policies that bulldozed entire neighborhoods. So for example, the discussion around Rondo and repairing that historical tragedy… To my mind, this post stemmed from a frustration with a false equivalency.

          4. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

            I think lumping “south Minneapolis NIMBYs” into a category and making generalizations about them is not a great move. There are surely lots of different ideas that shape people’s opinions about density.

            1. Zach

              Thank you better put than I did. My point with that example was to push back on the narrative that objection to aspects of 2040 are all white wealthy landed gentry of Southwest who are consciously or unconciouskt racist in their housing preferences. Some people believe it or not just don’t want to live next to or behind a 6 story apartment irregardless if the color or economic level of the occupants.

              1. Monte Castleman

                Great Point. If we sold the units for $1 Million or even put a “whites only” covenant in place a 6 story apartment building would still invade your light an privacy and generate a lot of traffic and parking next to your home and your biggest investment of your life. These are people’s objections, not the demographics or economic status of new renters or owners.

                  1. Carol Becker

                    And sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

                    Said by by an old white dude. With a cigar.

        2. Daniel HartigDaniel Hartig

          I am not new here, and you are absolutely right, Jenny. You aren’t trolling you are fighting to good fight for common sense.

          Keep up the good work, I hope you come back and contribute more.

          1. Christa MChris Moseng

            I don’t mind Jenny’s substantive comments or that we disagree, but including a definition of a logical fallacy in every reply, instead of just making the point, is kind of rude.

  2. Cobo Rodregas

    Agreed, I personally really hate that type of rhetoric, all it does is stir up peoples fighting impulses.

    Using disparaging commentary towards any race is a bad idea if your trying to create cohesion.

      1. Erik Ostrom

        Would you (or someone else) say a little more about what you see in the map? I can see that many redlining boundaries coincide with 2040 zoning, but, being sadly unfamiliar with the plan and zoning in general, I have trouble interpreting that. What does it mean?

        (I see and am aware of the connection between redlined areas and freeway construction. It’s the 2040 link I’m missing.)


        1. Janne Flisrand

          Erik, I’m not sure I understand your question. Is it about the map (that one of the color-coded layers on it is the 2040 built form so that you can compare proposed built form against the redlining)? Or is it the analysis David did (that statistically tests the correlation between redlining, greenlining, and the likelihood of higher or lower intensity use in the 2040 draft)?

          1. Erik Ostrom

            It’s about the map. I didn’t see the analysis, so maybe that’s the answer I’m looking for.

            The post says something is plain as day, and I can’t tell what it is.

  3. Pine SalicaPine Salica Post author

    Point of clarification – I intended my use of “white” to specify which group of people. Perhaps I should have said “homeowners”, “landowners”, or “privileged people”, to avoid discussing race at all? Hardly seems appropriate when I’m looking at racist redlining maps.

    1. Monte Castleman

      I don’t deny that redlining maps were racist. But everyone that made them we can assume is dead, so there’s no reason for whites living today to feel guilty about them. Saying “whites” instead of “homeowners” or privileged people” or such just distracts people from the conversation about where do we go from here. And while we all know landownership is lower among minorities relative to their population, they do own homes and drive cars, (my stepfather owns a car dealership and has sold a ton of cars to minorities from Minneapolis and St. Paul) and presumably worry about light, privacy, and parking as much as whites in the same situation do.

      1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

        I disagree with you here. I think, as a group, people who have been benefiting from 20th c. housing policy should feel guilty about it. The massive wealth generated from home ownership subsidies and growth throughout the 20th c. was, by design, available only for white people in this country.

        We should feel guilty about it. Even if our individual stories (i.e. I personally do not own a home) are not reflected in this history, as a group, it’s been in my opinion one of the very largest factors in making Minnesota and the US such a racially unequal place.

        See also:

        1. Jenny

          I agree; I feel guilty when I think that much of my wealth came at the expense (and result) of other races being trampled in the (tragically recent) past. However, I also think that guilt is an ineffective tool for social change because it will rarely convince people to act against what they perceive to be their own best interests. Guilt and ideological appeals to liberalism quickly run aground when action might require a sustained (perceived) sacrifice. Why did the SFH owners move to south Minneapolis instead of North Minneapolis in the first place? Probably because they thought that they were maximizing their own utility. So, my point is that gaining acceptance for the 2040 plan is essentially a marketing exercise; and guilt rarely works as a marketing tool.

          The most effective way to move people forward is *not* with guilt-based appeals to fixing historical wrongs; but rather to demonstrate that forward progress is best for everyone; including individuals in SFH. We must prove to the SFH owner that they will be healthier, wealthier, happier and safer in a city that is denser and more racially and economically integrated.

          1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

            Well that’s a political strategic stance you have, but I don’t share it. Personally I think privileged folks can learn a lot by exploring the injustices of the past. It’s one reason why I consistently have taught my students about redlining, steering, mob violence, and embedded housing racism when I’ve put together courses. I think it’s something we as a culture should talk about far more than we do today. Is it “effective” to do this work? Depends on the goal I suppose.

        2. Daniel HartigDaniel Hartig

          Just saw this comment. What an icky sentiment! Why should you feel guilty if you were not involved?

          If you don’t like inequality, I propose there are two alternatives: feel personally guilty, or place the blame on the actual offending parties. In this case, the offending parties in housing inequality are primarily those who propose and support restrictive zoning; those that propose and support mortgage tax deductions (effectively, a regressive tax break for the wealthy); and those who support Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac (a Federal ‘welfare’ program whose benefits scale with wealth).

          The people who proposed and supported redlining are all gone, so I don’t understand why that should be brought into the present discourse? There are plenty of current and identified problems.

          We should not feel guilty about problems that we didn’t cause. There is no such thing as collective racial guilt; please be aware that the religious support for slavery in the South was based on the collective racial guilt of all blacks as the children of Ham ( Collective racial guilt is Historically Very Bad Thing as a concept and should not be supported.

          1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

            Things white European people should feel guilty about [not ranked]:

            settler colonialism / genocide of indigenous peoples
            slavery / Jim Crow / discrimination
            structural racism in housing and lending

            “Why should you feel guilty if you were not involved”?

            Personally I am involved in these things.

            The land I live on today was Dakota land not too long ago. My ancestors “settled” spaces in Canada and the US that came directly from dispossession and the killing of native people. My direct ancestors bought homes relying on a system that shut out people of color. And there are many more examples like this…

            I shouldn’t have to explain this to anyone in the 21st century, but I am disappointed you don’t see my point. It’s sad for me that our society has not collectively come farther along in recognizing how the tragedies of the past play a role in the opportunities of the present. I know I personally have far more work to do on this kind of understanding.

            It is an icky sentiment. Thinking about these things does make me feel physically uncomfortable, and that’s why I’m not going to respond much more on this topic. It’s a lot of emotional work that I have no obligation to provide for anyone online…

          2. Christa MChris Moseng

            It is relevant today because we are presented with the opportunity to either reverse the things you acknowledge were harmful and shameful, or perpetuating them. Perpetuating them makes the present day political actors the “offending parties.” Just saying “it was like this when I got here so I don’t have to feel bad when I am responsible for continuing it, even if inadvertently” is convenient self-absolving nonsense.

            1. Daniel HartigDaniel Hartig

              I pursue this topic out of curiosity, not out of malice. I do not understand how you could feel this way about racism, because I don’t see that it is practical or possible to ‘reverse the things that [I] acknowledge [to be] harmful and shameful.’

              There is no way to reverse the genocide of Native Americans. The only way to reverse land theft is to gift the land you own back to the Native Americans. I don’t see that as feasible. The way to reverse the economic exploitation of slave laborers would be to repay the difference in your personal income and the average African-American’s income (~25k) to African-Americans. Redlining is illegal; the only way I see to reverse it is to buy a house and give it to an African-American. I don’t see people doing these things.

              Ultimately, I think that these historical wrongs _cannot_ be fixed any more than they already have been. The post-Civil War Congress fixed some wrongs; the Civil Rights era fixed the rest of the legal wrongs that could be fixed.

