Degrees of All Are Welcome Here

All Are Welcome Here signs are great, but not all All Are Welcome Here behavior lives up to that sentiment.

Here is a list of some examples of this.

  1. All Are Welcome Here but don’t park on the public street in front of my house.
  2. All Are Welcome Here, you can park in front of my house, but don’t block the walk.
  3. All Are Welcome Here as long as you don’t build a cookie-cutter house near homes that were purchased from the Sears catalog.
  4. All are welcome Here as long as you can afford to own a single-family home that was built with a racial covenant attached to it.
  5. All Are Welcome Here as long as you mean welcome to live directly on the bus route since it’s not true density if people willingly walk a few blocks to get to transit.
  6. All Are Welcome Here as long as any improvements you make to your home are done to make it more expensive for single families and not more affordable for multiple families.
  7. All Are Welcome Here as long as you wring your hands about gentrification.
  8. All Are Welcome here, and we mean – specifically – garbage trucks. The more the better. We welcome garbage trucks on our streets every day of the week. #stpaultrash
  9. All Are Welcome Here as long as you don’t get in the way of people driving by biking.
  10. All Are Welcome here, but please wear a reflective vest while running or walking your dog at night so your neighbors don’t need to slow down on residential streets.
  11. All Are Welcome Here. Now, please state how long you’ve lived in this neighborhood before speaking so I can determine whether your opinion is valid. Bonus if you share where you moved here from so I can use that data point to further discount your opinion.
  12. All Are Welcome Here to appreciate and not meddle with the work done by people who’ve lived here a long time, making this neighborhood what it is.
  13. All Are Welcome Here who understand that this neighborhood is a solved problem that should be preserved in amber.
  14. All Are Welcome Here but don’t ask me to do to anything about public schools losing non-white students to charter schools because they don’t feel welcome in our public schools.
  15. All Are Welcome Here including students from other neighborhoods but don’t you dare ask my kid to go to a school in that kid’s neighborhood.

What I Think I Understand About the Minneapolis Public Schools’ CDD

I’ve been having a lot of conversations with fellow and future MPS parents about the MPS Comprehensive District Design and thought I’d jot down a few takeaways here.

Note: if any of my language regarding race is outdated by 2020 standards, understand that I’m a mid-40’s white guy who’s trying to keep up. Shoot me a message or leave a comment if you have any constructive feedback about that.

The motivation for change appears to be primarily financial. If your budget is shrinking, or at least not growing as fast as costs, you clearly need to do something about that.

Why is there a budget challenge? Because fewer school-aged children in Minneapolis have been attending Minneapolis Public Schools than in the past. There are a variety of alternatives, with charter schools, nearby districts, and private schools being three common ones.

Every time a student leaves the district a lot of money leaves with them.

So, if you want to close the budget gap you have a few options. Those include cutting costs, raising additional revenue, or stopping/reversing the enrollment trend.

The latter has the largest potential to solve budget problems. Cost-cutting to address declining enrollment could exacerbate declining enrollment. Raising additional revenue through a tax levy just happened so that’s not on the table right now.

If you wanted to reverse declining enrollment what would you do? Perhaps talk to the families who are leaving the district to ask them why they’re leaving? That’s what MPS did. And they found that the families leaving are largely African American, Hispanic, and East African immigrant families. And they found that the reasons they’re choosing to leave the district are primarily:

  • Not feeling safe in the schools
  • Not feeling welcome in the schools
  • Not feeling that the schools are preparing their children for the future.

This – to me – is critical to understanding the proposed changes.

Two Different Conversations

I had a chance to attend a recent CDD meeting at Justice Page Middle School. The auditorium was packed with parents interested in hearing about the plan. Here is Justice Page’s racial breakdown:

White:49.8%
African American:25.6%
Hispanic:18.6%
Asian:3.1%
Two or more races:1.5%
American Indian:0.9%
Pacific Islander:0.4%

I note that because the attendees at the meeting were around 98% white. The questions asked were fine but none of the questions asked addressed the three bullet points I listed above. Thankfully, MPS appears to be seeking out feedback from families who don’t/won’t/can’t attend public hearings. This is great because a major flaw of public meetings is that the attendees often falsely believe that the opinions shared at the meetings reflect the opinions of all stakeholders.

