Non-conforming use permits and the Schmidt self-storage facility

Earlier this month, the Saint Paul Planning Commission engaged in a fascinating debate over a proposal on West 7th Street to build a self-storage facility next to the remodeled Schmidt brewery site. The issue was a discussion about whether or not to approve a non-conforming use reestablishment, and there were split votes in both the Zoning Committee (4 in favor, 2 against) and at the full Commission (9 in favor, 8 against; I was one of the ‘no’ votes). To me, the permit discussion revealed how zoning decisions can revolve around subjective considerations. In this case, a lot weighed on considerations of economic potential and predictions about the future of neighborhoods.

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Hmong youth engaged in the North Minneapolis Greenway

"Greenway yog ab tsi?", or "What is a greenway?" in the Hmong language, is a question that has been asked more than 100 times of North Minneapolis community members in and near Hmong International Academy by middle school students of color in the YMCA Beacons Minneapolis program at Hmong International Academy (HIA) – a Minneapolis Public School in the Jordan Neighborhood of North Minneapolis.

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Video: Express Bike Shop

Minnesota 2020 went to the Express Bike Shop in St. Paul to learn more about Youth Express and their apprenticeship program for young adults. Youth Express, a program of Keystone Community Services, is a program created to help young adults develop entrepreneurial skills, work ethic and leadership. Keys Stone's investment to Youth Express helps provide a paid employment opportunity for youth who are joining the work force or those who may have already had a little work history.

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SEIU's faculty union effort may face hurdles at University of Minnesota

One of the country’s largest labor organizations’ efforts to unionize faculty at the University of Minnesota may need a clearer focus to make any headway at the school.

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Minneapolis Park board retiree says former coworkers fear retaliation for inequities complaints

(Photo by James L. Stroud, Jr.) Jayne Miller

A former Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB) employee earlier this year emailed all nine park board commissioners, expressing concern about workplace conditions. The MSR received a copy of the five-page email sent in April titled “Racism issues concerns at the MPRB,” which made reference to the January 2012 investigation report in which top MPRB officials and the commissioners “agreed to address the concerns on the disparities and racism issues, and not to use fear or retaliation [against employees].”

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One way to deal with a desire line

Soon enough it will be Winter. Again a landscape covered with white powdery snow will reveal where travelers want to go. The first figure is an aerial shot of the former environment around the McNamara Alumni Center on the University of Minnesota campus. The second figure is in front of (behind) McNamara . Though there is a sidewalk just on the right of this image, pedestrians prefer the straight line path between the Scholars Walk and the diagonal path across Walnut from Beacon Street to the intersection of Oak Street and Washington Avenue. And why shouldn’t they? It’s cold outside. The extra few feet (extra few seconds) are not worth it, even for a cleared path.

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Oil train safety, passenger train timeliness get legislative hearing

An increase in the amount of oil train traffic traveling through Minnesota to serve the fracking operations in western North Dakota has had a ripple effect on the passenger rail operations of Amtrak.

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Corporate wolves and the sharing economy

The new sharing economy masquerades as a people-to-people economy. That sounds friendlier than the corporate, profit-driven economy. Take a second look, though, and this new sharing economy turns out to be the old corporate wolf in a new internet fleece.

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Don't offer farmers and citizens to multinationals, stop TTIP and CETA

From France, which gave us the Rights of Man, we hear the call for the Rights of Citizens from French farmers who yesterday staged a sit-in at Cargill’s headquarters in Paris protesting proposed new free trade agreements. The second largest farmers’ union in France, Confédération Paysanne, unfurled a banner that read, “Holland, Juncker, Obama: Don’t offer farmers and citizens to multinationals, Stop TTIP and CETA.” They occupied the Cargill trading floor all day, until they received an appointment with the Secretary of State for French Foreign Trade, Mr. Matthias Fekl.

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Building places for people

There’s been a lot of talk lately about “transit oriented development” and being “pedestrian friendly” with a new senior apartment building under construction at Lake Street and Hiawatha overlooking the train platform, a visit from Gil Penalosa back in May to talk about making that whole area around the train station walkable, and negotiations moving forward around development of the Adult Basic Education site at 2225 East Lake Street. You might have heard neighbors talk about how important development along Lake Street be “transit oriented” and “pedestrian friendly,” but you might have wondered: what does that mean anyway?

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