• 25Jun

    Breweries, Food Trucks, soon Uber, and now Airbnb…

    Here is a series of note regarding Airbnb in the city. I am comfortable sharing as none of this was marked attorney-client privilege so these are probably public anyway. It has been going on for some time and probably contributes to a scarcity of affordable housing options. I don’t really have an opinion on this since I am not sure what the city is legally authorized to do.

    If we are going to have Airbnb here, we need some language to ensure that people are getting safe, sanitary housing, I don’t think that is currently always happening.

    Letter of concern from Serenity House

    Mayor/Council: There have been complaints about the number of Airbnb rentals that are occurring in the city. This is for your information. Steve

    From Randy Johnson:
    From: Johnson, Randy
    Sent: Thursday, June 23, 2016 12:45 PM
    To: Adkins, Terry <tadkins@rochestermn.gov>
    Cc: Alfredson, Pat <palfredson@rochestermn.gov>; Kvenvold, Steve <skvenvold@rochestermn.gov>
    Subject: RE: Serenity House Network concerns regarding Airbnb

    Hello Terry,

    It is my opinion that Mr. Brad Jones comments are not completely accurate.

    I was involved in a meeting on May 16, 2016, with Brad Jones, Dawn Beck from Olmsted County Public Health, and David Dunn from the Planning Department. (I never met with Mr. Jones and Pete Giesen to discuss this issue). During this meeting we discussed the various housing and lodging situations and the roles and responsibilities of each of the various departments. I explained that the Building Safety Department is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Rental Housing Licensing program which is geared toward housing where the occupants are primarily permanent in nature and are not considered transient (less than 30 days). Dawn Beck explained that Olmsted County Public Health mainly deals with lodging facilities where the occupants are transient in nature. David Dunn explained that the Planning Department enforces the Land Development Manual which contains regulations where these various housing and lodging situations may exist within the given zoning district.

    The main discussion surrounding the Airbnb facilities is the fact that these tend to fall between the cracks and currently there does not appear to be any enforcement process available other than possibly the Planning Department and this depends on whether or not this a permitted use within the zoning district. I indicated that the Building Safety Department does not have any enforcement authority because these are transient in nature and it is my understanding that these are usually rented out by the day or week. Dawn Beck indicated that even though these are transient in nature, her department does not have any enforcement authority because State Statute does not allow them to issue a lodging license for a facility with less than 5 bedrooms with the exception of the new Medical Lodging Facilities. She also indicated that even though some of these Airbnb facilities may advertise and be used as Medical Lodging Facility, they usually do not fall into the definition of being used “exclusively” as a Medical Lodging Facility.

    I am not really sure how Mr. Jones can make the statement that “there are clear violations” because you need to be able to point to a specific ordinance, statute or law to make the declaration that a violation exists. We were not able to come up with any during our meeting so it seems strange that he walked away with the understanding that these are clear violations. It is also my understanding that after our meeting that Mr. Jones has met with various lodging groups and has informed them that it is my responsibility for the enforcement of these Airbnb facilities and that these exist because if my lack of enforcement.

    It is my option that if the City wishes to somehow regulation these type of facilities that the City will need to lobby the State to create a new regulation or create an ordinance themselves. Along with this comes the question as to the purpose of the regulation. Is the desire to band them or to allow them to exist and regulate them. I believe Mr. Jones and Jodie Hook from the Serenity House Network are interested in banning them because it takes away from their interests. It is my understanding that the City of Duluth tried to regulate these type of facilities and they are still trying to recover from this attempt.

    Hope this helps and please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns.

