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Landlords Unite!


Neighborhood activists like to trumpet how they engage and empower communities. Quite often, in my experience, it’s a lie. The organizers hoard whatever power they can collect, shut out dissent, and still claim to be selfless representatives of the broader population. Over in Dinkytown, landlords have called the organizers’ bluff:

A group of landlords, as well as a representative of the Minnesota Greek Alumni Association, have formed a new neighborhood organization in response to what they see as poor development decisions made by the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association (MHNA), as well as bylaws that shut out certain community members. MHNA is the city’s officially designated neighborhood group for the area.

At the same time the MHNA board was meeting on April 21, a group of landlords with rental property in Marcy-Holmes were electing their own board of directors. The newly elected director of the group, William Wells, came to the MHNA board meeting to introduce the new president, Tim Harmsen, to the board. Harmsen and his wife, Karen, are the co-owners of Dinkytown Rentals.

Wells prefaced his introduction of Harmsen by saying that he had been “very disturbed” about development decisions being made in Marcy-Holmes. Beyond the development decisions, Wells’ primary concern seemed to be that, according to MHNA bylaws, a person must live in Marcy-Holmes to be an MHNA member. This restriction prevents many landlords from being members of the neighborhood organization. Wells said that this differed from “most other neighborhoods” but didn’t give examples of neighborhoods that allowed nonresidents to serve on their organizations.