Teaming up for good

Can we improve parking in Linden Hills village?


The Linden Hills Village at 43rd and Upton is one of the most vibrant neighborhood business nodes in all of Minnesota. We have award winning restaurants (and chefs!), wonderful coffee shops, a toy shop and a children’s bookstore, an art gallery, jewelry, a pet supply store, hardware store, a Tibet store (!) – and MORE! So many cool shops and eateries – but – we do not have nearly enough parking to handle all the potential customers.
Consequently, the businesses suffer, and so do we, the customers, when we want to stop in for a purchase or an experience.
The Linden Hills Neighborhood Council has been examining this problem off and on for all 20 of the years I’ve been involved. And, in that time, we have lost, not gained, about 10 parking spaces. With the new bus line coming in, we are about to lose eight more.
What’s to be done?
According to many people I’ve talked to, the Minneapolis City Council is very interested in promoting bicycles and buses, and is meanwhile actively pursuing REDUCTIONS in parking in neighborhood business nodes. According to one longtime volunteer and activist in Linden Hills, “City doesn’t want cars, and they want to push business parking into the residential neighborhood streets.”
Look, I’m all for buses, and I’m all for bikes. But I’m not alone in saying that I’m not going to take a bus for three-quarters of a mile, nor am I going to ride my bike in the winter.
For years, I have been promoting the opening of the Linden Hills Trolley right-of-way that goes from Upton to Xerxes. Currently, drivers pull into this right-of-way and park on the left, next to the Great Harvest Bakery building and along the St. Thomas Church retaining wall. But in order to leave this area, drivers must turn around and head back out the way they came, on a “roadway” that is only 12 feet wide. DANGER, WILL ROBINSON. That area is narrow, icy in the winter, and full of pedestrians. xSeveral years ago, the city put a turnaround at the end of the business node (Settergren’s parking lot’s western boundary). Many of us spoke against this idea when it proposed, for several reasons, but it was hastily installed anyway.
The main reason was this: That right-of-way seems to be a perfect and easy place to create at least 80 parking spaces.
Fact: This right of way is 50 feet wide from the point of Settergren’s western boundary to Xerxes.
Fact: This right-of-way is currently used as two-way parking access by the owners of the adjacent single-family properties, who enter and exit the right-of-way off Xerxes.
Fact: The trolley right of way is owned by the city of Minneapolis – not by the individual residents.
QUESTION: Why could we not remove the chain that stops cars from continuing west on the publicly owned “road/alley/right-of-way,” and in doing so create 80 angled parking spaces on a one-way through-way?
We could make it safe, with speed bumps and speed limits. We could prohibit trucks. We could make the right-of-way far more attractive and pedestrian friendly, because right now – it is blighted. Seriously, walk down that right-of-way sometime. It’s full of garbage, weeds, and broken asphalt.
When I posed this question to a city official at a special parking meeting called by the Linden Hills Council, my question was avoided. When I asked it again, it was avoided again. When I asked it a third time, I was told that “the businesses would have to find some compromise with the residents who have been using the right of way, and so far they haven’t.” When I pressed by saying, “Why is that, since city, not those residents who have been using it for free all these years, owns the right-of-way” – my question again went unanswered.
I will add that the one other idea that was proposed at this LHiNC meeting was that we initiate paid parking meters, to discourage people from parking all day in the few spots we have. Do we like that idea? How about a parking ramp?
This parking problem isn’t going away, unless something is done. And in my opinion, we all suffer from the lack of parking, not just the businesses.
Next week, I’ll follow up with more ways to work on this, and with comments from our city council person, Linea Palmisano.
See you then.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here