Chris Tolbert

CANDIDATE FOR ST. PAUL CITY COUNCIL — WARD 3

1. How do you feel about the issue of teardowns in your Ward? 

Teardowns are a very important issue, which is why I have spent a lot of time over the past two years studying the problem and working to better regulate construction in our neighborhoods.

2. How do you feel about the issue of teardowns in the City of St. Paul?

I also believe this is an important issue. I think once we look outside of Ward 3 we see neighborhoods experiencing a lot more vacant and/or dilapidated properties and the issue of teardowns becomes more complicated. I don’t think we can lump all teardowns together. Thinking about the issue citywide takes careful analysis of the root concern among neighbors to identify the best role the City should take.

3. What do you feel is the best approach to addressing and regulating teardowns?

I think we have done a great job tackling this issue. In August 2014 I passed new notification and best-practice ordinances requiring contractors to notify neighbors prior to a teardown or large remodel. In addition I required for the first time all dumpster haulers in the City of Saint Paul to be licensed by the City and to pay more money the longer their dumpsters sit on the street. At the same time I directed the City’s Department of Planning and Economic Development to study the new homes that were being built and propose zoning changes that would help them fit better with the character of our neighborhoods. City Planner Mike Richardson conducted a yearlong study that included input from neighbors, architects and contractors. The proposed zoning changes that came out of that study were passed in August 2015 and were adopted into ordinance in late September. Any building application submitted prior to the ordinance adoption is subject to the old rules. Thus, we haven’t yet seen how effective the new zoning laws are, but I have strong confidence in their potential given the amount of research and community engagement that went into the study.

I support exploring the idea of conservation districts and I support conducting updated historic surveys of our neighborhoods.

4. A petition is currently circulating (see attached) which asks for a teardown moratorium in the Highland and Mac-Groveland areas to allow the development and implementation of a better city-wide approach to teardowns. Is this something you would support as a City Councilmember? Why or why not?

No. As I have stated many times before I do not support a moratorium on teardowns. I think this would create more problems for our neighborhoods and deter families from moving into our ward. Minneapolis implemented a moratorium in 2014 for a few months in order to study and implement a residential construction management agreement and new zoning laws. The City of Saint Paul has already implemented both of those things over the past year and a half.

OTHER WARD CANDIDATES

None

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