Greetings, Ward 11!
I hope this finds you and your family healthy and safe. This Ward 11 Bulletin includes a number of updates on the City’s ongoing COVID-19 response as well as other news and resources that may be helpful to you during this time. While this global crisis and its growing impacts continue to be a primary focus, we also continue our work on other important programs and initiatives. As always, I hope this newsletter is a useful digest of what’s happening on all fronts at City Hall and in our Ward 11 community.
Please continue to check the City’s COVID-19 website regularly for information on essential services, resources to help during the pandemic, and updates on emergency regulations. If you have questions or concerns, reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-673-2211. I also continue to provide real-time updates between newsletters — on our pandemic response and other things — on my official Twitter feed and my Facebook page.
Staying Home Still Safest Option as State Eases Rules
Governor Tim Walz last week announced his Stay At Home order, which officially expired Monday, would be replaced with an order continuing to encourage Minnesotans to stay close to home but allowing some additional flexibility in limited circumstances. Retail stores and other local businesses are now allowed to open if they have a social distancing plan and operate at 50% capacity. Additional guidance is available from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, including a template plan and checklist for businesses. I ask that all businesses follow these rules to the letter if they choose to open, and totally respect if businesses wish to continue more limited service until they feel safer.
While the governor’s new order also permits gatherings of 10 people or fewer, I can’t stress enough that anyone coming together must continue to stay at least six feet apart. Please continue to wear masks, wash your hands often, and keep up all the safety measures you’ve been practicing for the last several weeks. We will all be safer and our community healthier if we continue to stay home whenever possible, cover our faces in public, and limit travel to only what is essential. We are not through the worst of what COVID-19 will bring yet. The number of cases and deaths continues to grow by the day, in Minneapolis, in Hennepin County, and statewide. This is still a very serious situation, and I am grateful for the way our community continues to come together to follow the rules and keep each other safe. Remember, you could spread COVID-19 to others even if you have no symptoms. The CDC website offers simple instructions for making homemade cloth masks with or without sewing.
In addition, Governor Walz last week signed executive orders strongly encouraging Minnesotans at greatest risk of serious illness to continue staying home, ensuring workers can raise concerns regarding the safety of their work environments without fear of discrimination or retaliation, and protecting workers from loss of income if they refuse to work under unsafe or unhealthy conditions. Following the guidance of public health officials, the governor will track indicators that could trigger a decision to re-impose restrictions to slow the spread of the virus if or when necessary. These indicators include the number of new COVID-19 cases, the percent of COVID-19 test that are positive, and the percent of COVID-19 cases for which the source of infection is unknown.
Track state data on the COVID-19 pandemic using this dashboard powered by the Minnesota Department of Health. The City continues to track the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minneapolis using this online dashboard that shows the total number of confirmed cases in our city, how many people needed hospitalization, how many have recovered, and how many people have died.
City Amending Budget Due to COVID-19
Financial stresses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, including a projected revenue shortfall between $100 million and $200 million, are forcing the City of Minneapolis to reassess its budget. As with other governments across the nation and globally, this sudden crisis is quickly transforming our City’s fiscal future – a dramatic enough change that we will revise our 2020 budget midway through the year. Mayor Frey will present his recommended revised 2020 budget to the City Council on June 12. The City Council will hold a series of meetings in mid- and late June to hear from City staff about the impacts of the recommended revisions and make any necessary modifications. There will be two opportunities for the public to engage and share their voices in this unorthodox process. Further details are still being finalized but I will absolutely share them as I learn more.
Our budget process typically plays out over several months, and it will be a significant challenge for my colleagues and I to get this work done quickly. Because of the unusual nature of this midyear revision, it is especially important for the City to be transparent in our approach and ongoing work to ensure we are being as responsible as possible with our tax dollars. Each day that passes without making changes, we risk spending money we don’t have. At the same time, it is crucial that my colleagues and I are as thoughtful and comprehensive as possible in determining what changes are necessary. We all benefit from the dedicated public servants across the City enterprise, who work every day to deliver essential services, keep us safe and healthy, and ensure residents and businesses can thrive in Minneapolis. Any adjustments that affect them must be made with care, compassion, and good reason.
