Comprehensive plan update sets the direction for Minneapolis

Some of the city’s broadest policy directives — like planning for population growth — have their roots in the Comprehensive Plan.

The plan has a big impact on the city. It guides approval of new development projects. It can set zoning that influences what can be built on particular lots — past plans have directed new development to areas like the riverfront and commercial corridors. It comes into play when the city builds bikeways or plans transit. It guides affordable housing strategy.

The Comprehensive Plan in 1953 focused on highways and modern sewer and water. The plan in 1982 focused on recovery from blight and downtown revitalization. The last Comprehensive Plan update in 2009 focused on the city’s growth, with emphasis on sustainability and new chapters on historic preservation and urban design.

To craft the next Comprehensive Plan update, called Minneapolis 2040, the city has collected community feedback over the past year, generating a series of goals adopted by the City Council last spring.

City Planning Manager Jack Byers said efforts to close racial disparity gaps are the most significant updates under consideration now.

“The public is saying we’re looking for a place where we have easier access to employment — that’s not always the case at the moment. They’re saying we need more housing options, and we need more housing affordability. Those are very big issues,” Byers said. “There are a lot of people talking about access to transit, and then there’s a lot of people talking about sustainability and clean energy. These are really the main themes.”

To weigh in with policy ideas, residents can visit Slowly scrolling through the content reveals a visual story of the Comprehensive Plan, with options to see more data and submit feedback. Residents can also attend one of four open houses in December. One open house is Dec. 11 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park at 4055 Nicollet Ave.

Byers said he hopes more people roll up their sleeves and dig into the content at People can highlight spots on a map where they’d like to see more housing options, more retail, or better transit. Interactive maps zoom in to the block level to show details about population forecasts, future land use, bikeways, high frequency transit, polluted waterways, areas of concentrated poverty and estimated market value.

Council Member Lisa Bender (10th Ward) co-authored the goals in the Comprehensive Plan update. She said in a September interview that the city’s current plan lays out more than 100 policies.

“It has really affected our city’s growth patterns,” she said. “Right now we’re putting all of the growth in a very small percentage of land. And I think we need to do more to allow for the kind of housing options that fit into neighborhoods across the city.”

The city is growing faster than it has since 1950, according to city staff. The Metropolitan Council projects the city’s population will increase from an estimated 411,273 in 2014 to 459,200 in 2040.

“What we’re intending to propose is a way that we can accommodate population growth without actually ruining the livability [and] quality of life that we all have come to love and enjoy,” Byers said. “It’s a balancing act.”

A draft plan update is expected to be complete in March, and the City Council will vote on the plan next fall and deliver it to the Metropolitan Council by late December 2018.


Minneapolis has become increasingly unaffordable since 2000, according to city data, making all of the city’s neighborhoods largely unaffordable for average African American incomes and few neighborhoods affordable to average Latino incomes. The median rent in 2000 was $809; in 2014 the median rent was $854.

Information courtesy of City of Minneapolis
Image courtesy of City of Minneapolis

Affordability emerged as a theme at the city’s open houses in recent months.

“What can we do to maintain affordability, + high quality of life, especially for people of color so they are not driven out as has happened in other cities (ex. San Francisco)?” said one person at a Midtown Global Market open house.

The Mapping Prejudice project is documenting the city’s history of racially restrictive covenants, which barred nonwhite people from owning certain properties from 1910-1968, and has found more than 5,000 properties with restrictions to-date. Though now illegal, city staff said places with a history of the covenants are still predominantly white neighborhoods.

Information courtesy of City of Minneapolis
Image courtesy of City of Minneapolis

Mayor-elect Jacob Frey has called himself an “unabashed proponent of density.” He said in a candidate questionnaire that the city’s failure to embrace density in neighborhoods dominated by white, wealthy residents has allowed explicitly racist policies of the past to entrench inequity in the present. He told the Comprehensive Plan should allow for a mix of housing stock and a mix of uses (to avoid separating residential and business districts, for example) so that streets are more vibrant and safe at all times of day.

