Ten Fallacies of the Thrive MSP 2040 Plan


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The Twin Cities Metropolitan Council has published a “draft for public review and comment” of the “Thrive MSP 2040” plan, which will serve as the “regional plan for sustainable development” for the seven-county metro area. While the draft uses vague terms and generalities, it is clear that upcoming housing, transportation, and other subplans will seek to dramatically alter Minnesota lifestyles. This includes forcing more people to live in multifamily housing and reducing personal mobility, all in the name of “sustainability.”

This plan was partly funded by a $5 million “sustainable communities” grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Plans funded by similar grants written by other metropolitan planning organizations provide a preview of what the details of the Thrive plan and its sub-plans will look like. The draft Thrive plan also has many hints about planners’ intentions buried within it.

Based on this information, the Thrive plan and its subplans will call for:

  • Increasing the cost of single-family homes by limiting the amount of land available for development inside the municipal urban service area and through restrictive zoning within that area;
  • Promoting and subsidizing multifamily housing by rezoning neighborhoods to higher densities and using tax-increment financing and other subsidies to persuade developers to build housing that would otherwise be difficult to market;
  • Discouraging driving by increasing traffic congestion in the region;
  • Subsidizing expensive alternatives to driving such as rail transit; and
  • Diverting gas taxes and other highway funds to projects that actually reduce roadway capacities such as converting general-purpose lanes to dedicated bike lanes.

The draft plan does not spell out all of these features. Instead, it relies on euphemisms that are used throughout the planning profession to mean these things.

The Metropolitan Council argues that the Thrive plan will make the Twin Cities more prosperous and more sustainable. But a careful review of transportation and housing data reveal that the plan will be far from sustainable by any definition of the term. Moreover, the huge subsidies required to implement the plan will reduce the region’s prosperity and its competitiveness with other regions.

The Thrive plan contains numerous implicit or explicit assumptions that are little better than myths and fallacies.  This paper will address the most important of these fallacies.

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