The question that came closest to hitting those bullet points was something like, “How are the proposed changes going to improve the racial integration of our schools?” This is a fair question but I don’t think it’s hitting the core concerns of the families who are leaving. As I understand it, they’re not leaving because the schools they attend aren’t integrated enough, or that they (families with non-white students) aren’t attending schools with enough white students.

Increased school integration does not appear to be at the top of the list of concerns among families leaving the district. Here’s one possible scenario: a Somali family lives in a part of town where they’re not particularly impressed with their neighborhood school so they choose to put their kid on a bus across town to a school that’s known for having better results. Their kid doesn’t feel welcome at that school and comes home crying after being picked on during long bus rides. The school may be a good school on paper but the experience for that doesn’t mean that it’s a great experience for all students. So, that family looks at other options and they find a charter school that welcomes Somali families. The parents think, “This school may not be any better than where my child is going now, but at least they’ll feel welcome at school and not come home crying.”

Will White Families Leave?

The CDD is a big change and certainly disruptive and any time there’s change there will be people who reevaluate all of their school options. This includes families who are really happy with the status quo. If boundary changes will redirect your children to schools that weren’t your first choice, or a magnet school you love is being demagnetized and turned back into a neighborhood school, those are reasons for concern.

For example, if Spanish immersion is a must-have for a family and scaling back or moving Windom’s program is a deal-breaker, that could cost MPS some students. Dowling’s current environmental program was cited at the Justice Page hearing. A representative from MPS said that it polled poorly among magnet choices. There are families who love Dowling today because it has the environmental program, the Special Needs program, the large campus, the integrated student body, and the success of students in that environment. The bet the school board is making is that the white families who attend schools like Dowling will still have great academic options available for their kids.

Will this work?

I don’t know. To me, it sounds good on paper. It sounds like MPS has identified the root causes of why families are leaving and has a plan to address those concerns.

I’m concerned about whether the disruption involved in centrally locating magnets is too much. A successful magnet program needs to have a strong emphasis and a strong brand to convince families living within walking distance of good schools to put their kids on buses. We know that families will do that once they’re convinced that a program is good, but that doesn’t happen overnight. At least not without a strong market program that convinces families that the school will be a strong school on day one.

I’m concerned that charter schools are offering programs that the CDD doesn’t fully address. If, say, Somali families are leaving for Somali-specific charter schools, the CDD may not be going far enough to address those concerns. Focusing more on community schools – and, hopefully, giving those schools the resources they need to succeed – could be a step in that direction, but does it go far enough?

I’m concerned that middle/upper-class white families will defend the status quo that has served them well at the expense of change that would help underserved families and the citywide budget challenges.

I’m concerned that middle/upper-class white families underestimate how good their neighborhood schools are and will irrationally opt-out of a system that would serve their children well.

Analyzing the anti-Minneapolis 2040 Crowd’s Petition Signatures

A group of Minneapolis residents have organized themselves in an effort to continue Minneapolis’ long history of exclusionary zoning. They, sadly, use the name Minneapolis For Everyone as their brand while lobbying to keep new multi-family developments out of their neighborhoods.

It’s a “Minneapolis is for everyone as long as they’re not too close to us” approach to welcoming new neighbors.

They have a petition. Their petition claims to have over 3,000 signatures from people in support of their preference for McMansions over multi-family housing.

I decided to take a look at their petition’s signatures. 

To do this, I copied their signatures into a Google spreadsheet.

I noticed that some people listed locations that were not only not in Minneapolis, but weren’t even in the United States of America. So I counted them.

I noticed that some of the people who signed the petition seemed to pop up more than once, so I counted how many unique signatures appear on the petition (note the lower-right corner): 

If there are fewer unique names on the petition than total signatures, there must be some duplicates, right? So I counted the duplicates and found quite a few ambitious signers:

A follower of the Minneapolis 2040 Plan debate might notice that elected official, Carol Becker, has signed the petition she’s using to influence politicians, twice.

