Working for a Minneapolis where each of us has the freedom and opportunity to reach our individual potentials while caring for one another, improving our environment and promoting social well-being.
Focused not only on our immediate needs, but also on the future we want for ourselves, our children and for generations to come.
Dedicated to using the values of Social and Economic Justice, Ecological Wisdom, Grassroots Democracy, Peace, Community Based Economics, and Respect for Diversity to guide his work.
For the latest news from Cam Gordon, see the Second Ward e-Update.
The Second Ward occupies the Eastern-Central part of Minneapolis and straddles the East and West banks of the iconic Mississippi River gorge. It includes a diverse mix of residential, institutional, industrial and commercial land uses with some of the highest density housing outside of downtown, flourishing low density residential neighborhoods, thriving and underutilized industrial areas and major commercial corridors like University Ave and East Lake Street. It is also home to several significant institutions including the Minneapolis campus of the University of Minnesota, Augsburg College and the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview. For more information about the people and places of Ward 2, see our Ward 2 Planning Department Profile and our Regulatory Services 2016 Report.
Proposed Charter Change to Foundation for Public Safety in Minneapolis
On June 26 - one month and one day after the murder of George Floyd - the Council took a major step towards transforming the City’s approach to community safety. On a unanimous vote, we moved forward language of an amendment to the City Charter that will, if supported by Minneapolis voters, remove the Minneapolis Police Department as a Charter Department and create a new Charter Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention. This is a significant, thoughtful and long overdue step that will help put Minneapolis at the forefront of the national movement to transform the way we do public safety and dismantle the structural racism embedded in our criminal justice system. You can read it in Legislative File 2020-00668.
This Charter change is necessary – but definitely not sufficient on its own – to implement the kinds of transformational changes that the Council committed to in the June 12 resolution we unanimously adopted. The Charter has long been a barrier to meaningful changes to the way we approach public safety, and without this change moving forward it will continue to be an insurmountable barrier to structural change.
This amendment does three main things. First, it names a new framework for community safety in Minneapolis. To paraphrase my colleague Jeremiah Ellison, right now we have only one possible approach, and it is called “policing.” This amendment makes clear that we will, in the future, have multiple approaches, and that policing will, at the very least, be a secondary role. To reinforce this change, the amendment language requires that the person who is appointed to run that department have non-law enforcement experience, including restorative justice and public health approaches to preventing violence.
Second, the amendment removes from the Charter the existing requirement for a minimum number of police officers. This is critically necessary if we are to work currently being done by police officers to other, more appropriate city staff or others that we may contract with for services.
Third, the amendment makes it so that the Council can have greater control over all of our community safety staff. Right now, the police department – unique among all the City departments – reports exclusively to the mayor. This amendment will allow the Council to exercise policy oversight over all aspects of our community safety responses, just as it currently exercises over other departments.
I also want to be clear about what this language does not do. It does not abolish police in Minneapolis. I believe everyone, even the strongest voices for police abolition, recognize that for the foreseeable future, there is likely to need to be a law enforcement response in our city. In the days and weeks and months ahead, we will all need to study and analyze what essential services are now being provided by law enforcement and which of those, can and should be provided in other ways. I believe that after such a review we will find community consensus that there is essential work that we will want done by City employees that, under state and federal law, can only be done by licensed Minnesota Peace Officers.
While I was open to alternative language for a charter change, and authored alternative language in the past, I am convinced that leaving the Charter silent on law enforcement would have allowed for the creation of a new non-Charter department, completely separate from the new Community Safety and Violence Prevention department. This would have blurred lines of accountability for whatever licensed law enforcement officers we would have continued to have. The structure we chose puts any law enforcement function (and its leadership) under the direct control and supervision of the new Department of Community Safety.
I have also thought a great deal about the language related to the Director of the new department. I am happy with the language that we included. It will ensure that the leader of this department must have “non-law enforcement experience in community safety services, including but not limited to public health and/or restorative justice approaches.” This does not, in my view, describe any current member of the Minneapolis Police Department.
I view this as a major, historic step forward. If and when it passes on the ballot, Minneapolis will have taken one of the biggest steps of any large US city to allow ourselves to re-imagine, re-create and hopefully co-create as a city, the way we provide for the safety of everyone in our city. This is also just a first step. This amendment, if and when passed, will give us the flexibility we need to continue the deep, long public conversation we committed to on June 12.
