Zoning in Minneapolis

Parks, Minneapolis Public Schools, Density, Zoning, etc.
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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby seanrichardryan » July 29th, 2016, 10:39 am

I see they recommended upzoning my old house.
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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby twincitizen » July 29th, 2016, 11:39 am

I'm fine with downzoning of existing, unlikely to be redeveloped properties in the neighborhood interior, especially if we're talking about mostly meaningless changes like R6 to R5, or R4 to R3, etc. I wish it would go hand in hand with upzoning the commercial/transit corridors to C3A (i.e. the Frank-Lyn site, etc.)

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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby RailBaronYarr » July 29th, 2016, 12:18 pm

Define "unlikely to be redeveloped"? We have such few parcels zoned R4+ in the Wedge without something of equal massing already on it. Yet we've seen 2008 Bryant, Motiv, the Dupont Rocket House, and (outside the Wedge) 3621 Bryant. The latter of which was all but by-right (1 ft setback variance) under R4 but wouldn't have met FAR, lot minimum per unit, and height max requirements in R3 (I contend the difference between R3/R4, and R4/R5 is greater than people think). In any case, there is appetite for 1-3 lot development on the inside of the Wedge. It's just that 95% of it was zoned R2B or if higher, matching the existing use making redevelopment unlikely. This zoning change closes that gap to 100% rather than making it easier for small, local developers to build small, cheap housing.

I think the CPED report is missing a critical bit of information: what's the development capacity within the Wedge if we do this? Not an economics-based model, just a square footage based on zoning do - total FAR allowed vs what's there, with existing and proposed zoning.

Of all the neighborhoods in the city, the Wedge is the one where focusing development on transit corridors as city policy makes the least sense. It's narrow at the top, and it's literally surrounded on all sides by relatively good transit (plus the 17 cutting through the middle!). You've got a bike boulevard cutting up through the middle of it. You've got 26th/28th St protected bike lanes planned, not to mention the Greenway. There is not a point in the Wedge more than a 5 minute walk from transit. There is no social benefit to directing growth to a certain node or corridor here in the hopes that people will be more likely to bike/walk/bus - they will do it wherever they are in the Wedge.

We know what people think about 5-6 story developments along transit corridors. Why are we catering to them with this? Will it make them less likely to file appeal after appeal for the big projects?

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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby min-chi-cbus » July 29th, 2016, 1:01 pm

twincitizen wrote:I'm fine with downzoning of existing, unlikely to be redeveloped properties in the neighborhood interior, especially if we're talking about mostly meaningless changes like R6 to R5, or R4 to R3, etc. I wish it would go hand in hand with upzoning the commercial/transit corridors to C3A (i.e. the Frank-Lyn site, etc.)
My thoughts exactly -- at least for the city overall (not necessarily just the Wedge)! Is the city making it HARDER to redevelop/redefine smaller lots/projects? That would be very frustrating!

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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby twincitizen » July 29th, 2016, 2:04 pm

"Unlikely to be redeveloped" = the vast majority of occupied, well-kept properties, including everything from single-fam to duplexes/triplexes to 1960s 2.5-story walkups. Now, of course, you can't selectively downzone well-kept properties and upzone likely teardowns, so my statement is inherently problematic and I wouldn't actually propose that obviously illegal spot-zoning.

I guess I was just trying to point out that >90% of currently existing residential properties are very unlikely to be redeveloped. Not counting the early 1960s boom of 2.5-story walkups replacing houses, more recent history likely shows that 99% of redevelopment occurs:
+ on surface parking lots & vacant/former industrial land
+ teardown of small residential properties located on commercial corridors
+ teardown of vacant or undersized commercial properties

I guess what I'm saying is that arguing over zoning designations for properties that are very unlikely to be torn down is kind of meaningless. Like we'd be arguing over some numbers and letters on a map rather than actual, likely-to-occur real world changes.

EDIT: For the record, I'm aware that I'm not putting together a cogent argument for any particular solution. I'll stop now.

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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby bivaly » July 29th, 2016, 2:07 pm

The Council has to get rid of those residential density requirements for R3 and R4. Schiff managed to eliminate them for R5 and R6 as a last hurrah before leaving the Council but kept them for R3 (1,500sqft/DU) and R4 (1,50sqft/DU). I can think of one surface parking lot in East Calhoun that'll be very difficult to redevelop unless that's changed or they rezone.

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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby FISHMANPET » July 29th, 2016, 2:15 pm

If the zoning of a well maintained unlikey to be redeveloped property doesn't matter, why not just zone everything R6. The urge to downzone indicates that there is some demand that downzoning supporters are trying to squash. Regulations should have a reason for existing and serve some purpose. The more restrictive the zoning the more justification there has to be for that restriction. If these properties aren't going to be redeveloped, what's the harm in R6?

