Neighborhood Updates

Steve Fletcher, 3rd Ward Council Member – January 2021

Ward 3 Friends –

Like many of you, I was horrified to watch the violent acts of white nationalist insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. It was a harsh reminder that not everyone shares the basic values of equity and democracy that are touchstones for Minneapolis. This attack did not diminish my belief that this can be a year of progress and prosperity, but it did remind us all that we can’t take it for granted. I believe 2021, on balance, can be a good year if we make it good, but it’ll take some proactive work.

In 2021, we must be explicit as a city that we are facing the threat of white supremacist violence head on, and that we will not allow these threats to derail our own vision for a more just and equitable future. While we take comfort knowing there are currently no specific, credible threats in Minneapolis, everyone is understandably on a heightened level of alert – and our city government is no exception. We’ll continue to monitor threats and work with our partners to protect ourselves against attempts to stoke chaos in our city. I joined other Council Members this week in encouraging MPD to publicly affirm its commitment to this effort, and will continue to work to make sure our public safety efforts are aligned with our values, and prepared for the threats facing our country.

In the meantime, the other important way to fight fascism and racism is to unapologetically be a model of good governance and equity. Cities are the laboratories of democracy, and we have an important role to play in leading and shaping our country’s future. We win the future by continuing to operate our government transparently, effectively, and fairly, with respectful public debate and bold action. We win the future by continuing progress toward greater inclusion, justice and sustainability. We win the future by proudly displaying the best of Minneapolis.

This year, we’ll make some big decisions on housing, on public safety, on the economy, and more. We’ll do it through community engagement, through policy debates, and even through charter amendments on the ballot. All of that is our system of government in action, and if we respect our democracy and each other, we’ll get to the right result together.

In the meantime, COVID vaccination has begun, and 2021 offers the hope that soon, we’ll be able to return to our social lives, our economy, and our community. Minneapolis is special because of the people who live here, and I know we’ll all be overjoyed to reconnect in person, and return with a new sense of appreciation to something like normalcy.

Wishing you all a year of recovery, happiness, and progress.

En avant,

Steve


My 2021 Policy Priorities

With the first City Council cycle of 2021 underway, the business of the City has resumed. My colleagues and I are working on several priorities, from housing affordability and renter protections to continued COVID response and rebuilding to public safety redesign. Here are some of the specific policies I’m working on early this year:

Transforming Public Safety

This year, will be an important year for community engagement on the future of public safety in our city. You can learn more about the status of those efforts at the newly launched project web page on the city’s website.

I also gave notice of intent today, along with Council Members Cunningham and Schroeder, to bring forward the public safety charter amendment that was delayed at the Charter Commission last year. We’ll release amendment language, which will be similar with minor modifications to incorporate feedback we received last year, and set a public hearing in the coming weeks. I continue to believe in this change in structure, and am glad we’ll have a chance as a community to vote on this on the ballot in November.

Facial Recognition Ban

Late last year, I took part in a forum on facial recognition technology and its shortcomings with folks from the ACLU and other organizations. We discussed the racial, gender, age, and other biases inherent to the technology that run contrary to the equity goals of our city. I’m working on a facial recognition ban — with some narrow exceptions — to protect against systematized bias in our use of technology. I’m holding a community engagement event on this with advocates on Tuesday, January 26 — more details below. You can learn more about this topic at postme.mn.

Supporting Hospitality & Downtown Workers 

The downtown service workforce has been hit especially hard during COVID as the downtown office workforce has largely moved to working remotely. I’m working with the Workplace Advisory Committee and the Labor Standards Division of the Civil Rights Department to form a Downtown Workers Council to make sure their safety is a priority as things reopen.

The hospitality industry has also been disproportionately affected during COVID, and thousands of workers in hotels and other sectors remain out of work. I’m working on passing a Right of Recall ordinance for those workers to make sure they have the opportunity to get their previous positions back when the economy reopens. Similar ordinances have already been passed in several cities around the country.

Supporting Music Venues and Restaurants Plan for Reopening

We’re continuing to explore ways we can loosen restrictions on outdoor dining, outdoor event permits, and creative uses of public realm to help businesses generate more activity when it’s safe to resume larger outdoor gatherings. Hoping we can find some areas where it’s possible to be flexible in a way that encourages creativity and makes returning from COVID fun for all of us, and productive for businesses and workers making up for lost time in 2020.

