Last night, the Minneapolis Planning Commission met in a unique special meeting to consider implementation of the 2040 Plan's recommendations for built form. To be clear: this is different than land use, which will be addressed next year.
Before the meeting pretty wide-ranging coalition of groups sent the Planning Commission a letter
advocating for detailed changes to the built form recommendations. The coalition includes not just Neighbors for More Neighbors, but also developers and builders like Aeon and Habitat, renters and homeless advocates like IX Unidos and Align Minneapolis, environmental advocates like the Sierra Club, and a handful of other groups in between. The general thrust of the recommendations is that the proposed rules for the Interior 1, 2, and 3, districts, especially the first two, are too restrictive, and will essentially foreclose the construction of duplexes and triplexes that are now allowed in the zoning. It is not enough to legalize these types of buildings if other regulations make them infeasible to build.
The Planning Commission didn't address all of these criticisms, but the proposed regulations did take a big step forward. The base FAR for the Interior districts was revised upward, especially for triplexes. The built form premium (you can build larger if you meet certain conditions) was doubled for projects that include housing available at 30% AMI. A handful of premiums that didn't make sense (skyways), or are best addressed elsewhere in the code (enclosed parking) were eliminated. The minimum lot size was reduced slightly, and a rule that keeps lot sizes large in wealthy areas was removed.
There are still some missing pieces. A proposed premium for family-sized housing near schools was rejected. A doubling of the bonus for grocery stores was also rejected. The minimum lot sizes are still larger than I think they should be. Finally, the affordability bonus was not extended for Interior 1 and 2 districts. Next up, the City Council will take up the issue, first in committee, then at the full council. I suspect that several of these issues will receive more attention (for instance, I think the affordability bonus will be extended to I1 and I2 there). I would like to see base FAR in the interior districts further increased by a bit, especially for duplexes. I'd like to see the minimum lot size decreased further. We'll see.
But the main takeaway is that the proposed rules have gotten better, and there's a strong coalition of organizations who will continue to advocate for them to continue to improve.