Messages from the Council Chair

Good planning is based on good data

October 2022

Chair Charlie ZelleIf you ride a bus right now you have a high likelihood of being greeted by a person in a blue vest asking questions about your commute. The Met Council has survey takers on all 120 of our active transit routes gathering information about the experiences of our riders. This direct feedback from riders is essential to improving our service to the region, getting people to work, school, connecting them with health care and entertainment.

On any given day, we might be asking people how they use regional parks, compiling an inventory of regional greenhouse gases, forecasting regional population, studying affordable housing production, and monitoring COVID-19 in our wastewater to track the spread of the virus. This is just a sample of the research the Met Council engages in.

We do this work because data is the basis of all good planning and the bedrock of sound investment. But data alone isn’t enough. The values, viewpoints, and hopes and dreams of the people of our region will serve as the pillars of the vision we build for the future.

The Met Council has already begun work on the region’s 2050 plan. The Minnesota Legislature mandates that we create a regional development plan that looks ahead 30 years. While this plan cannot, and does not, make specific decisions about zoning and development in individual communities, it does establish a regional vision, values, and policies to ensure sustainable and orderly growth.

We will create the 2050 plan and the accompanying plans focused on transportation, water resources, and regional parks and open space in collaboration with the region’s cities, townships, counties, neighborhoods, and neighbors. It will address issues like climate change, job growth, affordable housing, travel patterns, and racial disparities.

A dramatic example of this planning process at work is the issue of urban sprawl. When the legislature created the Met Council in 1967, the Twin Cities region was second to Los Angeles when it came to uncontrolled, rampant growth. Green space was disappearing at an alarming rate and there was little thought to overall development. The Mississippi River and many lakes and streams were profoundly polluted. Twin Cities Lines, the privately owned bus company, was on the verge of bankruptcy.

A half century later, our region still faces challenges, but we also are consistently rated as one of the most desirable places to live in the nation. Our wastewater treatment system is one of the most efficient and cost effective in the country and our waters are clean to swim and fish in. Metro Transit continues as a strong, innovative system, moving tens of thousands of people every day. Good data and planning, with expansive public input, has brought us to this place and it will guide us into the future.