Let’s Talk about How

We Can Do Better Edina

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Delivering Facts.
Spreading News.

We Can Do Better Edina and its predecessor, Stop the Lid, were born out of frustration that Edina’s leadership isn’t listening, responding, and representing its residents.

Edina’s on the precipice of massive change as evident by the recently published draft 2018 Comp Plan. The information we’re laying out isn’t always interesting or easy to digest. In fact, it’s dense, confusing, and not something we would expect the citizens of Edina to read! But the consequences are real: schools, traffic, and character changing high density have a permanent impact on overall quality of life.

So we’ve synthesized the boring stuff to make it as digestible as possible. We hope you’ll sign up for our email list, write your council members, get involved, and donate… but most importantly, VOTE in 2020. We can make a difference. We Can Do Better.


If there is one takeaway…

The over development, crazy traffic and zoning issues you’re experiencing — they’re symptoms of a self-inflicted wound caused by city leadership’s population growth targets.

Population growth targets are the core issue. It’s the domino that starts the entire chain reaction.

Once city leadership gets their population growth targets approved by the Met Council, then Edina is required by law to publish a Comprehensive Plan that sufficiently accounts for the forecasted growth. This can trigger zoning changes, affordable housing requirements, and further strain on city infrastructure and resources.

The big question...
why does city leadership want to increase Edina’s population so drastically?

We Can Do Better
Three Things to Know

  1. We support progress and development, but only when it puts the community first and actually listens to the desires of the people.

  2. At the core of this entire issue is the projected population growth. From 2010 census numbers, Edina leadership is choosing to grow our city by 33% by 2040. According to Minnesota law, that growth target needs to be fully baked into the 2018 Comprehensive Plan. Once the Comp Plan is approved, the city has legal ground to proceed forward with the hyper-development that is proving to be devastating to our community.

  3. “Let’s talk about…” is our mantra. Right now the city isn’t listening. Residents aren’t being heard. It’s time we all had a discussion. We promise to listen and encourage a community discussion.

    Please get involved, spread the word and help shape the future of Edina.


Jump to a section:

 
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Let's Talk about

Comp Plans

The first thing we need to discuss is the most important thing nobody talks about, the Comprehensive Plan. These massive documents express and regulate public policies on transportation, utilities, land use, recreation, and housing — effectively painting a picture of what your city aspires to be and the direction your community is moving.

“A local comprehensive plan represents a community’s vision of how it wants to grow and change.”
— Met Council

Comprehensive Plans
Three Things to Know

  1. Comp Plans are used by municipalities to articulate community goals and aspirations. It is a proverbial map of where the city is going.

  2. Once adopted, the city’s zoning code must be brought into agreement with the comp plan. The city council must make sure new development/redevelopment projects are consistent with the comp plan or formally amend the comp plan.

  3. Comp Plans give cities the authority to approve or deny decisions on transportation, utilities, land use, recreation, and housing.

 Update:

DRAFT 2018 Comp Plan Published

Edina released their 2018 Comp Plan in March, 2019. Notably absent are Parks Strategic Plan, Grandview studies, community ideas and feedback from resident surveys. Whose vision is this?


2018 Edina Comp Plan
Three Things to Know

  1. The city wants to grow Edina’s population by 33% by 2040, an unprecedented pace in our town’s history. This is a huge deviation from the 2008 Comp Plan, which forecasted population growth of 3% by 2030. More people means more buildings, more housing, more traffic, more students in schools, more strain on public resources, and fewer public resources per capita.

  2. The city released the Comp Plan draft for comment during Edina’s Spring Break. There is only one printed copy available to the public at City Hall. Unlike years past, printed copies have not been provided to libraries or the Senior Center, for residents who don’t go online.

  3. Despite little resident input and the consequences of growing Edina by 33%, it is expected that city leadership will vote to approve the 2018 Comprehensive Plan.



 
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Let’s talk about

POPULATION GROWTH

 

Most people don’t know that cities have a large say in their population targets. The process is a bit opaque, but effectively there is a negotiation between the city and the Met Council to determine future populations. Ultimately the targets are approved by the Met Council, but cities can request adjustments to the forecast.

Population size is something cities proactively choose
— it doesn’t just happen.

Population Growth
Three Things to Know

  1. From our 2010 census numbers, Edina is planning to grow the population by 33% and households by 44% by 2040. This growth is unprecedented. From 1970-2010 our city grew 9%. In the current decade we’ve already grown 14.6% (mostly in the past few years) — so we do not yet know the impacts of that growth on our city resources and infrastructure. Why keep growing so fast?

  2. Recently, and at the request of our city, the Met Council has increased our 2040 population target from 55,100 to 63,600 — a jump of nearly 20%.  

  3. Edina’s 2017 Quality of Life Survey yielded 477 responses from residents. The results clearly demonstrated that residents’ #1 concern was Housing (tear-downs, overdevelopment, affordability). The second most serious concern was Traffic and Infrastructure. These primary concerns directly conflict with the city’s population growth strategy — which will require significant development and increase the traffic on our streets.

