Minneapolis may ban new drive-thrus

Drive-thru windows are convenient, but in Minneapolis, they may be a thing of the past.

From banks to dry cleaners to pharmacies and even fast food, the city is considering a ban on the construction of any new drive-thrus. City leaders say drive-thrus don’t fit their vision for the future of the city, as they aim to reduce carbon emissions and increase density.

“It’s encouraging driving, it’s encouraging pollution, it’s encouraging people to sit in their cars and idle,” said Code Development Senior Planner Mei-Ling Smith.

Minneapolis leaders say drive-thrus run counter to accomplishing carbon neutrality by 2050. In addition, drive-thrus create safety hazards and breaks in pedestrian thoroughfares, and take up space that city planners would rather see used for development.

“Any new drive-thru facility that comes through is in conflict with our sight plan and urban design goals and regulations. And there’s usually a lot of neighborhood opposition,” Smith said. 

Until now, the city’s Planning Commission has considered drive-thrus on a case-by-case basis, but President of the Minneapolis Planning Commission says he believes it’s time for a policy change.

“Given the large problems we’re facing in the city and around the globe, we’re going to have to make some changes to how we build community and how we live,” said Sam Rockwell, President of the Minneapolis Planning Commission. “This is one of those things that gets us there.”

Opponents say a drive-thru ban doesn’t take into account senior citizens or individuals with disabilities.

Smith says with that opposition in mind, the proposal allows for curbside pick-up-- a service already being used at many Target stores.

The Planning Commission is set to vote on the proposal June 3. It will then go to committee, before a full city council vote.