              Going forward, the things that remain to be fixed do not have a racial element. The oppression of African Americans as a group today is a function of the oppression of the poor today; as (unjust) history has made (most) African Americans poor. Therefore, the ways to solve the current injustice involve things I posted above, regarding zoning and mortgage interest deductions and such.

              Please let me know, how does guilt over past injustices translate into action to ameliorate the injustices that happen today? I don’t see how those two things connect.

              1. Christa MChris Moseng

                You’re characterizing remediation and commitment not to perpetuate “past” injustice (it isn’t past) as guilt rather than social responsibility. I guess it starts with recognizing that the injustices aren’t past.

              2. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

                I really disagree that “the things that remain to be fixed do not have a racial element.” I would caution you against this kind of language and framing of inequality in the future, as I don’t think it will do you favors in any earnest attempts to remedy injustice.

                1. Julie Kosbab


                  People want to claim color-blindness, but race matters quite profoundly so claiming “blindness” to race also devalues the very real and very current experiences of persons of color.

                2. Daniel HartigDaniel Hartig

                  That article does more harm that good to your point. It is all assertions that people are racist, without evidence of the mechanisms by which harm are caused or solutions by which this harm may be mitigated.

                  I could apply that same general analysis to about 99% of discussions of racism that I have seen.

    2. Christa MChris Moseng

      This is woefully incorrect about racism. I’m disappointed that the readership of a site with otherwise progressive values would demonstrate such a facile understanding of how to talk about and address racial inequity, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

      The suggestion that people who identify racism in action are “the true racists” and that there is such a thing as “textbook” reverse racism

    3. Christa MChris Moseng

      This is woefully incorrect about racism. I’m disappointed that the readership of a site with otherwise progressive values would demonstrate such a facile understanding of how to talk about and address racial inequity, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

      The suggestion that people who identify racism in action are “the true racists” and that there is such a thing as “textbook” reverse racism when there is not belies a grim reflexive defensiveness designed to shut down examination of how these forces work in society.

      If white people are pained by hearing their actions and political positions might be racist, that’s not the fault of the people who point it out. And people who read the post to say “all white people” where it clearly does not need to examine their own reflexive reactions to having their points of view challenged.

      If identifying racism is divisive, that’s tough. Letting people skate by without examining the racist implications of their rhetoric in order to not hurt their feelings achieve a political outcome is how we got the Republican Party.

      1. Daniel HartigDaniel Hartig

        1. I don’t share your progressive values about everything. I simply quoted a dictionary definition of racism. What makes you the authoritative decider of what is correct about racism?

        2. How did you rope the Republican Party into this? To be clear, the origin of the Republican Party is that a bunch of anti-slave Democrats defected to join the Whigs and form a new party. Opposition to slavery is how we ‘got the Republican Party.’ Lets stay on topic here.

        5. Please look at an argument from the other side. I accuse Nicole of being racist, and you immediately post with a ‘grim reflexive defensiveness’, which is exactly what you accuse me of doing. Also, lets pull out the whole substitute-white-people-for-black-people trope. Everyone reads ‘black people’ as ‘all black people’ and acknowledges it as racist. Why do you think there is a distinction when using a different race?

        1. Christa MChris Moseng

          Because this is an urbanist site, I am going to stay on topic by not educating you here about racism, which I am not the authoritative decider of, and neither are you, or whatever dictionary you have handy. You’re the one that wants the post removed because it hurts some white people’s feelings; others think that combatting racism entails white people sometimes feeling bad for being shown how their actions and rhetoric perpetuate racial harm.

          White people need to toughen up. The correct response to someone suggesting you’re participating in perpetuating racial harm is not to get the vapors, it is to examine yourself.

          1. Daniel HartigDaniel Hartig

            Should we remove posts that hurt Hispanic people’s feelings? Or let them fly here as well?

            What if I’m not white? Sure I look white, and I’m basically pure German, but it turns out the Census counts me as Hispanic, what with my father being from Mexico and all. Do I still have to toughen up, or am I off the hook?

            Race and skin color are silly things to use to classify people, especially since they don’t always match up!

            I’m Hispanic, and proud of my Mexican heritage and relatives in Nayarit, but that doesn’t make me an oppressed class since my father came to the US to go to MIT, not to pick lettuce.

            Judge people by the characteristics that matter, not by the color of their skin or their national origin.

  4. Matt L

    As I told Dave when he first showed off his map tool, it made me physically sick to my stomach. I think Nicole is showing remarkable restraint in her writing here, to be honest. Equating a few fourplexes with the types of historical injustices demonstrated here deserves a mild rebuke.

  5. Christa MChris Moseng

    A lot of really defensive people in here suddenly want to talk about at least quasi-legitimate concerns instead of the fearmongering they’re using to sell lawn signs and anxiety, so I actually think this post was pretty productive.

    1. Daniel HartigDaniel Hartig

      This is an urbanist site, Chris. Almost no one is agaisnt 2040 Comp plan here, and I haven’t read any comments about bulldozing and eminent domain, since those are not factually supported fears.

      Concerns about traffic and parking are absolutely legitimate, not just ‘quasi’-legitimate, assuming you want to live in a car dependent city. Not wanting to live near tall building is also fully legitimate concern, assuming you want Minneapolis to be a suburb.

      I don’t want Minneapolis to be car-dependent or a flat lot of single family homes, but I don’t get to tell people what they want. You shouldn’t either. You don’t determine whose complaints are legitimate or not.

        1. Janne Flisrand

          I disagree, Bill. I think a lot of the pushback is fear about *who* might move into some neighborhoods. Welcoming everyone in every neighborhood, which is what I think we as a city need to do, means desegregating our neighborhoods. The future Minneapolis I want doesn’t have any racially concentrated areas of wealth. And I get the sense a few of my neighbors are nervous about that.

          1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

            Yeah that’s half of it, but in my experience there’s another big chunk of folks’ concerns that simply comes from not to walk a block to a parking space.

        1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

          You want to prioritize cars, you don’t walk anywhere and don’t want anyone else to be able to walk or bike if it means slowing cars at all and you want the city not to eveolve. While I’m never sure exactly what “urbanist” means, I’m sure you’re not one.

          1. ingrid

            why people can’t walk or bike today? i moved here from chicago.
            and this past summer i started biking to work. i bike over 30 miles every day. i don’t have problems getting anywhere i want to go being slowed down by cars. and i can walk in my neighborhood without cars slowing me down either. where is that a hugel problem, adam? please, sincerely, help me understand. i’ve been lurking here a long time and on next door too. i don’t understand so many of your posts in particular because the agenda of them is often pointed in such a hostile tone.

            1. Christa MChris Moseng

              Assuming your comment is true, you’re a rare cyclist, and should be able to understand that changes that promote cycling like more protected infrastructure and more complete neighborhoods (shortening trip length to accomplish necessities) will make it so more people feel comfortable biking. Not everyone wants to bike 30 miles a day in car traffic… Most people don’t. Which is something Carol would say! The catch is that people who want more people biking want to do something about it.

              1. ingrid

                i have to bike exactly 500 yards on any street. and the streets i have to bike on are not crowded when i’m on them. so i don’t think that is necessarily the issue here. and as someone who does bike i would never expect or demand others to do it. there are many reasons people don’t want to do it or cannot do it. and i am also certain the 15 percent bike mode share target of the city in the plan is never going to happen. never even get close. portland is 7 percent and they have way better weather than here.

                1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

                  A primary reason people don’t bike is that our infrastructure is openly hostile to doing so in nearly all cases.

                  Lots of places with nearly as bad weather (Oslo, Copenhagen, etc) have higher mode share.

                  1. Carol Becker

                    A lot of places have a completely different land use. It is fun to play Sim City and imagine a completely different world than we live in. But we live in the world we live in today. And to change it would cost literally billions of dollars, billions we don’t have. I drove today – to Target, to Gopher Mods (the kid broke her IPod) in St Anthony, to the Thrift Store in St Anthony (3 shirts, $8, it was half off day) to the Grand Parent in Medota Heights, to Costco to buy giant piles of toilet paper that I would never be able to get on a bus, and then out for groceries. I say this because none of this except maybe Target could have been done on a bus or walking or biking. This is our reality and pretending it isn’t just ignores the lives of large swaths of our population.

