Zoning in Minneapolis

Parks, Minneapolis Public Schools, Density, Zoning, etc.
amiller92
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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby amiller92 » August 28th, 2017, 2:28 pm

David Greene wrote:
August 28th, 2017, 1:49 pm
We do need tall buildings, but where should they go?
Shouldn't the starting point be: where someone wants to build them?
What would be the best way to house those people?
These are the questions markets are good at answering. To counter sounding like some sort of libertarian (which I'm not), a role of government is in correcting market failures - in this case, primarily preventing or internalizing undesirable externalities. How about a zoning code that stuck to that?
Is that sense of predictability valuable?
Honestly? I don't think they're much value there, in part because I think who lives next to you makes a whole lot more difference than what type of housing you live next to, and you have zero control over that. The nightmare neighbor could be moving in next week.

Also, if you live in a neighborhood where someone wants to invest in building larger structures, you're probably making out like a bandit on the value of your property.
But it seems like 90% of people being satisfied they were heard is achievable.
Funny, I was just having a twitter fight with someone who insisted that opposition to the 38th Ave. bike lane wasn't listened to. Four businesses managed to manipulate the process so that one of them could come out objectively ahead (got a loading zone where it used to be no-parking) and two others got to let customers park in the bike lane, but those ideologue bike people wouldn't compromise.
Take Bottineau LRT. All kinds of people were saying "Put it on Penn!" IIRC, many of those calls came from this very site. The neighborhoods were split 50/50. Organizers put together a series of really well-run meetings that included the county and lots of residents. People got up and said what they thought. Sometimes things got a little tense. The county people stumbled a bit but found their footing. In the end a decision was made and while not everyone was happy, I didn't get the sense that a large number of people stormed out declaring, "I wasn't heard!"
I was not particularly close to this, but I think this is a strange takeaway based on what I do know. One bit of which is that the Bottineau routing is a minor disaster. I take you to be saying, "sure, but it's a disaster the community wanted."

To me, outcomes matter, and a bad outcome from a good process is still a bad outcome, even if everyone felt good about the process.

ETA: Actually, I think there's more to the Bottineau comparison. As I understand it (maybe primarily from things you've said), incumbent residents on Penn didn't want the train there because it would require some takings and cause disruption during construction. If that's right, it's exactly the same issue we've got with restrictive zoning: it gives too much weight to the interests of incumbents and not enough weight to future value.

Bottineau could have been routed in a way that was a real investment in the community that served actual places and people and maybe helped spur development. Instead, it's mostly going to skirt a park, because there's no one to object to building it in a rail trench. That's bad.
But sometimes a slowdown can help bring people along.
But most of the time it's a tactic used to kill stuff.

David Greene
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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby David Greene » August 28th, 2017, 3:31 pm

amiller92 wrote:
August 28th, 2017, 2:28 pm
David Greene wrote:
August 28th, 2017, 1:49 pm
We do need tall buildings, but where should they go?
Shouldn't the starting point be: where someone wants to build them?
Not necessarily. Again, what, if any, restrictions should exist on what kinds of things we allow and where?

EOst
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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby EOst » August 28th, 2017, 7:23 pm

amiller92 wrote:
August 28th, 2017, 2:28 pm
ETA: Actually, I think there's more to the Bottineau comparison. As I understand it (maybe primarily from things you've said), incumbent residents on Penn didn't want the train there because it would require some takings and cause disruption during construction. If that's right, it's exactly the same issue we've got with restrictive zoning: it gives too much weight to the interests of incumbents and not enough weight to future value.

Bottineau could have been routed in a way that was a real investment in the community that served actual places and people and maybe helped spur development. Instead, it's mostly going to skirt a park, because there's no one to object to building it in a rail trench. That's bad.
The D2 alignment as proposed would've required the demolition of the entire east side of Penn Ave to widen the ROW. We can argue about how much ROW would be needed, but Penn's only 60 feet wide; the bare minimum required (~26' for LRT w/o a station, two 13' lanes (w/ gutter), two 6' sidewalks) already takes us over the current limits and results in a pretty terrible street for everyone. More realistically we're talking 20'+ of takings (and more at the stations, perhaps even requiring demolition of recent density like at Penn/Plymouth), which leaves North Minneapolis--a place with plenty of existing space and even desire for new investment--with a new 1.3 mi long continuous stretch of empty substandard lots on what was one of its main streets.

