Local metropolitan areas are required by the Met Council to produce “comprehensive plans” every ten years that comply to the Council’s standards and goals, including mass transit and affordable housing.
If you live in one of the metro areas required by the Met Council to produce a “comprehensive plan” – then you are privy to the ever-narrowing driving lanes and the increasing number of bike paths that are coupled with the other various uses of tax dollars that the Met Council deems necessary.
Metro communities (including seven separate counties) must provide comprehensive plans every decade, with each area given an individualized set of guidelines. Each plan must be approved by the Met Council.
Per the Council’s website there are eight categories that each have their own minimum standards that must be met by the dozens of metro areas required to have these plans. These eight categories include Land Use, Transportation, Water Resources, Parks & Trails, Housing, Resilience, Economic Competitiveness, and Implementation. Here is a brief look in to some of the requirements each comprehensive plan must include under a few of the categories:
Transportation – Areas must comply with the Council’s bike plans by analyzing and addressing “the need for local bicycle and pedestrian facility improvements to provide connections that remove major physical barriers (i.e., freeways, railroad corridors, rivers and streams) on the regional (RBTN) and local networks.”
Resilience – The Council provides a reminder that local statute includes mandated solar energy system development, stating, “Local governments in the seven-county metropolitan area are required by state law to include an element in their Plan for protection and development of access to direct sunlight for solar energy systems.”
Housing – Each plan must also comply with the Council’s affordable housing agenda explaining metro areas must, “Acknowledge your community’s allocation of the region’s need for affordable housing at three levels of affordability” & “Guide residential land at densities sufficient to create opportunities for affordable housing” (for communities with an “affordable housing needs allocation”)
Community Solutions MN spoke to a local Liberty Tea Party Patriots group on Tuesday evening and spoke about comprehensive plans to those in attendance. One of the group leaders, Jason Bradley, says the way you “experience your city” is all driven by a comprehensive plan. Bradley tells Alpha News that if a comprehensive plan doesn’t comply with the council’s requirements that “the Council can then take that city to court.”
Bradley says another portion of comprehensive planning is “Thrive MSP 2040” which is described by the Met Council as, “the vision for our region over the next 30 years.” Thrive MSP 2040 is often listed as a guideline for an area’s comprehensive planning. Thrive MSP 2040 was adopted by the Council on May 28, 2014 and sets the foundation for much of the Met’s policy planning. Thrive MSP 2040 argues that there is not enough funding available for future transit projects (aside from the metro orange line, metro green line extension (southwest), metro blue line extension (bottineau), and four arterial BRT projects.)
A Thrive MSP 2040 Overview lists the following objectives:
- Regions should add 51,000 new units of affordable housing between 2011 and 2020 to meet the growth in low- and moderate-income households.
- Collaborating with the Counties Transit Improvement Board, a major transit funder, to create a regional transitway network.
- Focusing expansion of bus service and transitway investment to and within existing and emerging high-density Job Concentrations, high-density activity centers (such as shopping and educational institutions), and dense residential areas.
- Constructing and supporting park-and-rides to provide access to transit in less dense residential areas.
- Working with communities to create more income-diverse neighborhoods, including strategically targeted subsidies to develop market-rate housing in areas that lack market-rate options.
- States, “For our region to thrive, all parts of our region must prosper. By using public resources to catalyze investment in areas that have seen chronic private disinvestment—specifically including Areas of Concentrated Poverty and Racially Concentrated Areas of Poverty—the Council will seek to help the region grow and prosper more equitably.”
- Investing in and encouraging new affordable housing in higher-income areas of the region.
- Developing and providing tools, including competitive rent limits in higher-cost communities, to enable Housing Choice Voucher holders to choose the location that best meets their needs.
- Ensuring that local comprehensive plans guide an adequate supply of land to meet each jurisdiction’s fair share of housing for low- and moderate-income households.
- Encouraging local communities to include bicycle plans and pedestrian plans in their comprehensive plans.
Comprehensive plans appear democratic because the city council of each area votes on the plans before submitting them, but the freedom for each area to reject a Met Council agenda item withers with each “requirement” the plans must include. Bradley says the next set of comprehensive plans will be developed soon and that the average citizen can get involved by working with their state lawmakers to “rein in” in the Met Council or by working with the local city councils to be involved in the planning.
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