Minutes of January 2022 LHNA Board Meeting

Lowry Hill Neighborhood Association Board Meeting Minutes

Date: January 4, 2022

Location: Zoom

Time to Call Meeting to Order after Quorum: 7:00 PM by President Charles Scheiderer

Board Members Present:  Charles Scheiderer (President), John Lillehei, MD (Secretary), Jacquelynn Brown, Vickie Gilfillian –Bennett, Fran Davis, George Montague, Tyler Ecklund-Kouba, Sue Westerman, Craig Wilson, Jennifer Wirick Breitinger, Robert Hinck, Chad Harkin, Anne Nelson

Other Attendees: Lisa Goodman, Inspector Katy Blackwell, Aisha Chughtai, Becca Hughes, Cam Winton, Carla Godwin & Elizabeth Shaffer plus 38 Zoom Partcipants

Minutes of December 7, 2021 LHNA Board Meeting

Motion carried to approve the minutes

Minneapolis City Council Update                                             

7th Ward Council Member Lisa Goodman presented a neighborhood and city update. She first introduced new 10th Ward Council Member Aisha Chughtai, whom then introduced herself. The next Lunch with Lisa is boxed and masked at the University of Saint Thomas on Wednesday, January 26, 2022. The topic is Downtown recovery with Steve Cramer, President and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council.

As Lisa predicted, Mayor Jacob Frey announced January 5th an executive order of a Mask Mandate starting Thursday, January 6, 2022 at 5:00 PM. This is secondary to the rapidly spreading Omicron variant and involves all businesses and places of public accommodation in Minneapolis. This includes bars, restaurants, museums, theaters, schools, recreational facilities and service offices.

The Minneapolis City Council finalized approval of a 1.6 billion dollar city budget.

The Minneapolis Office of Performance and Innovation has partnered with Canopy, a Twin Cities-based mental health and consulting organization, to provide crisis intervention, counseling, and connection to support services for people as an alternative to police response. The police will only be dispatched if response teams request their help. The crisis intervention teams will operate two mobile units in Minneapolis 7:30 AM – Midnight, Monday – Friday, will be dispatched by 911 service, and will eventually operate 24/7.

The Minneapolis budget now provides funding for 160 new police cadets in 2022 but this is an optimistic number as applications are down approximately 50%.

Finally, please remember Minneapolis/ Lowry Hill residents are required to remove snow and ice from their sidewalks within 24 hours after the snow has stopped or face a fine. Report snow and ice, including curbs that impair safe walking, to 311 or online.

Minneapolis Police Crime Update

5th Precinct Inspector Katie Blackwell gave an update on the worrisome continued escalation in carjackings, theft from vehicles and home invasions in Lowry Hill and throughout Minneapolis. In Lowry Hill, from December 1, 2021-January 3, 2022, there were 10 carjackings, 8 thefts from vehicles, 5 home burglaries that included an occupied home invasion with a gun and 2 aggravated robberies while walking.  Most have occurred during 6-7 PM during the week and anytime on the weekend. It is mostly woman that are robbed while walking alone and men that have been carjacked. The Minneapolis Police are using bait vehicles to apprehend theft from vehicles. As mentioned in her previous updates, there is a Joint Task Force to charge and hold repeat carjackers in the juvenile system and to charge, convict and incarcerate adults for felony carjacking, especially when a weapon in involved. Since the start of 2020, the MPD has lost about 300 police officers when it had approximately 888. The Minneapolis Charter sets a minimum of 715 based on current population. Despite this, Inspector Blackwell states they are attempting to send more squad cars into Lowry Hill during the peak carjacking and theft hours.

Prevention techniques include vigilance of your surroundings, no talking on mobile phones while idling, no valuable left in vehicles, lock garage and home doors, video cameras, and motion lights.

Inspector Blackwell stressed to never resist or fight assailants as this has resulted in severe personal injury.  However, if there is time, personal alarms or honking car horns have prevented some crimes as loud noises have chased suspects away.

