Government News

Various Government Related Stories

City plans new condo licensing, higher registration fees

Minneapolis will begin licensing rental units in condominiums and townhomes, giving it more leverage to deal with conduct problems, a city licensing official said.

In a related issue, the city proposes registration fee changes for condo and townhome associations and leasehold cooperatives, a plan that has raised the ire of City Councilmember Lisa Goodman (7th Ward), who represents a number of condo and townhome owners in Southwest and downtown Minneapolis.

The city historically registered rental units in condo and townhome associations but did not license them like apartments, said Janine Atchison, district supervisor with Housing Inspection Services.

The change means the city will inspect condo and townhome rental units and subject them to city licensing codes, she said. For instance, if a rented condo or townhome unit has chronic problems with loud parties or drug issues, licensing staff could force the owner to address the problem or lose the license.

"We heard a strong message from condo and townhome associations -- they don't feel like they have a lot of control over rental units within their buildings when there are conduct issues," Atchison said.

The City Council voted 12-0 Dec. 29 to license condo and townhome rentals.

Goodman supports the licensing measure, she said. However, she also opposes registration fee increases.

Registration gives city the names of responsible parties to contact to fix code violations, such as a fence problem or subpar siding, Atchison said.

City registration fees are $20 a year for condominiums or townhomes of five units or fewer; $35 for buildings with six to 15 units; $50 for buildings with 16 to 50 units and $100 for buildings with more than 50 units.

Councilmember Dan Niziolek (10th Ward), chair of the Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee, proposes a fee increase of $15 to $25 per category, so the city would charge from $35 to $125, depending on the size of the building.

Atchison said condo and townhome associations have registered with the city since the mid-1970s. According to a city memo, the fees have not been increased since then, and Niziolek said the increases reflected the program's cost.

Goodman said the city can't justify charging any fee for the service -- which she said amounts to typing a few names into a computer -- let alone an increase.

Atchison said between the higher registration fees and new licensing, the city would break even. A new registration fee structure would fix a disparity that has meant townhomes pay more than condos. The city now charges by the building, not by the unit, so a 48-unit, eight-building townhome pays $280 in registration fees, while a 48-unit, single-building condo pays $50.

The city would now charge by the unit, Atchison said. Condos would pay more under the new plan and townhomes less.

Goodman argues that higher charges aren't justified.

"Under state law, as it pertains to fees, there has to be a direct correlation between the fee assessed and the service rendered," she said. "I don't see any additional service rendered here. … This is about how do you bilk the public for more money."

Atchison referred state law questions to Assistant City Attorney Henry Reimer.

Reimer said city fees have to be roughly proportionate to the cost of regulation.

"It doesn't have to be exact," said Reimer, who did not draft the fee change ordinance. "It just has to be a ballpark figure; it just has to be justifiable to a judge. There is no formula or real scientific look at it. It just has to be reasonable."

The Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee will discuss the issue Wednesday, Feb. 4.

-- Scott Russell




City Council actions

1/16/04 meeting

McManus: Council voted 9-4 to appoint William McManus to a three-year term as the city's next police chief. Lisa Goodman (7th Ward), Robert Lilligren (8th Ward), Dan Niziolek (10th Ward) and Sandy Colvin Roy (12th Ward) voted no.

Legislative agenda: Council voted 13-0 to approve the city's legislative agenda, with a $24 million borrowing request for the new planetarium among its top priorities.

LaSalle: Council voted 13-0 to approve the project layout for the $3 million rebuild of LaSalle Avenue from West Grant Street to Franklin Avenue.

Assessor: Council voted 13-0 to allow the reappointment of Scott Renne as city assessor for a two-year term.

Planning Commission: Council voted 13-0 to confirm the mayor's reappointment of Judith Martin and Michael Krause to the Planning Commission.

Taco Morelos: Council voted 12-0 to approve a liquor license with Sunday sales for Taco Morelos, 14 W. 26th St. Scott Benson (11th Ward) abstained.

Streetcars, take 1: Council voted 13-0 to authorize a 20-year lease to the Minnesota Transportation Museum to use city-owned land between Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet for operating an historic streetcar system.

Streetcars, take 2: Gary Schiff (9th Ward) proposed exploring the feasibility of a streetcar system. It was referred to the Community Development, Intergovernmental Relations and Transportation, and Public Works committees.

PRT: Dean Zimmermann (6th Ward) proposed studying the feasibility of a personal rapid transit (PRT) system. It was referred to multiple committees, including Transportation and Public Works.

Rezone: Schiff moved to amend a Dec. 15 Council action that denied the request of Todd Cushman, 3629 1st Ave. S., to rezone from R1A to R3 to make an existing two-family home conforming. Council voted 13-0 to pass an ordinance to rezone.

Malt liquor: Niziolek introduced a new ordinance regulating off-sale malt liquor. It was referred to Public Safety and Regulatory Services.

