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Minneapolis’s Residential Upzoning Risks Unintended Consequences: Alissa Luepke Pier

January 3, 2020

Conversation with Alissa Luepke Pier : planningreport – excerpt

“In an effort to alleviate the affordable housing crisis, the city is offering my community smaller, crappier housing for no less money, with the added insult to injury of making it harder for them to buy a house and build generational wealth within their own community.” …

“The consequences of a policy like this on a community like mine are far too harmful to be glossed over in the name of innovation. Let me be clear: Adoption of this policy without adequate safeguards will cause great, long-term harm to low income families and communities of color, and there is no way to undo the damage once Pandora’s box has been opened.” —Alissa Luepke Pier

Recently, a few strategically positioned, sympathetic urban journalists have begun lauding the city of Minneapolis for spearheading a “breakthrough new trend” to address the affordability of urban housing: the elimination of single-family zoning, in favor of by-right density in residential neighborhoods. As the California legislature debates the merits of statewide blanket upzoning and greater density by right, TPR spoke to Alissa Luepke Pier, an AIA-honored architect and Minneapolis City Planning Commission Vice President, about her city’s recent “bold” decision. She shares that the city’s “experiment” has not been fully examined, noting a number of unintended consequences that could accompany the sweeping planning decision. She is most concerned that the City Council’s decision could encourage land speculation by global investment firms and might well undermine the fabric of the very low-income communities of color its unprecedented provisions aim to assist.

Minneapolis is now being cited by the New York Times and West Coast YIMBYs as the city that’s “boldly” tackling the housing crisis and inequality by ending single-family zoning. What’s the context for those news reports?(more)

The fears of international investors swooping in are well-founded. Cities from New York to Vancouver and San Francisco have already felt the sting of foreign cash looking for safe storage and high returns. With the new nervous political climate and the rush to higher ground, no doubt the cash will flow fast and furiously, turning many out of their homes.

The only hope for the truly vulnerable may be renters rights and rent control, but that hurts the small property owners, forcing them to sell to the corporations and banks. It is hard to see an upside to rising land values at a faster pace than wages and the economy. We are creating worldwide economic disparity and divisiveness instead of unity.

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