Supporting Implementation of Public Safety Pilots

For this year’s budget, my colleagues and I proposed and passed the Safety for All plan, which included funding to implement or pilot several initiatives, including new mental health crisis response teams, moving some 911 calls to other departments, and additional violence prevention programming. I’ll be working throughout the year to support City staff in the execution of those plans, learning from what works and what needs to be tweaked, and developing further options for public safety redesign in future years.

Eliminating Parking Minimums

I’ve agreed to sign on as a co-author to the ordinance that will update parking requirements in zoning code to comply with the 2040 Plan. As we encourage transit-oriented development in walkable neighborhoods, eliminating parking requirements can reduce housing costs and encourage more environmentally sustainable modes of mobility.

Tenant Opportunity to Purchase

Finally, I’ve been working on a tenant opportunity to purchase ordinance with three of my colleagues — Council Members Ellison, Gordon, and Schroeder — and late last year we received a thorough report on policy options from our consultants. We’re working with staff on some of the key questions and will release a draft ordinance for public engagement when it’s ready.


Upcoming Public Engagement Events with Council Member Fletcher

Community Forum on Facial Recognition Ban Ordinance

Join me for a community forum on the Facial Recognition Ban ordinance that I’m working on. Draft ordinance language will be posted to LIMS next week, so bring your questions and comments to this event on the 26th.

Tuesday, January 26

5:30 – 7:00 P.M.

Online event — email David.Zaffrann@minneapolismn.gov to RSVP and receive a link to the event once it is set.

virtual coffee with Council Member Fletcher

Virtual Coffee with Council Member Fletcher

This year, I’ll be continuing periodic “virtual coffee” meetings for Ward 3 residents to drop in, ask questions, discuss any issues you see in the community, or just have a chat with your neighbors.

I will also be holding some more structured meetings with a specific topic, a guest speaker or two, and time for Q&A — more like “Good Morning Ward 3” but online (for now!)

Thursday, February 4

5:00 P.M.

Join at this link or by phone at 612-276-6670, and enter the code 416671564#.

Thursday, February 25 — Topic To Be Announced!

5:00 P.M.

Join at this link or by phone at 612-276-6670, and enter the code 109647249#.

Anyone can join a Microsoft Teams web meeting. A free software download may be required, depending on how you join the meeting (computer, Android or Apple device).

If you have any questions, please email Mikayla.Smith@minneapolismn.gov.


COVID-19 Updates

Governor Walz Turns Back the Dial

Governor Tim Walz announced measures that loosen restrictions on some activities while urging Minnesotans to protect the progress made over the past month.

Changes started this Monday, January 11, including the following:

  • Indoor dining at bars and restaurants can open at 50% capacity with a maximum of 150 people. Parties of no more than six people must remain 6 feet from other parties, reservations are required, and establishments must close dine-in service by 10 p.m. The City’s local Emergency Regulation limiting service at the bar area will remain in effect, and customers will not be allowed to be seated at the bar area in Minneapolis establishments.
  • Gym capacity remains capped at 25% but maximum capacity increases to 150, and classes can increase to 25 people assuming distancing can be observed. Machines and people must maintain 9 feet of distance. Face coverings are required.
  • Outdoor events and entertainment continue at 25% capacity, but maximum capacity increases to 250 people. Social distancing is required.
  • Indoor events and entertainment such as bowling alleys, movie theaters and museums may open at 25%, with no more than 150 people in each area of the venue. Face coverings are required, and they may not offer food service after 10 p.m.
  • Youth and adult organized sports have resumed practice as of January 4, and games resume January 14 with spectators. They must follow the appropriate capacity limits for indoor or outdoor venues. Inter-region tournaments and out-of-state play are discouraged.

Learn more about the State’s response to COVID-19.

Vaccinations Begin for Minneapolis First Responders

Emergency medical service providers from the Minneapolis Fire Department, Police Department and Metro Transit have started getting their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. All health care employees are in the first groups to receive the vaccine. This group includes those holding emergency medical service or paramedic certifications.

How the vaccine works

The vaccine is safe and effective. Different types of COVID-19 vaccines work in different ways to offer protection, but with all types, the body is left with a supply of “memory” cells that will remember how to fight off the virus in the future without us having to get the illness.

The first shot starts building protection. A second shot a few weeks later is needed to get the most protection the vaccine has to offer. It takes about two weeks after the second dose to build up protection, so full protection occurs about six weeks after the first vaccine dose. Sometimes after vaccinations, the process of building immunity can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity.

