A lawsuit has forced a stop to the Minneapolis 2040 Plan ("Minneapolis officials scramble to respond to ruling blocking 2040 Plan," front page, June 18). The city could litigate or disclose the environmental impacts of the plan as legally required.
Instead, the city should create a new plan, one based in reality. A plan that addresses the profound changes that have unfolded since the existing plan was adopted.
The existing 2040 Plan presumes the city will grow by one-third over the next 20 years, more than three times as much as the Metropolitan Council projects. It is absurd to think that a fully built city would grow that fast, and that bad assumption drives other bad policies.
The new plan needs to be based on accommodating 8.5% more people over 20 years, as the Met Council projects.
The existing plan makes all other concerns subservient to fighting climate change. While fighting climate change is important, the death of George Floyd should mean that racial equity and economic justice are now the forefront of our long-range planning. This would mean protecting, not sacrificing, our most valuable tool for wealth-building, our single-family homes.
It would mean balancing the creation of jobs and businesses with bike lanes and buses.
It would mean focusing new development in low-income areas instead of wealthy neighborhoods.
Our zoning code could provide incentives for housing ownership over rentals.
Our transportation system could focus on getting people to jobs, customers to businesses, and children to school.
The Inclusive Economic Recovery Work Group has already laid out a series of recommendations as a starting point.
The existing plan could not have anticipated the radical lifestyle changes that have followed from the pandemic. We must now grapple with the reality that only 55% of downtown commercial space is occupied, and it isn't coming back. We need a new plan for downtown, one that envisions conversion of office space to residential and the creation of a truly walkable, livable environment. We also need to acknowledge that people are not traveling to downtown. Local transit ridership is down 50%, LRT down 65% and express bus service 90% because so many fewer people are going downtown.
We need a new transportation plan that acknowledges that we are now traveling not less, but differently. With more people working from home, instead of spreading that 10% population growth throughout the city, we could focus it to create more walkable environments like the North Loop which would support working from home.
Minneapolis is a city desperate for healing. Over 75% of residents opposed the last plan, in large part because it was unrealistic and unresponsive to how people really live. Since then, the world has changed. We need to put racial justice first and to acknowledge pandemic impacts.
Carol Becker lives in Minneapolis.