Bender said there isn’t enough housing for the growing city, and it’s squeezing out renters.

“If we really want to have housing options for people outside of downtown, we need to make it easier to build on smaller lots,” she said. “People don’t only want to see these big, long, six-story buildings. But if we want to see something different, we have to change the rules, because the rules are driving people to do this one kind of development.”

Information courtesy of City of Minneapolis
Image courtesy of City of Minneapolis

Proposed policy ideas:

— Build a wider variety of housing types, especially in parts of the city with histories of racially restrictive housing policies and practices.

— Increase the supply of housing to help keep all housing more affordable.


More jobs are available by a 30-minute car trip than a 30-minute mass transit trip, according to the city. Policies under consideration would work to change that.

One community member at a street festival requested “Profitable businesses in Zipcode 55411.” Another respondent said “I need [a] job.” Another respondent said transportation between home and work is one of the city’s largest challenges, suggesting more job centers dispersed throughout the city near transit and concentrated poverty.

“The high concentration of jobs in downtown exacerbates traffic and access issues,” the respondent said.

Information courtesy of City of Minneapolis
Image courtesy of City of Minneapolis

Proposed policy ideas:

— Locate businesses close to where residents live.

— Provide better mass transit access to employers.


The city is aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

Community members told the city they want to see more trees, gardens and solar energy in Minneapolis, and even butterfly gardens in the Vikings stadium.

“Many don’t understand [the] urgency of recycling,” one respondent told the city.

“The rate at which we are ‘saving’ the planet is not enough even though we’re doing more than in the past,” said another respondent.

Information courtesy of City of Minneapolis
Image courtesy of City of Minneapolis

Proposed policy ideas:

— Retrofit existing buildings to reduce energy consumption.

— Ensure that new buildings are as energy efficient as possible.


Today, 9 out of 10 trips in Minneapolis are taken in personal automobiles, according to the city. To meet the city’s climate goals, the city would need to see an estimated 40 percent reduction in car trips.

Information courtesy of City of Minneapolis
Image courtesy of City of Minneapolis

At one open house at the Midtown Global Market, one individual noted that in 2040 they would be 85 years old.

“Hope to still be walking a lot but probably not as vigorously. Hope to not be driving a car much if at all. Transit, self-driving cars is what I hope for,” the person said.

Proposed policy ideas:

— Build more housing, retail and employment near mass transit.

— Build more stores in under-served neighborhoods.

— Prioritize walking, biking and mass transit on city streets.

— Continue to build protected bike lanes.

Minneapolis 2040 open house dates

Interactive events with free food and family-friendly activities created by artists and city staff

Topics include housing, job creation, building design and street use. The city is also collecting feedback at

Saturday, Dec. 2, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Van Cleve Park gym, 901 15th Ave. SE

Tuesday, Dec. 5, 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., Farview Park gym, 621 29th Ave. N.

Saturday, Dec. 9, 10 a.m.-12 p.m., Roosevelt High School gym, 4029 28th Ave. S.

Monday, Dec. 11, 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park multipurpose room, 4055 Nicollet Ave.

Adopted city goals

— Reduce racial disparities in the economy, housing, safety and health

— Add residents and jobs, with equitable benefit to all

— Provide access to affordable housing

— Improve access to living wage jobs in a healthy, sustainable, diverse economy

— Socially connected, healthy and safe residents

— High-quality physical environment in all parts of the city

— The city’s physical attributes will reflect the city’s history and cultures

— Creative, natural and cultural amenities

— Access to employment, retail, healthy food and parks via walking, biking and public transit

— Achieve 80 percent greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 with healthy air, clean water and vibrant ecosystem

— Civic participation that enfranchises everyone, recognizing the service of neighborhood organizations

— A government that is proactive, accessible and fiscally sustainable