Crime and Safety Update

Minneapolis Police Buy Back Organizer Cam Winton and LHNA Crime & Safety Chair Sue Westerman lead the discussion on solutions to mitigate the alarming increase in Lowry Hill crime. It is well established that the MPD has lost hundreds of police officers. Lowry Hill resident Cam Winton has spearheaded multiple neighborhood discussions on hiring unarmed versus armed security companies or the MPD Buy Back Program.  The most viable temporary solution is the Minneapolis Police Department Buy Back Program. This is a well-established program that has been utilized by neighborhoods such as Loring Park, Lyndale, Uptown, Downtown and Hidden Beach on Cedar Lake.  Over 200 Lowry Hill residents are now in favor of funding this program. It is believed that a MPD squad car that cruises the entire Lowry Hill neighborhood for a goal of 11 hours daily will certainly help in preventing carjackings, thefts from vehicles, and armed robberies of home and person. The program will hopefully commence in early February 2022.

The system works in this manner: A Non Profit is established (it will not pay taxes)- each Lowry Hill resident/home participant contributes $220 monthly (non tax deductible) to this entity-the entity funds the city to pay a Minneapolis Police Department officer ~ $110/ hour to patrol all of Lowry Hill. The more money contributed, the more hours the officer will patrol with a goal of at least 11 hours daily. This trial is for 6 months and then will be reevaluated as to the effectiveness in reducing crime in our neighborhood and whether we feel safer. The MPD police squad vehicle will patrol the entire Lowry Hill neighborhood and will be blinded to whom is paying.

These MPD officers are working on their time off so are not pulled from another area of the city. The liability for this officer is the usual liability that the City of Minneapolis has with the MPD and officers and not that of Lowry Hill participants or the established Non Profit.

After a question and answer session, the following LHNA Board Motion:

The Lowry Hill Neighborhood Association will proactively communicate the MPD Police Buy Back Program to Lowry Hill residents.

All Lowry Hill residents interested in participating in the Minneapolis Police Buy Back Program/ or questions, should contact Cam Winton: camwinton@gmail.com

Sue Westerman presented the Lowry Hill Crime Data from December 1, 2021- January 3, 2022 elucidated in the Minneapolis Police Crime Update. There was discussion of the 4 video cameras already existing in the Lowry Hill Neighborhood funded for $28,000($7000 per camera) from the LHNA. She stated that MPD investigators have used this camera data in the prosecution and conviction of criminals. There was further discussion that the LHNA should consider the purchase of additional cameras in 2022. In addition, video footage from home surveillance systems (such as Ring and Nest) is very helpful for the MPD when investigating criminal activity. Lowry Hill residents can register these cameras with the MPD at: https://mplsregistry.cam

Hennepin Avenue South Reconstruction Project

The City of Minneapolis is in the final planning stages of the reconstruction of Hennepin Avenue South between West Lake Street and Douglas Avenue. Rebecca Hughes, Senior Transportation Planner for the City, presented a slideshow of the project to begin in 2024. It includes pedestrian facilities for improved safety and comfort for people walking, a two-way protected bikeway between Lake Street and Franklin Avenue, dedicated transit lanes for BRT (Bus Rapid Transit), 2 vehicle lanes with left turn lanes at key intersections, loading bays where feasible, and a reduction in vehicle parking spaces from the current of over 300 to 20 spaces. The website for the entire project is: www.minneapolismn/gov/projects/hennepinsouth.

After the presentation, there were a few questions regarding concerns of the less than ideal public engagement and transparency in the project and that the dramatic drop in Hennepin Avenue parking spaces will likely result in the loss of Hennepin Avenue businesses already stressed by the Covid-19 Pandemic.

The Hennepin Avenue Project has 2 key dates available on the website above that all concerned Lowry Hill residents should heed:

  1. January 13, 2022, 4:30 PM- Virtual Open House
  2. January 28, 2022- Final submission date for the online Hennepin feedback survey

The Treasurer’s, Zoning, Communications and Neighborhood Priorities Reports are deferred for the February 1, 2022,7 PM Zoom LHNA Board Meeting.

As there was no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 8:58 PM.

Minutes submitted by John Lillehei, MD (Secretary, LHNA Board)