It's hyperbole to compare something to Rondo, but this would have been about as close as it gets in the modern world. Bottineau on Penn would destroy an existing African American neighborhood as surely as 94 did Rondo, and it would do so in your model by the fiat of (mostly) white people who decided that wasn't important compared to their transportation needs.

amiller92
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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby amiller92 » August 29th, 2017, 9:23 am

David Greene wrote:
August 28th, 2017, 3:31 pm
Not necessarily. Again, what, if any, restrictions should exist on what kinds of things we allow and where?
In the abstract, there should be none unless building it would cause an identifiable externality. Zone polluting/noisy industrial and commercial uses away from residential and leave it at that.

But people fear renters, believe density causes crime, worry about poor people and people of color moving into their neighborhoods, think they have a right to a view, think that multi-family housing will erode their property values, etc. so we get zoning that prevents all kinds of thing it shouldn't.

Heck, you're arguing for restriction about how you abstractly "feel" about four stories versus 6 stories. What possible reason is there for the law to hinge on your abstract feelings?

amiller92
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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby amiller92 » August 29th, 2017, 9:26 am

EOst wrote:
August 28th, 2017, 7:23 pm
The D2 alignment as proposed would've required the demolition of the entire east side of Penn Ave to widen the ROW. We can argue about how much ROW would be needed, but Penn's only 60 feet wide; the bare minimum required (~26' for LRT w/o a station, two 13' lanes (w/ gutter), two 6' sidewalks) already takes us over the current limits and results in a pretty terrible street for everyone. More realistically we're talking 20'+ of takings (and more at the stations, perhaps even requiring demolition of recent density like at Penn/Plymouth), which leaves North Minneapolis--a place with plenty of existing space and even desire for new investment--with a new 1.3 mi long continuous stretch of empty substandard lots on what was one of its main streets.
I'm not arguing for any particular alignment. I wasn't close enough to it to have a strong opinion. But looking at where it is going, it's clear that we are once again taking the path of least resistance at the cost of building something of marginal utility to the residents of Minneapolis.

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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby David Greene » August 29th, 2017, 10:02 am

amiller92 wrote:
August 29th, 2017, 9:23 am
David Greene wrote:
August 28th, 2017, 3:31 pm
Not necessarily. Again, what, if any, restrictions should exist on what kinds of things we allow and where?
In the abstract, there should be none unless building it would cause an identifiable externality. Zone polluting/noisy industrial and commercial uses away from residential and leave it at that.
Just to clarify, a Multifoods in the middle of Bancroft would be fine? What about a convention center? US Bank stadium?

How about a SFH at 7th and Nicollet?

And why limit where industrial can go? People can always choose not to live next to it. By limiting where industrial goes you're limiting the options people have to live close to work.

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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby VacantLuxuries » August 29th, 2017, 10:23 am

And why limit where industrial can go?
How about don't limit industrial itself, but put weight limits on the roads, strict air pollution guidelines, and other regulations. That way you're shaping the kinds of industrial developments that are allowed and it'll only make sense for certain, low impact industries.

amiller92
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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby amiller92 » August 29th, 2017, 10:31 am

David Greene wrote:
August 29th, 2017, 10:02 am
Just to clarify, a Multifoods in the middle of Bancroft would be fine? What about a convention center? US Bank stadium?

How about a SFH at 7th and Nicollet?
Is anyone proposing those things? Certainly the latter wouldn't last long, and, btw, probably wouldn't be prevented by zoning. And it's not zoning that would keep a Multifoods tower out of Bancroft either (the other two things you mentioned are public buildings that also wouldn't be prevented by zoning).

As we're having this conversation, I am looking out my office window at towers - sure, not Multifoods tall but towers still - in the middle of otherwise single family or small multi-family neighborhoods. Everything seems okay out there.

Although it is interesting that they're public (3rd Ave Tower, Horn Towers) or senior (Ebenezer) housing.
And why limit where industrial can go?
I didn't say limit where industrial can go. I said limit where polluting/noisy industrial can go.

