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Axios Twin Cities

Good morning! It's Thursday.

  • ⛅️ The sun is back and the high will be around 61.

Happening today: At noon, Gov. Tim Walz will announce a timeline to end all COVID-19 restrictions in Minnesota.

Today's newsletter is 879 words, a 3½ minute read.

1 big thing: Cities want to squash parking minimums

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Minneapolis and St. Paul city councils are moving closer to eliminating parking minimums.

How it works: Both cities currently require developers to include a certain number of parking stalls within most buildings outside of their downtowns. Proposals in both cities would allow developers to include as little parking as they want.

Why it matters: Supporters say doing away with minimums will make housing more affordable and reduce vehicle ownership and use. Opponents say it will lead to jammed on-street parking in their neighborhoods and business districts.

"We know that parking minimums can result in inflated housing costs, particularly for lower income households," Minneapolis Planning Project Manager Joe Bernard said at a public hearing this week.

  • Structured parking — parking within a building — costs in the ballpark of $30,000 per stall. That can be a sizable amount when the all-in cost to build an apartment typically ranges from $150,000 to $250,000 per unit.

Yes, but: This doesn't mean developers will just start putting up buildings without parking.

  • Downtown Minneapolis hasn't had parking minimums for years and most developers still include plenty of parking in their buildings.

Flashback: Minneapolis has been easing parking rules bit by bit, most notably along transit corridors.

  • A big reduction in parking requirements for small commercial buildings in 2009 has been credited with leading to a boom in neighborhood restaurants over the past 12 years.
  • A 2015 loosening of requirements for apartment buildings on transit corridors has helped drop the ratio of stalls per unit in new projects, from around one stall per apartment in 2011 to 0.76 stalls per unit in 2020.

What's happening: A Minneapolis committee unanimously approved the elimination of minimums on Tuesday and the full City Council will vote on the measure May 14.

  • The St. Paul Planning Commission had a hearing on its ordinance on April 30 and is still collecting feedback.

Of note: The Minneapolis ordinance also puts a maximum on the number of parking stalls a developer can build, at 1.5 stalls per unit downtown and on transit corridors, and 2 stalls per unit elsewhere.

  • It also requires most new buildings to have electric vehicle charging capabilities at 10% of their stalls.
2. MSP airport getting busy again

Flights are picking back up at MSP. Photo: Nik Oiko/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The number of flights at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport has nearly tripled compared with last year.

State of play: Daily departures so far in May 2021 have averaged 346 per day, up from 123 a day last May, reports the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.

  • That's still down from 500 daily flights in the pre-pandemic month of May 2019.

What they're saying: "As we look forward to the summer, we anticipate further demand to materialize at the airport, as well," Chad Leqve, vice president of management and operations for the Metropolitan Airports Commission, told the Biz Journal.

Between the lines: The primary driver of the rebound has been domestic leisure travelers. A full airline recovery is dependent upon the return of business and international travelers, which is still farther off.

3. How we consume news in the Twin Cities
Expand chart
Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

Local TV still rules the news scene here in the Twin Cities.

Roughly four in 10 residents in our coverage area prefer to get their news from the broadcasts, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

  • A quarter of us prefer online and 19% favor print.

The big picture: Nationwide, there's been a bigger shift toward digital outlets. Pew found that a majority (52%) of Americans now prefer to get news online, compared with 35% who favor TV.

What you like: Weather, crime and traffic/transportation are the top three topics of interest among the local audience.

Our take: The Twin Cities is lucky to be home to a strong and robust media scene. We were pleased to see those surveyed give local outlets high marks for accuracy and community engagement.

  • Special shoutout to the 11% of locals who often get their news from newsletters. We appreciate you!

Go deeper

4. Catch up quick: From Lyft driver to Lyft spokesman

Randy Dobnak drove for Lyft. Now he is sponsored by Lyft. Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

🚘 Twins pitcher Randy Dobnak (recently demoted to the St. Paul Saints), who drove for ride sharing apps while trying to make it in baseball, now has a sponsorship deal with Lyft. (Sports Business Journal)

🪃 Boomerang snowbirds: Minnesotans move to southern states in their 50 and 60s, but they may come back in their 70s and 80s. (Star Tribune)

🏌️‍♂️ Interlachen Country Club (No. 59) and Spring Hill Golf Club (No. 100) made Golf Digest's list of the best 100 U.S. courses. (Golf Digest)

⚖️ The St. Paul man who helped burn down the Third Police Precinct last summer was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison and ordered to pay $12 million in restitution. (Star Tribune)

5. Come back, says downtown St. Paul

Downtown St. Paul really wants visitors and workers to come back. Photo: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Saint Paul Downtown Alliance is launching a campaign to get people back into the city's core after 14 months of being mostly a ghost town.

How it works: From May through the fall, the Alliance will host music at the Farmers Market, outdoor trivia, art installations and more.

  • Downtown businesses, organizations and the city of St. Paul are spending $1.5 million on the campaign.

Of note: The Minnesota Wild are about to host playoff games and the St. Paul Saints home opener is next week. With Gov. Walz likely raising venue capacities, those games should bring thousands more to the city.

Context: Downtowns across the country have lost 80-90% of their office workers and countless more visitors who had come for sports, music, theater and museums.

  • Others cities are being more aggressive. In Denver, businesses are being asked to take a pledge to join 135 companies that are bringing some level of workers back starting May 10, according to Axios Denver.

The other side (of the river): The Minneapolis Downtown Council says it will share its reanimation plans for downtown later this month.

That's all folks. Thanks for reading.