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It's deeply concerning that some legislators, as well as the Star Tribune Editorial Board, think private developers should have more authority than cities when it comes to deciding what's best for their communities ("Bill aims to put people before parking," editorial, Jan. 26). The proposed "People Over Parking Act" would prohibit all Minnesota cities from requiring parking minimums on new developments. While this policy might work in densely populated communities with reliable public transit and walkable amenities, it simply does not make sense in many cities, including mine.

This policy would be the broadest preemption of a city's authority to manage its own parking in the entire country. It doesn't consider whether the city has any transit opportunities or if its infrastructure can accommodate more on-street parking, nor does it consider the realities faced by seniors, families with small children and people with mobility issues who are unable to bike or walk long distances.

Advocates of the bill place too much faith in the developer community to build the requisite parking for their individual projects. Developers are not city planners, engineers or public works employees who are tasked with ensuring that each development takes into account both the parking options within that development and the parking and transit availability within the entire city.

Many cities already provide flexibility for affordable housing development and small businesses regarding parking restrictions. Don't mandate away local authority and hand it to private developers.

Jenny Max, Crosslake, Minn.

The writer is Nisswa city administrator and president, League of Minnesota Cities.


Parking is very expensive to build, which is one reason I support eliminating parking requirements statewide. Right now, we are adding a "parking tax" (costing tens of thousands of dollars) to anyone who wants to open a new business or build affordable housing. Anyone who wants to build parking is still free to do so, but let's get rid of this outdated one-size-fits-all requirement across the state.

Anton Schieffer, Minneapolis


The Star Tribune's recent editorial regarding mandatory minimum parking requirements raises several important public policy issues that will be discussed in the upcoming legislative session. I hope that discussion includes the impact that construction of large facilities will have on residential neighborhoods. The University of St. Thomas is in the process of constructing a 5,500-seat entertainment and sports complex in the middle of a compact residential neighborhood. According to their own estimates, the construction will remove hundreds of existing on-campus parking spaces, resulting in hundreds of cars parking in front of our houses on game nights. Attendees and employees who work in the arena will circle our neighborhood looking for spaces to park. In addition, as a nonprofit, St. Thomas will not have to pay property taxes to the city for the required infrastructure, including repairing the roads that are crumbling under the weight of the huge construction trucks on our streets. That will be borne by the taxpaying property owners. Any legislative discussion should include the impact these large complexes have on the quality of life in their adjoining neighborhoods.

John Kingrey, St. Paul


In his Friday letter to the editor, "Mpls. can and should pitch in," Move Minnesota Executive Director Sam Rockwell argues that, while it's true that higher density without better public transit will not work, the 2040 Plan's proposed increase in density is an "important first step" toward a more climate-friendly city. In fact, higher density is a good second step but a ridiculous first step. Lack of parking is already hurting small businesses in the city and the reduction of parking requirements for new real estate development will further congest many already dense neighborhoods where on-street parking is the only option. The misguided approach to parking pursued by the city and endorsed by Star Tribune will not force people to use our inadequate transit system. It will force them to go out of the city to live, shop and have fun.

Tim Mungavan, Minneapolis


Do your homework. Then appeal.

As a former professional real estate appraiser, I read with interest the stories of people whose homes have soared in value — leading to higher property taxes ("Home tax bills soar; disbelief follows," Jan. 29). First, I know that many people are unaware of how much their homes' values have increased in recent years. This is good news, but of course it leads to higher assessed valuations and higher property taxes. But secondly, there is an appeal process for homeowners who genuinely think their home has been given an unsupportable valuation by their local assessor. Over the years I have appealed my assessments in several Minneapolis suburbs, and each time I have gotten my valuation reduced.

The secret is for the homeowner to collect data on recent sales of homes in their neighborhood that are as similar to their property as possible: similar in location, size, amenities and condition. This can be done online through various home sales websites or maybe a friendly real estate agent might help with some suitable sales, called comparables.

The wrong thing to do is just to whine and complain. Real estate assessors are used to this and it will not get a homeowner very far. But if a homeowner can produce two or three recent examples of similar homes with sales prices lower than the assessment proposed for their property, a lower valuation should result. But the trick is to do your homework before meeting with the assessor.

Richard Engebretson, Wayzata


The council's seeing sense

I am writing to thank the Minneapolis City Council for passing the resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza ("Israel-Hamas resolution approved by council," Jan. 26; see also "Mpls. resolution on Gaza deserves a veto," editorial, Jan. 28). However, I was disturbed to see that most readers' comments criticized this action for two reasons: that the cease-fire resolution is antisemitic, and that the council should only concern itself with city issues. I believe both of these criticisms are dangerously wrong.

Informed criticism of government by citizens is the bedrock of democracy. City Council members represent their community by expressing their views on policies that affect the community. To date, over 60 U.S. cities have supported cease-fire resolutions demanding that the U.S. government stop its military and financial aid that is essential to Israel's ability to continue its attack in Gaza, which has killed nearly 30,000 Palestinians, injured over 63,000, and displaced nearly 2 million residents of Gaza who are suffering greatly from lack of food, water, shelter and health care. If enough Americans through city councils and other community organizations demand an end to this slaughter financed by our tax dollars, perhaps our government will stop this carnage.

To the charge of antisemitism, I submit that a significant number of Jews across the globe and within Israel itself are demanding a cease-fire. Are all these Jews antisemitic? This is a ridiculous, foolish charge. It is the citizens' duty in a democracy to speak truth to power, including criticizing our government when we believe the policies are wrong. If the government may never be criticized, democracy is destroyed.

Harry Chalmiers, St. Paul