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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby David Greene » August 29th, 2017, 12:17 pm

amiller92 wrote:
August 29th, 2017, 10:31 am
David Greene wrote:
August 29th, 2017, 10:02 am
And why limit where industrial can go?
I didn't say limit where industrial can go. I said limit where polluting/noisy industrial can go.
But why limit that? People can decide where to live.

Yes, I'm obviously pushing the limits of the conversation ("opening the Overton window," as Matt would say). Why are some uses desirable and others not? Because some group of people said so? Why is that any more valid than any other reason?

We each have our preferences. Some are more generally held than others. How do we decide which preferences matter? Who decides whether that is moral? Ostensibly we do that through a democratic process ("elections have consequences"). In order to change the outcomes it seems that we will need to change minds. What is the best way to do that?

amiller92
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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby amiller92 » August 29th, 2017, 12:45 pm

David Greene wrote:
August 29th, 2017, 12:17 pm
But why limit that?
Because they impose externalities on their neighbors. Which I already said but you're ignoring because you think you've found a good debating point.

You keep trying to find a way to argue for the form you prefer without referring to the usual BS arguments about why taller/denser is bad, presumably because you know those won't fly in this group.
Why are some uses desirable and others not?
Well, some of them pollute and/or generate a lot of noise, to start with.
Why is that any more valid than any other reason?
Because it's real. If data supported the idea that density generates crime, we could consider that as relevant to our zoning decisions.
In order to change the outcomes it seems that we will need to change minds. What is the best way to do that?
And now you're again shifting from "I want this kind of zoning" to "how are you going to convince people not to want this kind of zoning."

I'm not particularly interested in the latter question right now.

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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby RailBaronYarr » August 29th, 2017, 1:01 pm

Yeah, lots to respond to from David's first reply back plus ensuing discussion.

Meaningless clarification: It's actually true that (Minneapolis' current) zoning would prevent a detached single family home at 7th/Nicollet - the B4 districts allow 1-4 unit residential as part of a mixed-use building, but not detached housing by-right (or even by conditional use permit). There are other districts (eg R5 and R6) that do not allow *new* single- or two-family homes. Whether or not setting a minimum density like this is a good thing is mostly irrelevant given the types of places where those zoning districts are, but I'd be open to that type of discussion (e.g. the FAR minimum in the Uptown PO overlay).

But the use of a heavily-industrial factory or a literal 50+ story/FAR-10++ office tower as a bogeyman is one of the reasons I claimed your arguments are not in good faith. Everyone knows even me, among the most land-use-libertarian folks on the thread thinks there are obvious limits. I actually agree that using zoning as a short-hand way of banning the type of noxious externalities that factories **tend to** have is probably fine - the public/private cost of modeling and/or measuring and then regulating (or, as is often the case, not) things like smells, pollution, noise, truck traffic, etc outweigh the negative consequences of just regulating the land uses away (or concentrating them together, which may also have some positive benefits).

Even then, as I discussed in one of the sub-sections here (and elsewhere here on the forums), some office uses in non-downtown Minneapolis neighborhoods wouldn't be a bad thing. Think of how many towers filled with regular office workers and janitors and whatnot - all without the type of emissions or truck trips of an industrial user or even warehouse - sit along less-ideal places like the 494 corridor in Bloomington or in Brooklyn Park. How'd that turn out for job access and equity? The Abbott Northwestern campus holds about 10,000 jobs, and it's not particularly well-served by transit (from a regional perspective), and it's smack dab in the middle of Powderhorn. Why not have more of that? As Adam pointed out, we actually do have plenty of towers housing low-income and/or senior residents, oftentimes not even on the busy streets. They work! We used to have actual sports stadia in neighborhoods (in Mpls, Nicollet Park. in Chicago, Wrigley). They work! And maybe without all that public financing and infra help, team owners would have to figure out how to use less land to get what they want and fit it in a smaller package. We can have a good-faith discussion about design guidelines around industrial uses like a Kemp's factory or GVP without conjuring up a 100 acre chemical plant.

On the flip side, it's fair to challenge some parts of our zoning code that use short-hand for things - for example, % lot coverage/impervious surface vs using a runoff standard (modeled or tested). It's also good to question why our zoning (or other) code *doesn't* have some sort of "performance standard" around things like displacement (particularly low-income residents). The fact that we don't shows what our zoning code is really about, and whose voices are being heard. What things do we care about? Stormwater runoff, air quality, affordability, climate change, access to affordable transportation options to jobs/school/etc? Our zoning code does very little to address these, and oftentimes works counter to them, and for reasons that are quite simply boiled down to squishy things like people don't like tall buildings, traffic/parking crunches, or certain types of neighbors.

