Larry Crawford 16

A Better Como

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A Better Como

Stop more bulldozing of Como !!

The recent teardown and planned new construction at 1203 Talmage should concern all Como residents! Neighbors learned that the original proposal at that location was for a 4 floor, 15 bedroom building at this corner. (In the orignal proposal, the basement floor is fully built out as 6 bedrooms.) Look below for our statements about Housing and Our Concerns.
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Demolition of 1203 Talmage has taken place ...
Better Como housing concerns continue

Demolition of the 1203 Talmage Ave SE house took place today. Appeals in recent days to delay demolition until all other constructive alternatives have been examined were made by many ... now we need to turn that energy toward shaping and supporting better housing regulation in Como, looking for affordable housing of all types, and accessible, diverse home ownership opportunities in a balanced, livable neighborhood. Please join with Better Como to keep on working on these concerns for our home neighborhood.
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Better Como housing regulation approved at city council in May

Better Como supporters are happy to see that the city council on Friday May 14 approved new housing regulation applying to Como, limiting new construction on interior blocks to a maximum of 9 bedrooms. While many remaining, valid and important issues around recent teardown/construction on Como's interior residential blocks remain in place, this new regulation should help avoid or minimize some of the most excessive or out-of-place proposals.

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Housing. New housing is needed. It’s a positive that many hundreds of new rentals have been opened around Southeast Minneapolis and in Como in recent years. But these have usually been built at the right size, and at the right place – along major streets, or on open building lots next to other large scale buildings.

Concerns. The proposed construction on 12th and Talmage is different, and there are many reasons for concern and questions about it –

  • It does not conform to Minneapolis “built form” guidelines for the scale of interior residential blocks. Minneapolis Interior 2 building guidelines specify "small scale" residences here. A 4 floor, 15 bedroom building can in no reasonable way be classified as small scale – either on its own, in comparison with the demolished house it replaces, or in comparison with surrounding existing houses on the interior residential blocks at the site. If this proposal is built at 1203 Talmage, other ones like it can be built anywhere throughout Como’s interior residential blocks. The type of proposed building is required instead to be located in the higher density traffic artery zoning corridors elsewhere in the neighborhood.
  • The proposal for a 15 bedroom building abuses the city’s regulatory concept of a “rental unit-to-bedroom count” ratio. There is no practical, realistic way that groups of 5+ people will take on rental leases here. Instead, it is clear that the building will be rented and operated as a “by bedroom” facility – in other words, it is a rooming house, not a true apartment building. This is unwanted. It does not conform to Como’s housing plan.
  • The proposal fails to meet a diverse community housing stock goal. Como’s "Blueprint" small area plan calls for diverse housing (by age, working/student, family/singles, ethnicity, income). The proposal completely fails this housing variety diversity goal, it will not help sustain a healthy community mix of neighbors, it is targeted for a single, narrow portion of the rental market. A variety of affordable rental housing is key need. But there are other critical housing needs, and here one aspect of the issue is that the proposal eliminates the potentially affordable, family starter home resource currently on site. Como needs to continue to be a welcoming place for families starting their lives with home ownership, and as a vital neighborhood with children. We need to have full, vibrant neighborhood.
  • Too much of this kind of redevelopment destabilizes the Como neighborhood. As city officials have stated, the goals are for Minneapolis neighborhoods to have a healthy and diverse mix of neighbors: homeowners and renters, working people and students, young and old, families and singles, diverse ethnicity and income. An excess of rental can tip needed balance and degrades community vitality.
  • We should not abuse the goal of density. It is clear that the city needs to plan for and provide new housing. With hundreds of new housing units added in recent years, Como neighborhood has met and exceeded its share towards supporting this goal. This cannot be a justification for disrupting an established, livable residential block with a demolition/new construction that does not even comply on other points with city plan guidelines or the Como “Blueprint” neighborhood plan.
  • At this site, the proposal degrades livability. Adding 15 - 22 residents into the established neighborhood increases vehicular traffic (affecting safety and noise), and degrades parking availability. West Como does not have alleys, so parking availability for one example is key for many senior residents who need to park near their residences for carrying groceries, and other essential daily life tasks. What happens during a snow emergency with 20 more cars on the block?
  • This kind of building proposal degrades neighborhood environment and green space. The massive box building occupies the full lot, causing the loss of current valuable tree canopy and open green space on the corner lot for the community -- an additional degradation to the neighborhood when the existing building is not preserved. The green yards and garden spaces, trees, and village-like streets of Como are one of our most important assets in making this a jewel, a very livable and enjoyable place in Minneapolis. We should guide development to preserve this quality in Como. Also: waste management, rainwater management, shadowing on adjacent houses are further environmental degradations caused by this proposal.

