Blue Line work group to meet June 4 as displacement concerns grow

The Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) will convene the first of four all-day meetings over the next year to address Blue Line extension anti-displacement efforts on Saturday, June 4.

According to an email sent by the Metropolitan Council, who CURA is working with, the meeting will discuss how past light rail projects in the region influenced displacement. This is an ongoing project between the two agencies, as well as Hennepin County, to mitigate displacement when the Blue Line extension to Brooklyn Park is built.

After years of planning, the Met Council and Hennepin County are considering routing the Blue Line extension through West Broadway in North Minneapolis, on its way to Robbinsdale, Crystal, and Brooklyn Park. Both agencies for years tried to route it through Theodore Wirth Park and adjacent to a railroad corridor with stops in the three suburbs plus Golden Valley, to no avail because the railroad refused to negotiate. 

The meeting comes amid growing opposition to the line because of anti-displacement fears. The Blue Line Extension Coalition, made up of local community and policy organizations, issued a petition calling for the Met Council and Hennepin County to stop planning the line until they concretely address anti-displacement efforts and already-occurring displacement in the Harrison neighborhoods.

The coalition contended in a statement on May 17 that their recommendations to mitigate displacement developed through working with their own communities, which include rent control, rezoning, traffic safety improvements, and $300 million in incentives for those who live and work along the entire corridor, including for those already displaced because of the previous alignment, were brushed aside. 

“Those recommendations are erased and our communities are asked to sit at another Anti-Displacement Work Group to reiterate to policymakers and project leaders what we already know and have made abundantly clear,” said the coalition in the statement.  

Despite vocal opposition, the Met Council says they received much more comments supporting the line’s alignment through North Minneapolis. “Comments in support outnumber the opposition by a two-to-one margin,” said project spokesperson Trevor Roy. The Met Council plans to vote on the alignment sometime this summer, after which it will go to the Hennepin County board and every city along the corridor. 

The closed-to-the-public, in-person meeting will be held at Juxtaposition Arts from 10 am to 4 pm. However, people interested in watching the meeting on the day of can do so online by visiting https://bit.ly/BlueLineMeeting. The project team also uploaded the agenda, presentation, and worksheets for the day to mybluelineext.org/anti-displacement.

Moving forward, the next three meetings will address housing, cultural, and business displacement, as well as to finalize recommendations, the latter of which they hope to do so by February 2023. 

CURA also plans to interview financially vulnerable homeowners and renters, youth, homeless, small business owners of color, and large property owners to understand how they would be affected by a light rail line and to understand what support they may need so they can stay after it is built. 

Meanwhile, the Twin Cities Coalition For Justice For Jamar asked supporters over text message Saturday morning to ask a Met Councilmember to rename a station proposed for Plymouth Avenue after Jamar Clark. Clark’s killing by Minneapolis police in 2015 spurred an 18-day activist occupation of the Fourth Precinct. TCC4J did not respond to requests for comment at press time. 

The Met Council dictates how stations are named, and their guidelines recommend they be named after the cross streets, but they also invite feedback from partner agencies and affected communities. 

Review the Blue Line Coalition’s report and letter at bluelinecoalition.org.

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