I'm not disagreeing that your feelings are squishy. That's human nature, and I appreciate it. But people having opinions not backed by science, or ones that don't care about the consequences (intended or not), don't automatically deserve be heard, prioritized, or even enshrined in policy. [major qualifier that zoning is not the same as gay rights] Was it helpful to let nearly 50% of Minnesotans voice their squishy opinion to try to ban gay marriage? A vast majority of the population supported building highways through cities, did that make their squishy feelings (liking their cars and the larger home they could afford further out) the right policy prescription? Does Trump having been voted into office (whether or not he won a majority of the popular vote) make his administration's actions on climate, the HUD, criminal justice rollbacks, or anything else okay because a significant chunk of people voted for him? If 90% of Americans said F the Paris Agreement, does that make the consequences (mostly to poorer people in other nations) okay?

These can be actually tricky discussions - defining the line where regulation has net positive communal benefits vs negative ones. It's fair to think that front porches help make a community in a way that 6-lot wide buildings with one door don't, but those feelings may not be backed up by research (plenty of places on this planet with thriving communities but few front porches), or even that the tradeoff is worth it. But most people probably agree that it's a "community benefit" to have ample free parking on the street, or blocking renters who don't "put down roots" or "engage their community" the way homeowners do, or that preventing blocking the sun to someone's (since it could be anyone!) garden all have "communal" benefits. It's often the case that people who live in mutli-family buildings agree with these talking points. It's okay to say that letting the market (or gov't - public housing is a thing people oppose, too!) build housing that bums people out in some way is okay.

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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby EOst » August 29th, 2017, 3:59 pm

amiller92 wrote:
August 29th, 2017, 9:26 am
I'm not arguing for any particular alignment. I wasn't close enough to it to have a strong opinion. But looking at where it is going, it's clear that we are once again taking the path of least resistance at the cost of building something of marginal utility to the residents of Minneapolis.
Pretty sure "taking the path of least resistance at the cost of building something of marginal utility" is exactly the line highway engineers used against the Herrold alignment.

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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby David Greene » August 29th, 2017, 5:09 pm

amiller92 wrote:
August 29th, 2017, 12:45 pm
David Greene wrote:
August 29th, 2017, 12:17 pm
But why limit that?
Because they impose externalities on their neighbors. Which I already said but you're ignoring because you think you've found a good debating point.

You keep trying to find a way to argue for the form you prefer without referring to the usual BS arguments about why taller/denser is bad, presumably because you know those won't fly in this group.
I'm not really debating. I'm trying to get clarity on positions. I'm trying to understand when and where and why it's appropriate to have zoning. I don't think it's as clear-cut as you appear to think. That's not a slam, just an educated observation/guess.
RailBaronYarr wrote: On the flip side, it's fair to challenge some parts of our zoning code that use short-hand for things - for example, % lot coverage/impervious surface vs using a runoff standard (modeled or tested). It's also good to question why our zoning (or other) code *doesn't* have some sort of "performance standard" around things like displacement (particularly low-income residents).
...
Stormwater runoff, air quality, affordability, climate change, access to affordable transportation options to jobs/school/etc? Our zoning code does very little to address these, and oftentimes works counter to them, and for reasons that are quite simply boiled down to squishy things like people don't like tall buildings, traffic/parking crunches, or certain types of neighbors.
This is interesting. I don't think "don't like certain types of neighbors" is as widespread as people think. IME a lot of people's hesitancy/opposition actually comes from good-faith concerns (yes, there are exceptions).

I think we both agree that zoning is broken. I like the idea of crafting something more intentional. That's a conversation I'm excited to have. I'm not as excited about having a conversation about "upzone everything to R6" or "downzone everything to R2."

It's interesting you brought up the sun as that is on my mind. I hadn't really thought about it in this way before, but what about solar panels? We're actually having some put on our house as I write this. If someone built a six-story apartment on the lot immediately to the south of us, we'd be screwed. Now, one could say, "tough luck, you should have bought the property before someone else did," but that's not very satisfying. Maybe the property was never even for sale and only changed hands after the developer offered the owner a sweet deal.

