City council set for final vote on Minneapolis 2040 plan

Council members will vote to ratify the comprehensive development plan on Friday.
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After years of discussions and plan-making, council members will vote to give final approval to the contentious Minneapolis 2040 development plan.

The council approved the comprehensive plan last December by a 12-1 vote, and passed it onto the Metropolitan Council for comment.

The Metro Council has since given its approval to the plan, bringing it back for a final vote at Friday's Minneapolis City Council meeting.

While covering a huge range of plans for the city's development, the biggest change and the one that generated the most controversy is bringing an end to single family zoning restrictions.

Under the plan, the construction of duplexes and triplexes will be permitted on all residential plots across the city, while those on transit routes will be opened up for multi-family developments of between 3-6 stories tall.

Furthermore, the plan scraps the off-street minimum parking requirements for multi-family housing that had been seen as a barrier to the construction of affordable housing, and also includes a new rule that apartment developments must make at least 10 percent of units affordable.

The development plan is designed to increase the supply of affordable accommodation in the city, whether to buy or to rent, and brings an end to the historic prioritization of single-family housing that critics say has roots in racism and classism.

As this Atlantic piece explains, single family zoning became more common after the Supreme Court ruled against the segregation of residential areas in 1917, with single family home neighborhoods serving to exclude those on low incomes, which were predominantly African American families.

Supporters of the 2040 plan say it will not only increase affordable housing and reduce racial inequality, but increase transit use and reduce carbon emissions, as those looking for affordable property can stay in the city rather than look to the suburbs.

It comes amid a shift in property trends among younger professionals as described in this Star Tribune piece, who are looking for smaller, more manageable properties with good access to local amenities, as opposed to the sprawling single family homes found in the outer Twin Cities.

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Opposition to the plan

But the pushback to the 2040 plan has been particularly strong in the affluent southwest neighborhoods, whose council member Linea Palmisano was the only member to vote against the plan.

The movement against the plan stoked fears that neighborhoods will be "bulldozed," though this has already been an issue in southwest Minneapolis, where old single family homes have been torn down and replaced by larger new homes.

The anti-2040 movement argues that it's developers and corporations who stand to benefit from the loosening of zoning restrictions, as they have the money to buy up land and turn properties into rental units.

It also claims the policy is agist by prioritizing transit use, biking and walking over car use, saying that some have mobility issues that require the use of a personal vehicle.

Interviewed this week by MPR, Palmisano says she still has concerns over the impact it will have on affordable starter homes, but says that the projected impact of the 2040 plan will likely not be as good, or as bad, as everyone says.

"I don't think that this plan is going to be the savior of the future of Minneapolis. And I don't think it's going to be our demise," she said.

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