Minneapolis Upzones for Greater Density in Residential and Transit Areas
Between 2010 and 2016, Minneapolis added over 12,000 housing units and grew by 37,000 residents. This growth has exacerbated displacement, housing units that were once affordable no longer are, and less housing is available for low-income residents of Minneapolis. In addition, household income disparity among racial groups has increased since 2000—Black households have experienced an approximately 40 percent decrease in income, while White non-Hispanic and Asian households are seeing an increase. Minneapolis 2040- the City’s comprehensive plan has set some ambitious goals to tackle racial equity, housing affordability and choice, and climate change. The plan reflects two years of public feedback and bringing historically underrepresented groups to the table.,
One of the more contentious policy changes is upzoning, which will allow duplexes and triplexes in all residential areas and even denser development in transit zones. Other Minneapolis 2040 policies include innovating housing strategies by using data and research to guide and evaluate housing priorities, policies, and programs, and supporting different housing types (prefabricated and manufactured housing, ADUs, 3-D printed housing, and tiny houses).Plans to upzone sparked fierce debates and the City’s planning office has received more than 11,00 comments. Despite the controversy, the final draft of Minneapolis 2040 passed city council by 12-1 on December 7, 2018. This success is attributed to concerted effort to engage in community outreach by a variety of local ‘Yes in My Backyard” (YIMBY) activist groups and city officials. Part of the effort was broaching conversations around the history of discriminatory housing practices perpetuated by single-family zoning (about 50-60 percent of Minneapolis is zoned single-family homes), as well as the need for “missing middle” type homes.  During the Minneapolis 2040 planning period, one YIMBY group Neighbors for More Neighbors held walk-and-talk tours in every ward, inviting residents to explore their community while envisioning a future. City officials went out to street fairs and neighborhood events to engage residents, as opposed to holding the typical neighborhood meetings. Local grassroots advocacy groups also attended the events to contribute their voices. “It’s not just about asking people what they think, it’s about sharing and thinking about problem-solving together,” said Heather Worthington, the city’s director of long-range planning and co-author of the Minneapolis 2040 plan. Now Minneapolis is working to translate the plan into a final zoning code using the community outreach process they have developed.