Find more about how the vaccines work on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Who’s next for vaccinations?

Vaccines will be available to other high-risk groups, such as essential workers and older adults, as well as the general public in phases over the next few months. While COVID-19 vaccination is not required, these health care workers trust the science behind the vaccine and understand that getting vaccinated is one more way to help protect themselves, their families and our communities.

More information will be provided about when and how you can get vaccinated.

Free COVID Testing

The City of Minneapolis is offering free COVID-19 saliva tests. Testing is encouraged and available to everyone, whether or not you have symptoms. Testing is one of the best ways to stop the spread of COVID-19 and help prevent exposing your loved ones to the virus. Do not eat, drink or use tobacco products for 30 minutes before taking a COVID-19 saliva test. You can expect to get your test results in about two business days.

Find a current list of free COVID-19 tests on the City website.

The COVID-19 test is free, and you do not need insurance for the test. If you need medical care but don’t have health insurance, the Minnesota Department of Health offers resources to find low-cost health care or health insurance.

COVIDaware MN App

Do your part in slowing the spread of COVID-19. Together we can protect our community! Download the COVIDaware MN app for free in the Apple App Store or on Google Play. Learn more at https://covidawaremn.com/


Death of Dolal Idd

On December 30, Minneapolis Police killed a man for the sixth time in three years. This is heartbreaking, as it is every time it has happened, and a fresh trauma for a city still reeling from a very painful 2020.

My thoughts are with the friends and family of Dolal Idd. We owe it to everyone in the community – and especially to the people who knew him and care about him – to be thorough, honest, and transparent in our investigation.

We will learn a great deal more about the facts of this tragedy in the coming hours and weeks. The city will continue to release information here as it becomes available.

We will learn whether this shooting violated procedures, or if our procedures themselves led to this killing. We will assess whether different tactics or a different set of decisions could have produced a less tragic outcome.

No matter what, when police officers kill someone, we mourn our failure. The facts will inform our response, and we must respond. I continue to believe we can and must create a system of public safety that doesn’t produce this kind of violent outcome.


Updates on Work in Progress to Transform Community Safety

The City of Minneapolis is committed to a goal of safety for everyone in Minneapolis. On June 12, 2020, the City Council passed a resolution committing to creating a transformative new model for cultivating safety in Minneapolis.

Since then, internal work groups and key stakeholders have been exploring ways to develop an integrated community safety response that works for everyone.

Three pillars of community safety

The City’s realignment to provide a holistic community safety response will take place in phases over time with much staff, partner and community participation. It focuses on three main areas:

  • A public-health-oriented response for preventing violence.
  • Alternatives to police response for 911 calls.
  • Reforming law enforcement policies, protocols and practices.

Some of the work in progress includes:

  • Minneapolis’ crime prevention specialists (CPS) now report to the Neighborhood & Community Relations Department instead of the Police Department. The change reflects the crime prevention specialists’ roles in community engagement. Nothing will change as far as work location, scope of work, job titles and programs offered to the community without further planning and engagement.
  • If you have a mental health crisis in Minneapolis, you can continue to call 911 or the Cope mobile crisis team in Hennepin County: 612-596-1223 (for adults in Hennepin County) and 612-348-2233 (for children 17 and under). In 2021, two mental health teams will be available 24/7 for crisis calls. This means police may not provide the primary response for a mental health crisis call or police may still respond if the mental health teams are both on current calls.
  • To report theft of property damage, you can call 311, 911 or submit an online report. As part of a pilot this year, City employees (non-sworn officers) will take theft and property damage reports from residents.

Stay up to date

Stay updated on this work by visiting the City’s community safety webpage. This source will have updated information on the three focus areas. Information will also be shared out over a variety of channels in many languages.

Staff will present regular community safety updates at City Council meetings. The first is a Health Department presentation on the first phase of engagement around public-health-oriented violence prevention. This presentation will include a summary of the online survey, stakeholder interviews and focus groups you were invited to take part in. Staff from the City Coordinator’s Office will also provide an update on the alternatives to police response work rolling out this year.  Watch the presentation to the Public Health & Safety Committee at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 21 on the City’s website.

Transforming Community Safety online meeting 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26 Learn more about the City’s work to transform community safety and upcoming engagement opportunities. RSVP to attend.


