City council actions

4/13 Meeting

Blaisdell Apartments: The Council approved the use of $8.5 million in tax-exempt revenue bonds to finance the acquisition and renovation of five apartment buildings in the Whittier neighborhood that contain a total of about 150 units.

Blaisdell Housing Limited Partnership is working to acquire the Blaisdell Apartments, located on the 2100, 2200 and 2300 blocks of Blaisdell Ave. S. The extensive renovation proposed for the apartments will have a total price tag of more than $13 million and includes roof repairs, new windows, new flooring, upgraded electrical and plumbing systems, and new appliances. Most of the units will remain affordable housing at 50 and 60 percent of the area median income.

Council Member Robert Lilligren (6th Ward), who represents the neighborhood the apartments are located in, voted against the measure. Lilligren said the project is fine, but he has concerns because it’s in an area that already has a high concentration of affordable housing.

“It forever limits that area’s viability at producing a local economy,” Lilligren said, adding that he wants to revisit the city’s policy on de-concentrating poverty.

But Council Member Gary Schiff (9th Ward) said the city isn’t suppressing rents in the buildings but simply providing the means for the buildings to be rehabilitated.

Target Center: The City Council voted to put a new management team in place at the Target Center.

AEG Facilities, Inc. will manage the city-owned Target Center, a job that has been held by Midwest Entertainment Group LLC (MEG) since 2004. Profitability for operating the Target Center has seen a decline since 2000, according to a city report, and MEG announced in February that it would no longer operate the arena effective May 2.

As part of the 18-year agreement, AEG has agreed to make a $2 million upfront capital investment in the Target Center. It has also agreed to limit the city’s obligation in supporting arena losses to less than $2 million a year in upcoming years and will share annual net income improvements with the city.

False Alarm Fees: The Council voted 9-4 to approve an ordinance that charges residents and businesses a fee every time their burglar alarm system has a false alarm.

The approved ordinance requires that residents pay a $30 fee for their first false alarm. Along with paying that fee, alarm owners would be required to register their alarm with the city. The second false alarm would incur a fine of $100, and the fine for each false alarm thereafter increases by $100.

The new revenue generated by the registration fee and fines would almost cover the estimated $750,000 in costs the city is expected to incur responding to false alarms this year.

Under the ordinance in place now, alarm owners are charged a $200 fee beginning with their third false alarm. The fee for each false alarm thereafter increases by $100.

Members of the Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee and city staff have been working to find a compromise to the false alarm fee after several council members expressed concern at a meeting in March about charging residents for false burglar alarms. Council Member Paul Ostrow (1st Ward) argued this is the best way to recoup the city’s costs for responding to false alarms.

“There is a cost for false alarms that we will pay one way or another,” Ostrow said. “We’ll either pay for it through property taxes or with a fee.”

city council actions

Neighborhood Revitalization Program: After a lengthy discussion, the Council recommended that the Legislature not consider a bill authored by several Minneapolis legislators that would extend the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) 20 years past its current expiration date of 2009.

Council Member Cam Gordon (2nd Ward) moved to send a discussion about extending NRP back to a council committee for further review. But several of his colleagues spoke against the motion, arguing it jumps ahead of a larger discussion that needs to take place about the future of NRP.

Several council members argued that the city needs time to work with NRP partners such as Hennepin County, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, and the Minneapolis Schools to figure out what works with the program and what doesn't. Some council members also pointed out that the bill doesn't provide a funding structure for the NRP program.

Council Member Betsy Hodges (13th Ward) said council members need to have a comprehensive policy discussion about the future of the NRP program rather than try to tackle the issue in 15 minutes on the council floor.

&#8220There is a very large, very important discussion to be had here about this program,” Hodges said.

Taxicab Licenses: The Council approved the distribution of 45 new taxicab vehicle licenses, which were awarded to: Gold Star Taxi, A New Star Taxi, Checker Taxi, Skybird Taxi, Latino Express and North Star Taxi.

&#8220We hope the result is going to be better access to taxis,” Council Member Gary Schiff (9th Ward) said.

Spray Paint Ordinance: The Council approved a long-delayed version of an ordinance that attempts to reduce graffiti in the city by cracking down on establishments that sell spray paint, paint sticks or broad-tipped markers. The ordinance requires that retailers display those items in an area visible to employees at all times and place a sign nearby that clearly states in lettering at least one inch high that the store does not sell spray paint to anyone under the age of 17.

The Council also accepted a $42,500 grant from the National Council to Prevent Delinquency that will be used to pilot an antigraffiti enforcement program.

LICENSES: The Council granted Elite Groceries, 324 W. 33rd St., off-sale beer and tobacco dealer licenses; and AM Food & Tobacco, 1814 Nicollet Ave. S., grocery and tobacco dealer licenses, subject to conditions.