The City Council has already frozen wages for all non-bargaining unit employees and work is ongoing with labor partners to implement a wage freeze across the enterprise to help guard against deeper cuts later. Bills under consideration by the state legislature could help ensure Minneapolis gets a share of the federal coronavirus relief bill. As of now, the City has received none. This has serious implications across our budget. I look forward to sharing more information as I get it, and I hope you’ll share your input as we to build an amended budget that balances our shared priorities and goals with real and growing fiscal constraints during this global crisis.
Sick and Safe Time Required for Minneapolis Workers
As more businesses open under Governor Walz’s revised plan, more Minneapolis workers will head back to their jobs. Under the City’s sick and safe time ordinance, employers are required to provide access to sick leave (or more generous leave) to all employees in Minneapolis. Leave must be paid by employers that have more than five employees, and accrual and use balances must be listed on pay stubs. Workers’ accrued sick and safe time hours are legally protected for their use due to COVID-19 symptoms, testing, or infection. These protections also can be used if the employee needs to care for a family member. Learn more here about sick and safe time protections, including how they’re impacted by COVID-19.
Have You Applied for Your Mail-in Ballot?
With health officials advising us all to do what we can to reduce contact with others during this public health crisis, I strongly encourage you to vote early by mail this election year. All Minnesota voters can sign up now to get ballots by mail for the August primary and November general election. Ballots will arrive about six weeks before each election, along with postage-paid envelopes to return them. Every Minnesota voter is eligible to vote early by mail – you do not need to give a reason.
Apply for your ballot at least 10 days before an election so you have enough time to receive and return it – it’s quick and easy, and it’s a great idea to take care of it now to be on the safe side. Although voting by mail is strongly recommended, voters will still be able to cast their ballots in person at the City’s Early Vote Center or at their polling places on Election Day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is encouraging voting early by mail, and the City’s Elections & Voter Services division supports this recommendation to make sure every voter in Minneapolis can safely cast their ballot this election year. Get more information here.
Metro Transit Now Requiring Riders to Wear Face Coverings
Metro Transit is now requiring face coverings for those riding buses or trains, in line with CDC guidance. Masks, tightly woven cotton, bandanas, and scarves are all acceptable. (See how to make and use cloth face coverings here.) Children under the age of 2, those who have trouble breathing, and those who are unable to remove the face covering without assistance are exempt from this guidance. Service cannot be denied and customers will not be removed if they are not wearing a face covering, but let’s all continue to do what we can to keep ourselves and each other safe – it’s all the more important as state restrictions on businesses and gatherings loosen.
Routine Neighborhood Inspections Happening Now
As we continue to stay at home this spring to help keep each other safe, now more than ever it’s critical to keep clean yards and green space for each other’s wellbeing. City inspectors will respond to 311 complaints and in limited instances go through areas with vacant properties and a history of nuisance violations. Because of the added difficulties we’re all facing during this pandemic, anyone who receives a violation letter and faces hardships in complying can call 311 or the number at the bottom of the letter to discuss their situation. The City is committed to balancing the needs of the community, residents, and property owners with being fair, reasonable, and flexible.
Planning a spring cleanup, setting a route lawn maintenance schedule, and regularly checking in on any rental properties you own helps keep the City clean and safe. As temperatures warm up this week, it’s a great time to remove trash and debris, trim back vegetation that overhangs the sidewalk or street, mow your lawn, remove inoperable vehicles, and bundle brush and branches. Yard waste pick-up continues as part of your regular collection service if you’re a City Solid Waste & Recycling customer. If you are an older adult, veteran, or disabled person and need help with maintenance, there are resources available to help.
Landlords who have arranged for their renters to do yard work should make sure renters have necessary equipment and have a shared understanding of upkeep expectations. City inspectors recommend that landlords stop by occasionally to see if additional supplies are needed. Regardless of who does the yard work, responsibility ultimately lies with the property owner.
