CANDIDATE FOR ST. PAUL CITY COUNCIL — WARD 4
1. How do you feel about the issue of teardowns in your Ward?
As I’ve repeatedly stated throughout my campaign, on my website, and in my campaign literature: “We need to reform our zoning code so that neighborhoods are adequately protected against senseless teardowns and the growing boom in McMansions.”
2. How do you feel about the issue of teardowns in the City of St. Paul?
In general, I believe we are stewards of our homes and should not treat them as structures that we are free to tear down or alter however we please. That’s not to say that renovations and upgrades should not be allowed; only that they should be done ins such a way that preserves the character of the house and the surrounding neighborhood. There are clearly times when houses are so neglected that one has no choice but to remove them, but our goal as a city should be to make that occurrence as infrequent as possible.
3. What do you feel is the best approach to addressing and regulating teardowns?
Any application for a demolition permit should be treated the same as a request for a major variance, with the same notification, hearing, and procedural steps required of that process. We also need far better enforcement of the city housing code so that homes and rental properties aren’t allowed to reach a point where demolition might seem like the only reasonable alternative. And we need to look at setting up more historic preservation and conservation districts so that our permissive zoning code does not continue to be exploited by developers.
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?
It’s clear to me that the city needs to find a way to pause the runaway demolitions that are having significant negative impacts on neighborhoods in Wards 3 and 4. That’s the point of a moratorium: to allow for more creative thinking around problem solving of a highly contentious issue—something I would certainly make a priority as a member of the City Council.