I also noticed that a some of the redlining maintenance signers weren’t willing to attach their full name to their opinions. Here’s a list of people who’re opposed to having neighbors sharing a property enough to sign a petition but not enough to sign their full name:

  • Alfred
  • Anne
  • Anthony
  • Ashley
  • Brad
  • Brenda
  • Brianna
  • Carol
  • Cathy
  • Christina
  • cindi
  • Claire
  • ClareP
  • Craig
  • Derek
  • Diachina
  • Hallie
  • Jacob
  • Jennie
  • Jill
  • Joan
  • Joe
  • Joe
  • Joe
  • Joe
  • Joe
  • Joe
  • Jorge
  • Julie
  • kaitryne
  • Karina
  • Kathleen
  • Katy
  • Kent
  • Kerry
  • Kristin
  • laura
  • Lucy
  • Mann
  • Martin
  • Michaela
  • MRutt
  • MRutt
  • Paige
  • Ryan
  • Shea
  • Shelley
  • Tera
  • Tera
  • Tera
  • Tera
  • Tera
  • Tera
  • Terri
  • Valérie

What if we look at the most popular first names of signers? Here is a list of the most popular first names among the anti-Minneapolis 2040 crowd:

And last names:

When I think about what the future of Minneapolis looks like, I’m not sure that the Johnsons, Andersons, Larsons, Nelsons, Petersons, Hansons, Olsons, Wilsons, Masons, Bensons, Carlsons, and Christophersons fully represent our future.

Will the Marys, Johns, Susans, and Marks have a place to live? Of course. As John Edwards from Wedge Live (Wedge Live the blog, not the podcast focused on “wedge issues”) has put it, the examples above represent the spectrum of Minneapolis residents ranging from single-family homeowners with mortgages to those who’ve paid off their mortgages.

“Son of ” names are popular Mexican surnames too (ending in “-ez”). I decided to check a list of the top-10 Mexican surnames to see how often they popped up on the anti-Minneapolis 2040 petition. It turns out that they did. One of them. Once.

Last Name – Signatures

  • Hernandez – 0
  • Garcia – 0
  • Lopez – 0
  • Martìnez – 0
  • Rodrìguez – 0
  • Gonzalez – 0
  • Perez – 0
  • Sanchez – 1
  • Gomez – 0
  • Flores – 0

My hope is that our elected officials (other than Carol Becker) will find this helpful when considering the size of the anti-2040 audience along with their diversity and weigh that against what our city truly looks like today and what it will look like in the future. 

Socially Acceptable Ways to Decrease Housing Affordability #mpls2040

One argument from anti-Minneapolis 2040 Plan that I find strange is the argument that multi-family housing doesn’t improve affordability.

As I see it, the choice we’re facing in neighborhoods where single-family home prices have appreciated significantly is a choice between watching smaller homes and homes in disrepair be torn down and replaced with large single-family homes or similarly sized multi-family properties. The affordability difference between those choices is the cost to live in a unit of a duplex, triplex, or fourplex, vs a 2000+ square foot single-family home.

If affordability was truly a concern for the anti-Minneapolis 2040 plan, there are other things they could do to help keep our existing housing stock somewhat affordable. Here’s a quick list:

1. Ban additions.
2. Ban adding new bathrooms.
3. Ban converting from 1-car to 2-car garages.
4. Ban new appliances.
5. Ban solar panels.
6. Ban upgrading landscaping.
7. Ban adding anything stainless steel.
8. Ban adding anything granite.
9. Ban adding decks.
10. Ban adding patios.
11. Ban adding planter boxes.
12. Ban converting large bedrooms to two bedrooms.
13. Ban finishing basements.
14. Ban finishing attics.
15. Ban upgrading old windows.
16. Ban upgrading leaky toilets.
17. Ban upgrading leaky doors.
18. Ban upgrading old garage doors.
19. Ban upgrading old siding.
20. Ban new kitchen cabinets.