“Minneapolis Forward” Report Highlights Extensive Recovery Efforts in 2020, Priorities for Addressing Challenges in Coming Year

City leaders have provided an overview of the City’s response to the pandemic and civil unrest in 2020 and outlined priorities for moving forward as Minneapolis continues to face the impacts of these unprecedented challenges.

Staff presented the “Minneapolis Forward: The Path to Recovery and Transformation” report to the City Council’s Policy & Government Oversight Committee on Jan. 13. The states of emergency orders resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and unrest following the killing of George Floyd disrupted many lives and put an enormous strain on the City’s resources. Orders related to the emergencies closed more than 1,700 businesses and caused more than 144,000 Minneapolis residents to request unemployment benefits. The civil unrest following Floyd’s death caused more than $350 million in damage across the city.

The City enterprise responded to the crises by working creatively with policy makers, community partners and other levels of government to respond to the needs of residents and businesses. Moving into 2021, City leaders are committed to prioritizing work that both flattens the pandemic curve and addresses the disparities in Minneapolis that have been widened by the pandemic.

The City will receive a direct allocation of the federal emergency rent assistance approved as part of the recent stimulus package. Ensuring all these funds are made available to Minneapolis residents will be a top priority this year.

Read more about the recovery work.


City Establishes Workgroup for Truth and Reconciliation Process

The City has formed a new truth and reconciliation workgroup composed of City staff, community leaders and experts to study the meaning of reconciliation and research different models of truth and reconciliation commissions.

In October, the City Council approved a resolution establishing a truth and reconciliation process for the City of Minneapolis. The ultimate objective of this process is to begin implementing solutions to specific harms that created and perpetuate racial disparities with a prioritized focus on healing with historically Black American descendants of slavery and American Indian/Indigenous communities.

The truth and reconciliation workgroup will meet biweekly through the end of January and bring recommendations to the City Council’s Policy & Government Oversight Committee in February.

Read more about the members and this work.


Emergency Regulation Caps Third-Party Food Service Delivery Fees

Mayor Jacob Frey has signed into law Emergency Regulation 2020-20, capping third-party food service delivery fees at 15% in Minneapolis. The move makes Minneapolis the first Minnesota locality to implement such a regulation. As current market conditions drive restaurants to rely on third-party food service delivery platforms to compete, some restaurants incur delivery fees as high as 40% of the price of the customer order.

Under the new law, a third-party food delivery platform will not perform any service for or disclose any information about a licensed food establishment without the consent of the licensed food establishment and will not be allowed to charge any additional fee to a licensed food establishment that the licensed food establishment has not voluntarily agreed to pay.

Violations of the new law could be subject to misdemeanor prosecution. Continued violation will be a separate violation for each day that the third-party food service delivery platform is found to be in violation.

Under the regulation, restaurants may choose to pay a higher commission or supplemental fee for additional products and services offered by any third-party food delivery platform.

I want to thank Mayor Frey for his leadership on this regulation.


City’s Freelance Worker Protections Ordinance in Effect

The City’s new freelance worker protections ordinance, which I authored last year with Council Members Cunningham and Palmisano, took effect January 1. The ordinance will help prevent the exploitation of freelance workers, including many self-employed entrepreneurs who work as independent contractors.

The City is dedicated to ensuring that everyone gets paid for the work they do regardless of their working arrangement. Freelance work is a growing segment of the economy, and many freelance workers face difficulty securing timely payments and have limited options to recover earned but unpaid compensation. Mitigating those barriers helps everyone, especially as communities face uncertainty amid a pandemic.

Highlights of the freelance worker protections ordinance

  • Businesses that hire certain freelancers for their work in the City of Minneapolis must confirm their agreements in writing.
  • It is a violation of the ordinance for a hiring party to refuse to pay the freelancer as stated in the contract or demand a freelancer accept less compensation after work has started as a condition of being paid on time.

The Labor Standards Enforcement Division of the City’s Civil Rights Department will enforce the ordinance by investigating claims and imposing remedies including damages and penalties as appropriate for the violation. The division also oversees compliance of the City’s sick and safe time, minimum wage and wage theft ordinances. For more information email wagetheft@minneapolismn.gov.

Find proposed FAQs, a sample contract and more resources on the City’s website.


New Regulations Governing Scale of New Buildings in Effect

In our last meeting of 2020, the City Council approved new regulations that govern the scale of new buildings and additions throughout Minneapolis. The regulations are critical to achieving the goals of Minneapolis 2040, the City’s Comprehensive Plan that guides how the city will grow and change over the next two decades so all residents can benefit. These new “built form” regulations took effect on January 1.