The next step in this process is that it will be reviewed by the Charter Commission, and will have a public hearing at one of their meetings. I strongly urge them not to do what they have done in the past, which has been to “pocket veto” this kind of charter change. That is not their appropriate role, and is in my view a cynical overreach. They are not the gatekeepers to the ballot. They have a role in giving the Council and the public their advice as to whether charter amendments should go forward, or shouldn’t, or should be amended in some particular way. They need to finish that work, and get that advice back to the Council so that we can make a decision to move forward or not.
It is my hope that this language will be on the ballot this year. If it is, I urge all Minneapolis voters to vote yes.
Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic
The City is working hard to support all our residents during this challenging time. Basic City services, including providing safe drinking water, garbage and recycling services, as well as police and fire services will continue to be provided. Robin, Nancy and I are doing most of our work remotely but are still checking phone messages and emails several times a day. The City Council, Mayor and all our department heads and staff are working hard to use your government to protect and promote the public good and take care of all our people during this difficult time. We know that many people will face challenges as they or family members get sick, as they struggle to run critical errands like grocery-shop or get medication from the pharmacy and want to do what we can to help everyone through this difficult time. I welcome your ideas toward that effort as we work to fulfill our responsibilities as a city. Please continue to practice social distancing, stay home as much as possible, wash your hands, sanitize surfaces, bags and clothing, stay six feet apart, and see resources and updates below and on the City's Caronavirus Resources page.
State of Local Emergency. On March 16 Mayor Frey declared a state of local emergency in the City of Minneapolis and on the 19th the Council approved and extended the declaration. The City has also activated its Incident Command System (ICS) in response to COVID-19 and the City Health Department has assumed Incident Command of this response for the City, per the City’s Emergency Operations Plan. The Minnesota Health Department remains the lead response agency in Minnesota and we are working closely with them. They have set up a COVID 19 hotline at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903 that is operating from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
City Meetings and Events. To minimize the risk of exposure or potential spread of COVID-19, the City has canceled most of its public hearings and meetings for appointed boards and commissions through Friday, April 17, 2020. Some boards and commissions, like the City Council, which are required under state law and City Charter, will continue to meet during this time. The City Council is temporarily reorganizing itself into 4 policy making bodies: a Policy Group that consists of the Mayor, the President and Vice President of the City Council, the City Coordinator, City Clerk, the Director of the Office of Emergency Management, Commissioner of Health, and additional selected Department Heads; a Business, Inspections and Zoning Committees made of 6 Council Members, including myself that will include work that would come to the Economic Development, Regulatory Services and Zoning Committees; a Policy & Government Oversight Committee, that would merge all remaining committees and be made up of all Council Members; and, finally, the full City Council that will meet weekly on Friday’s for the time being. The public is encouraged to monitor meetings remotely via broadcast or live-streaming available at minneapolismn.gov/counciltv. For the most current information about the City’s public hearings, meetings and events, check the Legislative Information Management System at lims.minneapolismn.gov.
Impacts and Support on Local Businesses. The City has set up a Frequently Asked Questions page specifically for local businesses. Many businesses have been required to close and other limit operations. During the state of emergency the City will be Waiving all licensing late fees for food, taxi, liquor, wine, beer, or catering licenses. The City is also Helping establish “Food Pickup Zones” for businesses that do not currently have their own off-street parking. You can apply for this free permit online and it will be valid through March 30th. We have also established the COVID-19 Emergency Mental Health Fund and are expanding Business Technical Assistance to provide enhanced services, direct support in targeted areas
COVID-19 Pandemic Community Response. The community is coming together to ease the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic on the most vulnerable in our city. The Minneapolis Public Schools have set up meal pick-ups for children during school closures. A host of restaurants around the region are making free lunches available. Minneapolis Public Works has indefinitely halted water shutoffs. Xcel Energy has suspended disconnecting service from any customers until further notice. If you have difficulty paying your electricity bill, contact them to set up a plan that works for you or call 1-800-895-4999. Centerpoint Energy has likewise suspended disconnections until Tuesday, March 31. If you have questions about gas service or bills, contact CenterPoint at 1-800-245-2377. One of the biggest, most difficult parts of this declaration is the closure of restaurants, bars, theaters and other places where people gather. Restaurants can remain open for delivery, take-out, and drive-through. Information for Local Businesses is online. I am thankful to Governor Walz for making unemployment insurance more quickly available to the employees who will be impacted. You can find out more at UIMN.org. You can also find more from the Governor. Please stay safe and healthy out there. Keep sufficient social distance from others. Continue to help each other. I am hopeful that we will get through this, and the present disruption will prevent our health infrastructure from being overwhelmed, and will ultimately help save people's lives.