    Thank you

    —–Original Message—–
    From: Adkins, Terry
    Sent: Wednesday, June 22, 2016 1:43 PM
    To: Johnson, Randy <RJohnson@rochestermn.gov>
    Cc: Alfredson, Pat <palfredson@rochestermn.gov>; Kvenvold, Steve <skvenvold@rochestermn.gov>
    Subject: FW: Serenity House Network concerns regarding Airbnb

    Randy, could you help me understand the status of Airbnb from the perspective of the City’s Rental Code. The message below from Brad Jones indicates he met with you and Pete Giesen, that there are clear violations, and there is a need for joint city/county enforcement against the violators. Yet, in her April 1, 2016, memo to me, the Mayor, and the Council, Assistant City Attorney Pat Alfredson indicated she met with you regarding this subject and you indicated the following:

    “Randy Johnson, Director of Building Safety, is aware that short term rental activity is occurring in the community. Mr. Johnson stated the facilities are usually being rented out by the day or by the week, therefore, he does not believe a rental registration certificate is required. He explained that regulations address properties that are rented out on a more permanent basis; usually 30 days or more. It was his opinion that rental for anything less than 30 days is usually considered a lodging facility and would involve the Health Department.”

    I just need some clarification as to where you stand on this issue and whether Brad Jones’ message is indeed accurate.

    Thank you,


    —–Original Message—–
    From: Kvenvold, Steve
    Sent: Wednesday, June 22, 2016 1:15 PM
    To: Adkins, Terry <tadkins@rochestermn.gov>
    Subject: FW: Serenity House Network concerns regarding Airbnb

    Terry, you may be asked about how to go about enforcing the matter addressed below. Steve

    —–Original Message—–
    From: Brad Jones [mailto:bjonesmn@rochestercvb.org]
    Sent: Wednesday, June 22, 2016 1:10 PM
    To: Brede, Ardell <abrede@rochestermn.gov>; Kvenvold, Steve <skvenvold@rochestermn.gov>; Staver, Randy <rstaver@rochestermn.gov>
    Cc: Clarke, Lisa M. <Clarke.Lisa@mayo.edu>; Rob Miller <RMiller@rochestermnchamber.com>
    Subject: FW: Serenity House Network concerns regarding Airbnb

    Thanks Mayor,

    I am hearing this complaint almost every day now from our business community. We are preparing a ‘Traveler Warning’ that we will post on our website and we will request that Mayo Clinic, the Chamber & The City post it on theirs as well. That warning will inform visitors that we highly recommend booking accommodations who have a lodging license (as you know we only list those on the website). I believe that is a good start to informing our visitors that we have a process for licensing and inspecting properties to ensure their safety, sanitation, proper insurance etc.

    These are clear violations and need to be addressed. Otherwise, the issue will only get bigger. We have met with Randy Johnson & Pete Giesen regarding this and the need for enforcement. I have a printout of most of the properties that are in violation.
    My suggestion is that we send a joint (City & County) letter to these non-licensed properties pointing out the violation. If they wish to do this business, we have a simple process and inspection to become licensed.

    I’m not sure what the penalty is for this violation? BTW…I have several other nightmare stories that I could share. This is why we all worked so hard for the lodging licensure and zoning changes last year.

    BRAD JONES // Executive Director
    Rochester MN Convention and Visitors Bureau
    (D) 507.424.0821 // bjones@rochestercvb.org

    Have you heard? Rochester, Minnesota is in the midst of a $84 million expansion to the Mayo Civic Center #Opening2017.

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  • 25Jun

    Edit: Per the request of some citizens the Traffic Report Can be found here.

    On Monday I will participate on a panel that will discuss the proposed Alatus Development in the Folwell Neighborhood. There is a great deal of fear about this project, which is to be expected with any project this large. I will be a little limited as to what I can say as I am in a quasi-judicial capacity with the project likely coming to the council.

    As a restricted development, any approval must meet the requirements in 62.708 of our land development manual. I will bold the sections that are likely of particular interest to neighbors as I have received questions. The first time that this comes to us will be as a Preliminary Development Plan as such take a look at Subdivision 2. Subdivision 3 is applicable to a Final Development Plan.