                    1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

                      To be a bit more explicit, you responded to the incentive system we’ve set up by driving all over the place, because it’s really easy to drive all over the place.

                      As we change our incentive systems, you might instead get someone to deliver that toilet paper (we have ours set up for regularly deliveries), found an electronics repair place closer to your house (isn’t there one on Minnehaha?) or work or chosen a different thrift store (there’s definitely a bunch of those in the city). But it’s easy to drive and most of the costs are hidden or hard to value directly (e.g. depreciations, time) or born mostly by others (e.g., pollution, infrastructure depreciation), so you don’t need to spend much timing thinking about how else to get things done.

                      As for grandparents, my parents just moved, in part to be closer to their grandkids. Adding two grandkids in the same South Minneapolis neighborhood changed the relative incentives to living downtown versus easier to get to (mostly by car!) the kids, so they made a change.

  6. Jack

    Jenny brings some valid points to the table. Not all “white” people are against the plan. Pointing that out does not make her a “troll.” Her opinion is as valid as anyone else’s, as long as it is made respectfully.

  7. Joe

    If we remove this post, we’d have to remove Carol Becker’s posts as well, which were deliberately inflammatory as well as factually incorrect.

  8. Christa MChris Moseng

    The post should not be removed or altered. The author is upset about white people doing a thing, and nobody has asserted that the claim “white people using the words “bulldozing” and “eminent domain” to spread fear and misinformation about the 2040 Comp Plan” is false. The post does not read “all white people” no matter how much some people want to read it that way.

    Instead, I suggest people who are upset read more modern texts about racism, anti-racism, and white fragility.

    1. Daniel HartigDaniel Hartig

      Don’t peddle that silly term ‘white fragility.’ What does that even mean?

      Trying to keep this site’s focus on economics and building regulations, which matter, instead of race, which doesn’t matter, is now called being ‘fragile’? Calling people racist doesn’t solve anything. Developing a good plan to expand affordable housing, and improve job access to the poorest in the city will reduce inequality. Let’s talk about that. This post doesn’t talk about that.

  9. Andrew Evans

    Mostly a first time reader, and now commenter! Lucky me on a slower day at work! Sorry this won’t be about racism.

    People are afraid of change, and want things to stay the same. I was talking to an older friend the other day about this. They mentioned how they thought uptown died and had it’s heyday about 10 years before I thought it did 10 years ago, and I’m sure some now are talking about how it was good up until recently, and the cycle continues.

    The same goes for that zoning proposal. People, who have invested a lot of money and time into their properties don’t like seeing houses on their block tore down in favor of more density. They want to keep things as they are, even if as they are may not be the most efficient use of the land, or amenities. (as in those old mansions that we’re losing south of downtown)

    My biggest fear, being a mostly new homeowner in North, is that it won’t effect me or my neighborhood. It’s (to how I perceive it) meant mostly to make it easier for developers to build what they want and where they want, which isn’t up here and isn’t helping lower income or middle income folks. This will have far more impact around uptown, the outskirts of downtown, and around the lakes and parks.

    Then about the time housing values here get to the point of new construction, we won’t have many of those lower income rentals available or even working class rentals. So even then this zoning change won’t really effect me. Even if the city or county gave a person a lot, we’re about 20-30k away from it being feasible to build, IMO, and I see private lots posted for sale at the same 20-30k number, and we’re not even close to housing prices supporting that kind of investment up front, never mind putting some kind of a building on it. By the time any multi unit property would be considered, my partner and I would be looking to move into our next house and/or plan a little more for where we want to live for retirement.

    What would have had more of an effect on me, and North, was if the city and county had a solid plan in place over the last recession and would have been able to find a way to mothball some (potentially) great old houses and prevent their demolition. Fast forward, even back in 2012 to 2014, when folks had money and funding was improving, some of these homes would have been a great platform to do a restoration with. But, for better or worse, government and the banking world doesn’t move that fast to have made this possible and residents saw little value in some of these buildings and homes.

    What could have more of an effect on me and North, is a renewed effort and funding of green homes or getting money to housing non-profits to build single family or duplexes. I’m not sure that’s in this plan, I’m not sure in this climate the money would exist, but that would help us way more than this zoning change.

    The original article mentioned Elliot Park, and yes, this will have WAY more of an impact there than up in North, and residents should be concerned and have questions. They should also feel that they don’t need to vote a certain way, or that they can dissent. But, in reality, that neighborhood will change and it will not look like it does today or how it was (for me) when I had friends living around there 10 years ago or so. Times change, things happen. Fearmongering happens on all sides, and eminent domain in a way is similar in a displaced persons experience to the landlord selling to a developer and the city giving it’s blessing on the project.

    Anyway I’m sorry to have taken a break from the comments about racism.

    1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

      Great comment. I also think there will be relatively little impact of these policies on disinvested parts of the city. In fact, I think the “fourplexes” thing is largely a red herring, kind of like the ADU policy which has resulted in [checks notes] maybe a dozen new homes in five years, none of which are in North?

      I am sure there are policies aimed at helping the Northside in the plan, but fourplexes isn’t likely to be one of them.

    2. Daniel HartigDaniel Hartig

      Fourplexes are not likely to be economically viable in the poorer parts of the city. I did some off the cuff calculations in another post, and based on construction cost, mortgage rates, and average rent for new properties, the only places where you will see a clear return on investment are Downtown, Uptown, and SW. I think your analysis is spot on, in this case.

      If this is the case, then fourplexes will be both an anti-gentrification measure (why gentrify an iffy neighborhood if more housing is available in Linden Hills?) and an accelerating threat to the very people who are complaining about it the most, like South Minneapolis NIMBYs.

      Also, thanks for steering the ship of commentary back onto its true course.

      1. Evan RobertsEvan Roberts

        That’s right. We all talk about fourplexes as rentals, but there’s less recognition that “fourplexes” also means luxury terrace housing and townhouses. If you can put 4 luxury units near the lakes instead of just 1, they’ll sell, and they’ll be worth tearing things down for.

      2. Adam MillerAdam Miller

        I’ve been looking around the city for where we’ve been seeing tear downs replaced with large single family homes. I’ve actually found quite a few east of Hiawatha. 43rd Ave, one block over from where the bus runs on 42nd, in particular has had a bunch.

        I’ve assumed that where it works to build a large, expensive single family home, it may work to build a 2-4 unit building. Do your numbers say otherwise?

        1. Daniel HartigDaniel Hartig

          I redid my spreadsheet for current data east of Hiawatha and south of 38th.

          For a fourplex, 1000 sq foot each, 1 bed, 1 bath, I estimate the rent per unit new construction unit at $1350 (75th percentile of all units up for rent right now). Fully rented income is then $5400. There aren’t enough 2 and 3 bed places for rent in that area to be able to do a comparison for other building sizes.

          I estimate the cheapest lot you can acquire at $220,000; and building costs for a fourplex at $600,000. Estimated mortgage (6% for a non-primary residence loan) on this with $200k down is $4700, counting taxes and insurance.

          So there is a $700 profit to account for continuing maintenance and risk of un-rented units; so, this is on the edge of profitability. Rent could go up 50% in the future, making this super profitable, or it could stagnate and you could have a 25% vacancy rate and you’d lose money. I don’t know if you would see that much fourplex building in that area until rents go up a bit more.

          The deal with the single family homes is really that you own the land ahead of time; you get a much better interest rate on the loan if it is your primary residence; and you don’t plan on moving so you don’t have to worry about rent calculus. I think the considerations for large single family homes and missing middle housing are different.

          1. Pine SalicaPine Salica Post author

            oh, but if I am going to build a 4plex for myself and 3 random tenants, it’d totally work out then? maybe enough to contract out the property management bit? that sounds nice!

