Dropping by the Up and At ‘Em Show


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Jason and Andrew dropped by the Up and at ‘Em Show to talk to Jack and Ben. Talk quickly turned to comprehensive plans and city ordinances. We then sat in for the News Bag and a great conversation with Senator Dan Hall. Listen here: Up and at ‘Em podcast.

February 4, 2017 at 2:21 pm Leave a comment

It’s Comprehensive Plan Time Again


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by Jason Bradley

Well, if you’ve been hanging around us for any length of time at all, you know that we are a little critical of the procedure for creating and approving comprehensive plans in metropolitan Minnesota. I probably haven’t given my full viewpoint enough publicity, but believe it or not, I’m not against comprehensive plans in theory. I am a planner. I believe that without a well-formulated plan, you have no idea where you are going. If you have no idea where you are headed, you will end up somewhere you don’t want to be. A detailed comprehensive plan can define and preserve the character of your community. It can help your city to run smoothly and prepare for emergencies.

That’s not what we’re talking about here. In the metro area, the Metropolitan Council creates a massive regional planning document that includes land use, housing, transportation, water, and parks. The latest Met Council concoction of faulty forecasting and trendy buzzwords has been dubbed “Thrive MSP 2040”. It boasts “One Vision, One Metropolitan Region”. Sounds warm and cozy, doesn’t it? All of the aspects of the plan must reflect the five outcomes: Stewardship, Prosperity, Equity, Livability, and Sustainability. We will get into more of the details of this plan in future blogs. Today, however, I just want you to understand that it exists. It exists, and drives all of the decisions made in your community.

The Met Council has the authority to force Cities to write and submit a new comprehensive plan every ten years. The city must write its comp plan in conjunction with the standards outlined in the regional plan. If it does not, the Met Council can ask them to go back to the drawing board and resubmit. The Met Council can continue to do this as it sees fit, impose fines, or exact other heavy-handed measures. The ability of a City to actually do what is in their best interest has been greatly limited.

So no matter if you live in Minneapolis, Minnetonka, or Marine on St. Croix, your city is slotted for increased rental units (including affordable housing), transit accessibility, an interconnected park system, mixed use development, reduced lot sizes of new developments, and other regional planning darlings to fit their consistently poor population forecasts, no matter if it fits into the character of your city or not.

So, what can we do? Ideally, a wave of Thrive MSP 2040 opponents would have been elected to city councils back in November. I’m not certain that happened. These comp plans will be written this year, and completed in 2018. Some elections will happen this year, so get on that, you cities that have odd year elections! In every city, we need to fill every open seat on every planning commission. All anyone (and I mean anyone can do this) needs to do is to go down to city hall and fill out an application. You go interview in front of the council, and they pick the best one (don’t say anything too crazy).  The planning commission advises the city council on the comp plan. That’s why it is important to get those spots. A single city has little hope of standing up to the Met Council, but a group of them standing together has a much better chance.

So, there you go. It may not be an election year for most of us, but there is still something worthy to fight for. Let us know how we can help you.

 

Jason Bradley is an entrepreneur in the music industry (Jason Bradley Live and Paper Lanterns Intl) and owns a consulting/advocacy/education firm that specializes in non-partisan politics (Community Solutions MN). Jason Bradley helps others to reach their goals in music and reduce the size and influence of government.

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February 2, 2017 at 1:46 am Leave a comment

Community Solutions MN Radio Podcast- President Trump: Are All Politics Local?


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On our latest podcast, we thought that we’d discuss something a little different. We took a look at President Trump’s election, and how his policies might affect national and local governing. We talk about how the decisions made at the federal level can put pressure on local governments to accept federal dollars that aren’t necessarily in their best interest. We hope you enjoy it!

January 30, 2017 at 9:46 pm 1 comment

Brooklyn Park Does Not Need More Affordable Housing!


By Andrew Richter

This is totally out of the Twilight Zone:

African Career, Education and Resource Inc. and Asamblea de Derechos Civiles hosted a regional housing forum to address housing discrimination, displacement, development and otherwise undignified living conditions in the northwest metro. The meeting was held Jan. 12 at Zanewood Community Center in Brooklyn Park. The meeting attracted the attention of elected officials. District 36 Sen. John Hoffman (DFL-Champlin), Brooklyn Center Councilmember Marquita Butler, and Brooklyn Park Councilmembers Lisa Jacobson and Susan Pha were in attendance.

Wow! What a shock that a race-baiter like Susan Pha would be there.

Pha said she attended, in part, to hear feedback on affordable rent for new developments in Brooklyn Park. Jacobson said she is regularly confronted with housing issues, as she is executive director at Hope 4 Youth, an Anoka area homeless shelter for young people age 23 and younger.

Participants testified that affordable housing with livable conditions are exceedingly difficult to find, and said landlords can exercise unethical and discriminatory policies towards people of color and the impoverished. Alfreda Daniels, Brooklyn Park resident and community organizer for the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation said she was “terribly disappointed,” after moving into The Willows apartment complex in Brooklyn Park, and that landlords take advantage of rental residents. Rents are raised yearly without making any improvements to the apartments, she said.

Oh so if rent goes up its racist! How about the price of homes? They go up too! How about the city of Brooklyn Park stop raising property taxes on landlords who just pass off the cost to their tenants.