I don't know what the right answer is to a situation like this. Should there be any compensation?

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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby RailBaronYarr » August 30th, 2017, 8:50 am

David Greene wrote:
August 29th, 2017, 5:09 pm
This is interesting. I don't think "don't like certain types of neighbors" is as widespread as people think. IME a lot of people's hesitancy/opposition actually comes from good-faith concerns (yes, there are exceptions).
We probably disagree on what even counts as "good faith" in the first place. I don't personally find it good faith to say it's the city's job to protect my access free on-street parking, (whether by requiring expensive off-street parking in new developments or restricting development outright - it's still asking the government to give something to them and not to others). I don't even think worrying about property values (for technical reasons of scale/shade/etc and impact on future sale price) is good faith - the assumption is still that the government should protect a certain rate of return (whatever that is) for people with some level of wealth (through homeownership) at the expense of people who will (typically/likely) be renting and not even gaining any equity. It's bad faith to frame the conversation around "my home's value" vs "this developer's profits" instead of "how many people can live here."

But even then, I guess it's okay that we have different perceptions. I watch (or attend, to testify) planning commission meetings and it's fairly obvious to me how the undercurrent of the type of people who live in bigger buildings is always present. Yes, parking/traffic/property taxes come up. But it's hard for me to separate 'neighborhood character' or 'property values' or 'school impacts' from the type of people neighbors anticipate coming (or the actual stated concerns people express about renters, young people, buildings turning into "slums," etc).

I generally think that the proof is in the zoning code, so to say - we didn't get widespread restrictions on family type/size, where MFH can go, size of units, etc without a general consensus. We don't have progressive elected officials unwilling to propose an ADU ordinance without an owner-occupancy requirement for fear it might not pass the council for no reason. I'd probably agree that in Minneapolis the sentiment is less strong compared to the "technical" opposition to density than in a place like Lakeville or Carver (e.g. this development in Carver that wasn't even near any existing homes, it's obvious what the concern was about). For example, that Lander proposal at 32nd/Hennepin got some supportive responses at the CARAG meeting I attended (about 15 folks present). But that was for a 4 story building with significant stepbacks, along a major transit corridor butting up against a 3.5-story apartment behind it - and even then there were typical concerns about how renters would clog up alleys with their moving trucks (renters don't put down roots, you know), and other requests of the developer to mitigate imagined concerns. Yes, I'm a cynic. But it's hard to shake literal decades of racism and classism built into land-use regulations, and the language people have consistently used over time.
David Greene wrote:
August 29th, 2017, 5:09 pm
I think we both agree that zoning is broken. I like the idea of crafting something more intentional. That's a conversation I'm excited to have. I'm not as excited about having a conversation about "upzone everything to R6" or "downzone everything to R2."
Something *more* intentional than a bunch of confusing zones with all sorts of requirements around building placement/size/allowed materials/usage/etc (just for residential!)? I mean, it's incredibly intentional right now. And that's the problem. We very intentionally decided to do things like a minimum lot size per unit (making small buildings with micro-units not possible without significant variance), or banning single-room occupancy structures, or anything else in our zoning code. They didn't happen by accident, and to my point earlier, they weren't some concoction of a bureaucrat in the basement of City Hall - people demanded them. I'm excited about a zoning code that addresses the things that really matter (affordability, right to housing, climate change, mitigating local environmental concerns, public safety, and on), and less about dictating where buildings can go and what they look like (at least, for reasons that address the more selfish concerns of neighbors). Maybe that looks like "R6 everywhere + rent stabilization + publicly-funded mandatory IZ + just cause eviction + requirements around development that displaces people + other concerns." I really don't know, but the "R6 everywhere" part shouldn't be the offensive part of a mostly unrestricted development market.
David Greene wrote:
August 29th, 2017, 5:09 pm
I don't know what the right answer is to a situation like this. Should there be any compensation?
No, the law is pretty clear it should run the other way - you would need to purchase an easement for solar access (yes, this is descriptive rather than normative). I'll admit, for *existing installations* this is one of the few policy realms where new development may not have a clear net environmental win. I feel for the people who installed solar panels 10 years ago who might lose production if a building came in. I can see where this particular personal investment also serves a significant enough public good that the city wouldn't necessarily be wrong to zone to protect it (zoning for solar access is specifically called out in state statute) - perhaps a zoning with a horizon set to the useful life of the solar panels? Maybe someone with good negotiating skills could convince a developer to install their solar panels on the new taller roof, or get compensation. But I wouldn't bank on it.