            1. Daniel HartigDaniel Hartig

              In that neighborhood, the most economical way to make such a fourplex happen is what you describe, though it would be better if you could manage the place yourself to save a buck. By making the fourplex a primary residence, you save ~$300 a month on interest (credit score dependent).

              Now all you need is $200k down…

              1. Janne Flisrand

                This is the strategy I used to become a homeowner, although the downpayment I needed to scrape together in 1996 was less than 10% of the amount you calculated. (shakes head) I’ve always done all the management myself, and that “free” labor is a big part of what I “pay” for my house.

                I think there’s opportunity for the City to design homeownership programs that would build both affordable apartments and have lower per-unit subsidy using four-plexes and Nicky’s model, though it would need to include a bunch of downpayment assistance!

                Let’s do more owner-occupied fourplexes.

          2. Rosa

            Thank you for laying out the math! A group of my friends keeps daydreaming about building (and living in) a four- or six-plex and it’s mostly based on “if we win the lottery” because we can’t even begin to figure out actual costs. But, among the four households, we could probably lay hands on $1 million in borrowed money (we definitely could for mortgages on already-existing homes).

            1. Daniel HartigDaniel Hartig

              I do the math out because this is my plan in life as well. I would like to downgrade to a smaller primary home, which would lower my mortgage enough that I could commit 1k a month or so to a building project. In the future, if my income goes up or kids move up, I could commit more.

              I would like to build a structure, not in the cheapest wooden stick-built way, but a masonry structure that we could be sure would survive for 100+ years. When I was in the Navy, I lived in downtown Norfolk, which is filled with gorgeous brick and oak structures from ~1890-1920 which all survive in fine condition to today, despite hurricanes and what have you.

              It used to be that people bursting with civic pride took such building projects to beautify their hometown upon themselves. The rich built museums and libraries and skyscrapers, the upper middle class build what they could.

              There is plenty of money in Minneapolis. I wish more people would spend it on lasting, beautiful architecture for the city. If more people started doing this, it would be easier for others to follow.

      3. Mike

        I agree. Also don’t discount the renovation strategy to turn some of those large homes into at least 3 family buildings. There are already a number of mansion revnovations especially around Lake of the Isles, being able to subdivide some of them would also be a good thing, for the market, to give people who want to downsize, stay in the area and who are looking for a higher end place to land.

        This could be even be an owner strategy – couple takes their oversized house, massive remodel, and sells of 2/3 of it to 2 other families and stays in 1 unit.

        People do tend to go to the tear down and replace 4 plex scenario but we have a lot of single family houses that could be renovated or with a proportional addition could accommodate conversion to multi family while preserving character atheistic and yes even side yards.

        1. Daniel HartigDaniel Hartig

          So, I have talked this over with a cousin who is a commercial builder, and his opinion is that the foundation work necessary to increase the footprint of a ~2000 sq ft house would make it uneconomical to upgrade the structure to anything more than a duplex.

          Basically, you can’t put 4000 sq ft of tri- or four-plex onto a foundation for a 2000 sq foot house; and it would be unwise to try to expand the foundation in place if you want the house in good shape in 50 years; in that case you need to remove the old foundation and you are back to square one.

          Another option is adding a second building, basically a big duplex ADU. Many Minneapolis and St. Paul lots are long and skinny and ideal for this, with ADU access through the back alley. However, the problem here is plumbing. Depending on which side the plumbing comes in from (street or alley) it could be very expensive to get a full water and sewer connection set up for the second house.

          So, overall, the most reliable option is the teardown/rebuild a fourplex option, since the price of that is relatively stable.

          1. Janne Flisrand

            Let’s keep some flexibility in our imagining and avoid dismissing things that don’t fit in one box. 4 1000sf units might not work, but other things would.

            Say, a triplex, with one 1000sf owners unit and 2 500sf studios, or adding a small amount of sf.

            Or, a triplex that adds 500sf for a total of 2500sf in the house.

            For me, one of the best bits of the draft plan is the ability for people to imagine all sorts of different possibilities, and choose one that makes sense. Different sites, different people, different programs and make the choices that match their needs, the land and building and capital they have access to (hopefully!).

            You seem to be starting from a primarily cash-flow/profit focus, and thinking about maximizing a site for that. That isn’t how I think about my own place – for me, it’s mostly about being able to afford my homes, community, and making space for other people. I need to not lose a tone of money on my place, but my math looks really, really different from yours. And it’s great that we have different approaches, and that there are many others. That’s what our city needs.

          2. Mike

            When i say Large homes i mean Large, like by the lakes large. You can easily subdivide some of those into 3 nice size units, one per floor. It’s already being done, just very limited. This could green light more of those renovations.

        2. Andrew Evans

          A lot of those oversized buildings have been cut up so many times so many ways that the only thing really original left is the exterior. This isn’t even mentioning any code issues that would need to be resolved if a major renovation were to happen.

          I’m not trying to make the argument that these aren’t worth saving, and I do feel that to some extent a few will be preserved (mostly thinking around the Wedge and/or extended Uptown), but that it doesn’t make practical or fiscal sense some of the time.

          I was talking with a friend who does salvage work. Right now, our salvage warehouses are full of doors and woodwork, unless it’s unique or complete, even the interiors of these homes aren’t work that much anymore.

  10. Carol Becker

    Perhaps instead of trying to figure out how to get moderate middle-class whites to buy into a plan that literally plans to destroy their neighborhood, maybe we need to band together to change this bad plan?

    And before you start telling me that “destroy their neighborhood, please take a look at what the Interior 1, Interior 2 and Interior 3 pictures look like and then look out your window and compare how they are different. People are not stupid. They get what this plan does. And they are, justifiably, angry.

    1. Pine SalicaPine Salica Post author

      “Literally plans to destroy their neighborhood”.
      Please, I ask you: read the first paragraph of my post again.

    2. Adam MillerAdam Miller

      Says the person who has argued that everyone already has the housing they want, so no one will build more but nonetheless whole neighborhoods will be bulldozed.

      These two things can’t both be true, but you keep asserting them.

  11. Carol Becker

    My name is Carol Becker and I am one of the founders of Minneapolis For Everyone, one of the (now growing) number of groups who are against this plan. One of the people leading the effort to change this plan and one of the people who is accused of “fear mongering.”

    Just to give some bonafides, I have my doctorate in Public Administration, I worked at the Met Council in transportation planning for ten years, I wrote the study the light rail system is built on, and I have taught Intro to Urban Planning at the U. I literally have written sections of the regional plan. I have lived here since 1981 and I have lived in my house since 1993. I know a bit about urban planning and I know a bit about this City.

    The folks involved with my group have legitimate concerns about this plan. Demolishing existing housing and replacing it with more expensive new housing does not produce affordable housing. Building more market rate housing does not trickle down to create new affordable housing. Demolishing housing with parents and children and replacing them with units for one person in them does not add housing to the City, it just drives out families and corporatizes what was an opportunity for a family to build wealth. We added 40,000 people over the last 20 years successfully and there is no reason to change what has been working except to hand over even more profits to for-profit developers. We can add another 50,000 people (12%) by clustering them in existing walkable, transit supported environments and at nodes along high frequency transit routes. We also need to scatter that development throughout the City along these transit routes and not just shove more housing into Uptown. Many of you read my critique of the transportation section of the Plan that literally makes the lives of most people who live here harder. I could go on with problems with this Plan.

    I find it obscene how people of color are used to justify this pro-developer, anti-regulation agenda. It is not racist to oppose this plan. A tip should be how many people of color oppose it. Gary Cunningham, who is a black man on the Met Council, gave an amazing and eloquent attack on how it uses race to justify corporate deregulation and profits. Even in this discussion here, someone noted how people from North oppose this. These people are not stupid – they see this for what it is. Even the Plan itself uses race to justify what it is doing – something written not by people of color, not by people from our poorest parts of town but by white planners from downtown. It is obscene.

    Minneapolis for Everyone got 1200 signatures to a petition in one week. We have 700 lawn signs out and that is only because we have not been able to print them fast enough. This isn’t because of fear mongering. It is because people have educated themselves on this plan and are really upset. It is so crazy that I literally had a guy come up to my house, knock on my door and ask how he could volunteer.

