Minneapolis’s Residential Upzoning Risks Unintended Consequences: Alissa Luepke Pier

Recently, a few strategically positioned, sympathetic urban journalists have begun lauding the city of Minneapolis for spearheading a “breakthrough new trend" to address the affordability of urban housing: the elimination of single-family zoning, in favor of by-right density in residential neighborhoods. As the California legislature debates the merits of statewide blanket upzoning and greater density by right, TPR spoke to Alissa Luepke Pier, an AIA-honored architect and Minneapolis City Planning Commission Vice President, about her city’s recent “bold” decision. She shares that the city’s “experiment" has not been fully examined, noting a number of unintended consequences that could accompany the sweeping planning decision. She is most concerned that the City Council’s decision could encourage land speculation by global investment firms and might well undermine the fabric of the very low-income communities of color its unprecedented provisions aim to assist.

Minneapolis is now being cited by the New York Times and West Coast YIMBYs as the city that’s “boldly” tackling the housing crisis and inequality by ending single-family zoning. What’s the context for those news reports?

Alissa Luepke Pier: What those headlines are referring to is the latest version of the city’s comprehensive plan. Every 10 years, the city is required to adopt a comprehensive plan that is approved by the Metropolitan Co