Minneapolis regulations need your input ASAP

Neighbors for More Neighbors organized in support of Minneapolis 2040 because we believe in building enough homes for everyone in our City. Part of the promise of Minneapolis 2040 is now at risk – and we need you to act!

Last month, as part of Minneapolis’ efforts to update zoning rules to match the guidelines in Minneapolis 2040, the city announced a set of proposed zoning changes and began public comment period for its draft. These regulations govern things like building height, floor area ratio, lot sizes and setbacks from property lines.

Unfortunately, the draft regulations will not remove unnecessary barriers to building abundant homes, one critical part of addressing our housing shortage and the high cost of a home. 

Take Action ASAP:  Testify at the Planning Commission on Monday November 9 at 4:30pm (in two days!) Sign up hereCan’t testify? Send an email by noon on Monday. Read on for the full details…… 

Why We’re Concerned

First, the draft regulations propose an affordability premium, which is an incentive that allows a bigger building if affordable homes are included. That’s good! BUT, the premium stops short of Interior 1 or Interior 2, the whitest, wealthiest neighborhoods that are also the ones most likely to have used covenants to exclude people of color, covenants which were part of earning the “Best” label on redlining maps, and which brought preferential bank treatment. This created our city’s racially concentrated areas of affluence. Affordable homes should be incentivized in all zones, including the whitest and wealthiest.

Second, stringent restrictions on various types of building size and height limits add roadblocks to building more homes. These are rules around floor-area-ratio, building height, and minimum lot sizes. People do what is easier, and it’s easier to follow the rules and build large, expensive single family homes than more affordable duplexes and triplexes. You can find our full list of specific changes we’d like to see at the bottom of this email.

Triplexes were identified in Minneapolis 2040 as an affordable way to add accessible family-sized homes. The layers and layers of rules in the current built form draft makes them hard to build in many parts of the city. Every rule, every approval to navigate, adds complexity. This complexity discourages builders – including affordable nonprofit builders – from creating enough homes for our neighbors. We are disappointed that many existing buildings we love in our neighborhoods, buildings that house many of our neighbors affordably and that many people describe as beautiful, would be impossible to build under these proposed rules.

Minneapolis is held up as a national model for zoning reform. Minneapolis has received accolades for showing how housing policy is key to addressing racial disparities and housing affordability – we need to make sure the implementation lives up to the praise.

How to help

  1. Make a plan to give public testimony at the planning commission Monday, November 9 at 4:30pm (sign up).
  2. Using the talking points below, send the Minneapolis planning commission a short email by noon on Monday, Nov 9 asking for changes to the current built form draft.
  3. Share your perspective on the city’s public comment webpage before November 9.

Talking Points

  • We need to extend the affordability premium to ALL Interior zones, promoting affordability housing across the entire city, not just where we already have the most affordable housing.
  • Encouraging affordability in only some parts of the city is a form of exclusionary zoning.
  • We need to allow “stepped” or “tiered” floor-area-ratio in Interior 1 and Interior 2. The current rules around FAR will encourage McMansions. “Stepped” or “tiered” FAR will allow a slightly bigger building if it provides more homes, making it easier to build multi-unit housing and triplexes in these zones. This will encourage builders to create less expensive homes AND more homes.
  • We need to reduce or eliminate minimum lot size requirements. 14,000 lots in Minneapolis are so small you would NOT be allowed to add housing to them under the current draft rules, without confusion and navigating an onerous process. This prevents building more homes on lots that used to have homes. The small, “non-conforming” lots are also concentrated in neighborhoods that were historically lower-income and redlined. Setting the minimum lot size so large benefits the wealthiest neighborhoods that have few or no smaller lots, and maintains exclusionary zoning practices.

Planning Commission Contact:

Jason Wittenberg (Manager of Code Development, City Planning Department) Jason.Wittenberg@minneapolismn.gov

Find yourcity council member here:

Kevin Reich (Northeast, Ward 1) kevin.reich@minneapolismn.gov (612) 673-220

Cam Gordon (Ward 2, Author of Policy change) cam.gordon@minneapolismn.gov (612) 673-2202

Steve Fletcher (Downtown, Ward 3) steve.fletcher@minneapolismn.gov 612-673-2203

Phillipe Cunningham (North, Ward 4) phillipe.cunningham@minneapolismn.gov (612) 673-2204

Jeremiah Ellison (North, west of downtown, Ward 5) jeremiah.ellison@minneapolismn.gov 612-673-2205

Jamal Osman (South of Downtown, Ward 6) jamal.osman@minneapolismn.gov 612-673-2206

Lisa Goodman (West-Mid, Ward 7) lisa.goodman@minneapolismn.gov 612-673-2207

Andrea Jenkins (Along 35W, Ward 8) andrea.jenkins@minneapolismn.gov 612-673-2208

Alondra Cano (Central, Ward 9) alondra.cano@minneapolismn.gov 612-673-2209

Lisa Bender (Lakes Area,Ward 10) lisa.bender@minneapolismn.gov 612-673-2210

Jeremy Schroeder (South,Ward 11) jeremy.schroeder@minneapolismn.gov 612-673-2211

Andrew Johnson (Minnehaha Falls area,Ward 12) andrew.johnson@minneapolismn.gov 612-673-2212

Linea Palmisano (Southwest, Ward 13) linea.palmisano@minneapolismn.gov 612-673-2213

Full List of N4MN Recommended Changes

  • Extend the affordability premium into all zones, including Interior 1 and Interior 2
  • Affordability incentives should apply to any Interior 1 project with 3+ units, and any Interior 2 project with 4-6 units.
  • Increase the maximum FAR for duplexes and triplexes and tiering FAR based on the number of proposed units.
  • Eliminate the minimum lot size for previously developed lots and set a lot size minimum of 3500 sq. ft. for undeveloped lots.