    One of the things that groups do when they disagree with someone these days is to personally attack the other person. If they can just diminish their opponent as a person, to make them sound crazy or stupid, then they delegitimize their arguments. Calling us racist because we disagree with you is exactly that tactic. We have good, rational reasons to oppose this plan that have nothing to do with racism. We are good people, as passionate about this City as you. And in the end, we have most of the same values as you even if we disagree on how to achieve those goals.

    If you want to educate yourself why I personally oppose this Plan, I have had an on-going debate with Adam Miller and other people who post here at the Minneapolis Issues List. Feel free to join and add to the debate.

    1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

      “[C]lustering” is segregation.

      Affordability matters for market rate housing too, not just “affordable” housing.

      Your signs are overwhelmingly in front of mansions, and never in front of modest starter homes, because this is about keeping renters (always assume the worst, and ignore that people can own condos) from “good” neighborhoods they haven’t earned.

      Modest houses in greater Longfellow are being torn down and replaced with McMansions at an alarming rate. Why are there none of your group’s signs there? Could it be because the people who live there aren’t afraid of s duplex or two?

      We have many of the same goals. But the disagreement is that you want to keep new people out of your neighborhood and I want to welcome them. I see them as neighbors, allies and fellow customers for local businesses and transit and you see them as rivals for parking and road space. So much so that you don’t even talk about them but instead about the people who might build their homes (which you incongruously also argue won’t get built because everyone already has all the housing they want).

      My gosh, there’s no more walkable & transit-served part of the city than Uptown, where someone can get everything they need and get to work without a car, and you’re arguing we shouldn’t add housing there. On second thought, maybe we don’t have the same goals.

      1. ingrid

        adam –

        i live not that far from the creek and ride over by nokomis a lot. the idea there are no signs to the east of 35w is just a lie. they were not somthing i saw two weeks ago. but every day i see a few more. i think you already know that looking at your twitter feed, so i’m not sure why you are saying otherwise. people west of 35w were not written by their council member about the plan like the council member over by the other lakes did with her’s several weeks ago. so i think the signs just went there first. they also have higher voter turnout in elections than any other part of the city. so maybe that drives signs too. but they are going in east of 35w more now.

        i also do not understand what you mean when you say market rate affordable rent. most people think a “mark” means housing for lower to middle income people that they can afford without subsidies and it is always in part a function of location and construction quality. is that what you mean? there will be no “marks” going up near lake of the isles because the builders can’t acquire land cheaply enough to build them. so how does the plan achieve “marks” across the city? or do you think of a “mark” in a different meaning?

        1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

          Ingrid, they’ve been popping up over the last week or so on the east side of 35W, but they’re still few and far between. I notice two new ones on the Parkway yesterday. Yes, in front of very expensive houses.

          And I’m not saying there are few east of 35W based on casual observations, I’ve been looking for them on my rides.

          The signs went there first because that’s the demographic that’s most concerned: people who own very expensive homes and don’t want small multi family building near them.

          The anti-plan groups regularly proclaim that adding new housing won’t mean adding affordable housing. When they do this, they are either intentionally or not conflating two things: subsidized housing and market rate housing (i.e. Housing that’s not subsidized and whose price is set only by the market).

          Loosening zoning regulations to allow more housing in our neighborhoods (as was allowed when they were originally built) does not create subsidized housing. It can, however, put downward pressure on market rate housing by increasing supply. Two $200,000 units in a duplex are more affordable than a $350,000 house (or for SW numbers, two $400,00 units in a duplex are more affordable than a $600,00 house), for an example with entirely made up numbers.

          The overwhelming majority of housing in the city is unsubsidized, market rate housing. The price of that housing can make a huge difference in the demographic makeup of the city. If we allow it to increase at the current, much faster than historical rate, we are going to price regular working people out of the city.

          1. ingrid

            so it went from none to some. iow, you are admitting you were being over the top. and they are not all in front of nice homes. and people in nice homes have very little to worry about because tiny homes are not going on 600000 usd properties.

            are you ronald reagan? you are arguing supply side policies we know do not work to help the poor. it enriches the top. it helps those who are really savvy in the middle and it leaves the poor worse off. but if you are a republican then maybe you buy the lingo. i don’t

            and your math does not work. here is a market rate example. a 350,000 usd home with a 10 percent downpayment comes to a 315,000 usd mortgage. putting out taxes and insurance (which will be more for the duplex) = a monthly payment at 1425 usd on a 30 yr fixed. duplexes are allowed most places already. but let’s play ball with your math example. to make that bungalow home into a duplex you have to tear it down and start over. put that at another 600000 or so usd minimum to construct and another 50000 or so to demo. developers love to use other people’s money. lever up. we’ll say 10 percent down. the bank may say 20 percent. so 350 + 600 + 50 to demo is 1000000 usd cost. 900000 loan. monthly payment 4225 usd. that’s with no profit. so lets call it 2300 a mos per unit. at 800000 usd loan the monthly comes down to 38000. so lets call it 2050 per unit. it is not cheaper.

            you are basically arguing that letting the market run wild will make everything cheaper. that is very flawed thinking and also very right wing.

            do you want to actually do some hard research and advocate supply side with real analysis?

            1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

              let me reiterate: Carol’s group’s signs are overwhelmingly in front of expensive houses, typically ones I’d guess are valued at a half million or more. Almost none are in front of modest homes that are likely to be redeveloped, and even fewer of them are in greater Longfellow near where tear downs have been happening.

              To put a finer point on that, I’ve found exactly one such sign, today, on 30th Ave. There’s another on Minnehaha near 46th in front of a nice house but where the zoning is going up more.

              In contrast I saw two more today in front of really nice houses on the Parkway.

              I doubt Carol and company planned it that way, but the available evidence shows pretty strongly that it’s owners of expensive houses that make up the bulk of their support.

              Duplexes are not allowed in most places already. That’s just wrong. And many of our existing duplexes are nonconforming – they can’t be built today becuae the current zoning doesn’t allow it.

              I’m expert, but your demo numbers are absurdly high according to what I’ve heard. Actually, more than that. They’re absurdly high per what we can see in the market, where McMansions in my neighborhood are selling for much less than $1 million (btw, mathematically, the loan calculations you offer are irrelevant and tell you nothing you can’t tell from the purchase price).

              I read a fair amount of economic writing. The idea that supply and demand apply to housing is pretty much universally accepted.

                1. ingrid

                  the idea the signs are only in front of really nice houses is just wrong. we’ll just agree to disagree.

                  if my numbers are off according to what you’ve “heard” then share what you’ve “heard” and from whom. i know my numbers are pretty solid. if all you are pointing to is the cost to demo, that’s not changing the ultimate answer.

                  building homes is just expensive. as this shows that is true even when the land is free and the lot is vacant.


                  supply and demand applies to all goods and services. you don’t have to read any amount of economic writing to make that statement. so do you endorse supply side economics in the extreme? if so why and what do you expect to happen?

                  1. Carol Becker

                    I saw one right in your neighborhood on 46th at 39th. Should be walking distance from your house. Brick bungalow. Take a look.

                    1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

                      Having noticed where the signs are:

                      I went looking for some in front of the modest houses you’re allegedly concerned about, in particular in areas where they’re already disappearing and being replaced with large, expensive houses. I found very few. And I looked a lot:

                      Counting Carol’s house, there’s maybe 5-6 out there south of 26th Street and east of Chicago.

                      Note: when I say “tear down” in that thread, I mean a new house on the new foundation. There’s a ton more total renovations (i.e., new on an old foundation) and expansions too.

                2. Carol Becker

                  As I noted below, there has been no survey of the signs so Mr.Miller’s observations may be skewed. I can say that I have one and my house is nowhere near a million dollars. And I live pretty close to Mr. Miller. Maybe he hasn’t been by my house. Feel free to swing by. I’ve been doing a lot of work on the front yard. Also you can check out the work at Minnehaha Academy.