To report a property in violation or ask questions, call 311. It might also be helpful to review this more detailed information on nuisance violations.
How to Help Animals While City Shelter is Closed
Minneapolis Animal Care & Control (MACC) needs your help so it can prioritize its work for animals requiring immediate attention. The shelter is currently closed to the public during our COVID-19 response, but staff are still caring for animals. If you find a stray animal, please review our guidelines on what to do before calling 311. Often the best thing to do for kittens or cats in your neighborhood is to leave them alone. Most lost dogs are found very close to their home, so walking around your neighborhood or posting on neighborhood social media sites frequently results in faster reunions. In addition, it’s important to have a plan for your own pets if you’re unable to care for them. Check out these helpful tips on how to include your pets in preparedness planning for pandemics, severe weather, and other emergencies.
If you’re looking to adopt a pet, know that rescue partners play an important role in getting healthy animals into new homes. Each year, MACC places hundreds of animals with rescue organizations. While there aren’t adoptable animals in the MACC shelter right now, these rescue partners can help if you’re ready to adopt.
Please note that MACC is closed to the public until further notice because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, MACC officers will continue to respond to emergency calls when the lives or safety of people or animals are in imminent danger. Please call 311 or 612-673-6222 with questions, or 911 if it’s an emergency.
Gypsy Moth Treatments to Start Early Wednesday
I gave you a heads up in my last couple newsletters, and now the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has set a date for its gypsy moth treatment in parts of Keewaydin and Wenonah neighborhoods. The first of two aerial treatments is slated to begin as early as 5:30 a.m. this Wednesday, May 20, depending on weather conditions. The second application will take place five to 10 days after that. Residents in and around the treatment area, up to a half mile outside of the treatment area, may be awakened by the noise of a low-flying airplane on days treatments are applied. The affected area is southeast of Lake Nokomis, roughly bordered by 53rd Street, Highway 62, 23rd Avenue, and 35th Avenue. Search the MDA’s interactive map to see if your home is within the treatment area.
Gypsy moths are among America’s most destructive tree pests, having caused millions of dollars in damage to Eastern forests. The moths are now threatening the tree canopy in our community. To get rid of the moths, officials will conduct two aerial applications of Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki (Btk) over the area, spaced five to 10 days apart. Btk is a biological product that is organically certified for use on food crops. It has no known health effects for humans, pets, birds, fish, livestock, bees, and other non-caterpillar insects.
To help area residents stay informed, the MDA has set up an Arrest the Pest Info Line at 1-888-545-MOTH with the latest details about treatment dates and times. On the morning of the treatments, residents can call the phone number with any questions they may have. Simply press 0 (zero) to speak to someone. The MDA’s website also has information about gypsy moths and control efforts, and residents can sign up for email or text updates about treatment progress.
Contact the Minnesota Department of Agriculture at 1-888-545-6684 or Arrest.the.Pest@state.mn.us with questions regarding gypsy moth and the planned treatments.
Transportation Action Plan Comment Deadline This Friday
The comment period for the City’s draft Transportation Action Plan closes this Friday, May 22, so be sure to take a look before then and offer your input. This document is an important one – it sets the City’s vision for planning, design, and implementation of transportation projects, for all people in all the ways they move around. It advances the transportation objectives outlined in the Minneapolis 2040 comprehensive plan, a framework that emphasizes equity and climate action. The plan includes strategies and actions related to walking, bicycling, transit, technology, freight, street operations, and design. Goals include:
- Having three out of every five trips taken by walking, rolling, bicycling, or transit to help achieve our climate goals
- Improving the experience of people walking and rolling on our streets, including through safer street crossings
- Expanding transit coverage so 75% of residents are within a five-minute walk of high-frequency transit and 90% are within a 10-minute walk
- Using street design to provide a comfortable and healthy environment for people, including more green space in street projects
- Implementing a network of mobility hubs where folks can connect to multiple shared low- or no-carbon transportation options, such as bikes, scooters, cars, and transit
These are ambitious goals that will require the City and its partners to support expanded transportation access and options for Minneapolis residents. Your feedback will help inform a final draft of the plan, expected to be presented to the City Council later this year. Review the draft plan and submit your comments through the Transportation Action Plan website.
