Advocacy Update 11-2-2020 Tags: Government Affairs

Commercial Property Sale Ordinance Fails Final Passage; Referred back to Committee

On Friday, October 30, the Minneapolis City Council sent the proposed Commercial Property Sale ordinance back to committee. It opted not to take a final vote on the measure after a spirited debate. The measure would require commercial property owners to provide a 60-day notice of listing a property for sale. MAR opposed the measure and provided these talking points to city council members.

During the Minneapolis City Council meeting on 10/30, Council Member Cam Gordon moved for final passage of the Commercial Advance Notice of Sale ordinance. Meant to be the final approval of the ordinance, the proceedings thereafter were anything but smooth. Council Member Johnson questioned the process, substantive issues, and capacity of Community Planning and Economic Development staff to handle the work of the ordinance, stating “I appreciate the intent but community developers can already get this information, this ordinance seems to move backwards.” He highlighted enforceability, unintended consequences and the cost of a two-month delay. Council Member Goodman called the ordinance a hot mess, discussing the lack of public engagement when introduced, stating “a delay of the sale does not end displacement it punishes the business owner. This ordinance might feel good but it does not accomplish anything.”

Council Member Cano, a co-author, indicated the ordinance is intended to be transparent, level the playing field, and is just one chapter in a bigger book. Council Member Cunningham stated “there is no evidence this approach will achieve the desired outcome.” He spoke about lack of capital and access to capital in the black community. He called the ordinance high risk with no clear connection between the approach and the outcome. A number of council members reported being torn on the ordinance, wanting the outcome but realizing the solution does not necessarily provide it.

Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins made a motion to return the ordinance to the Business, Licensing and Zoning Committee, which passed on a vote of 10-3. The ordinance could be added to the agenda at any time, presumably after it is further amended. It would need to be passed out of committee and back to full council for a new public hearing and final passage.

Thanks to efforts from Builders Association of Minnesota and Minnesota Commercial Association of REALTORS®.  Thanks to MAR  members who responded to the Call For Action. Thanks to our Minneapolis key contact team for following up with direct lobbying of the council. Collective action on this item made all the difference.


Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) Talks Restart; Now Called OTP

A proposal to offer renters the first right of refusal when their landlord wants to sell the property is back on the front burner at Minneapolis City Hall. Two invitation-only virtual conversations on the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) are planned on November 5 and 10 by Twin Cities LISC. The firm was hired by the City of Minneapolis to collect information and make a final recommendation regarding how to institute TOPA in the city.

During the course of the research the name of the program shifted from Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) to Opportunity to Purchase (OTP). The change represents an attempt to simplify and popularize the program. OTP requires property owners with tenants to offer the property for sale to the tenant first, and wait out required delays before selling to any other party.

REALTORS® note that OTP has a positive appeal and are in favor of additional purchase opportunities for tenants. More than 80% of tenants have set their sights on homeownership in the future. Today’s tenants are future homeowners. REALTORS® also note there is no advantage of OTP in single-family homes and multi-unit buildings, nothing currently inhibits the creation of co-ops and condominiums. OTP reassigns owner’s rights to tenants, delays transactions, and provides no real or limited benefits to the overall market.

Click here for more information on TOPA. Stay tuned for further updates and to learn how you can get involved.