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Summary of Como neighbors' concerns sent to council representatives

Summary to council representatives: We hope that the reasons for community concern are clear. When the current Minneapolis comprehensive plan was presented to Minneapolis citizens, it was described as the introduction of a reasonable number of 6 bedroom, 2-1/2 story, compatible scale and style triplex residences into established residential neighborhoods. Proponents of the new Minneapolis plan were clear that the scale of buildings in established Minneapolis residential neighborhoods would not change. As the 1203 Talmage proposal now reveals, the reality being delivered by the current implementation of the city plan is very different and very wrong. There has been a drastic breakdown in translating policy and vision into regulation. We are asking for your assistance in making the 1203 Talmage Ave SE case a turning point to rescue this situation.

Thank you for your consideration and assistance in this matter.

Signed by 60 Como neighbors

Want to join on this message to your council members? To add your name to this petition message to your Minneapolis city representatives, contact
ourbettercomo@gmail.com and let us know you'd like to add your name.
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The Better Como campaign -- Who are We? What are the current issues?

To date, over 60 Como residents have signed for the Como petition to address demolition concerns, and to ask for better, reformed housing regulation in Como from our city representatives. We're a diverse group of Como residents -- by residence status (renter, homeowner), age, gender, duration of residence in Como, ethnicity, student/career/retired life status, profession, location around Como, and other factors. An authentic voice for the community.

The current and future concerns:

  • monitoring upcoming development proposals
  • tracking that the new BR count limit is effectively applied at construction time and later when buildings are in operation
  • addressing the issue of property lot combinations used to facilitate large scale building proposals and demolitions
  • supporting Como home ownership, for a good and healthy balance of renters and students, for a vital neighborhood
  • the future of the Tuttle School building
  • the impact on Como of the new elimination of off-street parking requirements

Share your ideas about issues and solutions for Como.

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Renters, Homeowners, and Balance

The Better Como position is that rental housing is a critical need in the neighborhood and city. Como is helping, at or even above its share, in meeting that need for rental housing (see next item below). Next, renter residents in Como add an absolutely needed vitality to the neighborhood -- that should be a clear, basic point. Many if not most of us came to Como originally as renters, and so we know Como through that view, and value our renter neighbors as people and for what they are giving to Como as residents. However, for a vital neighborhood, there needs to be a healthy mix -- neither extreme makes for a vibrant neighborhood, both renters and homeowners must contribute vital ingredients to sustain community life. However, as Minneapolis officials do even acknowledge, the trend is Como is going the wrong way for this balance factor. The current concern to address is that recent and new city policy is detrimentally incentivizing this wrong-direction trend. We're happy to see many renters join in supporting Better Como, because recent teardowns and new building proposals move away from the pleasant neighborhood they came here to enjoy and reside in.
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Como and housing goals

Como is a comparatively small size neighborhood among others in the city. But we feel that it has a very big record in supporting positive social goals such as affordability and density. Como has added hundreds of new rental units in recent years, at the Bunge Tower complex, and along the major corridor streets in Como. And -- Como has hosted the Talmage Green affordable housing complex, and the Como Student Community Co-op for decades. These are a part of the positive mix that make Como a welcoming, diverse, and vibrant neighborhood.
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Coming soon: More information about how city policy shapes neighborhoods, and more housing and community life topics related to the Better Como campaign..

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