Twin Cities Daily Planet media partner Streets.mn developed a short series of questions related to transportation and land use designed to give voters more information on Minneapolis mayoral and city council candidates and expand the conversation about these topics. This is candidate Lisa Goodman’s response to that query.
Our eleventh response is from Lisa Goodman, (incumbent) candidate in Ward 7, which includes downtown and the Kenwood neighborhood.
1. What do you believe is the most significant land use and/or transportation issue facing Minneapolis in the next 5 years and how do you hope to address it in office?
There are many different land use and transportation issues that will be debated, discussed and implemented in the next few years picking one as the “most” significant is not possible. Form based zoning, protected bike lanes, density in neighborhoods and on corridors all come to mind as issues to discuss. To me one issue that comes up again and again and has for years is the location of affordable housing. Some would say our city has enough low income, supportive and workforce housing, make the suburbs take some. I would argue in some neighborhoods in our city affordable housing rents are market rate and ruling those locations out risks a lack of investment where it is needed most. In the ward I represent the loss of single room occupancy ( SRO) units and truly affordable privately owned apartments is a major concern. I have worked on this issue for years and believe short of a “no net loss policy” we will lose more than we will gain from new development, we can’t buy ourselves out of this affordable housing crisis, we need to focus on preserving and improving the affordable housing we have. I will continue to work to ensure new development, especially surrounding the Twins and Vikings projects, that has any City involvement includes at least 20% affordable units as mixed income projects are an important part of the mix. Many developers in the past “bought” their way out of this requirement paying into a fund to build the units else ware, that is no longer an acceptable option unless we want all affordable units to be concentrated in a few areas of our city.
2. How do you think the needs of pedestrians, cyclists, transit users and drivers can be met most effectively? Would you prioritize one or more of these modes over others?
As a downtown resident for 20 years living on Hennepin avenue I do think the needs of pedestrians need to be a primary focus for downtown. There is so much on the line when the pedestrian experience isn’t positive from quality economic development to public safety, people on the street level walking outside on all of our major streets will improve the retail, restaurant and environment for public safety. I have also come ot believe that we need protected bike lanes, meaning lanes with a curb separating the bikes from cars. We do not need to favor one mode over another, we need to come closer to treating them more equally. The street system is not just in place to get people in and out of downtown faster at the beginning and end of a work day, the system needs to work for those who live along it too. Building road capacity to get people in and out takes up right of way that could be used for better bike facilities and better short term parking for retail, if we want it to succeed downtown. We do need to maintain our roadways better, focus on enforcement of existing rules of the road for all who use them bikes and cars and foster an environment that values all modes of transportation.
3. Minneapolis has many plans for land use, transit, road and cycling infrastructure improvements in plans like Access Minneapolis, the Bicycle Master Plan and the city’s comprehensive plan. How do you think the city should fund these improvements in the future? Other than funding, are there other obstacles to realizing these plans and how would you address them?
Funding any new initiative in this environment is a challenge. We have been blessed with a lot of federal funding for bike and pedestrian infrastructure over the past 5 years and I don’t’ believe this level of funding will be coming in the future. Much of the funding for roadways both new and maintenance comes from the State or from the City’s 5 year CIP and this funding competes with all Capital funding for infrastructure. The City can only borrow so much in our 5 year Capital plan so long term planning as well as making choices about priorities will be critical. Land Use plans and the City Comprehensive plan are not plans for city driven or funded development but a guide for how we want to see our City grow over time. These planning documents should be the guide to those who are investing in development in the City about the overall public view and expectation on density, height and public amenities.
4. As a council person, how would you respond to concerns about development impacts in your ward? Outside of your ward? Is there a recent controversial project (land use or transportation) that you would have handled differently?
Those who have worked with me know I have been a voice for my constituents on development issues. I support high density development where our comp plan and zoning calls for it and oppose developments that work hard to push the boundaries and change the rules for developers own economic benefit. I have been involved with and worked on more than 50 multifamily condo and apartment projects in the ward I represent over the years. I have worked to get developers to work with neighborhoods and immediate neighbors to address concerns about change while moving a large number of projects forward. Grant Park, The Carlyle, Eitel Apartments on Loring Park and the two new high-rises under construction right now are a very few examples of projects were neighbors had concerns about height and density but bringing together all sides provided for a positive outcome and some very good high quality projects that have added much needed density to our City. I have been known to fight high density projects in my ward where the zoning and comp plan didn’t support that kind of development, where big projects would change the essential character of a neighborhood or area and in each case development did move forward simply not as tall or as dense as the developers initially demanded.
5. Where is your favorite place to walk (in or outside of Minneapolis)?
Walking our dogs Sadie and Finn is a highlight of each day for me. I have the good fortune to live close to JD Rivers and Theodore Wirth Parks and walking thought the woods where the hardwoods meet the evergreen trees is a really special place for us, we walk this path almost daily. Living on Hennepin Avenue for 20 years however made Loring Park my favorite place to walk. The combo of walking down Hennepin and enjoying the hustle and bustle of MCTC and the shops and Theatres combined with the pond, paths and dog park in Loring Park make that a nice way to see what’s going on in the City but feeling like you are in nature too.