Minneapolis Planning Commission approves a parking requirement change that may impact future developments near UMN

Minneapolis is removing parking minimums and reducing parking maximums to make the city more walkable.

The intersection of SE 13th Ave. and SE Como Ave. on Thursday, July 23.

Audrey Rauth

The intersection of SE 13th Ave. and SE Como Ave. on Thursday, July 23.

Emalyn Muzzy

The Minneapolis Planning Commission approved an ordinance last week that would get rid of parking minimums for new developments beginning in late May as an attempt to make the city less car-dependent.

Under the Minneapolis 2040 plan, the city wants to find ways to create a more environmentally friendly city. The ordinance would also reduce the maximum number of parking spaces and adds bedroom limits, gaining mixed responses from Southeast Como homeowners. The ordinance is slated to go before the Minneapolis City Council on May 14.

“We’d like to give incentive for folks to get out of single-occupancy cars and out walking, biking, taking transit in an effort to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions,” city planner Joe Bernard said. “We know from research that reducing the amount of parking in residential developments reduces housing costs. Having fewer parking spaces removes that incentive to use automobiles.”

Before the Planning Commission passed this ordinance, Minneapolis required one parking space for every two bedrooms.

The ordinance includes a bedroom limit that restricts single-family homes, duplexes and triplexes to nine bedrooms at maximum. Bernard said this is to prevent dorm-style housing from popping up in residential neighborhoods.

Before the ordinance, the city used the parking requirements to control one- to three-unit housing to make sure developers were not building excessively large developments, Bernard said.

This has been a worry for many Southeast Como residents, most recently with the redevelopment of 1203 Talmage Ave. The developer originally planned the building to be a triplex with 15 bedrooms, but developers proposed a reduction to nine bedrooms.

Getting rid of parking minimums does not mean that developers will build apartments without parking spaces. Renters value parking, and while the number of spaces may go down, there will still be options, Bernard said.

“There’s a general sentiment that people need cars right now, and because of that there’s a fear that when you take away regulations, the streets will get choked up with street parking,” said Ben Brummel, president of Southeast Como Improvement Association.

While there are many benefits to shifting to greener modes of transportation, Southeast Como residents do not know if neighborhoods around the University of Minnesota are ready to fully eliminate parking minimums.

“The feedback that I was getting, from myself and others, was that we’re not quite ready in Como to go without parking restrictions,” Brummel said. “That’s coming from a few different reasons, one being food sources.”

The closest grocery stores to the neighborhood are the Dinkytown Target and the Quarry Cub Foods. Due to the smaller selection of groceries at Target, it can be difficult to shop there, and there is no direct bus route from Southeast Como to the Quarry shopping center.

Ward 3 City Council member Steve Fletcher said that the city is working on the E Line, a bus route that would run throughout the city. Fletcher said the E Line would directly connect Marcy-Holmes to Lunds and Byerlys, Whole Foods and Target.

Linking the area around campus to more grocery stores would make sure “everybody has access to fresh food,” he said.

Fletcher added that developer CA Ventures is looking into putting a grocery store in the Dinkytown development at 4th Street and 15th Avenue, where the old McDonald’s sits.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated that point at which the parking ordinance was in the city’s approval process. While the Minneapolis Planning Commission has approved the ordinance, the City Council is slated to vote on it on May 14.