    On all of these criteria, staff will prepare a report making recommendations, the Planning & Zoning Commission will then review it, and finally the council will make a decision. This is the case for both the Preliminary & Final Plans.

    62.708 Criteria for Type III Developments: Subdivision 1. The Commission and Council shall approve a type III incentive development plan if it determines the plan satisfies all of the Preliminary Development Plan findings provided in subdivision 2 and all of the Final Development Plan findings provided in subdivision 3.
    Subd 2. The findings for the approval of a Preliminary Type III Development Plan are as follows:

    A. Capacity of Public Facilities: The existing or future planned utilities in the area are adequate to serve the proposed development.

    B. Geologic Hazards: The existence of areas of natural or geologic hazard, such as unstable slopes, sinkholes, floodplain, etc., have been identified and the development of these areas has been taken into account or will be addressed in the Phase II plans.

    C. Natural Features: For developments involving new construction, the arrangement of buildings, paved areas and open space has, to the extent practical, utilized the existing topography and existing desirable vegetation of the site.

    D. Residential Traffic Impact: When located in a residential area, the proposed development:

    (1) Will not cause traffic volumes to exceed planned capacities on local residential streets;

    (2) Will not generate frequent truck traffic on local residential streets; and

    (3) Will not create additional traffic during evening and nighttime hours on local residential streets.

    E. Traffic Generation Impact: : Anticipated traffic generated by the development will not cause the capacity of adjacent streets to be exceeded, and conceptual improvements to reduce the impact of access points on the traffic flow of adjacent streets have been identified where needed..

    F. Height Impacts: For developments involving new construction, the heights and placement of proposed structures are compatible with the surrounding development. Factors to consider include:

    (1) Will the structure block sunlight from reaching adjacent properties during a majority of the day for over four months out of the year; and;

    (2) Will siting of the structure substantially block vistas from the primary exposures of adjacent residential dwellings created due to differences in elevation.

    G. Setbacks: For developments involving new construction, proposed setbacks are related to building height and bulk in a manner consistent with that required for permitted uses in the underlying zoning district.

    H. Internal Site Design: For developments involving new construction, the preliminary site layout indicates adequate building separation and desirable orientation of the buildings to open spaces, street frontages or other focal points.

    I. Screening and Buffering: The conceptual screening and bufferyards proposed are adequate to protect the privacy of residents in the development or surrounding residential areas from the impact of interior traffic circulation and parking areas, utility areas such as refuse storage, noise or glare exceeding permissible standards, potential safety hazards, unwanted pedestrian/bicycle access, or to subdue differences in architecture and bulk between adjacent land uses.

    J. Ordinance Requirements: The proposed development includes adequate amounts of off-street parking and loading areas and, in the case of new construction, there is adequate landscaped area to meet ordinance requirements.

    K. General Compatibility: The relationship of the actual appearance, general density and overall site design of the proposed development should be compared to the established pattern of zoning, the character of the surrounding neighborhood and the existing land forms of the area to determine the general compatibility of the development with its surroundings.

    L. Non-Vehicular and Alternate Modes of Travel: The proposed development incorporates pedestrian oriented-space, provides direct and convenient pedestrian access to the building entrance(s) from public trails, public sidewalks, and on or off-site parking areas, incorporates appropriated pedestrian safety features, provides convenient pedestrian access for transit patrons, or, if appropriate, access for transit vehicles, and provides adequate bicycle access. Consideration shall also be given, to providing designated motorized scooter parking if appropriate to the context of the development (the use, location, type of individuals served).

    Subd. 3. The findings for the approval of a Final Type III Development Plan are as follows:
    A. Public Facility Design: The design of private and public utility facilities meet the requirements and specifications which the applicable utility has adopted.

    B. Geologic Hazard: Engineering means to deal with areas of geologic hazard have been incorporated into the development plan or such areas have been set aside from development.
    Page 258 September 1, 2011

    C. Access Effect: Ingress and egress points have been designed and located so as to:

    (1) Provide adequate separation from existing street intersections and adjacent private driveways so that traffic circulation problems in public right-of-ways are minimized; and

    (2) Not adversely impact adjacent residential properties with factors such as noise from accelerating or idling vehicles or the glare of headlights from vehicles entering or leaving the site.

