Letters to the editor

Abuse of power

I am writing in regards to the most recent Planning Commission and their decision on the Calhoun Square development.  For those of you who have not seen it, the city planner recommended approval on all areas of the project. The Planning Commission ignored her, ignored protocol, ignored standards, and voted against it. When asked for specifics as to why, they had none and could not justify their decision other than to say it is their right.

Even Council Member Remington spoke against them; he wants it to be more like the developments you see in L.A. The fact that our weather and culture has very little in common with L.A. is a fact that elected officials need not consider, apparently.

And everyone wants a park. First off, I eat lunch frequently on top of the library. No one else is ever there, save for some teenagers on skateboards. The same is true of Bryant Park. No one uses it — so to demand that a private entity create public space that will not be used seems a ridiculous.

Everyone talks about how they want small independent tenants like the old Calhoun Square.

Well, look at the math. Costs are passed on to the tenants. Say there is 1,000 square feet of retail, and costs are $5,000 to maintain the property ($5/square foot in operating costs). Well, you add in your park — now you only have 750 square feet of retail, and costs are $10,000 (over $13/square foot). That is simplified math, but it holds. Could you afford to stay in your home if the cost of living there increased over 250 percent?  Your unrealistic demands are driving away the very tenants you want there — you are making it too expensive for them.

And no south dock. I would not have bought a home without a back door — would you? How are tenants supposed to get their goods into their stores? I don’t want semis parked along Hennepin and 31st all day — do you?

We all watched for three years while an owner was forced to add in all of this nonsense to gain approval.  Then the owner had to sell the property, since they could not build and make a profit on what the Planning Commission forced them to design. 

The same thing is happening again — Uptown is going to lose this redevelopment because of inflated egos and abuse of power. In a time when the economy is suffering, you have a developer offering a great deal of jobs in our community, not only the construction but also long term retail jobs. Their plan included fantastic indoor space where you could go to get away from the weather, and offered a lot to the community.  We’re only hurting ourselves by not supporting them; if this owner walks away also, or stays with a bad project with poor tenant mix, Remington has no one to blame but himself. Well, him and the Planning Commission.

Greg Nordlie

Peeved by parking permits
It’s back. Once again the city is contemplating parking permits for residents of the Uptown area, and all for only $35, and if you are following this, you would know they were $10 a few years back. What do you think they might be a few years from now — $100?

These permits are nothing but an attempt to take more money from residents. Here is the truth on permits: The City Council is responsible for the overdevelopment of Uptown and its parking problems via lack of parking requirements by business. Do you really think the police will be out patroling the streets at 2 p.m. looking for non-permitted cars? They are not there now to stop all the late-night screaming, peeing and puking and shootings.

What is wrong with you people? Your friends cannot just stop in and visit. What kind of place is that to live?

Since there will be zero inforcment, tell me how this is about parking? There will not be less cars. They just move down the block. Can you be more foolish then to fall for this?
I am paying property taxes, the street assessment, and the sidwalk assessment. I think I will be setting up a toll booth soon. In other cities I have lived, they actually gave the residents permits and the visitors had to buy them. What a concept.
Steven Solnitzky

Save NRP

FYI Southwest: Our Mayor and City Council are set to end Minneapolis Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) as we know it.

While we are all busy working our jobs, paying our rent or mortgage, and following national politics, Minneapolis’ elected city leaders are quietly poised to dismantle our award-winning NRP program. They have proposed to take the currently independent NRP organization and put it under the control of the City Coordinator in the Mayor’s office. They want to take the grassroots, decentralized decision-making that has been key to NRP’s success and centralize the power, money and control Downtown.

They’re only proposing $3 million in funding for all of Minneapolis’ 81 neighborhoods ($1 million of this will be taken off the top for the city to administer the program). That leaves an average of $25K–$30K for each neighborhood organization to continue to function (e.g. very part-time staff, newsletter printing, mailing costs, events).

