Uphold the 2040 Plan: Oppose Downzoning on Van Buren

Update: Help stop Downzoning in Minneapolis on Jan 12th

Uphold the 2040 Plan: Oppose Downzoning

We need your help - please reach out to your city council member (phone and email); this goes before the full council this week on January 12!

A group of property owners applied to downzone two half-blocks of Van Buren St NE after two multifamily housing developments were approved (635 Van Buren and 613 Van Buren). The downzone application requests to cut the built form guidance near a specific portion of Central Avenue NE from Corridor 6 to Interior 3, restricting the types of housing that can be built to those containing three or fewer stories. (Map below).

Current state (as of 1/6/2022):

City staff recommended approving the application to downzone from Corridor 6 to Interior 3. The Planning Commission failed to give a recommendation up or down. The application then moved forward to the Council’s Business, Inspections, Housing & Zoning (BIHZ) Committee on Tuesday, January 3, 2023, without a recommendation. Unusually, it was placed on the consent agenda in that body and was passed without any opportunity for public comment. Now the matter goes before the full City Council on January 12th, 2023.

We’re calling on the Minneapolis City Council to deny this comprehensive plan amendment.

What’s at stake with this Van Buren amendment?

This is not just about Van Buren Street. Approving this application could set a precedent that organized property owners can employ similar tactics across the City and expect success, which will prevent housing from being built where it is most needed. The area in question already has great access to transit and it will only improve when the planned METRO F line comes online in a few years. The Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan set built-form designation to Corridor 6 along major corridors like this one to allow more residents to take advantage of high-frequency transit and access to jobs. Reversing these reforms will worsen housing affordability across the region and hold the City back from meeting its climate goals.

The business of city planning and zoning has historically been messy in American cities. The Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan takes a new approach: apply consistent guidance citywide, with areas near major corridors permitting higher density, regardless of the neighborhood. It is a reset that attempts to restore fairness and take full advantage of our transit investments. These changes are now beginning to be implemented. We know what they will get us: more housing availability, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by bringing people closer to their jobs and the services they use. This downzoning application takes us back down the old path, of special rules and carve outs, and if it is allowed to succeed it could undermine the whole effort.

What can I do to get involved?

  • Today: Call your council member, send an email here, and share this campaign on your social media channels

  • Attend the City Council meeting on Thursday, January 12th at 9:30 am.

    • RSVP Here

    • We’re exploring whether public comment is allowed. We’ll be meeting virtually on January 11th to prepare together regardless!

    • Plan ahead to take the necessary time off work to attend.

  • Volunteer with our Minneapolis 2040 Implementation task force

    • Support our volunteer leaders on advocacy (email neighborsformoreneighbors@gmail.com with “2040 task force” in the subject line to learn more)

  • Talk with your neighbors and friends about zoning and why it matters to you and the future Minneapolis you want to see.

  • Sign up for the N4MN newsletter and look out for action alerts from the task force – they may include attending community meetings, testifying at hearings, or sending emails.

Written by volunteers with N4MN, Jenny Ackerson, Chris Lynch, and Nicolas Ball-Jones

Letter Campaign by
Alexa B
Minneapolis, Minnesota