- Minneapolis has released the final draft of its comprehensive plan, Minneapolis 2040. The lengthy plan — about 500 pages — covers the city's governance over the next 20 years on topics including technology and innovation, infrastructure, transportation, housing and racial equity.
- The controversial issue that prompted the most notable draft changes is the suggestion to drastically increase housing density by allowing fourplexes throughout the entire city — currently, about two-thirds of the city is zoned for single-family homes. That has been reduced to three units per building in the final draft, along with a requirement that the buildings meet the height restrictions of a single-family home, WCCO reports. Proposed building height along high-frequency transit corridors has been reduced from six stories to four in northern and southern parts of the city. The plan also includes greater protections for low-income renters and works to promote racial equity in housing.
- The document also presents a multi-pronged approach to cut vehicle emissions such as adopting electric vehicles and implementing charging infrastructure requirements, offering more reliable and attractive public transit, increasing options for safe bicycling and boosting shared mobility options that support a car-free lifestyle.
City employees say they have listened to more than 10,000 public comments during the two-year comprehensive plan update process and have incorporated feedback into the final draft.
The drastic density increase was the most hotly contested issue during the public comment process, and a city council member even sharply criticized the idea. Much like a highly contentious California bill that would have drastically increased housing density near transit corridors — but was ultimately was killed — Minneapolis residents worried about how an influx of people would negatively impact their neighborhoods.
However, the idea to increase housing density stems from an important need for greater housing capacity, which is evident not just in Minneapolis but throughout the country. Rezoning single-family neighborhoods to allow for triplexes doesn't simply mean razing existing buildings to build new ones, either. The restructuring means homeowners can easily increase housing capacity just by renting converted garages or basements as apartments.
The plan also provides guidance on less controversial topics such as increasing equity in housing and service distribution, as well as increasing the city's ongoing march toward greater environmental friendliness.
The document drafters included particularly rigorous measures to reduce vehicle emissions. Four years ago, Minneapolis passed an 80% reduction goal by 2050, but the comprehensive plan estimates that a 37% reduction in automobile trips is necessary to achieve that goal — even with the adoption of electric cars.
The plan goes before the city's planning commission at the end of this month, and the Minneapolis City Council is expected to vote on the plan in December before submitting it to the Metropolitan Council.