Carol Becker’s editorial counterpoint “So, let’s talk about what ‘density’ really is” (Opinion Exchange, Sept. 17) is right that cities should strategically encourage density to support transit and walkable neighborhoods, but I had trouble finding a single fact in her piece (really).
Let’s review some examples: Becker states that the Minneapolis 2040 Plan lets developers “put 10-story buildings all over the city.” She cities Lyndale Avenue to support this claim. But rather than allowing 10-story buildings, Lyndale Avenue North is designated a four-story corridor and Lyndale Ave South allows a maximum of six stories (from Franklin Avenue to 31st Street), four stories (31st Street to 38th Street) and 2.5 stories (south of 38th).
Similar low- to mid-rise guidance exists for all of Becker’s other examples.
Becker further claims light-rail transit does not spur development, perplexingly citing the 38th Street station area, recently approved for a multiphase urban development with residential, retail, and office space (phase 1 is complete).
Last, Becker declares that allowing triplexes does not create functional density. Really? Greater per-acre density in low-rise neighborhoods supports transit in Boston, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.
I’ll end my corrections there to stay within Star Tribune letter-to-the-editor word limits.
The 2040 Plan is comprehensive. It likely didn’t get everything right. But we need an honest discussion about the merits of the plan if we want to be able to address places where it may have missed the mark. Opinion pieces designed to be taken literally but not seriously, or seriously but not literally, are not helpful.
Sam Rockwell, Minneapolis
The writer is president of the Minneapolis Planning Commission.
Health care innovation isn’t enough
I read with interest the Sept. 16 editorial “Mayo, Google and a new health care era.” In particular, this paragraph jumped out at me:
“[Mayo’s chief information officer] believes scientists from Mayo and Google will team up to find ways to better connect patients and clinicians — and to make health care more ‘affordable, accessible and understandable.’ ”
The key word here, of course, is “affordable.” More and more Americans are being crushed by the high costs of health insurance premiums, deductibles and co-payments. Medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States.
Although innovations in our delivery of health care might play a role in making health care more affordable, this is a promise we have heard before. The real drivers of excess costs of health care in the U.S. are high administrative costs (up to 30% of spending) and high prices — for drugs, hospitals and physicians. These costs can likely only be controlled by a Medicare for All system.
It is wonderful to hear some of our leading presidential candidates running on such a plan. We should all be paying close attention.
Jim Hart, Stillwater
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The Star Tribune Editorial Board thinks it’s a great idea to team up Mayo Clinic and Google. You need your head examined? How long do you think it will take before Google tries to sell your medical information?
Edward McHugh, East Bethel
CLIMATE CHANGE STRIKE
Strike, then support carbon fees
The climate crisis is here.
This Friday, young people from all over the nation and the globe will be striking for action on the climate crisis (“Most teens frightened by climate change, poll shows,” Sept. 17). Their future is in our hands. We, the people, are footing the bill for the consequences of delaying a solution despite renewable energy being cheaper than fossil fuels, as subsidies of greenhouse-gas-emitting fossil fuels continue. The good news is that we can still prevent the worst effects of climate change as long as we act quickly enough. Most economists agree that putting a price on carbon is one of the key ingredients, and a bill to do so currently exists in the U.S. House. This bill deserves our attention and support.
The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, H.R. 763, is bipartisan legislation with 62 co-sponsors and counting. Through a carbon fee and dividend model, this bill would reduce carbon emissions 50% within 20 years and 90% by 2050. It is projected to save 230,000 lives over 20 years through improved air quality and create 2.8 million new jobs, while saving Americans and businesses money in the long run.
H.R. 763 would put a steadily rising fee on carbon at the well, mine or port of entry. The revenue from the fee would then be returned each month in equal portions to all Americans to spend as they choose. This differs from a tax in that the government does not keep the fees collected. A majority of Americans — including young Republicans — agree that climate change requires federal action; this bill, when described properly, has attracted a similar plurality of support.
Talk to your neighbors and friends about it. Better yet, contact your member of Congress to let them know you support the bill. Let your voice ring out and join the youth at the climate strike on Friday.
This letter was written by the following members of Southwest Minneapolis Chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby: Bruce Anderson, Mark Bohnohrst, Jean Buckley, Dan Geere, Jonas Geese, Kathy Iverson, Alex Larson, Michael Menzel, Sarah Musgrave, Nancy Richter, David Siskind and Kawai Washburn.
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A medical excuse note sponsored by Health Care Without Harm is circulating around the country as a show of solidarity for students who are participating in the Youth Climate Strike on Friday. The strike is a call to action for leaders to address climate change as young people grapple with the reality that they are inheriting the mess that older generations created for them. Anyone who has inherited the poor decisions of those who came before them knows that this task is at best unpleasant and at worst, impossible.
The brainchild of Dr. Amy Collins, an emergency medicine physician with a passion for sustainability and senior clinical adviser for Health Care Without Harm, the medical excuse note has gained momentum across the country with more than 600 medical and health care professionals and several organizations signing in support of excusing students from school this Friday. Students who need an excused absence to participate in the strike can print the signed letter and give it to school officials.
Medical and health care professionals are clearly aware that climate change is a public health concern. As a clinical health psychologist, I have seen firsthand how climate change impacts both the physical and psychological wellness of the patients I treat. So, I was quick to join my colleagues and sign the note. To those practicing in health care, please consider doing the same. Because, as Dr. Seuss once wrote, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
Kristi E. White, Minneapolis
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