Yesterday I read a proposal for an amendment to the Minneapolis zoning code
that has me deeply concerned.  The proposal, by Council Member Lilligren,
would decrease the required lot size for duplexes from the current 10,000.
For example, you cannot build a duplex on an 8,000 square foot lot now, but
you could if this amendment passed, provided that the lot is already inside
an R2B zoned district.  In other words, in neighborhoods already possessing
duplexes, you would be able to build even more duplexes.  If I read the text
correctly, the intent is to increase rental housing, possibly by as much as
50%, only in those neighborhoods already zoned for duplexes.  It implies
that the most egregious use could be to tear down two duplexes on 20,000
square feet to replace them with three duplexes.  The reason given in the
staff report is that Minneapolis needs more housing units to compete for
people moving to the metro area in the future.


The ordinance suggests that as new residents arrive in Minneapolis,
Lynnhurst and the rest of those communities in Southwest Minneapolis won't
have to absorb any new people because those communities are not zoned R2B
for duplexes.  So, let's compare Lynnhurst to SAENA (St. Anthony East
Neighborhood, where I live), and I don't mean to pick on Lynnhurst.  I just
don't remember the name of another neighborhood at the moment.  


As people arrive in Minneapolis from North Dakota (this is not intended as a
xenophobic diatribe, rather an anti-rental density diatribe) or where ever,
the housing stock in Lynnhurst will be stable.  Rising demand, stable
supply, their housing values will go up radically.  In SAENA, zoned for
duplexes already, we will potentially increase housing units.  Rising
demand, rising supply, flat housing prices.


This amendment is intended to "increase the amount of land supply available
for two-family dwelling, which is a housing type that provides significant
opportunities for home ownership while offering a potentially affordable
rental housing option in a relatively low density environment."  Increasing
concentrations of affordable housing can only ghettoize any community.  I
know from reading the Minneapolis Observer that Como has really struggled
with the decrease in owner-occupied housing.  I've spoken with lots of
people on the North side about their struggles, and it generally starts with
too much absentee landlord housing.  I don't have to share this concern with
anyone in my own neighborhood, SAENA.  If this were an amendment intended to
apply city-wide to expand such units throughout the city and increase
density on a citywide level I would be more supportive.  However, looking at
the map provided to me, the only communities affected are those already
mired in rental housing.  I know that Marcy-Holmes is also really struggling
with an increase in student housing, and Hawthorne and McKinley have hardly
enough homeowners to struggle for the integrity of their communities.  


Has anybody else read this stuff closely enough to form an opinion?  I'm
curious if I'm missing something, or if I have a reason to be concerned.  I
would appreciate any feedback on the list, to correct a misplaced opinion,
or confirmation that I should be concerned.  At this point I would certainly
like to advocate that folks take a close look at the proposed amendments,
because public hearings are due on the 20th.


I've included the text of one letter on my blog. <> .  I'll
see if I can find some of the related materials.  


Last night I spoke with one landlord who I trust a fair amount, and she
agreed that there may be a need to reduce the required lot size, but only in
the context of overall neighborhood density.  This amendment is asking
already dense communities to become more densely populated.  Instead, this
amendment should be considered only in conjunction with an amendment that
opens up duplex housing to more communities, and caps the number of rental
households in all communities.


What have folks got to say?


Jeremy Wieland

St. Anthony East

Circulation Director

Utne magazine

1624 Harmon Place

Minneapolis, MN  55403

612.338.5040 x326



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