                  It does make a juicy rumor though, even though it is untrue. And one I presume more people will repeat. I am in the middle of this and can attest to a few things. People from all parts of the City are working on this and signs are up throughout the whole city. And these people represent all walks of life and a wide variety of incomes.

                  As to the idea that building market rate housing will magically reduce housing costs, yes, if we were Seattle where they have built one-eight of the housing that they need for the influx of people that they have had. Or San Francisco which has also see a huge influx of population. But we are not them. We are stodgy Minneapolis, that just chugs along growing about a half-percent a year, give or take. Our supply and our demand are pretty much in sync. We are a little short of inventory of new houses at the moment but permits are up and more construction is happening. So unless people are going to start buying a cabin in the City, the idea that we can just build and somehow it will trickle down to create new affordable housing is hooey. People live in one house and building housing without someone to buy it to drive down costs is something no developer would ever do.

                  The idea that we can take these issues that are real in San Francisco and Seattle and New York is wrong. We are not them. Our supply and demand is not drastically out of whack. And what is needed for them is not needed for us.

                  In fact, I have been reading from one author who has studied this that says the complete opposite. That when we do TIF, we do TIF because we build a nice shiny building and then the blight around that nice shiny building gets cleaned up. Likewise, when you build nice shiny buildings in old neighborhoods, prices go up around that building. I need to do more research to see what other studies have said. But I can very much see this happening in parts of our city

                  Also, I agree with much of Ingrid’s comments.

                  1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

                    Again, if you believe that no new housing will be built – because in your word no one wants a cabin in the city – where is the bulldozing going to happen? It cannot both be the case that we have all the housing we want and new construction is going to overrun neighborhoods.

            2. Christa MChris Moseng

              This talking point about “supply side economics” and “trickle down” is just one more example in a pattern of elementary factual errors that have emotional, not logical, appeal.

              Increasing supply to affect the price of a thing in high demand is not trickle down economics no matter how many times opponents repeat the claim, and it’s shameful that they keep hammering away at it. It reveals either their economic illiteracy or an intentional effort to miscast density supporters as the evil conservatives, so people don’t catch on that opposing the plan is the fundamentally conservative position.

              1. Carol Becker

                The Fed would disagree with you.

                “We find that increasing the housing stock in the
                most expensive neighborhoods by 5% would only reduce equilibrium rents in those neighborhoods by less than 0.5%. The implied rent elasticity is therefore quite low.”


                And I will say it again. Housing is not bananas. Developers don’t build housing that there is not demand for. So the idea that developers will build more housing than is needed, thus driving prices down does not make sense.

    2. Daniel HartigDaniel Hartig

      Minneapolis is a a city, and it is 142 square km. The rest of Hennepin county is 1293 square km.There is almost 10 times as much space in the suburbs.There are more people jobs in the balance of Hennepin County (roughly 800k vs 400k) and more jobs ( 600k vs 300k).

      If you want a car-oriented community of single family homes, why not live out there? No one is trying to upzone Eden Prarie. Why can’t those of us who want a pedestrian oriented community of 2-4 unit housing have a place to live, too? Isn’t Minnesota supposed to be for everyone?

      1. Carol Becker

        If you want a walkable, transit-supported community of high density apartments and condo’s, why don’t you go live downtown or by the U? If you want large lots and large buildings, why don’t you go to Northeast, say St Anthony? Why come to our neighborhoods and screw them up? Why not go and live in a place that matches your desire for a lifestyle instead of bulldozing mine?

        And our group does not support tear-downs either. We believe we need to preserve existing affordable housing both from tear downs and from being taken over for corporate profits.

        As to the implication that we have some sort of housing monoculture, I posted the picture of what parts of the City are 70% or more single family homes at our website.

        If Minnesota is supposed to be for everyone, why are you trying to drive me and people like me out of the City? There is enough city for you to have what you want and me to have what I want. Go move to the place that is what you want. Me, I am going to go pick some tomatoes and chop back my arborvitae. And pick up dog poop. Which I can do because I have a yard.

        1. Daniel HartigDaniel Hartig

          Downtown and Uptown are nice and dense, but they are also the most expensive parts of the city. They are the most expensive because there is high demand for that sort of density. Not everyone who wants to live there can afford to live there.

          A zoning change does nothing to drive you out of the city. No one is getting evicted, and not a single bulldozer is funded by a zoning change. It simply gives property owners the _freedom_ to do more with their properties.

          Perhaps you should rename your group Minnesotans Against Freedom?

          1. ingrid

            daniel – so downtown and uptown were allowed to be developed and now they are the most expensive parts of town. so why don’t all parts of town become more expensive than they are today under the plan? downtown didn’t used to be so expensive. 20 years ago no one wanted to live downtown. uptown didn’t used to be the most expensive. it used to be cheap to rent there. what happened? why?

            1. Daniel HartigDaniel Hartig

              This is just supply and demand. High density living is in demand; but supply is limited by zoning laws. Zoning doesn’t permit Uptown to become as dense as the North Side lakefront of Chicago (it is about half as dense); zoning doesn’t permit the rest of the city to become as dense as Uptown.

              Minneapolis is an attractive city on the scale of things, with good cultural institutions and a strong job market. Many of the people who want to live in such a place, also want to live in higher density areas. Since demand exceeds supply for the limited dense areas of Minneapolis, those areas are more expensive.

                1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

                  I don’t think Uptown is the “most expensive” part of town. I would say Kenwood and Linden Hills are the most expensive parts of town. Uptown is perhaps the most expensive part of town that has new rental units, after the north loop. If they built new apartments in Linden Hills (and they do not), they would be more expensive than Uptown, and likely Uptown would be cheaper than it is today.

                  1. ingrid

                    you can rent an apartment on lake harriet parkway for 975 a mos right now. its old. you want an older unit not near water in uptown it will cost you 950. so 950 on humboldt vs 975 right on lake harriet. you want a newer unit in uptown you will pay 1400 at least.

                    so please answer the original question.

                  2. Carol Becker

                    There are apartments in Linden Hills and Kenwood. And they are actually cheaper than other parts of the City.

                    Average Rent by Neighborhood (RentCafe)

                    CARAG $1,518
                    East Harriet $1,518
                    ECCO $1,593
                    Linden Hills $1,612
                    Bryn – Mawr $1,615
                    Kenwood $1,615
                    Beltrami $1,627
                    Mid – City Industrial $1,627
                    Sheridan $1,627
                    St. Anthony East $1,627
                    St. Anthony West $1,627
                    Cedar – Isles – Dean $1,629
                    West Calhoun $1,629
                    University of Minnesota $1,646
                    North Loop $1,705
                    Nicollet Island – East Bank $1,796
                    Como $1,805
                    Dinkytown $1,805
                    Marcy Holmes $1,805
                    Prospect Park East River Road $1,805


          2. Carol Becker

            It is a red herring (we believe) started by the advocates of this plan to confuse people. We have never said that eminent domain would be used by the City to evict people. But by changing to displacement zoning, the City is basically outsourcing bulldozing homes to the private sector. In the end, the outcome is the same. Affordable homes are gone, especially homes needed for families with children, and replaced by corporately owned rental housing. The City doesn’t have to drive the bulldozers for this to happen.

            1. Julie Kosbab

              “It is a red herring (we believe) started by the advocates of this plan to confuse people.”

              That’s a huge leap. They had message meetings about how to confuse people? I really don’t think that’s true, because when you get any given group of people involved in politics in a room, agreement is rare. Let alone agreement on something like “this will confuse them, what a great tactic!!!!”

            2. Adam MillerAdam Miller

              Your group doesn’t even pause over “bulldoze” hyperbole but eminent domain is too far? Yeah, right.

              People are confused about eminent domain in part because you’ve you’ve tried to confuse then with exactly the rhetoric of display in this comment.

              1. Carol Becker

                People have understood that the City does not have to drive the bulldozers to have the City literally set up a system to have housing bulldozed. Everyone I have talked to have gotten that.

                1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

                  Again, you cannot both claim that no housing will be built, because everyone already has the housing they want, and that there will be widespread bulldozing. And yet you do.