 
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Let’s Talk about

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Edina has made a commitment to affordable housing. This is a good thing. Diversity strengthens. But we need permanently affordable housing. There are successful models we can learn from and implement — but the city’s current approach has devastating collateral damage.

The intentions are good, but Edina has an Affordable Housing strategy problem.

Affordable Housing
Three Things to Know

  1. Today, Edina has roughly 560 affordable housing units. We need 660 additional affordable housing units to meet our 1,220 Met Council unit goal. Over the last five years 8.7% of new Edina housing units have met the definition of affordable. If that percentage rate holds, Edina will need a mind-blowing 7,586 additional household units to yield just 660 affordable units. Are they increasing our population targets just to meet our affordable housing goal?

  2. Edina’s relatively new Affordable Housing strategy requires 10-20% of new multi-family housing units meet affordability requirements for 15 to 20 years before they revert to market rate rentals. Doesn’t this put us back to the starting line for all but permanent affordable housing units? How are we going to fix that problem?

  3. We need a long-term solution: permanently affordable housing. A more cost effective and durable solution could be a public/non-profit partnership in existing older buildings.  

 
 
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Let’s talk about

LAND USE & ZONING

 

Zoning laws are the development rulebook for residents and developers. They help create a level playing field and are crucial for shaping city development over time. They’re the reason we don’t have skyscrapers, open pit mines or meat packing facilities in Edina. Minnesota statute requires zoning laws to be consistent with a city’s Comp Plan.

Edina is altering historic zoning requirements to meet their self-imposed population targets.

Land Use & Zoning
Three Things to Know

  1. As a fully developed city, there is nowhere to build but up. This requires changes to our zoning laws. Why did our leadership choose a population growth target of 33%? Where do they intend to place 33% more people and 44% more housing units?

  2. Areas of the city are divided into Land Use categories. The 2018 comp plan massively increases the density permitted in certain land use categories. As recently as 2017, maximum high density residential was 30 units per acre, now Southdale’s district has a 150 units per acre maximum. That’s dense. 

  3. Overbuilding and density were residents’ #1 concern in the 2017 Quality of Life survey. Yet, city officials continue to approve high density developments and the 2018 Comp Plan increases allowable density beyond anything we have seen before. Why are city officials making these impactful, consequential changes without engaging their constituents?


 
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Let’s talk about

TRAFFIC & SAFETY

 

Nobody likes traffic — that’s not news. But having roadways that efficiently allow vehicles to travel is much more than just avoiding daily inconveniences. Traffic is directly linked to the effectiveness of our police force, fire services, ambulances, and the safety of our children getting to and from school.

Congestion is directly correlated to the number of cars on streets.

Traffic & Safety
Three Things to Know

  1. A 33% population increase would logically add more traffic and congestion to our roads, but the 2018 Comp Plan traffic data suggests only a few hundred added trips per day down some of our most congested corridors. Are our leaders deflating the traffic data?

  2. There are only a few non-highway through streets in our city. Two of these main roads meet at 50th & France there is no clear solution to existing and future congestion. Land use and traffic use are not supposed to be in conflict. Why is the city ignoring this?

  3. The most effective way to scale down traffic, is to scale back population growth. Yes, walking, biking and mass transit can help — but at the planned growth rates, thousands of people will have to change their behavior for congestion to be meaningfully reduced. And hoping people change their habits isn’t good public policy.

 
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Let’s Talk about

LEADERSHIP & FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY

 

Effective leadership and trust are intimately connected. We need leaders establishing and enforcing policies that reflect the wants and needs of the broader community.

The 2018 Comprehensive Plan paints a significantly different picture of Edina than past plans. Without a mandate from residents for such a new way forward we are deeply concerned.

Let’s not miss the forest for the trees. Only through a transparent city discussion and simple public survey will this council and mayor be able to confidently advance this vision. It’s quite possible a majority of residents would reject a future with 33% more people.

Trust in our elected body depends on its transparency and public engagement.

It’s time we proceed responsibly.

Obsessed with growth.
Insensitive to listening.

Leadership & Fiscal Responsibility
Three Things to Know

  1. Leaders earn our trust they are not entitled to it. Powerful city negotiating tools like TIF, zoning changes, parking waivers, density and height bonuses have significant impact on neighboring residents. The public realm argument “owned by all” gives the city virtually unlimited power. The outcome? Loss of public trust.

  2. New high paid leadership positions are being created at a time when several parks projects remain unfunded and our police force has identified the need for 7 additional officers. What’s going on? Where are our priorities? 

  3. Inadequate Study of the Comp Plan’s carrying cost. The city and schools recently engaged a demographer to evaluate school population trends. Have they considered the very recent request for a 20% increase in population? It’s simply not possible that a 33% population increase would not significantly impact the infrastructure and quality of an Edina Public School education.

 
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GET INVOLVED

Think we can do better? Get involved. Spread the word, discuss with your neighbors, sign up to volunteer, and make a donation below.

 

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