Why I Reported Your Comment to Facebook

If you’re reading this it’s probably because I reported your comment to Facebook and I provided a link to this page to offer a more detailed explanation.

Here’s a problem I see on Facebook: a small number of people post some really offensive or just garbage content to the site. This includes spam, hate speech, bullying, and a variety of other categories of content that does more harm than good.

There was a time in my life when I thought that a real names policy would solve this. As in, if people had to post under their real names they’d surely not post racist content or associate their names with other forms of garbage content. It turns out that I was wrong.

There certainly are people who feel shame about their own thoughts. When people choose to post under fake names, my assumption is that they’re doing so because they don’t want to be held responsible for their own words. What if their friends, family, or coworkers find out how deplorable they really are? Thankfully, Facebook has a way to report fake profiles. They’re pretty slow at taking action on fake profiles by they eventually do.

Here’s a recommendation: If you decide to set up a fake profile because you’re unwilling to stand behind your own words, don’t use it to post publicly. Instead, just use your fake account as a private journal. That way you won’t have to worry about people reporting your fake account.

You may have noticed that I’m doing two things on Facebook: I’m reporting your garbage comments and posting a comment saying that I’ve reported your garbage comment.

The reason I do this is that I want you to know that your comments are not okay.

I also want everyone else who sees your comment to know that it’s not okay.

I want decent people who make the mistake of reading the comments to know that they’re not alone in their assessment of your garbage content.

And I want other people who’d consider posting garbage content to know that their content is not welcome.

Think of this as a public forum. A town hall. If you took a turn speaking at a town hall and said similar things you’d – rightly – be booed, told to sit down, asked to leave. You’d get the feedback you deserve (and, apparently, need) from people in your community.

Optimistically, I’m hoping to bring a similar level of decorum to Facebook comments. I’d like comments to be a welcoming place for members of our community to agree, disagree, and learn from each other without having to wade through hate speech, bullying, spam, and other forms of garbage like the garbage you’ve been sharing.

Longer-term, I expect that manual reporting of garbage comments will be used by Facebook as training data for machine learning systems that will auto-delete or at least auto-hide terms of service violating comments. If you have a history of posting garbage comments and post yet another comment that follows the same theme as previously posted garbage comments, it’s quite possible that your comment won’t be seen by other users.

I expect it will something similar to Twitter’s shadowbanning system where consistently deplorable users’ tweets do not appear in search results and are buried behind an extra click in responses. We already can see where this is heading based on Facebook’s default ranking of comments by relevancy.


Example of hidden comments on Facebook.

You may not realize this but your comments are already being pushed down to the bottom of comment threads due to their low quality. Facebook doesn’t have people hand-ranking comments. Instead, they’ve built programs that have looked through trillions of comments and determined that yours are among the worse their software encounters. It’s a somewhat elegant solution since it allows you to get some garbage out of your head without subjecting other people to your garbage.

Why don’t I just ignore your comments? Because I’d rather solve the problem that is you rather than ignore it. Think of it this way: at least someone’s paying attention to your garbage content.

Thanks for taking the time to learn about where I’m coming from on this.

If you happen to have read this far, and it’s not because you’re a troll, here’s something you can do to help make the web a slightly saner placer. I run a program that automatically reports hate speech on Twitter. You can chip in to help support the machine learning costs here.

Some Thoughts on Being to the Left of Biden

I write this from the Warren Bubble of the Cooper Neighborhood of Minneapolis.


Thanks for David Brauer for mapping this.

I feel like the area of Minneapolis I live in has a ton of people who work at the U at other universities, in public policy, for non-profits in leadership roles, as teachers, and other roles that come together around a candidate who understands the problems Americans face, and which candidate would be most capable of creating systemic change due to her expertise and track record. Clearly, not everyone agreed.

One way to think about presidential campaigns is like startups. You can have the perfect idea for a startup and still fail if the market for what you’re creating isn’t large enough, or you’re simply too early. Your startup can solve a real and important problem, but if there aren’t enough people willing to support the business it’s not going to survive.

Facebook was far from the first social media site. YouTube was one of many startups working on video streaming. There have been thousands of dating-related startups but few have turned into viable businesses.

It can be incredibly frustrating to be both right and too early. Or right and not be able to make a viable business out of what you’re creating.

Presidential campaigns are like this. If you’re right on the issues but your platform doesn’t resonate with enough voters, you’re screwed.

Why does this happen?

It could be that your candidate wasn’t able to connect with enough people who show up to vote to explain to them that they’d be better off in your version of the future.

If could be that the candidate’s platform would resonate with people who show up to vote but the candidate didn’t resonate with those people. This could come down to age, race, gender, and religion or other issues. In this case, age didn’t seem to be the issue.