-- Scott Russell

Government News

Various Government Related Stories

City plans new condo licensing, higher registration fees

Minneapolis will begin licensing rental units in condominiums and townhomes, giving it more leverage to deal with conduct problems, a city licensing official said.

In a related issue, the city proposes registration fee changes for condo and townhome associations and leasehold cooperatives, a plan that has raised the ire of City Councilmember Lisa Goodman (7th Ward), who represents a number of condo and townhome owners in Southwest and downtown Minneapolis.

The city historically registered rental units in condo and townhome associations but did not license them like apartments, said Janine Atchison, district supervisor with Housing Inspection Services.

The change means the city will inspect condo and townhome rental units and subject them to city licensing codes, she said. For instance, if a rented condo or townhome unit has chronic problems with loud parties or drug issues, licensing staff could force the owner to address the problem or lose the license.

"We heard a strong message from condo and townhome associations -- they don't feel like they have a lot of control over rental units within their buildings when there are conduct issues," Atchison said.

The City Council voted 12-0 Dec. 29 to license condo and townhome rentals.

Goodman supports the licensing measure, she said. However, she also opposes registration fee increases.

Registration gives city the names of responsible parties to contact to fix code violations, such as a fence problem or subpar siding, Atchison said.

City registration fees are $20 a year for condominiums or townhomes of five units or fewer; $35 for buildings with six to 15 units; $50 for buildings with 16 to 50 units and $100 for buildings with more than 50 units.

Councilmember Dan Niziolek (10th Ward), chair of the Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee, proposes a fee increase of $15 to $25 per category, so the city would charge from $35 to $125, depending on the size of the building.

Atchison said condo and townhome associations have registered with the city since the mid-1970s. According to a city memo, the fees have not been increased since then, and Niziolek said the increases reflected the program's cost.

Goodman said the city can't justify charging any fee for the service -- which she said amounts to typing a few names into a computer -- let alone an increase.

Atchison said between the higher registration fees and new licensing, the city would break even. A new registration fee structure would fix a disparity that has meant townhomes pay more than condos. The city now charges by the building, not by the unit, so a 48-unit, eight-building townhome pays $280 in registration fees, while a 48-unit, single-building condo pays $50.

The city would now charge by the unit, Atchison said. Condos would pay more under the new plan and townhomes less.

Goodman argues that higher charges aren't justified.

"Under state law, as it pertains to fees, there has to be a direct correlation between the fee assessed and the service rendered," she said. "I don't see any additional service rendered here. … This is about how do you bilk the public for more money."

Atchison referred state law questions to Assistant City Attorney Henry Reimer.

Reimer said city fees have to be roughly proportionate to the cost of regulation.

"It doesn't have to be exact," said Reimer, who did not draft the fee change ordinance. "It just has to be a ballpark figure; it just has to be justifiable to a judge. There is no formula or real scientific look at it. It just has to be reasonable."

The Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee will discuss the issue Wednesday, Feb. 4.

-- Scott Russell

City Council actions

1/16/04 meeting

McManus: Council voted 9-4 to appoint William McManus to a three-year term as the city's next police chief. Lisa Goodman (7th Ward), Robert Lilligren (8th Ward), Dan Niziolek (10th Ward) and Sandy Colvin Roy (12th Ward) voted no.

Legislative agenda: Council voted 13-0 to approve the city's legislative agenda, with a $24 million borrowing request for the new planetarium among its top priorities.

LaSalle: Council voted 13-0 to approve the project layout for the $3 million rebuild of LaSalle Avenue from West Grant Street to Franklin Avenue.

Assessor: Council voted 13-0 to allow the reappointment of Scott Renne as city assessor for a two-year term.

Planning Commission: Council voted 13-0 to confirm the mayor's reappointment of Judith Martin and Michael Krause to the Planning Commission.

Taco Morelos: Council voted 12-0 to approve a liquor license with Sunday sales for Taco Morelos, 14 W. 26th St. Scott Benson (11th Ward) abstained.

Streetcars, take 1: Council voted 13-0 to authorize a 20-year lease to the Minnesota Transportation Museum to use city-owned land between Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet for operating an historic streetcar system.

Streetcars, take 2: Gary Schiff (9th Ward) proposed exploring the feasibility of a streetcar system. It was referred to the Community Development, Intergovernmental Relations and Transportation, and Public Works committees.

PRT: Dean Zimmermann (6th Ward) proposed studying the feasibility of a personal rapid transit (PRT) system. It was referred to multiple committees, including Transportation and Public Works.

Rezone: Schiff moved to amend a Dec. 15 Council action that denied the request of Todd Cushman, 3629 1st Ave. S., to rezone from R1A to R3 to make an existing two-family home conforming. Council voted 13-0 to pass an ordinance to rezone.

Malt liquor: Niziolek introduced a new ordinance regulating off-sale malt liquor. It was referred to Public Safety and Regulatory Services.

-- Scott Russell

Government news

Things going on in the Government relating to the Southwest Minneapolis area.