This list probably seems pretty ridiculous. Who would oppose changes like that? The point is that single-family homeowners who’re opposed to the Minneapolis 2040 Plan have no problem with people maintaining and upgrading their homes in ways that will increase their home’s value and decrease the home’s affordability.

However, if a property owner increases their property’s value by converting or rebuilding it to accommodate more than one household (another way to increase a property’s value within the same square feet), there is a risk that their entire neighborhood may collapse into the nearest lake or river.

Solar Installations in the Longfellow Neighborhood by City Block

You know how once you buy a new car you start to see that same make and model of car wherever you go? Having solar panels is kind of like that. I now tend to notice every new solar installation going in around the neighborhood. And, a lot are going it. The pace is picking up.

But, how many are there? Why not count them? So I did. I started with Google satellite view. Panels are pretty easy to spot from satellite images. I started boxing out the blocks where I found at least one property with panels (electric or water). The satellite data appears to be pretty recent, but not recent enough to capture many of this summer’s installations so I also biked around the neighborhood to see if I could find any more, and I did.

Here’s what I found:

If you know of any blocks with at least one solar panel installation that’s not on the map let me know. Or, if I have any false-positives also let me know.

A few thoughts:

1. I wasn’t the first on my block. A neighbor beat me to it by a few years.

2. The distribution throughout the neighborhood is pretty good. The panels aren’t grouped just among areas with higher priced homes. I imagine this is because solar has become quite affordable, and some solar companies are offering financing plans with little to no money down.

3. There are no panels on any homes along Edmund (the residential street along the parkway). This appears to be due to a combination of things including trees, house alignment, roof alignment, and style of roofs. But, there certainly are some good candidates for solar there.

4. Most of the new single-family homes being built in the neighborhood (that’s the only type of home we legally allow these days) are large, tall, and built in an east-west alignment so are great candidates for solar. There tend to be no trees competing for light on their roof, and wouldn’t be for at least 30 years if one was planted today. And, due to height restrictions in place now and under the Minneapolis 2040 plan, they don’t have to be concerned about losing their roof light. Also, putting panels on a roof is best when a roof is new. It doesn’t have to be brand new, but you wouldn’t want to put panels on a roof that’s going to need to be replaced soon. So, get on that if you can.

5. There are a couple sleeper solar installations in the neighborhood. Nearly all solar installations can be seen while driving by but there is energy being made in Longfellow in places that can’t be seen from a street. These include on top of Ghandi Mahal restaurant and solar PV and water installation on the back of a house along 47th Ave.

6. Our public buildings are great candidates for solar. For example, Howe Elementary could likely support 15-20X more solar production on its roof than a typical residential installation in the neighborhood. It turns out that there are creative ways to get systems like this built in order to generate energy savings for the school with no upfront costs. If Farmington, MN schools can do it, we should be able to get it done.

7. Target has a ton of solar installations nationwide, but not on our Target. They may want to make that happen in order to stay ahead of WalMart for deployed solar.

8. This Longfellow resident has a creative solar installation that combines roof-mounted panels with panels used as awnings:

This increases their square footage for solar production while also providing passive solar benefits by reducing the amount of high summer sun heating up their home (while allowing in heat from the lower winter sun). Awnings are underrated from an energy savings perspective.

So, who will be first on your block so we can turn it green?

Here’s a screenshot of the map above from August 5, 2018. I’m sure we’ll see quite a bit more green over time.

Twins Stadium Financing Trends – 2018 Edition

Twins game attendance appears to be continuing on its steady decline. The 2018 projection is based on attendance keeping up with the first half of the season.

Our costs to subsidize Twins fans remain the same regardless of how many people show up, so the per ticket sold subsidies continue to grow:

It would be nice if more people would show up to our publicly subsidized sports venues once the projects become a financial reality.

Ten Thoughts on Minneapolis 2040

I’m no expert on the Minneapolis 2040 planning goals but I feel like I’ve been paying attention. I’ve read news stories, blog posts, NextDoor comments, attended community meetings and discussed this topic with friends and neighbors.