There is no plan right now to put any money into a proposed discretionary fund that would allow neighborhoods to do all of the other kinds of programs and improvements they’ve been doing these past 18 years (e.g. housing loans, business grants, park/school/library improvements).

I proposed a resolution at my very-well-attended precinct caucus to continue to support and fund NRP. I was overwhelmed with the response it received — after some great comments and discussion, it passed without contention.

I encourage my fellow neighbors to look closely at the eight-page draft “Framework for the Future” document at www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/communications/communityengagement.asp. The city will be collecting input from residents until March 17. Send comments to Jennifer Lastoka at Community.Engagement@ci.minneapolis.mn.us.

More information about the award-winning NRP program can be found at neighbors4nrp.com or www.nrp.org.

Jennifer Gisslen Lee

Meet your South Minneapolis neighbors

I am a resident of Fulton, a past resident of Linden Hills, and very fortunate to be the current Director of the Field Regina Northrop Neighborhood Group.

Have you heard of us? Field, Regina and Northrop are three vital, artsy, diverse neighborhoods just east of 35W and west of Cedar. We have a great board of directors and if I may say so myself, a charismatic and capable director. We are 4000-plus residences and businesses strong.

We have Turtle Bread! And Pepitos! And the Parkway Theatre! Now do you know where we are? Here’s our problem, your newspaper is not delivered to the residences, which is fine since our businesses are always filled with copies for our residents to take, but where, I ask, is Field Regina Northrop Neighborhood Group’s meeting information listed? I see Fulton and Armatage and Linden Hills and others, but why must our amazing neighborhood organization be omitted from your newspaper? Is it because of that little road you call 35W? Don’t let it separate us, help us do our job more efficiently by putting our information into your publication. We neighborhood organizations work together and need all the help we can to get the word out about our low interest home loans, foreclosure assistance, community and safety programs, etc. Everyone benefits when the city is revitalized. FRNNG meets at Lake Nokomis Presbyterian Church at 6:30 p.m. on every third Wednesday. Thanks!

Erica Graber-Mitchell

Giving ice cycling a whirl

Thanks — your articles and videos on winter biking has motivated me to try it. It’s a blast!

Dane Hartzell

A ‘piecemeal approach’ to parking

It is unfortunate that Mr. Forester’s letter to the editor (“Permit parking promotes safety,” Feb. 11 issue) promotes the idea that less people on the street means safer streets. It is well documented that more eyes and ears on the street creates safer communities. The proposed parking ban will not improve the safety of Uptown. I ask Uptown residents to walk through their neighborhood and ask themselves where they feel least safe. I’ve always felt least safe on those blocks that currently have permit parking. Those blocks have wide-open road for cars to speed down and fewer people having a reason to be out on the street.

Permit parking is a piecemeal approach in dealing with the parking situation. We’ve had parking issues in Uptown since the 1920s, and this latest push for permit parking is one of the least comprehensive parking discussions that Uptown may have ever had. This proposal covers a limited area and will push parking issues onto other blocks. It does not deal with the issue of why people park in the neighborhoods in the first place, which has to do with cost, accessibility, and perception and real lack of supply. While the Uptown parking study showed ample capacity during the daytime hours and in a few small lots during evenings and weekends, the overall parking and transportation system needs to be discussed before we simply take bold action.

I’m disappointed that this permit parking discussion has been driven by fear and misconceptions. The real losers here aren’t the criminals; it’s the low-wage employees, businesses, and the surrounding blocks who will bear the costs.

Council Member Remington should lead by putting together a diverse task force to discuss parking and transportation issues in Uptown before any permit parking is approved.

Thatcher Imboden
Uptown activist & business person


Letters to the editor

Permit parking promotes safety

In response to the “Plea for Remington” letter to the editor in the Jan.14–27 Journal, the permit parking push in Uptown is driven first and foremost by public

Council Member Remington was on my street, 31st and Girard, on March 23, 2006 at the vigil for [murder victim] Michael Zebhur. He vowed to do something that night, and he has. Remove the victims — people heading to their cars — and remove the crime.