What Should We Do?

My first choice candidate did not win the primary. Yours probably didn’t either. You’re not alone. That’s how primaries work. It’s frustrating when that happens, but what’s most important is to not give up. Even without our first choice candidate winning the nomination, we’ve moved the party toward where we’d like it to go. It’s frustrating to take baby steps instead of leading a revolution, but it still far better than the alternative.

We have some options on where to go from here. We could give up, and pretend that there is no difference between Biden and Trump. We’ve seen that play out over the past four years so we know that isn’t the best approach.

We could throw our weight behind Biden so we can at least press the reset button. Don’t sit it out. Help get the country back to a semblance of normalcy.

We could help flip US Senate seats in order to give Biden’s platform a chance of passing. The only thing worse than a moderate president is a moderate president who can’t even make moderate improvements to our country. Here’s a good list of the seats that are at play. The polling may be a bit dated but it’s still useful for figuring out where to spend time or money.

We could flip state legislatures. In Minnesota, flipping the Senate would have a huge impact on what can be done to address issues like underfunded public schools, insulin for diabetics, sensible gun legislation the majority of Minnesotans support, and civil rights for people the MN GOP continues to persecute in twenty twenty. In 2020, the MN GOP continues to have legislators who’re willing to put their names on bills that discriminate against fellow Minnesotans.

We could move county commissioners to the left. County commissioners have some of the best jobs in politics. I base that on the amount of money the control vs. the amount of public scrutiny they face. It’s way better role than being a city councilmember that hears about every pothole. We have county commissioners that are dedicated to addressing housing issues for everyone, improving the safety of major roads through urban areas, helping with employment, and helping vulnerable children, and there are county commissioners who want to build professional sports stadiums and other mega-projects to entertain wealthy white people.

We could improve our school boards. If you talk the talk on improving the lives of people at the bottom but don’t think about schools, you’re missing a big opportunity to make a difference. Granted, schools take on a HUGE burden for issues that shouldn’t fall to them. (Ex. Being measured based on student performance while the county and city fail to provide stable, affordable housing or food for students.)

Still, one of the roadblocks to public schools being more equitable is the dominance of wealthy white parents in conversations about what actions school boards should take. Minneapolis has one of the worst public school racial disparities in the country, and this needs to change. This appears to have been a socially acceptable reality until non-white students started leaving the district for adjacent districts or charter schools.

Now, things are getting real since students leaving the district cuts into the entire district’s budget. Not surprisingly, the current reaction from white families to proposed changes is to fight for the status quo (based on previous budgets) that’s worked for them but not for everyone else. #NotAllWhiteFamilies, obvs. It’s the first time in a long time that white families have been as organized as they are now, and it’s not happening because they suddenly started caring about closing the racial education gap.

A cool thing about all of those down-ballot races is that they make a tangible change today, and – in some cases – are stepping stones for people seeking higher offices in the future. Granted, it’s awesome if anyone chooses to run for any of these positions as their ultimate goal. Just be good at what you do while you’re there, no matter how long. Think about it this way: Would you like to have someone who sucks at being a county commissioner, but at least you know that they’ll run for governor someday? Of course not. Work every position on the ballot that resonates with you.

So, continue to fight to move people toward your values. You’re on the right side of history but perhaps ahead of where America is today. Don’t stop caring and don’t stop channeling your energy towards making positive change. If Biden isn’t far left enough for you to put energy into his campaign, fine. But, don’t give up.

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.

How Many Boomers Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb?

One?

The Boomer goes to YouTube and searches for “how to change a lightbulb”:

They click on a result for a DIY video. While watching the video, they see this related video:

After watching a pre-roll ad, they learn this nugget 11 seconds into the video:

Having satisfied their curiosity about millennials and lightbulbs, they see a video from a young man offering more information about what’s wrong with millennials:

After consuming 4 minutes of content on what’s wrong with kids these days (explained by a kid these days), YouTube auto-plays a nearly 2-hour video called, “Ben Shapiro: Toughen Up Spoiled Children”.

At some point during those two hours, they notice a compelling video about illegal immigration:

After consuming some content from an ex-felon right-wing propagandist, it was time for something lighter, like a video with Jay Leno making people feel smart by cherry picking geographically challenged Americans.

After two-plus hours of consuming right-wing propaganda, they remain in the dark.

The majority of the right-wing propaganda videos that were suggested by YouTube and clicked on by the Boomer were paid for by a handful of conservative billionaires who benefit from intergenerational fights rather than watching Americans come together to realize that their common interest is to not be screwed over by billionaires who are trying to destroy our air, water, public education and healthcare systems.

The lesson: Keep your parents off YouTube.

