Map of the Day: Substandard Lot Sizes in Minneapolis

There are more than 14,000 residential lots in Minneapolis that are smaller than what is currently required to build on per the current zoning code. Now, this is a messy statement. There are multiple minimum lot sizes (5,000 square feet, 6,000 square feet, and a large lot zone where the number is based on the size of nearby lots). These lots are generally also legal to build on, if it was legal to build on when it was platted.

However, our zoning code is a statement of our values. Any time we make a special exception to a policy for someone who meets special standards, it’s special treatment and implies it’s less than normal or approved of. Allowing special arrangements signals tolerance, not welcome. (Consider some parallel examples: Does a group meal proactively plan to accommodate people with dietary restrictions, or do they have to ask for an accommodation? Does a post use alt-text for accessibility, or does the reader have to recruit help? Are all religious holidays blocked out on meeting calendars, or do non-Christians have to flag them for coworkers?)

I was curious where they are. Because every Minneapolis map is a redlining map, I wanted to see if they, too, are a redlining map. An advocate ally made this map to test it out. It’s not clear that it is, or that it isn’t.

Map of Minneapolis with a redlining overlay and a dot showing every substandard lot
Redlining overlay + residential lots smaller than the minimum lot size stated in the zoning code

I see several patterns:

  • Fewest small lots in the greenlined parts of southwest
  • East-west strips of small lots capping blocks
  • Scattered lots in older neighborhoods, and big strips in 1930s neighborhoods

What patterns do you see in this map?

How would you suggest Minneapolis reflect its values through minimum zoning code minimum lot size regulations?

About Janne Flisrand

Janne Flisrand spends her time thinking about how people interact with the space around them. Why do they (or don't they) walk or bike or shop somewhere? How do spaces feel? Why do people sit here and not there? Why bus instead of bike, bike instead of drive? What sorts of spaces build community, and what sorts kill it? Can spaces build civic trust and engagement?

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