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 Council. It’s a very extensive series of guidelines that shape the way we’ll build and recraft our zoning policies in order to create a more sustainable city for the decades to come.
One major element of our latest comprehensive plan, which was recently approved by City Council, is the universal upzoning of all formerly single-family and duplex lots to allow triplexes by right. If the plan is approved by the Metropolitan Council, Minneapolis will no longer have any single-family zoning.
To be clear, triplexes will not be the minimum density permitted on single-family lots; rather, anyone will be able to build up to a triplex on any single-family lot, regardless of context, lot size, or existing structures on the site. There will no longer be a situation in which a developer asks the city for a variance to create a triplex on a single-family lot, and the city has the option of saying no. Going forward, a triplex can be created on any residential lot in the city by right.
Read entire article HERE.
"Minneapolis’s Residential Upzoning Risks Unintended Consequences: Alissa Luepke Pier"; by Alissa Luepke Pier; The Planning Report; June 17, 2019 and insightnews.com; Jul 25, 2019