Council begins review of Rybak’s chief choice William P. McManus — Mayor R.T. Rybak’s choice for next Minneapolis police chief — will go through the City Council’s confirmation process in the coming week.

McManus has been Dayton Ohio’s Police Chief for two years. Previously, he served 26 years as assistant police chief in Washington, D.C. He rose to the top of a finalists pool that included Minneapolis deputy chiefs Sharon Lubinski and Lucy Gerold and Chief Charles Moose of Montgomery County, Md., who gained national prominence during the Washington, D.C.-area sniper shootings.

Rybak said McManus’ combination of tough, visible leadership and management skill made him the right choice. Some council leaders have previously spoken highly of the two internal candidates, and they now will get their chance to take McManus’s measure. McManus needs at least seven votes on the 13-member Council to become the next chief, and City Hall observers predict the vote will be close.

The city’s Executive Committee — the mayor and Council President Paul Ostrow (1st Ward), and Councilmembers Paul Zerby (2nd Ward), Natalie Johnson Lee (5th Ward) and Robert Lilligren (8th Ward) — considered the appointment Wednesday, Jan. 7, after the Journal’s deadline. Zerby, Johnson Lee and Ostrow have previously expressed support for McManus; their votes, along with Rybak’s, would form a majority needed to move the nomination forward.

Also on Jan. 7, the Council’s Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee was expected to hold a public hearing on McManus’ appointment. Councilmembers not on the committee will have the opportunity to participate, as is Council custom.

The full Council is expected to vote on the appointment Friday, Jan. 16. During the confirmation process, expect Rybak to tout McManus for:

 

  • Introducing Dayton’s first racial profiling policy, community oriented policing and a crime tracking and analysis system similar to Minneapolis’ CODEFOR program.

     

     

  • Establishing new policies to restrict high-speed pursuits and bans on shooting from or into moving vehicles.

     

     

  • Controlling spiraling overtime costs.

     

     

  • Ensuring the Police Department took diversity-based programs seriously.

     

    In Washington, D.C., McManus oversaw the largest and most diverse division in the city, from Capitol Hill to the poorest neighborhoods. He holds a master of science in management from Johns Hopkins University. He is originally from Philadelphia and is married with two children. — Scott Russell

    City seeks tax-prep volunteers City officials and a seniors group are looking for tax preparation volunteers to help low-income, elderly and limited-English-speaking people.

    People with basic computer skills and experience preparing their own tax returns qualify to help in the Tax Aide Volunteer Program, program organizers said.

    The Tax Aide program has sites throughout the Twin Cities but has a particular need for help at the City Hall site, which opens Tuesday, Jan. 20, and the Hennepin County Government Center site, which opens Friday, Jan. 16. Volunteers receive a free four-day training session and free parking.

    Organizers ask volunteers to commit to a minimum of 40 hours of help through April 15. Volunteers can select shifts between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, except for holidays.

    Last year, volunteers helped citizens fill out 3,500 tax forms. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Tax Aide program is the nation’s largest volunteer-run free tax counseling and preparation program, a news release said.

    For more information contact Ruth Kildow, Minneapolis’ senior ombudsman, at 673-3004. — Scott Russell

    City Council actions 12/29/03 meeting Gary Schiff (9th Ward) absent

    Ball Park: Council voted 11-1 for a resolution identifying the Warehouse District site as the best option for a new ballpark and stating the Metrodome could be refurbished to meet the needs of the Vikings. It authorizes staff to submit proposals to the governor’s screening committee. Paul Zerby (2nd Ward) voted no.

    Reappointments: In separate unanimous votes, the Council reappointed Rocco Forte as fire chief, Klara Fabry as city engineer, John Moir as city coordinator and Jay Heffern as city attorney, to terms that expire in January, 2006.

    Whittier Parking: Council voted 11-0 to authorize Public Works to spend $1,500 from the Residential Parking Program for a parking study in the northeast Whittier neighborhood, by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

    Silver Bullet: Council voted 12-0 to rezone Silver Bullet Design and Build, 2613 1st Ave. S., to add a Transitional Parking Overlay District.

    Annual Reports: Council voted 12-0 for a resolution requiring the Communications Department to approve all major publications produced by city departments; and stating the city will not contribute money to produce individual departments’ annual reports, instead requiring participation in a citywide annual report.

    Nuisance properties: Council voted to return to committee an ordinance that would allow the city the option of rehabilitating a nuisance property rather than demolish it, provided the cost does not exceed 50 percent of the estimated after-market value. (The current threshold is 10 percent.) Ordinance would allow imposition of a performance bond to ensure completion.

    Arts Commission: Council voted 10-1 to approve nine appointments/reappointments to the Minneapolis Arts Commission: Andrea Jenkins, Jane Gregerson, Randy Hartten, Jessica Kohen, Ben Haywood, Connie Beckers, Kathleen Welch, Deborah Jindra and Mick Spence. Sandra Colvin Roy (12th Ward) voted no. — Scott Russell