Minneapolis 2040 plan continues to divide residents over housing

An audience member holds up a sign.
An audience member holds up a sign Wednesday night during the Minneapolis City Council's public hearing on the city's 2040 comprehensive plan.
Peter Cox | MPR News

The divisions between Minneapolis residents over how the city can grow and move forward continued into a final public hearing before the City Council Wednesday, as around 120 people shared strong views.

The Minneapolis 2040 is the city's vision for growth over the coming decades. The most divisive issue remains housing, in particular how to create more affordable units as others worry about density and speculators.

"Affordable housing can be accomplished under the current zoning laws," said Clyde "Jake" Reber. "This plan is only written to benefit investors and builders."

That was a common refrain Wednesday night for many who spoke against the plan, which would allow triplexes to be built in any neighborhood, including those with mostly single-family homes.

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Scott Shaffer sees the city finally addressing a major problem.

"No one should exclude neighbors by prohibiting more affordable types of buildings," he said. "Zoning in Minneapolis and across the country was developed for racist purposes to control and segregate people of color, and dismantling that exclusionary zoning is a necessary step toward racial justice."

Tim Keane, a former city planner, said the plan is based on a hope that developers will build affordable housing rather than expensive units.

"The 2040 plan is a radical social engineering experiment without a shred of empirical data to support its shifting goals," he said.

There were other issues people raised — some want more setbacks to preserve green space on lots, while others want more environmentally friendly building requirements.

But for others, it comes down to a lack of affordable housing.

Blue Delliquanti, 28, serves on the South Uptown Neighborhood Association. She's a renter who isn't sure she'll ever be able to afford a house in her neighborhood.

"I'm only a few rent hikes away from being priced out of the neighborhood that I was elected to serve," she said. "We're facing housing and environmental crisis in Minneapolis and it's no longer appropriate to fuss over a neighborhood's character when new residents aren't able to stick around long enough to build their own character."

A City Council committee is expected to make amendments to the plan in late November. The final product is expected to be approved in early December.