The City of Minneapolis continues to break records for growth. In each of the past three years we have ended the year with just over $1 billion in building permits. In 2016, we reached that mark by the end of the third quarter. Growth is critical for our city as it provides increases to our tax base, which eases the pain of property taxes and fees and allows us to more readily pursue our progressive goals. In 2016, I led the charge in moving us forward on affordable housing, and forged a deal to properly fund the neighborhood parks.
It is very expensive to be poor, and stable housing can be a large part of the solution. At an October meeting we provided the final funding through the city’s allocation of federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits to three great projects that will provide housing for 189 people, including 47 dedicated to youth in our ward through the YouthLink housing project, which breaks ground this spring. Because emergency shelter is not housing, no child in Minneapolis should go homeless and be left to sleep on the floor.
Last year, the City Council and the Park Board were faced with the monumental task of addressing a $15 million dollar per year funding gap. Our park buildings and amenities were crumbling before our eyes, and we were reaching a critical breaking point that would have seen an irreversible decline in park quality. The parks are an important public amenity, and the effect of underfunding them affects underserved communities most of all. In perhaps our biggest accomplishment this year, I forged a deal with the Park Board leadership to develop and implement a plan to fund the parks. Not only does this plan provides the funding necessary for our neighborhood parks to continue to function, it also helped alleviate the need for a referendum which would have raised property taxes by 5%.
- Established a Small Business Office with dedicated staff and special support for entrepreneurs
- Saved taxpayers $3 million a year by reworking our IT contract, one of the largest in the city, and keeping a firm eye on the budget
- Supported a Target Market program to help small and minority-owned businesses do business with the City
- Reformed the alcohol to food sales ratios, to allow restaurants to be more successful
- Supported alternatives to expanded garbage burning at the HERC
- Supported clean energy partnership with CenterPoint and Xcel Energy to meet our greenhouse gas reduction goals
- Supported the Green to Go ordinance that requires recyclable or compostable packaging
- Supported opening up more City-owned land for urban agriculture and community gardens
- Worked to require shorter energy franchise agreements to allow the City more flexibility to raise franchise fee revenue for clean energy
- Brought citywide compost service to all 1-4 unit buildings in Minneapolis
- Legalized accessory dwelling units citywide to provide more housing options
- Fixed outdated rules to allow homeless shelters in every part of the city, not just downtown
- Secured paid sick leave and paid parental leave for City employees
- Supported the Open Data Policy to improve transparency
- Reformed parking requirements to allow less parking for new developments when transit is easily accessible
- Supported investment in body cameras for all Minneapolis police officers
- Supported efforts to increase the number of police officers and firefighters, reduce 911 wait times, and secure more investigative resources for the Police Department
- Founded the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, providing $10 million annually in gap funding to people at 30-50 percent of the metro-wide median income.
- Authored changes to eliminate unnecessary barriers to allow food trucks to operate in Minneapolis. This has added to the vitality of the city, enhanced opportunities for entrepreneurs to get into the industry, and has resulted in Minneapolis having one of the greatest food truck scenes in the country.
- Early adopter of bike lanes in Minneapolis, and advocate for the placement of protected bike lanes.
- Created the partnership to build Gold Medal Park, which created a new 10 acre park downtown on what was once a huge surface parking lot. Once that was done, I recruited Izzy’s to open their new ice cream manufacturing facility next door.
- Preserved our historic theaters on Hennepin Avenue and developed a plan for nonprofit ownership that resulted in the formation and expansion of the Hennepin Theatre Trust.
- Worked from day one to develop what is about to be the new Nicollet Mall, a 50 million dollar investment designed to make Nicollet our premier pedestrian street downtown.
- Led a project team that sold 6 city parking ramps resulting in the city’s ability to pay off about 85 million dollars in debt in our parking fund and has encouraged development around the ramps.
- Led the effort to build a monumental green roof on Target Center which resulted in millions of gallons of stormwater being absorbed onsite rather than dumped into the river. Then got the Central Library and City Hall to build green roofs on their buildings too.
- Worked with a dozen or more developers to encourage the greatest level of growth and expansion of housing downtown in this past century. Directly worked on Grant Park, the Carlyle, LPM Loring apartments, Skyscape, Zenith, the Bridgewater, Eitel Apartments, 301 Kenwood Parkway, and Portland Tower, to name but a few.
- Worked to convert Hennepin Avenue to a two-way street so traffic didn’t just pass through but created the Hennepin Avenue Theatre District.
- Worked with our great partners in the arts to bring the Guthrie to the Riverfront, expand the Walker Art Center (and now the new green space and Sculpture Garden), create a home for dance in the old Shubert Theatre (now the Cowles Center), and create a new home for the MacPhail Center for Music.
- Established the most comprehensive partnership agreement with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to fund and maintain neighborhood parks citywide, investing over 200 million dollars without a major tax increase and with a focus on areas of greatest need.