But for you? I dunno man. Not to sound heartless, but it's 2017. You've got community solar gardens and Xcel WindSource and Renewable Connect to give you full-on, reliable carbon-free energy at very low marginal (or in my solar garden's case, net positive) cost to your utility bill, without the need to worry about if someone will shade your panels. They're in the news! They'll even provide you with a cool yard sign if you like to have a talking point to your neighbors walking by.

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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby David Greene » August 30th, 2017, 10:17 am

RailBaronYarr wrote:
August 30th, 2017, 8:50 am
David Greene wrote:
August 29th, 2017, 5:09 pm
This is interesting. I don't think "don't like certain types of neighbors" is as widespread as people think. IME a lot of people's hesitancy/opposition actually comes from good-faith concerns (yes, there are exceptions).
We probably disagree on what even counts as "good faith" in the first place.
By "good faith" I mean people being honest, stating actual concerns rather than hiding their real concerns behind softer language. IME people are mostly being genuine about concerns. Disagreement over the validity of said concerns is something else entirely and worthy of conversation.
RailBaronYarr wrote:
August 30th, 2017, 8:50 am
David Greene wrote:
August 29th, 2017, 5:09 pm
I think we both agree that zoning is broken. I like the idea of crafting something more intentional. That's a conversation I'm excited to have. I'm not as excited about having a conversation about "upzone everything to R6" or "downzone everything to R2."
Something *more* intentional than a bunch of confusing zones with all sorts of requirements around building placement/size/allowed materials/usage/etc (just for residential!)?
I wasn't saying current codes are not intentional. I meant something more intentional to creating racial and economic justice, not using existing categories as a proxy for what we really want to do.
RailBaronYarr wrote:
August 30th, 2017, 8:50 am
David Greene wrote:
August 29th, 2017, 5:09 pm
I don't know what the right answer is to a situation like this. Should there be any compensation?
I feel for the people who installed solar panels 10 years ago who might lose production if a building came in. I can see where this particular personal investment also serves a significant enough public good that the city wouldn't necessarily be wrong to zone to protect it (zoning for solar access is specifically called out in state statute) - perhaps a zoning with a horizon set to the useful life of the solar panels? Maybe someone with good negotiating skills could convince a developer to install their solar panels on the new taller roof, or get compensation. But I wouldn't bank on it.
I would be perfectly happy with a development that had enough setback on upper levels to leave a solar corridor open. I hadn't thought about transferring the panels to the new structure but it's an interesting idea.
RailBaronYarr wrote:
August 30th, 2017, 8:50 am
But for you? I dunno man. Not to sound heartless, but it's 2017. You've got community solar gardens and Xcel WindSource and Renewable Connect to give you full-on, reliable carbon-free energy at very low marginal (or in my solar garden's case, net positive) cost to your utility bill, without the need to worry about if someone will shade your panels. They're in the news! They'll even provide you with a cool yard sign if you like to have a talking point to your neighbors walking by.
I guess that's a reasonable position to take WRT me. Not everyone has access to solar gardens. Even with the panels we still have the option to pull/offset needed power from solar gardens and/or WindSource (we already do the latter).

Somewhere back in that streets.mn thread I stated that for me, the horizontal wall effect is more much concerning than height. I'd probably be fine with 6-8 story two-lot buildings in the Wedge. What's your take on that? Is there value in breaking up building walls like that?

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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby RailBaronYarr » August 30th, 2017, 11:59 am

Just to clarify, basically anyone in Hennepin County has access to Community Solar Gardens, and anyone with Xcel has access to their programs. The best part of CSGs (IMO) is that they're also available to renters, who can take their subscription with them if they move (within the allowed territories, obviously) or sell them if need be. From that standpoint, the programs offered by electric utilities and private solar developers are *more* a equitable solution to getting access to (cheaper, with CSGs) renewable energy. State programs and incentives have focused very heavily on homeowners, which is a major blind spot from an equity standpoint IMO. Anyway, it's more fair to say that more people have access to CSGs than rooftop solar, from a programmatic standpoint, but also from a credit/project management/personal risk standpoint as well.