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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby RailBaronYarr » July 29th, 2016, 2:27 pm

twincitizen wrote:I guess I was just trying to point out that >90% of currently existing residential properties are very unlikely to be redeveloped. Not counting the early 1960s boom of 2.5-story walkups replacing houses, more recent history likely shows that 99% of redevelopment occurs:
+ on surface parking lots & vacant/former industrial land
+ teardown of small residential properties located on commercial corridors
+ teardown of vacant or undersized commercial properties
We hashed this out in the Hennepin-south-of-Lake commercial discussion, but... Do you think there's a likelihood that 99% of redevelopment occurs on those sites because 95% of parcels zoned R5+ in our city are on those type of parcels? It's been city policy since 1975 to downzone everywhere not on a major commercial corridor/node.

I guess it's at least a liiiiiiiittle fishy that between the 1920s and 1950 the Wedge saw a bunch of older homes getting a bit run-down convert up to duplexes/triplexes, some torn down for multi-family, then between 1950 and 1974 tons of older houses, duplexes, rooming houses, etc were torn down for 2.5 story development in the middle of the neighborhood and it all magically stopped in 1975. Right? I'm not disagreeing that construction economics may have shifted since 1975 toward smaller stuff being less feasible, favoring the big stuff on the fringes. But even then, that's not an argument *against* still allowing the slightly smaller stuff it in the neighborhood interior. Lander and Turkey Guys have shown there is a market for small lot, parking-lite development. We squashed all the know-how and financing relationships decades ago (right in the middle of mass suburbanization when demand as at its lowest). Is there actually harm in these Rocket Houses or similar developments, even if they're unlikely?

Maybe I'm crazy and regulations have no impact on the market and renters really like paying for structured parking in their rent living right next to 25,000 cars and buses a day rather than at 25th and Dupont. I sure as hell know I passed on a house for sale right on Hennepin.

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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby MNdible » July 29th, 2016, 2:46 pm

RailBaronYarr wrote:I guess it's at least a liiiiiiiittle fishy that between the 1920s and 1950 the Wedge saw a bunch of older homes getting a bit run-down convert up to duplexes/triplexes, some torn down for multi-family, then between 1950 and 1974 tons of older houses, duplexes, rooming houses, etc were torn down for 2.5 story development in the middle of the neighborhood and it all magically stopped in 1975. Right? I'm not disagreeing that construction economics may have shifted since 1975 toward smaller stuff being less feasible, favoring the big stuff on the fringes.
Without engaging in the main thrust of your argument, I'll note that ADA regulations made the classic 2.5 story layout illegal. The more important thing that happened is that at some point during the 1980's, the houses in neighborhoods like this stopped being considered unfashionable dinosaurs to be carved up or torn down, and instead were considered attractive historical assets that upper-middle class people would want to restore and invest in. That change in thinking turned the economics on its head.

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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby FISHMANPET » July 29th, 2016, 3:06 pm

So what exactly was so special about the 2.5 story walkup? I realize as they exist they're not accessible, but what drove them a half story underground vs just being 3 stories tall? I guess I've been in some pretty big 2.5 story walkups, so there some other requirement that triggered at 3 stories on large buildings? Anyway I ask because I have very limited understanding, but John Anderson has a lot of understanding in this area, and according to him a 3 story building like this meets requirements with only a single staircase and no elevator: https://rjohnthebad.wordpress.com/2015/ ... -building/

Obviously you don't need commercial but if you replace the ground floor commercial with more accessible residential units you should be good right? Why can't we build these all over?

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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby RailBaronYarr » July 29th, 2016, 3:20 pm

MNdible wrote:Without engaging in the main thrust of your argument, I'll note that ADA regulations made the classic 2.5 story layout illegal. The more important thing that happened is that at some point during the 1980's, the houses in neighborhoods like this stopped being considered unfashionable dinosaurs to be carved up or torn down, and instead were considered attractive historical assets that upper-middle class people would want to restore and invest in. That change in thinking turned the economics on its head.
That's fine, and yet there are still homes (some owned by commercial landlords) that deteriorate because people can't maintain them. I walk by plenty in CARAG. Every single one of the single lot Turkeyplexes replaced an old dinosaur. Combining enough commercial properties on major transit corridors to get a parcel big enough to allow for these six-stick buildings isn't cheap or easy, either.

I literally cannot wait for 50s-70s walkups to be considered attractive historic assets with people buying them, combining units into swanky 2-3BR condos and selling them for top dollar.