New Text Service Helps Survivors Stay Safe at Home
Spending more time at home helps protect the health of ourselves and our community, but for some, it can present other dangers. Individuals experiencing intimate partner violence and those who fear for their safety at home can now contact Standpoint – which provides services to domestic and sexual violence survivors – by text at 612-743-7397. The text-only service is available Monday through Friday during business hours to reach a domestic or sexual violence/abuse advocate. Standpoint advocates are also available to speak by phone at 800-313-2666 or via email at email@example.com.
Outside normal business hours, folks should call Minnesota’s 24/7 crisis hotline at 866-223-1111. Always call 911 in case of emergency.
Funding for Community-Based COVID-19 Response Efforts
The Community Health Partnership of Hennepin County (CHIP) will award mini grants worth between $200 and $500 to community members or small teams working to address COVID-19 locally, including by promoting mental health and supporting housing stability in our community. Because of the pandemic, applicants must use virtual or other creative engagement strategies that comply with public health guidance in order to keep themselves and others safe. The application deadline is this Wednesday, May 20 at 4 p.m. Get more information and see how to apply here.
Support Public Health By Taking the Census
One way we can show our collective appreciation for the healthcare workers on the frontlines of this crisis is simple, easy, and quick – take the census. The census, a comprehensive population count that takes place every 10 years, determines the resources our community gets for a wide range of essential programs and services including healthcare. When everyone in Minneapolis is counted, our City is in the best possible position to support and provide these critical resources. It only takes a few minutes to complete the census online, or you can do so over the phone by calling 844-330-2020 (for English) or 844-468-2020 (para Español). Learn more about the Census and why it’s so important here.
I also want to recognize the many, many neighbors who have already done their part to be counted. Minnesota is a national leader in census response rates, and Minneapolis is also doing well – led by Ward 11 neighborhoods, I’m proud to say. You can see a map of our census response rates here. Help us get as close to 100% as possible by completing your census questionnaire and reminding your friends and family to do the same!
Don’t Miss Out on Your Free Home Efficiency Kit
Xcel Energy is offering free home energy savings kits that include supplies that will help you save energy and money – and it’s a great time for that, considering the extra time we’re spending at home these days. Xcel residential customers, including renters and homeowners, can choose one of three kit types that include various combinations of easy-to-install power strips, LED lights, showerheads, and aerators. An LED light can save you more than $55 over its lifetime, while an efficient showerhead can reduce water consumption by up to 10%. The offer runs through May 26, so claim yours here today.
June and July Open Streets Events Cancelled
Due to COVID-19, the first two scheduled Open Streets events of the summer will not go on as planned. Open Streets Lyndale and Open Streets Minnehaha were originally slated for June but considering the significant public health risk posed by large gatherings in the near term, both events are off – though organizers are exploring the possibility of holding them in October. Event organizers continue to work with the City to evaluate the safety of hosting other planned Open Streets events later in the summer. They will make these determinations at least eight weeks ahead of the scheduled event dates. You can find more information and stay in the loop by visiting the Open Streets Minneapolis website.
Stay Engaged While We Stay At Home
I’m excited to pick up where we left off with a few new Community Conversations – though, for the foreseeable future, we’ll have to meet virtually. All Ward 11 residents are welcome to join in and share questions, concerns, and ideas at the following times:
If you’re feeling motivated to get more involved in your community during this time, check out your local neighborhood organization for opportunities to get engaged:
How is Ward 11 Stepping Up During COVID-19?
If you or your neighbors are thinking creatively about how to step up to help address community needs during this emergency – from making masks to donating food to supporting local businesses – I want to know about it! I’m compiling stories from our community about ways we’re helping each other, and I need your help to make sure I’m finding them all. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know what you, your family, or your group is up to. Thank you!