In local news: Crime in Minneapolis, rentals and foreclosures, Chipotle workers fired, snow

CRIME: “As of Dec. 13, violent crime year-to-date has dropped 5.2 percent compared to 2009, which had among the lowest levels in more than 25 years,” says a press release from the city. Mayor R.T. Rybak and Police Chief Tim Dolan will elaborate at a press conference today. What about all the murders at the beginning of the year? “While the number of homicides is up since last year, 2008, 2009, and 2010 to-date have the three lowest homicide levels in 25 years (2009 was the lowest in more than 30 years).”

HOUSING: Good news for landlords may be tied to bad news for homeowners, with rental vacancies down and foreclosures continuing high, according to the latest report from the Minnesota Housing Partnership:

As unemployment remained high, vacancies in the Twin Cities rental market fell sharply to a two-year low of 4.2%, down from 5% last quarter.

Over 7,200 Minnesota homes foreclosed during the third quarter, the second highest number for any quarter.

For the third quarter of 2010, family homelessness declined by 3% compared to the third quarter of 2009, but this reflects a 62% increase over 2006.

30% of homes for sale were foreclosures or short sales, while the average number of jobs in residential housing construction continued its low ebb at 9,500 jobs per month, the lowest since 1993 for the quarter.

CHIPOTLE: The Grinch targeted Latino workers at Chipotle restaurants, with “dozens” or “at least 80” workers fired, according to Patch Richfield and City Pages. An ICE audit triggered the terminations. City Pages reports:

At another local Chipotle branch, Latino workers have been asked to train in a recent batch of non-immigrant new hires, and fear that they will be fired as soon as their replacements are ready.

“Many of these are people who have been with the company for years,” Sigal said. “The firings come a couple of weeks before Christmas, which means they won’t be getting the usual Christmas bonuses. There’s a real Scrooge element here.”

SNOW: As snow heads our way again, a few reminders:

  • Minneapolis has its winter parking ban in full force, with parking banned on the EVEN side of non-Snow Emergency routes until April. That’s every day, whether it’s snowing or not.
  • For special snow events, Minneapolis has info on its snow emergency hotline – (612) 348-SNOW – and on its snow website, where you can also sign up for a phone alert.
  • Across the river, St. Paul also has a snow website, a snow hotline (651) 266-PLOW (7569), email alerts, and a Twitter link.
  • The St. Paul Fire Department asked all of us to dig out our local fire hydrants, down to the ground, at least a foot around the hydrant and out to the street. Even with crusty, piled-up snow, I dug out the corner hydrant in about 15 minutes yesterday. Check yours – the life you save could be your own.
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