By Dave Van Hattum, Senior Policy Advocate
Editor’s Note: This blog is part of a series exploring Thrive MSP 2040, the long-range regional plan being crafted by the Metropolitan Council. Because Thrive MSP will provide a strategic vision for the Twin Cities for years to come, we encourage you to stay informed about Thrive MSP throughout the planning process. Even better: be involved! Tell the Met Council what investments matter most to you, and what kind of community you really want to live in. Share your ideas online. Here, Dave Van Hattum explores the connection between Thrive MSP and your transportation and housing options, decodes the planning process ahead, and shares primary principals guiding the Met Council.
So why does a regional and local land use plan like Thrive MSP matter?
Think of THRIVE as Transportation and Housing, Regional Investments for Everyone. By encouraging more compact development, a mix of uses, open space protection and strong connections between future development (housing and commercial) and transportation systems, regional and local land use plans can play a significant role in creating more affordable transportation and housing options for all Twin Cities households.
Housing and transportation are the two greatest costs for most households—and represent an even larger financial burden for low income families. When households can live with fewer cars, have more housing choices, and more practical options for getting around by transit, biking, and walking, costs can be substantially reduced. And the savings can be redirected to mortgage payments, education, health care costs, etc. Ultimately, it’s about investing in choice, affordability, sustainability, and economic opportunity.
How will the Met Council and Thrive MSP actually influence development and transportation choices in the region?
In a nutshell, Thrive MSP 2040 will forecast population and housing growth levels, allocate that growth to different parts of the region, and provide the foundation for the Met Council’s system plans for Transportation, Aviation, Parks and Open Space, and Water Resources. These regional systems plans, in turn, set expectations for local comprehensive land use plans in every city and county in the seven-county metro area. It is critical that the new regional plan allocates growth based on a sustainable vision that recognizes changing demographics, housing size, and transportation costs.
The Met Council plays a substantial role in the extent of transportation choices across the region. The Council operates Metro Transit, collaborates with suburban transit providers, and allocates a substantial pot of federal transportation funding to local and regional projects.
While less directly involved in housing, the Council is undertaking a regional housing plan with major implications for the provision of affordable housing in the seven-county region.
What process can you expect and how can you voice your opinion?
Thrive MSP 2040 is moving forward with two key interdependent processes: One, the creation of key principles and goals by Met Council members; and two, a series of public listening sessions in cities throughout the region. Identifying principles is a great first step as it will provide basic elements of the emerging regional plan for the public to react to. The listening sessions and a corresponding online forum are then providing the first of several opportunities for the public to shape the vision, principles, goals, and objectives of the Thrive MSP 2040 plan. Expect more opportunities to weigh in as the plan takes shape over the next two years.
Six key principles and why they need your input
At a recent working session, Met Council members recommended six provisional principles to guide all their work. Interestingly, these principles are easily grouped under the three e’s (economy, environment, and equity) of sustainability, along with a principle guiding the process of creating and successfully implementing Thrive MSP 2040.
Principle 1: Prosperity, Vitality, Livability
Principle 2: Economic Opportunity
Principle 3: Equity
Principle 4: Stewardship
Principle 5: Sense of Community, Sense of Region
Principle 6: Partnerships/Collaboration
To get to a true regional vision, community members and local governments need to bring greater definition to these broad principles. For example, what does equity mean to your city, to you? What will greater prosperity, vitality, and livability look like in communities and families across the Twin Cities? Which transportation investments will lead us in that direction? This conversation is already underway, and with significant implications for the future. Join in now with your own sense of what our region needs to thrive!