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Why Some People Leave Minneapolis

a discussion on Minneapolis e-democracy forum

Bill McGaughey, October 23, 2009, 1:306 p.m.

An old friend who saw me on Channel 9 news on Wednesday night, along with fellow mayoral candidates Bob Carney, Al Flowers, and James Everett, called to ask if it was really me. We had not seen each other in forty years. We got to talking about events since then.

Of interest here is the fact that this woman grew up and lived in Minneapolis for most of her life. Five years ago, she and her husband, who together operate a small business, moved to Anoka because they could not afford the property taxes in our city. I asked for details. They were paying property taxes of $5,482 per year in Minneapolis, and only $2,514 per year in Anoka, and getting at least comparable facilities. It was primarily high taxes that drove them out of our city.

I know another man, a long-time landlord, who sold an apartment building in Minneapolis and bought another one, again in Anoka. This man was tired of crime and the games the city plays with property owners with respect to crime. If interested, you can read his views on the changing situation in our city at http://www.landlordpolitics.com/mel.html.

Yes, Minneapolis city officials can continue to squeeze homeowners and rental-property owners for money and sustain expensive legal judgments due to abuse of their discretionary power by City Council members. It can view us as cash cows and the Inspections department as a profit center. But with flight of business and long-term shrinkage of the tax base will come unsustainable increases in the property-tax rate such as the 11% to 15% increase envisioned next year. The final figure may come out right after the November election.

Mayor Rybak complains about Gov. Pawlenty's decision to cut local government aid, and this is indeed a setback for city taxpayers. But if the city's elected officials continue to have a reputation for bizarre, arrogant behavior, it's hard to imagine that out-state legislators will eagerly come to the city's rescue.

Are Minnesota voters going to elect a man Governor who runs for reelection as Minneapolis mayor pretending to be above the normal campaign process? The more immediate question is whether Minneapolis voters will reelect a man who clearly has no intention of serving out his term if he can step up into the Governor's office. Why would we tolerate being used in this way?

Incumbent office holders have a tendency eventually to become arrogant, and that's why in a democracy we have periodic elections. Recognize that the financial situation in Minneapolis is serious and people who might be contributing to its tax base can "vote with their feet".

 

Mark Fox, October 23, 2009, 2:40 p.m.

As rising property taxes drive out all but the rich and the subsidized, services for everyone are cut. We get less for more. And, yes, this is an unsustainable path.

An essential component of this failing process is City Hall’s bias toward downtown development. It seems that the Mayor likes to pose in front of regional amenities much more than he enjoys tending to the rudiments of urban infrastructure.

Some Councilmembers, too, appear to prefer building up Minneapolis in the eyes of the world over maintaining a livable Minneapolis for its residents.

Let’s find a better balance between downtown and the neighborhoods. Let’s empower people to make the infinite small improvements that can restore faith in our city.

Take the E.D. out of CPED.

Encourage volunteers to make the City work better.

Let homeowners keep their money for repairs and investment.

Simplify business regulation and consider more alternative compliance.

Mark Fox from Audubon Park
Challenging the failing system as Candidate for City Council, First Ward

 

Joe Brand, October 23, 2009, 2:54 p. m.

Yep, you're absolutely right Mr. McGaughey, it costs more to live in the inner city. And there are a boatload of reasons why.

I could sell my Minneapolis home and buy one in, say, Farmington or Big Lake that would be twice as big and cost half as much. The streets, sewers, schools, & parks would all be newer and cost less to operate and maintain. I could drive to a modern clean convenience store and get gas and snacks and not worry about being robbed after dark, all the while leaving my house unlocked and not worry about burglars. The kids could play ball in the street and not worry about speeding cars bowling them over.

But I do live in Minneapolis. With streets that have not been re-done since 1973 and are chocked with pot holes year-round. I take a shower in water that smells like a swamp. A local street was closed for months because the sewer collapsed. I have to wash gang graffitti off the side of my garage. When we leave the house (or play in the back yard) we have to make sure the doors are locked and the alarm system is turned on. If I need gas on the way home at night I stop in Edina or St. Louis Park. And, the city wants us to pay $7,000 to put in speed bumps to slow down the crazy drivers who speed down the street with their radios turned up so loud it rattles the
windows. And the schools have "behavior rooms" where they send the kids who constantly disrupt the classrooms.

Yep, it costs more to live in the inner city. The infrastructure is old and expensive to maintain. There are a lot more cops needed on the streets just to make it safe to walk. While millions of dollars are being spent on solving the problems on the northside of the city, that same crime and decay is slowly creeping towards the southern border bringing down property values (and safety). Yep, it costs a lot to keep this city from going down the toilet. You want my vote? So tell me, when you're elected Mayor, what you are going to do about it? How are you going to fix my streets and maintain everything, and assure me that I can walk my dog in the park without keeping my hand on my taser gun?

Bill McGaughey, October 23, 2009, 5:56 p.m.