Here are a few observations based on those experiences:

1. The vast majority of people opposed to the upzoning proposals are far older and whiter than the city overall. The main issue they have is a proposal that would allow people to redevelop their single-family home into a duplex, triplex, or fourplex, as long as they stayed within the height and area restrictions currently in place for single-family development. If you’ve ever been to my house, you may or may not have noticed that the property next to mine of nearly identical size is a high/low duplex. That property would is illegal to build under current zoning. It turns out that older white people feel threatened by properties like that one.

2. If we maintain the status quo, people will still be able to remodel or tear down and redevelop single-family properties. They’ll continue to be restricted to building a single-family home, so – as we’ve seen in Linden Hills – we’ll see smaller and/or run down properties replaced with homes that maximize square footage on city lots. As a city, we’ll end up with more expensive housing stock but it won’t move the needle much on the number of city residents. Granted, there is a greater chance of a family of 4+ living in a 2,000 square foot home than a less than 1,000 square foot home so there could be some growth is residents.

3a. Affordability. Some eyeballing of projects in Longfellow and Linden Hills suggests to me that redeveloping a tear-down as a new single-family home more than doubles the property’s value. For example, a property selling for $200k or less in Longfellow will likely be worth $400K or more once redeveloped as a new, larger, home. In Linden Hills, the same math applies but with around a 50% bump for both of those figures. We do not keep neighborhoods affordable by doubling home prices one lot at a time.

3b. Affordability. If the same square footage is used to build a duplex, the property’s overall value may double but the cost to live on that property will remain near where it was before. This doubles the number of households who can afford to live on that property and in that neighborhood rather than pricing them both out.

4. Racial history. Like many cities, Minneapolis had racial covenants on many properties that made it illegal to sell your property to anyone who wasn’t white. Once that was outlawed, we switched to discriminating based on lending practices such as redlining that made it impossible for non-white people to receive government-backed financing on mortgages for properties in white neighborhoods. Once that was outlawed – and white people had spent a few generations building out neighborhoods in desirable parts of town – cities adopted zoning ordinances that banned multi-family housing. It’s the “We’re not racist. We just don’t want to live around people who don’t happen to be as wealthy as we’ve become.” system.

5. Liberals not walking the walk. I see many older white people who’re opposed to the Minneapolis 2040 plan who absolutely hate Trump, are positive that climate change is real, understand that college students are saddled with a ton more debt at graduation than previous generations, and would absolutely not consider themselves to be racist. Yet, when they have a chance to walk the walk by adopting a real-world change that could help address these issues they aren’t being proactive. They’re being vehemently reactive.

6. Population trends. I hear some people opposed to changing zoning saying that young people will regret the loss of single-family homes once they have families. What’s changed since people who’ve paid off their mortgage bought their houses?

– The average family size is declining (not rapidly, but it is)
– People are getting married later
– More people are divorced
– More people are living longer as empty nesters
– More people are living longer as widows or widowers
– More people are hamstrung with college loans
– The cost of having one infant in daycare is similar to a mortgage payment on a $250k home.

Many people like this would like to live in safe, quiet, neighborhoods, but don’t need – or can’t afford – a single-family home. These are people who’re being pushed out of neighborhoods by people opposing change (while, hypocritically, putting All Are Welcome Here signs in their yards).

I have heard from some older people who think it’s impossible to raise a child in Minneapolis without a backyard. As someone with young kids and basically no backyard, I’ve found that it’s not necessary to have a private park in a city that has so many public parks. We walk, bike, or drive to parks with different amenities, and enjoy interacting with neighbors and friends from schools. We do have some areas of town that are, sadly, underserved by parks. They also happen to be where old white people seem to be more interested in corralling renters.

Housing that allows people to save money, spend less time maintaining a yard, and on a block that’s safe for kids to bike around is a good thing.

7. Radical change? Think about this: If the most run-down home in Kenwood is torn down and replaced with a new fourplex (assuming the lot is large enough to accommodate that) what type of neighbors do you think would live there? The cost of housing in Kenwood would still be much higher than the city average so you’d end up living next to people who can afford something like $1,800 or more in monthly rent payments? Is that threatening to someone with a $4,000+ mortgage?