    In addition, where the preliminary development plan identified potential problems in the operation of access points, plans for private improvements or evidence of planned public improvements which will alleviate the problems have been provided.

    D. Pedestrian Circulation: The plan includes elements to assure that pedestrians can move safely both within the site and across the site between properties and activities within the neighborhood area, and, where appropriate, accommodations for transit access are provided.

    E. Foundation and Site Plantings: A landscape plan for the site has been prepared which indicates the finished site will be consistent with the landscape character of the surrounding area.

    F. Site Status: Adequate measures have been taken to insure the future maintenance and ownership pattern of the project, including common areas, the completion of any platting activities, and the provision of adequate assurance to guarantee the installation of required public improvements, screening and landscaping.

    G. Screening and Bufferyards: The final screening and bufferyard design contains earth forms, structures and plant materials which are adequate to satisfy the needs identified in preliminary development plan for the project.

    H. Final Building Design: The final building design is consistent with the principles identified in preliminary development plan relative to Height Impact, Setbacks, and Internal Site Design.

    I. Internal Circulation Areas: Plans for off-street parking and loading areas and circulation aisles to serve these areas meet ordinance requirements in terms of design.

    J. Ordinance Requirements: The proposed development is consistent with the requirements of the underlying zoning district for similar uses in regards to signage and other appearance controls, and with general standards such as traffic visibility and emergency access.

    K. Non-Vehicular and Alternate Travel Modes: The proposed development incorporates pedestrian oriented-space, provides direct and convenient pedestrian access to the building entrance(s) from public trails, public sidewalks, and on or off-site parking areas, incorporates appropriated pedestrian safety features, provides convenient pedestrian access for transit patrons, or, if appropriate, access for transit vehicles, and provides adequate bicycle access. Consideration shall also be given, to providing designated motorized scooter parking if appropriate to the context of the development (the use, location, type of individuals served).

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  • 12Jun

    Thursday join me at the government center (room 104) from 5 – 7 PM to discuss this concept. I encourage you to bicycle to the meeting if you are so able; and then join me on a ride through the Kutzky Park Neighborhood to Cascade Lake Park at 7 PM.

    June 16, 2006 was a sad day for Rochester. At an intersection that was designed unsafe for pedestrians, a young girl lost her life when she was hit by a careless driver. In the 10 years since this happened Rochester & Olmsted County have done almost nothing to improve pedestrian & bicyclist safety in this area.

    Thank you to Andy Masterpole & Mark Miller of SEH for their volunteer efforts in putting these conceptual materials together. Also thanks to many members of BPAC & We Bike Rochester for providing suggestions and encouragement that factored into these recommendations.

    The best part of this is that most of these improvements are low cost, address other issues like neighborhood speeding and unsafe crossings, and can be implemented on a trial basis. Our goal is to deliver improved bicycle and pedestrian safety to the thousands of people that live in the Country Club Manor & Meadow Lakes areas.

    West Rochester Bikeway Map photo Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 4.03.14 PM_zps7dr6mr4n.png

    We are proposing a pedestrian bridge and a number of on street improvements to safely connect neighborhoods on the West side of West Circle Drive. The proposed improvements will provide connections between Harriet Bishop Elementary School, Rochester Montessori School, Judd Park, Manor Park, Meadow Lakes (future trail), and Cascade Lake Regional Park. The number of people served by these improvements is greater the number living in Stewartville, Kasson, or Byron. In short, these improvements are intended to serve an enormous number of currently unserved people.

