The Metropolitan Council, commonly referred to as the Met Council, oversees the region’s transportation, land use and sewer systems, and administers public housing and Section 8 vouchers primarily in Anoka, Carver, and suburban Hennepin and Ramsey Counties. The council also distributes grants to support the region’s parks.
The Met Council is led by a 17-member body appointed by the governor, who convenes a selection committee to receive and vet prospective applicants. Appointees make $20,000 annually and can buy into Met Council health insurance.
Each member also serves on an array of subcommittees that oversee the council’s functions, which generally meet twice a month.
John Pacheco of Linden Hills represents Southwest Minneapolis west of Lyndale Avenue and south of Bassett Creek (District 6), while Robert Lilligren (District 7) and Abdirahman Muse (District 8) represent the remainder of Minneapolis. Pacheco serves on the Management, Transportation, Investment Review, Equity, Green Line Extension, and Blue Line Extension committees. Pacheco has not responded to multiple requests for interviews about his work.
The July 27 Meeting
The Met Council met on July 27. They approved a consent agenda, which included approving plans to provide deescalation training and reduce accident and infectious disease spread on regional transit. The council also set rent limits for those receiving Section 8 vouchers as part of their work to provide public housing.
The council also voted unanimously to increase rates to process wastewater for cities and renewed its insurance that protects its buildings and vehicles.
They also heard updates on current rapid bus projects, delivered by Arterial Bus Rapid Transit director Katie Roth. Rapid bus lines stop at specially-built stations spaced farther apart than typical bus stops for faster service.
Two rapid bus lines are opening in Southwest Minneapolis over the next five years: the B Line on Lake Street which will run between the future West Lake Southwest Light Rail Station and Downtown St. Paul, and the E Line which will run between Westgate Green Line Station and Southdale via St. Anthony Main, Hennepin, and France Avenues.
B Line construction east of Hiawatha will start in 2023, while construction west of Hiawatha will start in 2024 in conjunction with road improvements to be made by the city and Hennepin County.
The E Line has been dogged in controversy over the past year, with uproar from businesses over placement of 24/7 transit and bike lanes on Hennepin Avenue South. These lanes would make the E Line perform faster than current bus service. The city council’s transportation and public works committee plans to consider six-hour transit lanes two years after Hennepin construction is complete.
During Roth’s presentation, Judy Johnson, the former executive director of the 50th & France Business Association and a Met Council member who represents Hennepin County west of Highway 169 and roughly north of I-394, said the association continues to push the Met Council to move the station to 51st and France from 50th and France. The city of Edina plans to conduct a study evaluating the station’s traffic impacts.
“They are really hoping that the location can be reconsidered and moved to 51st where it is less congested,” said Johnson, while also thanking Roth and her team for the work in evaluating the station sites.
At the end of the meeting, the Council’s attorneys discussed an unprecedented filing of a brief supporting Minneapolis’ appeal of the 2040 plan being struck down. Last week a Hennepin County appeals court judge granted an injunction as it works to prepare an appeal.
“We felt that it was important that the court would hear more about the Metropolitan Land Planning Act and how the city of Minneapolis’ plans fits in with all of the planning for the region,” said General Counsel Ann Bloodheart. “You can’t simply take a 2040 plan and go back to 2030.”
They also discussed streamlining data requests from the public, which include launching a dedicated e-mail address and eventually a web portal to receive requests. Previously, the public submitted public data requests to different point people in charge of the work, which isn’t standard practice at other agencies.
The Met Council meets twice a month, generally on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month at 4 p.m. in their chambers at 6th St. and Robert St. in downtown St. Paul. Met Council members may also convene as a Committee of a Whole that meets twice monthly to discuss pressing issues addressing the Council.