There will be no impact on Uptown businesses; the Uptown planning process found that there is plenty of parking. When was the last time the parking ramp was full? The side streets almost always are. The proposed plan restricts parking only late at night.

To those against permit parking, accompany me and my daughters, ages 4 and 7, when we walk past blood-soaked snow, or when the street is lit with votives for the slain. Help me explain what happened on the sidewalk where they draw chalk flowers. Explain the poster of the dead young man Michael Zebhur — an impromptu memorial, that stood on my street for weeks.

Look at the crime map in this paper. Note the times the crimes occur and the location. Most of the crime happens within the proposed permit parking during the times parking is restricted.

It is not only violent crime — the nuisance crime residents know so well, will also diminish. The Uptown neighborhood is a great place to live, the Uptown Entertainment District is not and, late at night, the Entertainment district spills into the residential community.

Businesses will die in Uptown when crime drives out families and news crews camped on my street broadcast the prurient details of yet more preventable carnage to folks in the outer ring.

Council Member Remington is wise to support this plan. It is what his constituents want and business needs. What the writer claimed was “antibusiness politicking” is a reasoned response to a critical problem. We owe
Michael Zebhur no less than to solve it. Bravo, Ralph!

Jeff Forester

More on the proposed Nicollet youth housing project

The affordable housing project proposed for 3700 Nicollet Ave. has more aspects than stated in the last article.

First, it’s not a church charity. It’s almost entirely taxpayer funded to the tune of $8 million. So whining for literally 30 paragraphs about “enormous amounts of scrutiny” and “proving merit” is a particularly odd stance. Why not cover how organizations leach off millions from the state to build 42 studio units, when there are empty units across the street that remain unfilled?

Why not cast some scrutiny about how many already existing run-down and/or foreclosed houses and other buildings could be fixed for $8 million? I’m sure that number would be significantly higher than 42 … and it wouldn’t require the constant influx of tax money to maintain either.

Second, it’s great to want to help couch-hopping young adults. But if said young adult can’t come up with more than $200 a month in rent, it’s likely that there are more issues involved than just housing. If so, is concentrating them in a dorm-like atmosphere with 40 others who have the same problems in their best interest?

Third, I’ve lived next door to public housing for 10 years, and it’s never been a problem. It’s one unit surrounded by other private houses. However, now that Plymouth Church is going to build another 42 units in phase one, and a few more in phase 2, literally across the street from me, that’s a drastic change in the neighborhood. Not only am I to believe that Plymouth Church has everyone’s best interest in mind, but I’m also simply expected to take the property-value hit that my house will suffer as a result of this taxpayer-funded project.

So at the community meetings, where I watch the nodding heads “listen” to us neighbors, and they vote to fund this anyway, I’m supposed to somehow feel heard by the city and Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation (PCNF)? The truth is, they don’t even come close to representing the immediate neighbors.

Tom Holtzleiter

Taxes taking a toll

It was with great disappointment (and, I must say, anger) that I read about the city of Minneapolis’ decision to raise this year’s property taxes a whopping 8 percent yet again. Not to mention Hennepin County raising their share of our property tax another 6.5 percent. And this comes in a year of declining property values, a credit crisis, rising foreclosures, rising energy prices and a pending recession.

In the Jan. 14–27 Journal, there was an article about the retail slump that is hurting our local merchants. A languishing real estate market and higher property taxes were cited as major reasons for consumer’s unease. And yet our local government keeps on taking.

Obviously, Mayor Rybak has priorities other than the financial well-being of his constituents. (And, come next election, it will not be forgotten.)

Senator Klobuchar has signed as a co-sponsor of a bill in Congress to set new standards in the subprime mortgage industry to protect homeowners. But what about taxes? What protections do we taxpayers have from greedy politicians who can’t keep their hands out of our pockets?

Brett Loftesnes
Linden Hills