    West Rochester Bridge Options photo Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 4.03.26 PM_zps5thzziyu.png

    Because the main roads targeted (36th Avenue, 7th Street NW, and 3rd Street NW) are built overly wide; we have the opportunity to add bike lanes protected by significant buffers and physical separators. The current curb to curb width is so large that we can achieve this while still maintaining all current driving lanes and parking along every roadway except a single section of 7th street that has no homes fronting on it.

    Protected Bike Lane Design photo Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 4.03.39 PM_zpsrvohoaj5.png

    Our hope is to also begin planning for and seeking funding for a pedestrian connection over West Circle Drive. I hope that Rochester, Olmsted County, and the School District would all participate in this effort. Potential sources of funds may include state bonding, safe routes to school, federal TAP funds, or sales tax dollars.

    A future four way intersection at County Road 34 and the entrance to People of Hope will serve as an opportunity to safely cross that roadway and continue this network along Cascade Creek to the South and West.

    Here is the original data file.

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  • 11Jun

    I was introduced to the Urban Land Institute through work with the National League of Cities. In particular while serving as the National Chair for community & economic development I was offered the opportunity to work on a ULI team focused on building health corridors. You can read about that here. My involvement with the “Uptown Project” made me a natural fit for this project.

    I have been blown away with the incredible wealth of knowledge that ULI is. Here are a few recent features that I found particularly interesting and applicable to Rochester. In the future I would like to continue my involvement with ULI.

    Here is an article featuring Christopher Leinberger and others discussing advantages and concerns of increasing density in neighborhoods. This applies to places like Kutzky Park, Folwell, and the Historic SW.

    Here is an article on trail oriented development. This applies to places like the Park at Kutzky.

    Finally there is an article on resilience featuring Peter Cavaluzzi, one of the architects of the DMC plan. This article is not yet available on line, but it is fantastic and speaks to the need build sustainability into the DMC districts.

    Learning from the best is part of how I prepare to do my job.

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  • 06Jun

    In case you don’t think elections matter for the future of Rochester, read how the Rochester city council almost destroyed the opportunity for a $200 million transformative waterfront project. Recently the council almost did the exact thing (in another location) by placing a suburban Associated Bank complete with surface parking on the riverfront.

    Here is the presentation (complete with many high quality renderings) of the proposed $180-$200 million dollar Bloom Capital project on the downtown Riverfront. The council will consider a preliminary development proposal this evening.

    Bloom Presentation to DMC

    While this is early; there is huge potential with this project. And it almost never happened due to Rochester cronyism and a lack of vision by some Rochester City Council members.

    Instead there was a proposal to place a 4 story parking structure on the river with a few levels of housing above it. Anybody with a shred of vision could see that there was so much more potential for a riverfront project in Rochester. However that proposal actually tied on an initial vote 3-3 and then failed at the next meeting by a 4-3 vote. That’s right, half of this enormous project was almost made into another parking ramp on the river.

    We almost lost the site a second time to Mac Hamilton, who in my capacity as a city councilman, I have come to learn is one of the dirtiest people I have ever met. You can read about some of the actions he has taken on this blog. Shortly after the city council held a design competition for what was to become Metropolitan Marketplace (People’s Food Co-op) Mac Hamilton executed a maneuver to try to sabotage that project for his own benefit. Mac submitted one of the 4 proposals for the site and came in a distant, distant last place with a really pathetic proposal. In fact, he refused to even put active uses on the ground floor since he believed commercial was not viable in that area. Every other project was substantially better.

    Rather than accepting he had an inferior product and moving on, he bought the adjacent building (by legal loophole according to the owner) and attempted to get the city council to instead choose his inferior project. Behind the scenes I met with Dennis Hanson and he agreed that the best project should win.

    What does this have to do with the Bloom Proposal? City administration informed us that Mac then offered to exchange his parcel for city property between 3rd & 4th along the river. The council stood its ground (unanimously this time) and Mac sold the property a week later (for a large profit).

    Elections matter…

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  • 05Jun

    My take in short are that these are fantastic. I hope we can more broadly apply these. I just hope neither staff nor lobbying organizations have too much success weakening these. As always, give me your comments.