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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby MNdible » July 29th, 2016, 3:34 pm

I don't exactly know the answer to your question, but my understanding is that the 2.5 story walk-up was meeting some sort of a sweet spot between the code and economics. Whenever a particular built form becomes dominant (see the 5 over 1 building type so popular now), it's almost always because somebody has figured out a clever way to align what the code allows/requires with what the economy (residential demand, construction efficiencies, and land costs) will support.

You'll note that the John Anderson design does require sprinkler coverage, which isn't really a deal killer, and it does carefully thread the needle on a couple of important code points. So, anyway, the fact that we aren't building these like crazy either means that not enough people have figured out this option yet, or that the size/scale of this type no longer aligns well with land costs and the risk and hassle that comes along with being a developer.

An aside: although I can't say for certain, everything I've read leads me to believe that the builders of the walk-ups were buying their land cheap cheap cheap by today's standards.

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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby Anondson » August 19th, 2016, 10:37 am

Kinda bringing this more generally than Minneapolis alone, but maybe moving in the direction more towards Japanese zoning could be a strategy?

http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalr ... ystem.html

While maybe not putting this at a national level, like Japan, but moving zoning to a higher level than city-based, and more towards regulating the "nuisance" factor.

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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby min-chi-cbus » August 19th, 2016, 1:12 pm

I like that model -- promotes flexibility, removes barriers for developers, yet achieves similar results in terms of avoiding bad zoning mixes.

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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby RailBaronYarr » August 22nd, 2016, 12:40 pm

Maybe Minneapolis has too many zones relative to the Japanese model, but don't we already have that in practice? All R-zones above single family allow 1-2 family structures, all C-zones allow single fam/multi-fam development. Only OR1 allows them by-right (OR2/3 only if they're already built). Downtown districts basically call for higher density than single-fam (only allowing 1-4 residential unit buildings if part of a mixed-use structure), and Industrial doesn't allow them outright (but I'm guessing a variance or re-zone would not be hard to come by in most cases). But my point is that

It's probably true that suburbs get more restrictive in what they allow by zone, but the ability to build less-intense/nuisance buildings in higher categories isn't really the major feature of Japanese zoning IMO. It really comes from:
- Allowing small-scale commercial or office even in the lowest SFR zones
- Allowing commercial (shops and restaurant) uses up to ~1,300 sqft in the second lowest low-rise residential zone
- Generally, cities zone for much more of the mid-rise+ zones as a percent of their city's land area, and far further into neighborhoods than we do in America
- The presence of a much higher level of government in pushing the previous bullet as a means of promoting construction (jobs) and affordability by taking a broader view than a neighborhood, or even an entire city, would otherwise. The equivalent of the State of MN (or lesser, the Met Council) stepping in and doing what suburbanites complain about all the time and actually forcing cities to accept lots and lots of medium-to-high density zones.

Anyway, just my take. There's obviously a lot more demand for urban living because Japan actually tolls their highways, provides insanely good local and regional transit (some of it privately operated), require people with cars to have proof of parking, etc etc etc. Add in that a flat-lined national population is dealing with a flatlining economy and people are flocking to major cities in droves for work and culture (building on top of decades of dense city-building). So there's simply more demand for smaller, car-free city living than here, and their planning reflects that. Even still, holding all those things constant, Japan has a much looser regulatory regime than pretty much any US city.

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Anondson
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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby Anondson » August 26th, 2016, 11:20 am

The Minneapolis Planning Commission voted to expand the Pedestrian Overlay along Central.

http://finance-commerce.com/2016/08/min ... ntral-ave/

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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby KML_1981 » November 18th, 2016, 12:26 pm

Great article in Minnpost today:

"Growing pains: As Minneapolis pushes for greater housing density, more neighborhoods push back"

https://www.minnpost.com/politics-polic ... hborhoods-

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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby twincitizen » January 13th, 2017, 11:48 am

Some changes/clarifications proposed to side and rear yard setbacks: http://www.minneapolismn.gov/www/groups ... 191985.pdf

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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby mattaudio » January 13th, 2017, 12:14 pm

Speaking of setbacks... There must be something that results in unused front yards on apartment complexes, right? It seems like most new apartment buildings not in a designated commercial corridor have this setback. And it also seems like these setbacks are usually an unused waste of land.
Examples:
https://goo.gl/maps/BgctoUBEuuH2
https://goo.gl/maps/Dryux4BRNT12
https://goo.gl/maps/MUyhvvrHZM62
https://goo.gl/maps/42g5ZjSAJu22

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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby seanrichardryan » January 13th, 2017, 12:36 pm

I don't consider landscaping to be 'unused'.
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