Legal Aid. Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid has created a new page on lawhelpmn.org with updates on court cases and advice for people with questions about housing, safety, health, unemployment benefits, etc. during this time. See the COVID-19 page. We are updating this page as new information and updates are available from the courts, government entities, and other sources.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Emergency Special Enrollment Period. MNsure is offering a special enrollment period (SEP) for qualified individuals who are currently without insurance in response to the potential growth of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases. This SEP will allow uninsured individuals 30 days to enroll in health insurance coverage through MNsure. Learn more at MNSure.org.
- Governor Walz Executive Orders
- University of Minnesota Public Health Alerts
- Minneapolis Public School Coronavirus information
- Hennepin County COVID-19 information
- Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 resources available in multiple languages as follows:
- MDH has non-English versions of its Coronavirus website as follows:
Addressing Housing Instability and Displacement
As Chair of the Housing and Policy Development Committee I am working to focus and coordinate efforts to preserve and increase affordable housing options, promote housing stability and prevent displacement of our residents.
People are right to be concerned about displacement and gentrification in our City. As more people move to Minneapolis, current low-income residents are at greater and greater risk of being displaced. So-called “Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing” is being converted to higher-rent housing, at a rate of over a thousand units per year. The homeownership gap between whites and people of color in Minneapolis is among the widest in the nation. Some renters are trapped in an exploitative subset of the rental market and face disproportionate evictions and other negative housing options. Too many people continue to experience homelessness in Minneapolis and the number of unsheltered single adults has increased. The cost of energy is part of overall housing cost burden and falls disproportionately on the poorest residents and housing that is badly maintained can lead to a variety of different health problems, including lead poisoning, asthma, and more.
To address the problems related to housing, the City has taken several actions since 2017 to build, rehab, and stabilize affordable housing, to promote home ownership, to reduce racial disparities, to address homelessness, and to increase energy efficiency in housing and we need to do more.
We have accelerated investment in affordable housing, passed renter protections, initiated a Missing Middle Housing pilot program, created a Single Room Occupancy/shared housing pilot program, voted to allow more affordable and innovative housing options like Intentional Community Cluster Developments, approved an energy disclosure ordinance, provided energy efficiency support, created a 4d Affordable Housing Incentive program to provide property tax reductions for landlords of lower-rent units, passed an advance notice of sale ordinance, and funded renter legal services for those who need them.
Still, we need to do more. To meet this ongoing challenge, the City is exploring a number of additional policy solutions, including an Inclusionary Housing policy that would require some affordable units to be included in new apartments buildings, a Tenant Opportunity to Purchase policy that would give renters the right to purchase the buildings they live in when the owner of the building wants to sell it; rent stabilization laws that would limit rent increases; inclusive financing tools that would allow residents – both homeowners and renters – to pay for energy efficiency improvements through energy savings, on their bills; tenant relocation assistance rules that would require relocation costs for tenants to be paid by owners of buildings that lose their rental licenses; a sustainable building policy that will require all buildings – including housing – that are supported by the City to meet a higher energy and environmental performance standard; bigger investments and a new levy dedicated to Public Housing; greater flexibility to allow more affordable and innovative housing options like Intentional Community Cluster Developments, Accessory Dwelling Units on more properties and Single Room Occupancy.
As the number of people who want to live in Minneapolis grows the lack of affordable housing has resulted in too many families struggling to cover housing costs. The free market system has failed to meet the housing needs in our City. Our City government can and should do more to ensure that all our residents have a healthy, safe and decent home to live in.
The study for local historic designation of Glendale Town Houses Historic District has been completed. While it finds that the area is historically significant under 2 of the 7 criteria, staff recommended that it not be designated a local historic district because it has lost “historic integrity” in the areas of design, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association. The study did find that it has retained integrity for location and setting so, I recommended to the Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) that it should be designated. The staff report and study can be found on the HPC’s March 3 agenda. After a public hearing before the Heritage Preservation Commission on March 3rd, the Commission voted to recommend local designation. Their recommendation is scheduled to go to the Zoning and Planning Committee of the City Council April 9th,although because of the COVID 19 pandemic, it is unclear if this will be taken up at that time.
The designation study which includes the letter from the State Historic Preservation Office for your review.
Last updated Sep 8, 2020