Minneapolis City Council Would Rather Have Boarded Up Businesses than Burger King

It appears the City of Minneapolis would rather have boarded up businesses than Burger King. In December if 2019, the City denied two currently-shuttered Burger King locations the opportunity to re-open, one in North Minneapolis and one in South Minneapolis, because of a city-wide ban on drive throughs.

The city council claims the drive through ban is an attempt to reduce hazards to pedestrians, car noise, and traffic, and while this is likely part of their rationale, the reality of the situation is the ban is also part of the larger Minneapolis 2040 plan which seeks to make driving more difficult by banning new drive throughs and includes language prohibiting new gas stations in the name of reducing carbon dioxide emissions and “fighting climate change”

This isn’t idle speculation on my part, either.  Last year, Minneapolis Planning Commissioner Sam Rockwell,  said that achieving city goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions means that “we need to stop investing in car infrastructure.” Drive-throughs are also known for contributing to dangerous, car-centric environments for people on foot, according to Rockwell.

The idea that policies enacted by local governments in Minneapolis can have any meaningful, or even measurable, impact on future global temperatures is childishly naive. In fact, wiping the entire United States off the map would reduce future global temperatures by 0.137 degrees C by 2100. Good luck noticing that.

This is what makes policies like the drive through ban fundamentally foolish. The City of Minneapolis is sacrificing very real, local, economic opportunities to make an immeasurably small impact on a global issue. As a result of the ban, would-be consumers may well have to drive further to get a bite to eat, and the would-be workers at these restaurants will not have that opportunity. In the end, everyone loses, including the environment.

One would think the Minneapolis city council would have higher priorities than banning new drive throughs. After all, parents continue to pull their children out of the city’s failing school system and violent crime in the city is on the rise. When local governments attempt to address global problems, they often abdicate responsibility for local ones. This is unacceptable, because local problems grow worse while the city squanders resources on something entirely out of their control.