                  1. ingrid

                    i do think carol has a good point on this one.
                    people who own property i suspect will generally view this a risk vs. impact. a home is a big investment. and the city is putting that big investment under threat. you can talk all about probabilities. but you also have to weigh the impact if the probability were to happen. impacting someone’s biggest investment is a huge deal on an emotional level.

                    i was walking around bossen park yesterday. i saw at least ten of those red signs. there were none just a few days ago. saw one in front of a small home where the owner was sitting outside. she told me it was awful for the city to put their life savings as risk. and adam she said they knew nothing about this plan until a couple of days ago. whoever runs that ward has not communicated out to everyone.

                    1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

                      Except that Carol has argued that allowing fourplexes will increase the value of her home, because someone would be able to tear it down and build a fourplex.

                      I think fear of change is perfectly understable. I think fear that change will undermine your house’s value is understable. I don’t think it’s particularly rational considering that we’re talking about allowing people to build something that’s just like what’s already allowed, but I understand.

                      What I have a major objection to, and what this post was about, is rhetoric that is not based in reality – bulldozers, persistent rumors of eminent domain, “literally plans to destroy their neighborhood”, etc. – that is specifically intended to stoke the fears of people who are only casually aware of what’s going on.

                    2. Carol Becker

                      Adam – you have mis-characterized what I have said.

                      Please look at the pictures that the City has provided about what Interior 2 and Interior 3 show. Then look at what those neighborhoods look like today. People are not stupid. When you literally show them what the City’s goal is for their street, they get it. You don’t get to the literal picture that the 2040 Plan without bulldozing a whole bunch of houses.

                    3. Adam MillerAdam Miller

                      What’s so frustrating about conversing with you, Carol, is that it’s hard to tell whether you’re intentionally being misleading, and this is a good example.

                      Like, surely you know that those illustrations are just illustrations and that no block is going to suddenly, or even by 2040, be converted to look like them. And yet you’re perfectly fine with making that implication.

                      And just for the sake pedantry, I’ve watched a lot of houses in the neighborhood be replaced with McMansions. None of the demolitions involved a bulldozer.

            3. Andrew Evans

              As far as the affordable homes part…

              I was talking with a friend the other day who bought a house in North close to Weber parkway within the past few years. They are starting a younger family, one works, and the other goes to school for some kind of a phd or masters. In any event, they paid $185k for their house, and that was only after looking at 20 of them and losing bids on a handful. The property didn’t “need” work, but they were able to get tens of thousands in local grant money to update a few things here and there. It was mostly a survivor home that had been lived in and not changed in 30+ years.

              In my mind that’s starting to get into the more unaffordable end of the spectrum for a young family. However, the problem is how do we keep affordability while still saying to my friend “we will still allow your house to gain value so, market depending, you can sell it at a profit”? Or, does government decide who can and can’t make money on a property, and thus, in a way, stifle investment or rehab money in those homes.

              Why spend money on landscaping or interior renovations, when the market value of the house is artificially capped? Why build a new garage when its’ not going to add the value it otherwise would have?

              The way to do that, at least in our quasi free market society, is getting money to housing nonprofits like PPL, Urban Homeworks, and PRG, who rehab and provide housing to those families who would otherwise be priced out of the market. They for the most part do a terrific job, and provide a great service.

              However, what everyone forgets is those nonprofits themselves turn into something similar to corporate evil empires. They have different end means of course, but both entities own potentially hundreds to thousands of houses in the city. Things go south, those properties get abandoned, and who is a slum lord now? Not that I’m worried, but it is possible and it has happened before, NRRC used to have over 100 properties tied to a state program, before they imploded into infighting in the past handful of years.

              On the other hand, Havenbrook Homes has a property by my place. They came in, updated it very nicely (to about the same extent PRG did with a home next door), and are renting it out at market rates. Sure some renters are better than others, but the company has been responsive to emails and concerns, and they have it in their best interest to keep the place up since I’m assuming at some point they will want to cash out and sell it, in good condition, to make a return on their investment.

              So I think, at least when it comes to affordability, that the city needs to be careful in planning for the future. They don’t want to stifle investment, especially in places like North where we need it the most, but they don’t want to let things run away.

              It could also be the case, if we look at affordability in regional terms, that these types of properties and homes shift to first ring or 2nd ring suburbs and move out of the city. The main goal in a way is that those in need or of limited means find housing, not that they find it in a particular city or neighborhood.

              1. Rosa

                it might not be possible to both make housing more affordable generally, and also to guarantee that existing housing will gain value. But to the extent you can balance those two things, it seems like increasing density is the closest to encouraging both at once. If you can fit 2x as many households into the same amount of space, you could keep the cost for each household down while increasing the total value, right? Your friend’s house could go up to $200k and a duplex next door could sell 2 condos for $100k each, and your friend and the new buyers in the neighborhood could both get what they want.

                I have a SFH and we are next to a triplex that was a duplex when we moved in. The sale price of that place going up definitely increased our potential sale price, without changing our current fixed costs of living here (and possibly it lowered our total property taxes, over the long term, by increasing the number of households paying in for streets & water management and stuff.) But at the same time the owner of the triplex is not charging each of the tenants what they’d pay to rent a whole house.

        2. Alex CecchiniAlex Cecchini

          Carol Becker: “Minneapolis should be a city for everyone”

          Also Carol Becker: “If you don’t like yards or big homes you should leave the city, or move to a tiny fraction of its land that may not be close to your job, family, friends, services you like/need, or any other reason you might want to live in a multi-family building anywhere but in the tiny fraction of land I personally deem okay for dense housing.”

          The Comp Plan, and advocates of more housing, are not myopic in their reasons for proposing/supporting denser housing in more places than has conventionally been allowed. It’s a mix of:
          – broad environmental reasons (the more people who live in Mpls the less net carbon impact we have as a region).
          – letting people live where and how they like (personal preference)
          – letting people live where it’s most convenient to their work (or school), or convenient for multiple working adults living in the home to balance housing location between job locations
          – letting people live close to transit (if that’s their thing, and yes even if it’s a 3-minute walk to a bus stop instead of a 27 second walk to a LRT station)
          – letting people live close to bike routes or parks (that aren’t downtown or by the U)
          – letting people live in the center of the region where their flexibility for access to jobs (even by car) is greatest
          – allowing more housing, with more flexibility in style (unit size, amenities provided, structure construction cost, etc) to allow housing to be less expensive on opening day
          – relieve housing pressures in the neighborhood, city, and region as new units take on demand in these sub-markets from people who would otherwise pay more per unit for older housing stock

          This is not an exhaustive list. But they, individually or combined together, amount to a much stronger case FOR the policies in Mpls2040 than “dense housing will ‘screw up’ where I live.”

          As an aside, there is no guarantee that even restricting tear-downs for newer, larger single family homes will guarantee affordability (“starter homes”). People can still renovate older homes, expand their footprints, etc. If we respond with even more regulations on footprint expansion/etc, wealthier people will still outbid middle- or lower-income people- a mild example of this is Minneapolis today, where people spend (for example) $300k (an amount affordable only to people making well above the AMI) for a much smaller home, in much worse/dated condition than they could afford elsewhere in our metro because of location amenities. A more extreme example is people spending upwards of $1million for a 1,000 sqft condo in a 120 year old un-renovated building in San Francisco.

          1. Carol Becker

            These are not things that I have said. Please do not make up quotes and then attribute them to me.

            1. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

              This seems to be fairly clearly using quotation marks facetiously, as an exaggerated summary, not a literal quote. Is that fair, Alex?

              Suggestion: use italics (surround your italicized text in <em></em>) to express this technique, rather than quotation marks, which people may think are literally quotes.

              Better yet: when someone is present in the discussion, address them directly, rather than sarcastically talking about them in the third person.

              From our comment policy: If you disagree with someone, do so directly. Rather than, “Mark seems to think everything would be perfect if we did it his way,” try, “Mark, I disagree with you because….”