8. Less affluent neighborhoods. So far, most of what I’ve discussed has been from the perspective of Minneapolis’ more affluent neighborhoods from Kenwood to Longfellow, from the lakes, along the creek, to the river. What about other neighborhoods that haven’t had the same upward pricing pressure? At the other extreme would be neighborhoods with empty lots today. There are lots available in Minneapolis for under $25k in some neighborhoods. There are quite a few factors contributing to this. Quality of neighborhood schools, safety, expectations of home appreciation, and racism are some examples. But, another one is that it’s tough to justify building a single-family home on an empty lot if the home can’t sell or rent for what it costs to build. If people had the option to build something other than single-family homes on those lots, perhaps the market would find ways to develop some of them without subsidies? It would be great to see additional efforts being made to redevelop those lots – including public investments – and I definitely don’t believe that rezoning alone will solve all problems.

Granted, we would have more money to invest in neighborhoods in need of help if old white people were willing to accept a few more neighbors.

9. Affordable housing vs housing that’s affordable. I have seen some cases of people talking past each other regarding affordable housing. Here is HUD’s definition:

AFFORDABLE HOUSING: In general, housing for which the occupant(s) is/are paying no more than 30 percent of his or her income for gross housing costs, including utilities. Please note that some jurisdictions may define affordable housing based on other, locally determined criteria and that this definition is intended solely as an approximate guideline or general rule of thumb.

If a neighborhood is already unaffordable by that criteria, redeveloping a single-family home as a McMansion or duplex will likely not solve that problem. However, redeveloping the property into housing that’s cheaper than a McMansion (the only type of housing we’ll see replacing tear downs under current zoning) provides more affordable housing than a McMansion provides, and does so for more people.

10. What are the alternatives for zoned-out future residents? If we price out first-time homebuyers via exclusionary zoning they’ll still need a place to live. Some will “drive until they qualify” for a mortgage, leading to more carbon being spewed into the city as they commute in, more complaints about congestion, and more complaints about parking. These are self-inflicted wounds caused by self-described Liberals. They’re less concrete changes to see than having a new, nearly as wealthy, renter as a neighbor but they’re no less real. We can do better.

@Twins on Pace to Set New Attendance Record

This tweet from Bob Collins reminded me to take a look at how attendance is looking at the Twins’ latest publicly financed ballpark:

Screenshot 2015-09-18 08.58.35

If we, generously, average out the first 72 home games to create a projection for the full season, things will shake out like this:

Twins Attendance by Year
*Projected by averaging first 72 games.

That puts 2015 on track for a new record by 9,939 tickets.

But, this isn’t a mathematical certainty. The Twins just need to find 10,200 more people per night than they found last night for each of the last 9 games of the 2015 regular season to avoid their continued streak of attendance declines.

Or, if the Twins sold out the next 7 games, fans could take the last two games of the year off knowing that it’s only the second worth year for attendance at the latest publicly financed ballpark. At this point, there is a mathematical lock on this being either the worst or second worst season for attendance yet.

Assuming attendance stays pretty much on track, here’s how the per ticket subsidies continue to grow.

image (55)
*Projected by averaging first 72 games.

Same costs. Fewer fans.

How Minneapolis Makes Navigation Difficult for Outsiders

St Paul gets its share of criticism for being a tough to navigate town for outsiders due to the lack of pattern is their street naming and non grid conforming downtown. But, Minneapolis has its share of issues for outsiders too. Here are a seven examples:

1. The streets most likely to be encountered by outsiders don’t follow cardinal directions. A lot of visitors to Minneapolis come from places where terms like North, South, East, and West still mean something. If you’ve flown over the state, you’ll know that it’s largely a checkerboard with North-South and East-West roads drawing the lines. But, all of that changes when you get downtown. Take a frustrated pro sports fan (non-Lynx, obvs) at the end of another disappointing loss, and tell them you parked to the North. It turns out that can become more frustrated.

Tilted Downtown

2. Minneapolis bends major streets. Hennepin Ave is a common street an outsider may encounter in downtown or Uptown. But, they’ll most likely encounter a stretch that doesn’t follow cardinal directions and/or the grid.

