Christa Kelly, Staff Writer
The Minneapolis City Council on December 7th passed a landmark comprehensive plan meant to guide the city into the future. The plan, titled “Minneapolis 2040,” has been in the works for over two years and will direct Minneapolis in passing future legislation that “shapes how the city will grow and change,” according to the authors. The 2040 plan addresses a number of goals for the city but focuses on how to best manage and provide for a growing population.
This involves revamping housing laws, ensuring that jobs are accessible, providing a living wage, protecting the environment and working to prioritize early childhood development through education.
Though many aspects of the plan are new, the change in housing laws is creating a stir across the country. Under the new plan, neighborhoods zoned for single-family homes will now be able to house three families or become “triplexes.” The Minneapolis City Council insists that this is necessary. Affordable housing is scarce and hard to come by, and housing rates continue to rise. As the city grows, this problem will be exacerbated. Minneapolis will be the first major city to pass such legislation.
Lars Christiansen, professor of urban studies at Augsburg, expressed the significance of the 2040 plan. “It’s an important part of any city’s development,” he said. “The plan is made to reflect values that have emerged since the last plan.”
Professor Christiansen also believes that the new zoning laws will be an important step forward for the city, though he doesn’t think that it will have a large impact on Augsburg’s community. “I don’t think it’s a radical change for this neighborhood … It will just reinforce what we’re doing here.”
However, when asked what impact the zoning laws would have on homelessness, Christiansen indicated that there was a possibility that it could help. “There will be more opportunity for housing. More opportunity for housing means more opportunity for affordable housing … but … it’s multifaceted … it’s an important piece but it alone will not guarantee affordable housing.” In any case, Christiansen notes that “it will be a model. Cities look at each other … It will generate national attention.”
While the plan was approved by the City Council, the Metropolitan Council has four months to suggest changes to the plan before they approve it.
“It’s an assertion of who we are and what we want,” Christiansen says. “A lot of the plan is … formalizing the values of the city … aspirations, so when you go to any legislation, you have a reference point to say it has to be consistent with that … You have to have that foundation to make specific policy changes.”
This article was originally published in the Dec. 14, 2018 issue.
Photo by Silvia Cha