Within two weeks of moving in, she said she had difficulty with mice. “I’ve called the city actually, twice. I called the city two days later, and there were people that came over for inspection, but to my surprise, they were checking out my smoke detectors,” she said. If a resident of the complex is paying their rent on time, they must either pay in-person at the head office in Minneapolis or mail a check, but late payments with interest can be made on-site, Daniels said. “What about my neighbors who don’t have a car … and work [late]?” she said.

If you have mice why are you calling the city? If your neighbor doesn’t have a car can’t they ride a bus? How do they get to work?

Carol LaFleur, a Brooklyn Park resident, has rented houses with mold issues that caused her child health issues resulting in hospitalization, she said. She said city officials did not step in to address the issue. She lived on a fixed income, and raisin her family to other properties in the city, she said. Antonia Alvarez, co-founder of Asamblea de Derechos Civiles (or Assembly for Civil Rights) is a resident of Lowry Grove Mobile Home Park in St. Anthony. Alvg rents forced her to movearez has been a leader in the fight to save Lowry Grove from redevelopment. The park was sold to The Village, a developer, in June 2016.

Under state law, mobile home residents have the right of first refusal in the case of a mobile home closure. That is, if 51 percent of park residents can organize and match the terms and conditions of the buyer’s offer, they can purchase the park. Lowry Grove residents worked with Aeon, a nonprofit in the housing field, to offer the same $6 million that The Village offered. Park owners sold to The Village rather than to Aeon. The legality of the park’s sale is currently being reviewed in the courts.

So then change the law if you don’t like it!

Alvarez said Lowry Grove is the only affordable housing and immigrant-friendly community in St. Anthony.
“We need affordable houses; Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Burnsville, Bloomington,” she said. “Are you ready in Brooklyn Park to fight for affordable houses?” she asked, with the crowd replying “Yes.” Application fees are used unjustly by landlords, participants said. Landlords will accept applicant fees already knowing they will not offer housing to the applicant, they said. Several residents said coded racial language is used by landlords and developers to segregate neighborhoods, or otherwise turn away potential renters of color. “It’s impactful to hear, I mean these are real life stories, this is really what’s happening,” Hoffman said. “It causes one to think, ‘Well, alright, how deep is this issue? How systemic is it?’ You have folks from different parts of the community that are all experiencing.

Unreal, now a fee is racist! What are you; entitled to housing in a certain city?

Statutory language would need to be looked at to see how to address the issue, “especially on the discrimination side,” Hoffman said. “It’s real, and it’s happening right in our backyard.” He said if statutory language already does not allow for discrimination based on factors such as race or poverty, then city housing authorities would need to look at what can be done to provide relief. The forum broke into workgroups to discuss their personal experiences and possible solutions. Tim Moriarty, an area resident, said cities should require developers to include low-cost or subsidized housing in their new development proposals. Rather than separate and stigmatize these renters by separating their housing, thVey should have low-cost or subsidized housing mixed with unsubsidized housing, he said.

So the solution is to pass of the cost of real estate on to the taxpayers!

Ugh! Take it from me folks; there’s tons of housing in Brooklyn Park. These people don’t want housing, they want to race-bait to get housing at a lower cost or on the taxpayer’s dime.

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January 30, 2017 at 6:33 pm Leave a comment

Community Solutions Back on Up and at ‘Em


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Andrew and I were on the January 8th episode of Up and at ‘Em with Jack and Ben. In this episode we were able to discuss our story, and a little more about the nuts and bolts of how we do what we do. We also were able to discuss some of how we envision being able to make changes across the state. Tune in and share with others that want to make a change in their communities!

January 16, 2017 at 1:20 pm Leave a comment

Community Solutions on the Up and at ‘Em Show


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Listen here: https://overcast.fm/+HDf13bulk

Right before Christmas, Andrew and I sat down with Jack and Ben on the Up and at ‘Em podcast to discuss local government. Newly-elected Crystal Council Member, Nancy LaRoche also joined us on the brown couch. It was full of laughs and a little serious stuff too. We discuss some of what’s been going on in Crystal, why it’s not been reproduced anywhere else, and how easy it really could be. Gather around the Christmas tree, tune in, and share with your loved ones!

December 26, 2016 at 8:41 pm Leave a comment

Bowman the Sore Loser with a Capital “L” Part 1


By Andrew Richter

My friends, I’ve said this for years; you can tell someone’s character in defeat. We all know ReNae Bowman’s has a lot of class it’s just all low. Perhaps it has never been lower with her latest facebook rant. Her lies are so vast and so complete that I have to make three posts about it!

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Now I don’t know where to begin here; first of all I dont know what happened to Charlie and neither does she. However, in her arrogance she claimed that it’s probably without merit. What do you have ESP or something. Later she says this;

img_0442Of course it’s a personnel matter! Mr. Hanson has privacy here and there’s no reason that his employment termination should be out there for Bowman to see. Then she says that she hoped he sues the mayor! What kind of a sociopath hopes someone gets sued?

The funny thing about it is that the Crystal city charter is very clear; the mayor and the council do not decide personnel matters. It says so very clearly in Chapter 2 section 2.11;

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So as you can see, neither the mayor nor the council can fire Charlie Hanson. As the former mayor, one would think Bowman would know that. She’s just lying about the council to try and make it look like there is something terrible going on and so she can trash the people in charge. She is simply an angry and bitter old politician who is jealous of the people who defeated her.

Stay tuned for part 2!

November 22, 2016 at 3:43 pm 1 comment

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