Minneapolis 2040 includes 14 Built Form Districts that guide the development of the new regulations, which govern issues such as building height, floor area ratio, lot sizes and setbacks from property lines. The new built form regulations will resolve some of the major conflicts between Minneapolis 2040 and the City’s current zoning regulations, and are intended to increase clarity about allowed building height and scale, minimize the amount of negotiation in the development review process, and reduce the number of expected variance requests.

As required by State law, the City has been working on changing its zoning rules to match the development guidelines that the City Council already approved with Minneapolis 2040. This technical process will take several years and will include updating the zoning classification of every property in the city to match Minneapolis 2040. Approving built form standards is one of the first major steps in this process.

Minneapolis 2040 went into effect January 1, 2020, after more than two years of community engagement. The plan guides growth and change with 14 key goals including eliminating racial disparities, promoting climate change resiliency, and increasing access to jobs and housing.

Learn more about the built form regulations at minneapolis2040.com.


Full Third Avenue Bridge Closure Has Begun

3rd Ave Bridge closure

The Third Ave. Bridge has fully closed to traffic through November of next year, 2022, for significant repairs. All users — drivers, transit riders, and people walking and bicycling — will need to use alternate routes across the river during this time.

Visit the project webpage for more info on the project schedule, detour routes, rehabilitation and preservation efforts, and what the bridge will look like when the work is done. To contact the project team, email connect@thirdavebridgeclosure.com or call the project hotline at 612-547-7968.


Provide Feedback on Walking & Biking at 15th Ave. SE & University Ave.

Fill out the surveys below before the deadline next Wednesday, January 20th, to tell us about your experience walking, bicycling and/or driving at the intersection of University Ave SE and 15th Ave SE, and on the Washington Ave Transit Mall, since the installation of bicycle traffic signals and green bike boxes.

Click on the links below to provide feedback from the perspective(s) of your choosing. Each survey takes about a minute or less to complete and the surveys will be open through Wednesday, January 20th.

University Ave SE and 15th Ave SE (View location on Google  Maps)

Washington Transit Mall between Church St SE and Walnut Street SE (View location on Google Maps)


Public Comment Period for New MPRB Comprehensive Plan, “Parks for All” Extended to July 18

MPRB Master Plan

At their meeting on January 6, the Park Board voted to extend the Parks for All public comment period by six months. The new deadline to send feedback on the draft plan is July 18, 2021.

Parks for All will set MPRB priorities and policy direction for the next decade. Minneapolis community members, park users, MPRB staff and partners are encouraged to review the plan and send feedback before the comment period ends on Sunday, July 18, 2021.

Your input is welcome whether you have been deeply involved in the planning process over the past two years or if you are hearing about this for the first time! There are numerous ways to learn about the plan and send feedback using the link below.

Draft Parks for All Plan

Following the public comment period, the draft plan will be revised based on public input and presented to MPRB Commissioners for review and approval. Share the Parks for All draft plan with your friends, family, neighbors or other networks using minneapolisparks.org/parksforalldraft or bit.ly/MPRBCompPlan.

To learn more about this project and others, visit www.minneapolisparks.org/planning.


Please Share Your Comments on Dickman Park Improvements

DIckman Park improvements

The Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB) is designing and constructing sport courts and an urban agriculture zone at Dickman Park.

These improvements are based on the park’s master plan, approved in 2019 as part of the East of the River Master Plan for parks in Northeast/Southeast Minneapolis.

Review the plans

Two plans for these improvements are now available for review and comment:

Concept A and Concept B Both are featured in an online survey and include:

  • An urban agriculture zone with expanded community garden plots, an orchard, multipurpose fountain/spigot and community kitchen
  • A multi-sport court
  • Path and landscape improvements

Comment on the plans

There are three options to provide feedback:

  1. Join us at a Virtual Open House

    Tuesday, January 19, 4 to 5pm

    Zoom Link: https://zoom.us/j/95983397217

  2. Take the online survey available through Thursday, January 28
  3. Contact project staff for a conversation

    Louis Peters: 612-499-9373 or LPeters@minneapolisparks.org

Next steps

Following the public comment period, a final design concept will be determined based on community input. Construction is planned to begin this year.

Need more information? Visit the project page.



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