II was afraid that someone would ask what I would do about the problem I raised and Joe Brand did. He wrote: " Yep, it costs a lot to keep this city from going down the toilet. You want my vote? So tell me, when you're elected Mayor, what you are going to do about it? How are you going to fix my streets and maintain everything, and assure me that I can walk my dog in the park without keeping my hand on my taser gun?"

I think the financial pain will be with us for some time and, in the short run, we will have to hope for an increase in state aid. We may have to neglect or cut back certain functions performed by city government. I can't promise immediate solution of all problems related to it.

My emphasis, however, would be on restoring confidence in the decency of Minneapolis city government so that more people and businesses would choose to remain in the city. The present "food-chain" model of the relationship between city government and the people governed needs to be abandoned. Eliminate ordinances that impose draconian punishment of property owners and others
related to the behavior of others.

Repeal in its entirety Minneapolis ordinance 244.2020, "conduct on licensed premises", which makes it possible for the Minneapolis city council to revoke the rental license of rental properties if gambling, prostitution, drug possession, and other "nuisance" behaviors are found in a building. Yes, if the owner was involved, such punishment is merited; but not if it is tenants, relatives or friends of tenants, or unrelated "visitors". This is police work and the burden of law enforcement should fall squarely on the shoulders of the Minneapolis police department. We need a new model of property owners and police working together to solve their common crime problem. (The city police should not be higher on the "food chain" than taxpaying citizens. Instead, at election time, ordinary citizens need to exercise their "food chain" right to get rid of abusive City Council members.)

I would also favor repealing in its entirety ordinance 385.65, "Unruly/noisy assembly ordinance" which holds property owners responsible for loud parties occurring on or near their properties. The city can revoke the rental license (making it illegal to rent to anyone) if three such incidents occur in an 18-month period. As an alternative, I would suggest that if a party goer is violating a city ordinance, the police arrest the individual(s) who is (are) breaking the law.

I also favor changing ordinances that allow city inspectors to ticket property owners who have failed to shovel snow from their side walks four hours after the cessation of snow fall and charge a fine of $103 per hour for each and every hour that the sidewalk is not shoveled. Theoretically, if a property owner went on a winter vacation when the snow fell and was away for a week, he
or she could be looking at $14,000 in fines for violation of this ordinance upon return from the vacation.

The current approach is to strike fear into the hearts of property owners. It is, in some cases, to require property owners to violate other people's personal rights and bear the burden of liability instead of the city. The middling property owners, of course, have another option: They can leave Minneapolis. Only the rich and the poor would continue living here.
.

Dyna Sluyter, October 23, 2009 6:39 p. m.

On Oct 23, 2009, at 1:36 PM, 2wmcg@earthlink.net wrote: "Of interest here is the fact that this woman grew up and lived in
Minneapolis for most of her life. Five years ago, she and her husband, who together operate a small business, moved to Anoka
because they could not afford the property taxes in our city. I asked for details. They were paying property taxes of $5,482 per
year in Minneapolis, and only $2,514 per year in Anoka, and getting at least comparable facilities. It was primarily high taxes that
drove them out of our city."

Of late the roof of my house has started to leak. It being a small but steep roof and I may as well do the soffits and other trim while
they're at it, I'll probably need about $10,000 to replace it. Add to that another $7000 to replace the obsolete windows and over $10,000 for rewiring and I'm spending close to the price of a new manufactured home and still have no basement or central heat. So I employed the best in hi-tech attic caulking and have the leak down to a trickle. Come spring I'll dig out the paint sponge with the 16 foot handle, climb atop my pickup, and hopefully seal the leak with some hi-tech tar. That'll hopefully get me by for a couple more years.

Meanwhile, our intrepid neighborhood housing guru the Hawthorn Hawkman, AKA Jeff Skrenes, informs us on the Johnny Northside blog that there's a total of up to $31,000 in free money available to buyers of Northside houses. Yes, we're dangling $31,000 in front of outsiders in hopes they'll move to the Northside, while the taxpaying Minneapolis citizens that have put up with decades of out of control crime can't get a cent of city help to fix their houses.

OK, I may be kinda slow on the uptake, but I've figured out the behavior our city is incentivising via these perverse subsidies. I
need to buy another house in Minneapolis with a purchase and rehab cost of around that $31,000 in subsidies. Then I abandon my current house, let Minneapolis spend $20,000 to tear it down, and another thousand dollars or so a year to mow the grass and shovel the snow of what will be a permanently vacant lot.

And when the house the city bought for me needs expensive repairs, I'll just abandon it, let the city tear it down, and let the city buy
me another one with the next round of subsidies... Such are the economics of abandonment that Minneapolis prefers to subsidize
instead of rewarding existing residents with home repair help. Yep, over $50,000 in subsidies to buy me a new home and tear down my old one... as they say, you can't fight city hall. So I'll just go with the flow and let Minneapolis buy me a new home and stick them with the old one.

from Mill City Farms on the increasingly wide open spaces of the
Northside (heck, maybe I can even put the backyard in CRP?).

 

 
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