Hennepin Ave

3. Minneapolis numbers streets, except those that count. Imagine you’re in Uptown at Lake Street and Hennepin and hear that there’s a Greek Fest worth checking out nearby. Someone tells you it’s at 35th St, so all you need to do is figure out whether to go North or South to get to 35th Street from Lake Street. But, we don’t call Lake St “30th Street”, or include any indications on signs that it’s 30th for navigational purposes.

Naming Streets

4. Numbering streets in both directions. Numbering streets is a great way to improve navigation, but it can go too far. For example, the East side of South Minneapolis numbers both the streets and the avenues (But, not Lake, Franklin, Minnehaha, Park, or Portland [See #2]). This forces outsiders to quickly get up to speed on which direction is for avenues vs streets. This can be a challenge for people driving on deadline to the Riverview Theater, who’ll end up near .7 miles away from their real-butter popcorn if they get it wrong:

Numbered Streets in Both Directions

5. Non-Euclidian Geometry. If we were paying attention in planar geometry, we learned that parallel lines don’t cross. But, don’t tell that to the street namers in Northeast Minneapolis where Avenues intersect with Avenues and Streets with Streets. For example, if it dawned on you that you’re far better off going to Anchor Fish & Chips than having a Filet-O-Fish, the two main routes take you on University Avenue to 13th Avenue or Broadway Street to 3rd Street.

Northeast Minneapolis Non-Euclidian Geometry

6. We bend interstates. If you want to mess with people’s navigational skills, bend the roads they take to enter your town. If they’re not sure whether they’re going West or North when exiting I-94, or North or Southeast when exiting I-35W, they’re directionally impaired even before they hit the local streets. The best solution to this problem is to do what great cities have already done: get rid of the highways in the city.

Screenshot 2015-09-15 09.49.16

7. (Retired). We let a publicly financed stadium be named after the private Mall of America – with the revenue going to a private company – in a location that’s nowhere near the Mall of America. I’ve helped people leaving downtown on the LRT understand that the MOA is quite a bit further down the tracks than the Wilf Family’s brand selling schemes would have you believe. I believe confusion caused by this map, which is supposed to help out-of-towners, was the culprit:

Downtown Minneapolis Map

The Downtown Improvement District did a good job tricking outsiders into not making it to Bloomington with that map.

A Year Later, Lyft Continues to Redline in Minneapolis

The StarTribune has an article today about Uber and Lyft drivers canceling a larger number of pickup requests among prospective passengers in North Minneapolis than in other parts of the city.

City business license manager Grant Wilson said city officials will pose as “secret shoppers” to test Uber and Lyft in underserved areas of the city.

Wilson made the decision after reviewing new information revealing that drivers for these ride-hailing services tend to prefer high-traffic and high-profit areas, like downtown, and are less likely to venture to north Minneapolis.

What’s particularly goofy about this is Minneapolis’ apparent willingness to allow Lyft to redline tens of thousands of North Minneapolis residents by not just reactively denying them service, but proactively doing so.

For example, here is what Lyft’s app looks like for people requesting a car from the 3400 block of Colfax Ave N:

2015-08-06 17.25.04

But, if I go to the 3700 block of Dupont (20 blocks south of the city’s border with Brooklyn Center) the cars disappear:

2015-08-06 17.24.57

That’s proactive refusal of service to city residents.

If this sounds familiar, perhaps it’s because I wrote about it last year in June. Nothing’s been done about it.

It doesn’t take secret shoppers to see this form of redlining. The problem is far larger than a particular driver denying a fare based on location. The entire service denies fares based on location.

Or, as Lyft puts it:

“If they are in our coverage area, we will do our best to supply rides,” said Danyelle Ludwig, a Lyft spokeswoman.

It’s not discrimination, you see. It’s a coverage area that just happens to not cover all Minneapolis residents. And, it’s not redlining, you see. They happen to use green lines:

Screenshot 2015-08-06 12.38.23

It doesn’t take secret shoppers to see how Lyft treats North Minneapolis residents. Their own coverage area map illustrates their discriminatory behavior.