The district council system in Saint Paul is comprised of 17 autonomous 501(c)(3) non-profit agencies that provide residents in each neighborhood an opportunity to become involved in city planning. The primary focus of most district councils is land use, community development and transportation. Other issues that district councils may focus on include parks and recreation centers, community gardens, environmental action, crime prevention and neighborhood beautification. District councils rely on community building activities and events as the basis for convening residents to become involved in their neighborhood. In 2015, Saint Paul celebrated the 40th anniversary of the district council system and heard from local leaders about this experience. Check out what they had to say.
The primary activity that is common across all district councils is the update of the district plan. District plans are reviewed by the Planning Commission and City Council and eventually adopted as addenda to the city's Comprehensive Plan--the formal vision of the development of the built environment of the city. In addition to these district plans, district councils may also choose to create Small Area and Neighborhood plans. The Department of Planning & Economic Development keeps a page with a directory of plans for each of the 17 districts, as well as extensive resources regarding community-based planning processes. You can also explore all the city's various plans here.
Along with contributing to the planning process, district councils are also invited to provide input community development and transit issues that impact the implementation of those plans. City government established an "early notification system" simultaneous to the creation of district councils to provide neighborhoods with advance notice on applications regarding land use and permitting. This early notification is intended to provide district councils the opportunity to convene neighborhood discussions on the potential impact of proposed development projects and provide input to city government based on those discussions. Today, all residents are able to subscribe to these early notifications and contact their district council and city government, directly, with questions and concerns.
To find out what district your home or business is located in, how to connect with your district council and learn more about other neighborhood assets, check out our interactive map. You can also download a copy (pdf) of the map above and a citywide directory of contacts (pdf) for neighborhood organizations.
Saint Paul's district council system was established through a series of resolutions in 1975 in response to the creation of the federal Community Development Block Grant system that emerged out an early "urban renewal" approach.
- Summer 1975 Resolution and background (pdf)
- July 22, 1975 Resolution and attachment (pdf)
- October 8, 1975 Resolution and attachment (pdf)
- October 10, 1975 Resolution (pdf)
Since the inception of the district council, the city has continually worked with its non-profit partners to determine the most effective way to create adequate and equitable opportunities for civic participation. This issue has been studied by various groups.
- 1996 League of Women Voters District Council Report (pdf)
- 2004 Ad Hoc Committee on Citizen Participation Report and Recommendations (pdf)
- 2006 Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs Study and Recommendations (pdf)
- 2007 League of Women Voters Report (pdf)
- 2014 Saint Paul Cross-Cultural Dialogue Project: Facing Racism and Inequality: A Guide for Public Dialogue and Problem Solving
- 2015 Center for Urban & Regional Affairs: Adapting the Community Capitals Framework: An Evaluation Resource Guide for the Saint Paul District Councils (pdf)
These studies and other factors have brought about changes over time.
- February 9, 2005 Resolution Amending the 2005 Saint Paul Budget to Address Citizen Participation Formula Allocation (pdf)
- March 20, 2013 Resolution Changing the Boundary Between District Council 6 and District Council 10 the South Como Neighborhood and Requesting a Study to Define a Procedure For Future Boundary Changes (pdf)
- December 11, 2013 Resolution Creating the Saint Paul Community Engagement Program and Locating Funding (pdf)
- April 30, 2014 Ordinance Creating Chapter 95 of the Saint Paul Administrative Code to Establish a Procedure to Amend District Council Boundaries (pdf)
District councils receive funding from the city on an annual basis through the Community Engagement Program. This funding is allocated across district councils on a formula that takes into account the following factors (percentage influence in parentheses):
- Total population (75%)
- Poverty (15%)
- Non-English speaking residents (5%)
- Employment (5%)
The calculation for funding is based on data collected in the decennial census. A minimum funding amount is set to that is adjusted periodically. To view the 2017 Community Engagement Program budget, click here. (pdf) District councils also fundraise to support their work through a variety of means, including applying for federal, state, city and foundation grants. For additional questions regarding district council funding, please contact the Department of Planning & Economic Development.