City Planning Criticism at a Critical Point in Minneapolis History

A columnist presents criticisms and recommendations for both sides of the density debate as Minneapolis considers a new comprehensive plan.

1 minute read

July 30, 2018, 1:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Twin Cities

Gian Lorenzo Ferretti / Shutterstock

"The trouble with city planning is that it’s about the future, while any city’s crankiest constituents prefer the present or, in some cases, the past."

So goes the outset of an article by Steve Berg, written to wrestle with the density controversies of the contemporary Twin Cities region.

In all, 167 cities in the region are preparing "documents aimed at telling the Metropolitan Council how they plan to grow between now and 2040." As reported earlier this month, Minneapolis in included in that process. The public comment period for the draft Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan is wrapping up soon, with changes likely coming as a result of opposition to proposed increases in density.

Though anecdotes from cities around the region are sprinkled into the column, Berg focuses on Minneapolis, where "[a]round every corner, it seems, our low-slung outpost on the northern prairie is looking more like a city." The causes are similar to pressures pushing development inward and upward in cities like Denver, San Diego, and Seattle, according to Berg, but in many ways cities are in denial.

Berg offers his critique of Minneapolis's proposed comprehensive plan (i.e., pro-development interests overstepped with the "fourplex" idea and conservatives are persistently destructive in opposition to transit investments). Still, Berg's position is pro-density, for the sake of the planet and the economic competitiveness of the region.

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