Monday, June 29, 2015

New Parking Rules not Ready for North Minneapolis Implementation

Stock photo of a parking lot across the street from my home.
At a recent Penn Avenue Community Works meeting, I was asked how I felt about the removal of some parking spots along the corridor.  My swift response was, "North Minneapolis is too addicted to its parking spots and on principle I support any action that reduces parking in this part of the city."  (After that, I did dial it back a bit and got into an actual conversation about the issue.)

So with that as my starting point, I heard some rumblings over the past few weeks about a change in zoning that would eliminate certain parking requirements.  My knee-jerk reaction was the same.  If it gets rid of parking over here, so much the better.  And maybe it could help attract a developer to the fallow land currently owned by the Minneapolis Public Schools just off of Broadway.

But then I read a quote from Council President Barb Johnson, who said that she'd be shocked "if there are fifteen people in north Minneapolis who know about this."  That piqued my curiosity and I decided to bring that number up to sixteen.  I didn't just read a newspaper article on it though.  I read the staff report, the public comments, reviewed the maps and watched the Zoning and Planning Committee meeting.  After immersing myself in the topic, I am not sure I support the ordinance at all and I fully support President Johnson's proposed amendment to exempt north Minneapolis from the change.

Here's why...

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Where to Go After West Broadway Fire

Author's note:  much of the post was initially written shortly after the fire, and put on hold as I didn't have time to finish the article.  Since then, the city has said they will not initiate demolition, and the post has been edited to reflect that change.

On April 16, 2015 a fire broke out on the 800 block of West Broadway, rendering much of the block uninhabitable and unusable at least for the time being.  There are a number of things that cause serious concern here.  First and foremost, I am glad that no lives were lost and that no serious injuries were sustained.  I hope that the businesses and organizations affected, like Brix Meats and Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, will be made whole again.  I mourn the loss of history within these buildings--even if they are restored there will be some aspects that cannot be completely reconstructed.

More to the point, however, I am saddened at the potential loss of what these buildings could be restored to.  Properly restored historic storefronts along West Broadway remains the best way to naturally grow our business corridor through small incubator projects.  One of the principal reasons, demolition aside, that I had a negative reaction to the Satori development was because it took that kind of organic, grassroots development off the table and made everyone focus on the new bright and shiny toy in the room.  More on that later.

After the initial shock wore away, what lingers for me is a mystified reaction as to why people were so quick to...

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Where have All the Bloggers Gone?

Facebook.  That would be the short answer.  But the answer deserves some elaboration on a personal and community level.

The Adventures of Johnny Northside recently went about two months without a post, and has announced a blogging retirement of June 15, 2015.  This blog has had a similar gap.  The Deets is back with some new content, but had been dormant for a while too.  Sure, other blogs have started up (or kept on going); "Hearts and Hammers," and "My Blonde Life in the Hood" come to mind.  But these are primarily personal, navel-gazing pieces and not tackling broader community or institutional issues as their primary focus.

While I can't speak for others, I can talk about my personal choices and what I see as a vastly different landscape for writing and dialogue on community issues.  A little over a year ago, a close friend told me I should "blog less and get out and meet people and do things more."  More often than not, when I'm presented with a good idea, I dismiss it out of hand at first.  But the seed was planted...