How to Exploit Vulnerable Seniors with Twitter

There’s a special place in hell for robo-callers who exploit seniors. Bilking retirees out of their retirements through scams over the phone is downright evil.

But, at least the robo-callers have to go through the effort of finding exploitable seniors.

Social media companies make it fairly easy to identify vulnerable seniors so you can fast-track exploitations.

How? By allowing conspiracy theorists and fake news publishers to use their platforms.

Social media platforms allow garbage content to flourish on their platforms because they make money from it and/or they don’t want to be accused of censoring garbage content.

But, how does that lead to the exploitation of vulnerable seniors?

Social media platforms allow advertisers to reach very specific audiences, which can be a good thing but can also be used to cause harm. Say you want to reach everyone who lives in a specific state for political advertising, or people who follow a specific political candidate. No problem. Or, you want to advertise to people who like a certain sports team or brand of granola bars so you can attempt to sell products to that may interest people who have those interests. Great.

But, you can also run ads targeting people who follow conspiracy theorists. Why would you do that? Because you can sell anything to people who’ll believe anything. Social media platforms make that easy to do.

I’ve tried to find an example of a vulnerable senior without showcasing one in order to help explain this further. Here’s my attempt.

I searched for “contrails” to find some conspiracy theory believers and found a woman who posted a pic along with text that makes it clear that she’s a true believer that the government is spraying chemicals on Americans from planes during daylight hours. I clicked on her profile and found out that she’s a Catholic MAGA supporter. I then looked her up on Facebook to make sure that she’s a real person. She’s a grandmother living in Northern California.

She believes some crazy stuff, including this:

She’s not alone. Just look at how many people liked and retweeted that garbage.

Say you wanted to do something relatively harmless, like sell WiFi routers to conspiracy theorists by inferring that a certain WiFi router is safer than others:

I then targeted people over 50 who live in the United States who’re the kind of people who follow garbage conspiracy theory accounts on Twitter. I expanded the reach a bit by adding qanon76 as an additional Twitter conspiracy account to leverage to find dupable people.

To increase the reach of the ads further, Twitter’s brilliant programmers have figured out how to find larger lookalike audiences. Here’s who their algorithms suggest adding to my “accounts followed by people susceptible to right-wing conspiracy theories” portfolio:

Not surprisingly, it suggests including Seb Gorka, Jack Posobiec, and Dan Bogino, among others. (Imagine being a member of the House of Representatives and showing up on such a distilled list of garbage people. That would make you Rep. Jim Jordan or Rep. Devin Nunes.)

I added a few of those names to my portfolio and Twitter suggested even more garbage accounts to follow in order to increase my reach. These include one of the president’s sons, the official account of the White House Press Secretary, Sarah Sanders, Kellyanne Conway, and quite a few FOX News show hosts:

But, I don’t want to reach all of the followers of mainstream right-wing misinformation accounts. I just want to distill an audience of the truly dupable.

So, why can I do this? Because Twitter allows garbage to exist on their platform. Think about the advantages for social media companies compared to mainstream media sources. If you tried to put a show on the air or print content that appealed to fringe audiences like this in a mainstream media outlet you’d be laughed at, and face protests against advertisers. For example, Sleeping Giants has been quite successful at getting advertisers to stop advertising on Breitbart and many FOX News shows. But that’s largely a case of mainstream businesses running ads on relatively mainstream media platforms.

What social media advertising allows is for fringe advertisers to reach fringe groups who’ve demonstrated through their online behavior that they’ll believe anything. This is an audience that’s ripe for exploitation by nefarious businesses interested in tapping into the retirement savings of the elderly. It’s a self-service way to reach soft targets, and you don’t even need to pick up the phone.

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. 

Some #mnleg 2017-2018 House Bill Stats

Here are some charts summarizing bill activity at the capital this past legislative session.

Median number of bills authored: 33
A summary of the bills that received no action such as committee hearings, committee reports, or even the addition of a co-author.
A summary of the bills that received at least one action such as committee hearings, committee reports, or even the addition of a co-author.
The percentage of each author’s bills that received at least one action such as committee hearings, committee reports, or even the addition of a co-author.
A count of the number of bills by author that became law.
A percentage of  the bills by author that became law.

My one takeaway: If you wanted to get something done in the MN House, having Jim Newberger take the lead would be a very poor choice. There was an 80% chance that the bill would go nowhere, and only a 2.8% chance of a bill authored by him becoming law. And that’s with his party in charge of the MN House and Senate. 

What bill did he manage to pass? A gift to Xcel Energy that says anyone can build a natural gas power plant: 

provided that the plant is located on property in Sherburne County, Minnesota, already owned by the public utility, and will be constructed after January 1, 2018.

Keep that in mind if you ever hear Jim Newberger saying anything about wanting a free market. 

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.

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.