    Proposed Building Guidelines

    Proposed Street Guidelines

    Proposed District Guidelines

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  • 05Jun

    If Rochester is ever going to be a serious safe bike city like Minneapolis we will need to greatly improve our infrastructure and fill in missing connections. Here is some data and presentation on protected bike lanes (which are the gold standard).

    Portland State Data on Protected Bike Lanes

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  • 04Jun

    More good news for people that breath!

    Renewable-Based Fuel is Cleaner, Costs Less Than Traditional Diesel

    ROCHESTER, MINN. – June 2, 2016 – On June 1st, Rochester Public Transit (RPT) switched from the 10 percent biodiesel blend required statewide to a 20 percent blend, a move that will reduce emissions from 49 transit buses while saving money for the city. RPT officials said that the higher biodiesel content does not require the city to make major investments in vehicles or in fueling infrastructure. RPT has been using a lower percent biodiesel for a number of years. Under State law all diesel fuel will increase to 20% biodiesel beginning May 1, 2018. The decision was welcomed by the American Lung Association in Minnesota, which has long supported biodiesel as a clean air choice® for Minnesota motorists with diesel vehicles.

    “Using this higher biodiesel blend will have an immediate effect on the air pollutants these buses emit, reducing particulate matter, hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions,” said Kelly Marczak, regional senior director for clean air at the American Lung Association in Minnesota. “It also represents another step away from fossil fuels and toward cleaner, more sustainable fuels produced here in Minnesota.”

    Rochester’s bus fleet will use the B20 blend during warm months (through September), switching back to a five percent blend (B5) during the cold-weather months. This is consistent with a statewide law, the first of its kind in the United States, which requires a minimum 10 percent biodiesel blend in the warm weather months and B5 in the winter. The ALAMN noted in a recent analysis of biodiesel use in Minnesota that the state’s biodiesel standard has the same greenhouse gas emissions reduction benefits as removing 128,000 passenger vehicles from Minnesota’s roads each year. Using B20 in the summer months represents a 15% reduction in GHG emissions when compared to petroleum diesel. RPT stated that the use of biodiesel is consistent with its other efforts towards lower emissions and improved fuel conservation. While the cost of biodiesel fluctuates in the marketplace, RPT expects to achieve fuel savings of between two and five cents per gallon by using a 20% biodiesel blend.

    Biodiesel was the first biofuel designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as an Advanced Biofuel, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent or more compared to petroleum diesel. Biodiesel has been approved for use as a vehicle fuel by the EPA and blends up to B20 can be used in any diesel engine without the need for any special modifications. The renewable fuel can be made from nearly any plant-based oil or animal fat. Most of the biodiesel used in the upper Midwest is made from excess soybean oil. Minnesota has three biodiesel plants in Albert Lea, Brewster and Isanti with a combined production capacity of approximately 63 million gallons. For more information, visit www.biodiesel.mn

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  • 04Jun

     photo logo_zpsyabu5ytb.jpg

    So this is the campaign logo I used in 2012. I am thinking about a refresh, but do not have art skills. I am happy to continue using this. Fortunately for me, I live in a community with a tremendous collaborative arts community. I will turn to your creative brilliance for inspiration!

    As such; your challenge if you choose to accept it; is to come up with a new design!

    If your design is picked you will be helping an elected official who is a passionate supporter of the collaborative arts community. You also will get recognition, a growler of a beverage of your choosing from a local business, and swag showing off your design. Also expect an arts party sometime during the campaign! Just Because…

    I try to minimize the rules so as to let your creativity flourish.

    1. Typically my campaign colors have been Orange & White
    2. Of course try to include “Michael Wojcik” and possibly “City Council”
    3. Logos that work large or small tend to be best.
    4. Have fun!

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  • 03Jun

    I like this pilot program, hope to see more!

    Parks Policy

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