I have a suggestion for anyone doubting the cataclysmic effects Minneapolis 2040 would have on Southwest Minneapolis. Drive down Bryant Avenue from 50th to Lake Street and have a look around. What you see might just open your eyes, change your tune, and flip your port-o-hammock.
I was driving down Bryant Avenue the other day and witnessed a truly tragic scene. I usually don’t take Bryant, but with geniuses at MNDOT organizing their construction on 35W solely to ruin my commute, I decided to take an alternate route from my home in Armatage to my spanioplecture session (shout out to Uptown Whole Life Spanio Lab! Kelly, you’re the best!). Prior to this trip, I was completely indifferent to municipal housing and development plans – I’m comfortable, so why should I care? But as I drove down that street on that warm summer day, I saw things that prolapsed my pores and ultimately made me a part of the #Resistance2040.
As I drove from 50th to Lake Street I was subjected to the type of pure urban obscenity that occurs when single family houses mix with apartment buildings. There were duplexes, triplexes, plexplexes. They were all just nestled right in among innocent single-family homes. And it was awful. Anyone who has taken Bryant through South Minneapolis knows what I now newly knew: it’s the very definition of urban hellscape. It’s like if Kowloon and Cidade de Deus had a baby and fed it nothing but super-salty pork rinds from Revival so that it was very bloated and full of regret and wondering why this is even an appetizer they’d serve people. This is what happens when developers are allowed to work their evil, corrupt developer magic among that most important and sacred type of property, the single-family home. As this new reality crept into my head I began to weep for the put-upon single-family home owners of Bryant Avenue, some of whom still courageously kept up their gardens while knowing full well that there were renters living nearby, lurking in long shadows cast by two story brick buildings, waiting for the opportunity to spread their foul litter and the stench of a life without real estate equity. How brave. Single family home owners truly are cut from a different cloth.
It was a hot day. But after this realization, I couldn’t stop shivering. Because I knew that if Minneapolis 2040 was allowed to pass without being whittled into nothingness by bitter complaints and hyper-vigilant concerns about important considerations like “Who’s going to pay for new garbage cans?” or “Where will I park my cars that I don’t park in my two car garage because my two car garage is full of boxes?” we’d soon all be forced to live on streets that, aside from having drastically less traffic, would be indistinguishable from a dystopic garbage rut like Bryant Avenue South.
And there were so many children. I nearly crashed four or five times after their joyful summertime noises made me wince so much I couldn’t see the road clearly. Renters are mostly children (and poor people), and if we build more space for them, won’t our already-underfunded schools be driven even further to ruin? My community has already had to lobby MPS to reallocate resources away from the filthy renter kids in other neighborhoods to the important schools in Southwest Minneapolis. I know, I know, it seems like a selfish, and frankly evil, thing to do. Believe me, it took several three-merlot nights before I could look myself in the mirror afterwards.
If there are more children in the city, will I have to spend even more bitter nights at school board meetings advocating for the children in my community over the children in the rest of the city? And if, as clearly outlined in the plan, the city confiscates all of the single-family homes in my neighborhood and gives them to developers to build fourplexes for disgusting renters, won’t my neighborhood be overrun with the children of landless families? How exactly do Mayor Frey and Minneapolis 2040 supporters expect me to explain all of these propertyless families to my children? If my neighborhood is full of renters, it will be much more difficult for my community to siphon off general education funding to correctly allocate it to the children of the most important single-family home owners in the city because any funding we receive as a community will be spread among home owners and renters. I fear it may become essentially impossible to use neighborhood as a proxy for race and socioeconomic status in the targeted dispensation of scarce public resources. Needless to say, this will be especially true once single-family homes become extinct.
And despite what you may infer from literally everything about how I live my life and make political decisions, I care deeply about equity. Minneapolis 2040 doesn’t do anything to address disparities (I’m assuming. I haven’t read it). Will building fourplexes be more effective than simply doing nothing at solving the intergenerational cycle of poverty and neglect that is the hallmark of Minneapolis’s history of racist housing policy? My neighbors on Nextdoor.com don’t think so. I agree with their sage wisdom. As someone who cares deeply about equity in housing, I just can’t support a plan that my neighbors claim doesn’t do anything over the status quo, which definitively doesn’t do anything. If we’re going to do nothing, let’s do nothing right.
Trauma has a way of shaping how we interact with the world and what we’re willing to fight for. The trauma I endured that afternoon on Bryant has awoken this sleeping giant. No longer will I sit idly by and await the disgusting descent into socialism exemplified by reduced zoning restrictions in low density residential areas. This Southwest Minneapolis resident is reporting for duty in the war on 2040. Sorry I’m late. Where do I get a lawn sign?
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