Just to re: to your last paragraph: I believe you when you say taller 2-lot buildings appeal to you more than wider 3-4 story buildings spanning 4+ blocks. That's a fair preference. I don't necessarily think your neighbors share it. The city changed the zoning code to make One (1!) lot, 3.5 story Rocket Houses more difficult (a half story counts as a full story, requiring additional side-yard setbacks), a One (1!) lot 4 story 2008 Bryant was appealed to great fanfare, the one (1!) lot, 4-story Turkeyplex at 3621 Bryant was appealed based on the side-yard setback varance requested to meet the anti-RocketHouse zoning change. I mean, I know I sound like a broken record linking to these projects all the time, but I was there on the staff/CM Bender Wedge walking tour about the re-zoning last year, and there were plenty of people who vocally criticized the 1-lot 60s walkups, just 2.5 stories.

I'd love to think that idea is a good one, and could be won at a local political level appealing to everyone's sense of shared goals and compromise. I'm not sure that's the case, but even if it were, then there's the question if a 5+ story building would even make financial sense on a 40-80' wide lot. Maybe it would! I'm sure, as I've stated before, that allowing that as the maximum envelope we'd get all sorts of wonderful things beneath it in scale: townhomes (either front-facing rowhomes or a courtyard style similar to designs in Seattle), 4-story buildings (apartments or condos, etc), or even just re-utilizing what they've got. There's certainly a lot someone can do with 80' of width, and I'm certain developers could get pretty creative about how to use small lots with loose height restrictions. Depending on how it's crafted, single family home lots could build something big in the backyard like Vancouver is allowing in select neighborhoods.

But there's probably still a lot left on the table - many marginal projects that wouldn't pencil for a variety of reasons. And I keep coming back to what's the tradeoff we're making? There's no discernible public health or safety benefits to allowing multiple 2-lot 6-8 story buildings in a row but not a 8-lot wide one. I know you're spitballing, trying to come up with solutions that might appeal to people for a variety of reasons, so I'm not trying to knock that. Bringing this back to the original place I pulled this discussion from, there's value in saying that a higher-level of government (the Met Council or maybe the State even) wouldn't need to take those feelings into consideration.

It's a colder, less personal level of thinking. A corollary for me is state aid county road/street design standards. Here we have state minimums on how a street should be designed, and for who. The problem isn't that they're mandates from the state that didn't go through rigorous public vetting with all voices heard, particularly the properties directly affected by them (though it's possible that process *may* have led to a better outcome). The problem is that they ignore all the potential users of said street, making bad recommendations that facilitate worse outcomes (mode share, pollution, safety, comfort for the less-advantaged, transit operations, whatever). And those could have been accounted for with better program design. Again, you probably need the right people at the table to help guide that conversation, giving personal anecdotes and preferences for their needs (them being the more marginalized users). But assuming that process would work for housing by asking the type of people who already have the time/resources/experience to participate in planning discussions is like assuming we could get a good outcome for CSAH standards by going back to auto manufacturers and concrete industry groups for feedback. You could do a lot by looking at broad-level research on what works/doesn't/for who and how those designs impact bigger-picture concerns like local pollution or climate change or public health.

MNdible
is great.
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Location: Minneapolis

Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby MNdible » August 30th, 2017, 2:49 pm

You guys! Stop the madness.

David Greene
IDS Center
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Joined: December 4th, 2012, 11:41 am

Re: RE: Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby David Greene » August 30th, 2017, 3:06 pm

MNdible wrote:You guys! Stop the madness.
??



Silophant
Moderator
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Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby Silophant » August 30th, 2017, 3:08 pm

Please don't! It's super interesting.

amiller92
Wells Fargo Center
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Joined: October 31st, 2014, 12:50 pm

Re: Zoning in Minneapolis

Postby amiller92 » August 31st, 2017, 9:31 am

David Greene wrote:
August 30th, 2017, 10:17 am
I'd probably be fine with 6-8 story two-lot buildings in the Wedge. What's your take on that? Is there value in breaking up building walls like that?
My take: start building.


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