Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Critical Safety Issue

One of the issues I've been deeply concerned about is the runaway development of housing that seems to have gotten far ahead of the necessary infrastructure needed to support it -- especially roads. I've been watching new developments go up adjoining Dodd Blvd and Hwy 50, both of which are too narrow and overloaded. I cannot figure out why the Planning Commission and City Council have allowed these developments to go up several years before the planned expansion of these roadways.

Tomorrow night (Thursday Oct 23) the Planning Commission is meeting to approve 84 new single-family lots in Summerlyn Northwest, which is adjoining Dodd, just south of 190th St. It hasn't even been a year since Alyssa Ettl was killed in almost this same location. The entire community has voiced concern about this road over the past year, to the point where finally the city and county got the expansion schedule moved up. Clearly people are concerned about the safety of our students and citizens -- and yet we have a vote coming to allow more houses to be built there.

WHY? Why would the Planning Commission allow EVEN MORE houses to be built here at this time? Why is this not waiting until the expansion of the road is completed? Will even more innocent lives be lost by the increased traffic on this road?

I plan to go to this meeting tomorrow night, simply as a concerned parent of a student at LNHS, to voice my opposition to the timing of this project. Its unfortunate that the timing of the meeting is right before the election, because I am not looking to get any recognition for my campaign from this, and definitely not trying to get noticed. I am simply very frustrated that our city staff and leaders aren't using more common sense when examining a project like this.

I am urging all concerned Lakeville citizens to attend this meeting (6:00 PM, Thursday Oct 23, at City Hall) and make your voice heard. If enough of us can express frustration at this "rush to develop" perhaps we can even save one or two innocent lives. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

What is the City Council?

I've discovered that many people don't really understand what the City Council is -- why it exists, what it does, and how it affects our lives.

From the City of Lakeville web site:
Lakeville City Council Members are elected at-large to represent the entire community and are empowered by law to legislate citywide policy. This includes the authority to pass and enforce ordinances, establish public and administrative policies, create advisory boards and commissions, and manage the City's financial operations including preparing a budget, auditing expenditures, and transacting other City business as required by law. The City Council also serves as the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) for the City. The City Council appoints a City Administrator who directs City staff on implementation of Council decisions and providing day-to-day City operations.

There are five people comprising the city council -- this includes the mayor, who votes along with the other four council members. The mayor is elected every two years. Council members are elected to four-year terms, with two of the seats up for election every two years.

One common misconception I've found -- many people think that the City Council oversees schools. This is incorrect -- all business of the school district is overseen by the elected school board. The city council has no direct interaction with the school board.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Why doesn't Lakeville have….?

One of the things I hear people ask regularly as I go around neighborhoods is "Why doesn't Lakeville have ____?" -- fill in the blank with:

    - Chipotle
    - Panera
    - Panda Express
    - Arbys
    - Home Depot
    - Menards
    - Kohls
    - more nice sit-down restaurants
    - more options for shopping

The population of Lakeville is about the same as that of Burnsville and Eagan, and a bit bigger than Apple Valley -- and yet those cities have far more variety and options for restaurants and shopping than we do here in Lakeville. We need to look for ways to encourage these businesses to come to Lakeville.

Friday, September 12, 2014

First Time Out On The Streets

Tonight was my first time out knocking on doors around Lakeville. As an introvert it was a bit uncomfortable for me, but I know I need to introduce myself to the people of the city if I expect them to vote for me.

I had the privilege of talking to a number of people, hearing their concerns for the city. Common themes I heard included:

  • Serious concerns over rising property taxes
  • Frustration over the delay to fix and widen Dodd Blvd
  • Need for attracting more business and industry to Lakeville
  • Concern about deteriorating roads

I really appreciated hearing directly from people, especially knowing that these are some of my top concerns as well. I'm looking forward to hearing more as I continue to canvas neighborhoods around Lakeville.

Feel free to send me your thoughts directly at

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Protecting high school students on Dodd Blvd

As a parent of a student at Lakeville North High School I saw first-hand how the students were affected by the death of Alyssa Ettl, and I could imagine the grief I would have felt as her parents. Thankfully our school and city leaders have made widening Dodd Boulevard a topic of high concern as a result, but as we know now the road will not be changed until at least 2016.

In order to avoid any more tragic deaths on this stretch of road, I want to encourage all LNHS students to voluntarily "boycott" Dodd Blvd between 185th St and the high school entrance. While it might be slightly out of the way for some drivers, most will not be greatly affected by using Ipava Ave as an alternate route.

I have asked my son to avoid this road, and I encourage other parents to do the same. Let's do what we can to avoid losing another life on this dangerous roadway.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Hello! My name is Steven James Rajavuori and I'm running for Lakeville City Council.

I've loved being a part of the Lakeville community ever since my parents moved our family here in 1977. Lakeville was a much different place back then, and I felt as though I had moved to the country! I loved participating in sports (cross-country, cross-country skiing and golf) and music (trombone in marching band and jazz band, and choir) during my years at Lakeville High School (class of 1981).

In my adult years I have felt privileged to raise our family of four children in such a wonderful place. Our kids spent some of their happiest times playing at the North Park playground and participating in Lakeville sports. They have benefited greatly from the top-notch Lakeville school system and from our amazing Lakeville church.

I care deeply about this city. I've spent most of my life here and seen my kids grow up here. My church is here and my office is here. I want to see this community continue to thrive and grow to become an even better place to live for future generations.

That's why I've decided to run for City Council. I believe at this stage of growth Lakeville faces some significant challenges that need a fresh look and new ideas. I want to be a part of finding the best solutions to issues such as:
  • Shortage of consumer retail and restaurant development
  • Aging roads and parks need increased maintenance
  • Need for new parks and open spaces as housing develops
  • Maintaining a low tax base
  • Poor utilization and development of Lakeville's four major freeway exits
  • Attract new businesses to continue filling available space in Airlake Industrial Park
  • Affordable housing

We can be proud of our great city, and its leaders and citizens. Through much planning and care Lakeville has grown to be one of the best places to live in the Twin Cities. But there is still much growing to do. We need to look carefully at how to best use the remaining available land, and how to encourage development of the types of businesses and services that our residents need.

In future posts I'll share some of my ideas for growth with you, and I invite you to share your comments as well:


Twitter: @SJRLakeville