|[The two downtowns back when they were full of street life.]|
I'm excited to announce a "Urban Biography" mashup with Tom Weber, former MPR host and one of my all-time favorite radio interviewers. Tom wrote the Minneapolis version of my Saint Paul book, and the Minnesota Historical Society Press is going to have us both on stage at the History Center to discuss our projects. We're going to determine, once and for all, the real difference between Minneapolis and Saint Paul.
You don't want to miss this! And it's free.
Minneapolis and St. Paul are built on the same river, one in an improbably hilly gorge, and the other on the wide plains surrounding a waterfall. Both have Indigenous histories that reach back thousands of years. They are distinct from one another in nearly every other way. But why is that so?Join Tom Weber, award-winning writer, journalist, and radio host and the author of Minneapolis: An Urban Biography, and Bill Lindeke, urban geographer, historian and author of St. Paul: An Urban Biography for a conversation that will shed light on the historical whys and hows our sometimes fractious, always intertwined, fraternal Twin Cities.
I hope to see you then.
[Porch. Cathedral Hill, Saint Paul.]
$10 off haircuts
[Pole. Hamline-Midway, Saint Paul.]
we don't have parking!
YOU CAN PARK ON THE
[Window. Location forgotten.]
[Fence. Hamline-Midway, Saint Paul.]
To The PERSON(S) THAT TRAMPLED MY
BEE GARDEN... THIS IS MY HOUSE - MY
YARD... NOT YOURS... AND, IT's not
a camp, resta rea, or vacation spot!!
they weren't weeds. it was a mix of lil, sedum, bee balm, liily of the valley , snow ## wueen anne lace, daisy, fern hostas, etc. with odd flowers mixed in.
[Yard. Hamline-Midway, Saint Paul.]
[Window. University Avenue, Saint Paul.]
[Boulevard. Somewhere in Saint Paul with a crappy bike lane.]
Saint Paul's newly-reelected mayor, Melvin Carter, had a very interesting appearance on a KSTP news show yesterday morning. If you've been following the debate over the rent control proposal, this is quite the revelation.
(Side note: I am amazed that KSTP has a Sunday morning TV news program!)
Anyway, here's the transcript:
KSTP Guy: Good morning, mayor.
Mayor Melvin Carter III: Good morning. How are you today?
KSTP: Doing great. First of all, tell us why this ordinance is a good thing for the city of Saint Paul.
Carter: Absolutely. Thanks for having me. First of all, we’re exited about the strong statement the voters of Saint Paul made last week that endorsed the direction that we’re leading this city in. One of those things was the rent stabilization ordinance. I told the voters of the city about a month ago that I was going to vote "yes", not because I think the policy is flawless, but because we have some real urgent needs where housing growth and housing equity are concerned.
The conversation somehow ended up pitting our growth and equity goals against one another, which I find lamentable. But again, we’re in an urgent moment. We’re in a point of crisis. We lost Saint Paul residents last winter just because they couldn’t find a warm place to sleep. And our teachers in our public schools tell us we have children in our schools who, they switch schools five six times in one school year, because that’s how housing insecure their family is. I voted "yes" because it's a good start, and we have to continue to build on that, rather quickly, frankly.
KSTP: And of course many people are divided on the topic. So what do you say to those people who think negatively about his, who think it may affect landlords and new development. Are you worried that this might scare development away?
Carter: That’s one of the things I’ve said since the beginning of my administration: we’re a city that’s almost at our all time high in population. We’ve already got a significant housing shortage. And we’ve got two decades of projected growth in front of us.
We just can’t afford to do anything that’s going to slow the growth of new housing in our community. I think that is a valid concern. I shared that actually, when I first voiced my support for the ordinance in the first place, about a month ago. And so one of the things that I’m telling them, right now, is that I plan on asking the City Council, very soon, to take action to consider and pass what I think of as a clarifying ordinance, to explicitly allow an exemption for new housing construction.
The ordinance as passed by voters last week is silent on new housing construction, but it does allow a specific exception for a reasonable rate of return. And so, to make sure that our new housing developers can access a reasonable rate of return, our goal is to pass that clarifying amendment, so that people who are interested in building in our city, so that people who are interested in building new housing in our city, can know that they can with confidence.
KSTP: There has been a little bit of confusion, especially with members of City Council, about when this takes effect, or of paying for the ordinance. Can you help clear up some of the timeline? There’s been talk about whether it starts in May, or whether it’s effective immediately. Can you help clear that up for us?
Carter: The City Code and also the state law governing this has been clear that when voters express their will at the ballot box, their will becomes effective immediately. What’s confusing this is that in this case, what becomes effective immediately is a language that the voters approved, that explicitly includes an implementation date of May 1, 2022. So we believe that’s what becomes effective immediately, and that’s what we’re working toward with our team. Implementing that.
We frankly don’t know yet what we expect it to cost, because there are a million variables where that is concerned. There are some folks who want that work to be done faster. The vote passed less than a week ago, and our priority is doing it well.
KSTP: That’s Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter. Mayor, thank you so much for waking up early with us on this Sunday morning.
Carter: Thanks for having me on.
Make from this what you will!
I would only flag that the timeline - "very soon" - does not imply waiting until November 2022 to make any changes. I'd predict this happening within a month or two, or as soon as the Mayor and a City Council majority can get on the same page.
I'd say the outcome odds I posted a while ago are looking solid, only that the chances of the ordinance staying "as-is" for two years would drop from 15% to a low number. Unless any of the Council Members have changed their minds about this rent control ordinance, it seems a safe bet that this policy will be changed before it's even implemented.
The other note is that this seems like only the first stage of trying to amend this policy. Both Mayor Carter and his director of Planning and Economic Development have stated that they are hiring a consultant to advise the city on rent control and other housing policies (e.g. inclusionary zoning). They have said they will be convening meetings of "stakeholders" to identify a different city policy than the one that was passed on the ballot last week. I would guess that the timeline for that is more of a year-long situation.
Update: Council President Amy Brendmoen was on MPR today throwing some cold water on the Mayor's plan. Sounds like it might take longer than Mayor Carter was hoping...
Well that’s a good question. We’ve been asking in advance of the referendum being passed by the voters what changes could be made before a year’s time, and we’ve been told we could not make any substantive changes. To me, this sounds like a substantive change, and it’s coming after the voters spoke quite loudly that they support the rent stabilization measures that were put before them. So can we look at something that the Mayor brings to us, sure, but my recommendation would be that he engage the stakeholders who brought the measure forward in the first place, and get their support, so that we can move forward without the risk of legal action.