      2. Trent

        You can’t equate living in a single family house in Minneapolis or St. paul with the suburbs especially places like EP. People who chose to live in Mpls in a single family house like the walkable neighborhood and access to busses parks etc…. but that doesn’t mean they want the density of Uptown on their block. Almost anyone who buys a house in Mpls could buy a bigger house, on a bigger yard, in the suburbs if that’s what they wanted, plus a riding lawn mower, but obviously moving is going the other direction.

        In summary, the “hey I want the city to change to be the way I want it to be and if you don’t like it move out” is a bad look if you are trying to tamp down the fears of homeowners that their neighborhoods are going to change far beyond what they would appreciate.

        1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

          And yet there is a trade-off to living in a walkable city. It will be harder to park and drive quickly. We need to make sure that Minneapolis and Saint Paul are embracing that legacy of walkable neighborhoods instead of watering them down to the point of inconsequence. Would we could return to the density that Minneapolis had in 1950, when it was truly a walkable transit-friendly place!

          1. Carol Becker

            I would challenge you on that. By 1950, transit ridership was plummeting. I can’t post the picture here but the decline was sizable and substantial, even though we were adding houses and people.

            Auto ownership was going through the roof as former service members came home, bought a house and bought a car. Again, I can’t post a picture given how this is set up but the upswing was substantial.

            Virtually all housing was built with a garage starting after WW1 and the post WW2 housing was no different. After WW2, the new housing we see in places like southern Minneapolis where there is what Judith Martin called “Suburban-in-City” development.

            We also see this in where commercial services buildings are located. Instead of great strips of commercial streets like Lake or Hennepin, we see node development at best. And no commercial neighborhood development at worst.

        2. Daniel HartigDaniel Hartig

          Interesting point on that. Where are these walkable neighborhoods? Is Camden walkable? Powderhorn? How far to the nearest grocery store for the average house in those neighborhoods?

          The density of ‘walkable’ depends on wealth. 10 housing units per hectare can support ‘walkable’ local business when median household income is in the 100k range; this is what you get in SW Minneapolis. But that same density (like in Powderhorn or Camden) does not get you ‘walkable’ when disposable income goes down. If you drop median income in half, disposable income drops even more, since housing and transportation costs suck up a larger percentage of the household budget.

          When you are saying you want a walkable neighborhood with single family housing, you are basically saying you want a neighborhood only for the rich. Because, unfortunately, the disposable income available to the working class does not allow for business survival at the residential density that single family homes with yards provides.

          I, too, would love to live in such a neighborhood; in fact I used to live in that neighborhood in Norfolk, VA (called Ghent). But I realize now that the price for such tree-lined, bar-filled perfection is the exclusion of 75% of the population that can’t afford it.

          I believe in Minneapolis For Everyone. Everyone must include those who make 25k a year and 50k per year as well as 100k+. For those people to enjoy the amenity rich neighborhoods that I can afford to enjoy, the city needs more areas of higher density at lower prices. That is why we should upzone the city.

          1. Jenny

            Thanks for this. I’ve never heard this idea that walkable depends on income. It makes perfect sense. Excellent point.

          2. ingrid

            and how has that worked in uptown and downtown and northeast and around the university? you keep offering up evidence as to why the plan will not work. how are you going to build affordable housing in near lake of the isles?

            1. Daniel HartigDaniel Hartig

              Very little of the housing that will be built under this plan will be affordable. If it costs 600k to build a fourplex, then you must rent the units for ~$1500 to post a profit. Whether or not that is affordable depends on your mileage; but for a one or two bedroom that isn’t super cheap.

              But what will happen is that the $1500 _will become_ affordable in 20-30 years, when inflation takes average rents in Minneapolis above that point.

              Building now will not generate a lot of cheap new housing. But, the only way to generate cheap housing in 30 years is to start now.

              1. ingrid

                ok. so the plan as written is bullcrap? it specifically talks about making housing more affordable and available to people of different economic classes all around the city. and the city wonders why people are critical of the plan. you are now openly advocating to harm existing voters today so that people who live here 20 plus years from now can rent a cheap apartment. and the plan offers no data that is what will happen. and the director of long term city planning has been quoted in the newspaper as saying this strategy has not worked in portland, san fran or anywhere else it was tried. what is the real aim?

    3. Jenny

      Carol: thanks for your post; it gave me a lot to think about. I also read your posts on the e-democracy site you referenced. While I agree that it is unfair that of the Pro 2040 camp to accuse the anti-plan side of racism; I notice that the first bullet point on your site accuses the 2040 plan of discrimination (although not racial discrimination). The rational in the “why we oppose” section does not match the reasoning that I hear mostly from the anti-plan side, which is some form of “protect what we have”.

      I understand why residents want to protect their idyllic neighborhoods; they’ve paid a hefty admission to access a rare quality of life. Does it matter that that it is built on a foundation of historical injustice? But what doesn’t share that foundation? More concerning is what maintains these neighborhoods –the regulatory capture that is SFH zoning. Neighborhoods have used the government to “pull up the treehouse ladder” by causing the government to exclude others from the good life by limiting supply and therefore increasing price. Should the machinery of government be used to reinforce the self-sorted homogeneous ‘clusters’ of privilege?

      If we agree that the hypothetical marginal 4-plex in South Minneapolis would be occupied, then the hypothetical occupant must have moved there to maximize their consumer surplus, either in the form of lower cost or another valuable benefit. Therefore, SFH zoning either prevents less expensive housing, or it prevents people from living in a place where they’d prefer to live. Either way, zoning law is being used to enrich current residents at the expense of potential future residents. This is an improper use of government power.

  12. Carol Becker

    Mr. Miller – thank you for the survey of the locations of our signs. We haven’t had that information previously as we just give the signs out but don’t stalk the people to find out where they live.

    Our position has nothing to do with keeping renters out. I have said over and over again, put new housing in existing walkable environments and at high frequency transit nodes throughout the City. You keep construing this as keeping people out but that is flat out wrong. I literally live a block and a half from two large apartment buildings. In my single family home “monoculture” in Cooper. Is it because it a block away instead of next to my house all the difference to you? All those people are my neighbors and my allies. We go to the same businesses and same parks. The difference is that all the people who live in the homes you want to bulldoze are my allies too.

    And yes, we don’t need to turn Uptown into Manhattan. There is a balance in everything. Housing is a penny that you spend once. There are other high frequency transit nodes besides just Uptown. And the environment is important too. We have a Shoreland Overlay plan to manage water quality and to also manage the experience of our parks. They should not just be for some large towers – they should also be there for everyone. Not just the rich.

  13. Serafina ScheelSerafina

    People who are opposed to allowing additional traditional housing forms among single-family homes keep asserting that it has nothing to do with keeping renters out. But that is the direct effect, just as Republican gerrymandering in Wisconsin and North Carolina and Texas has the effect of preventing Democrats from being elected. In a city that is majority renter, homeowners are saying, “No new rentals here; put them over there. We deserve to restrict desirable areas of the city for homeownership [and the few older rentals that survive].” Wide swaths of Minneapolis are currently prevented from creating the double and triple homes that were once prevalent. Whether or not that’s the intent, that’s the effect.

  14. Gus

    Hey, folks! First time commentor, long-time angry ranter.

    I object to the use of “bulldozing” The term is purposely trying to evoke an image of 1960s urban renewal. Anyone who’s watched a modern house demolition (“scrape off”) knows they typically use a back hoe. Can we please get our heavy equipment terminology correct?

    1. Carol Becker



      verb: bulldoze; 3rd person present: bulldozes; past tense: bulldozed; past participle: bulldozed; gerund or present participle: bulldozing

      clear (ground) or destroy (buildings, trees, etc.) with a bulldozer.
      “developers are bulldozing the site”

      synonyms: demolish, knock down, tear down, pull down, flatten, level, raze, clear

      “they plan to bulldoze the park”

      use insensitive force when dealing with (someone or something).

      “she believes that to build status you need to bulldoze everyone else”

      synonyms: bully, browbeat, intimidate, dragoon, domineer, hector, pressurize, tyrannize, strong-arm, push around, walk all over; More

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