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Tower Grove South Concerned Citizens Special Business District

What a name!  Ald Jennifer Florida is introducing legislation (BB89) at the Board Of Aldermen this morning to put the establishment of a special taxing district on the ballot for residents within the district to vote on.  The district, if approved, would be from the alley South of Utah Place, to the centerline of Grand, to the centerline of Gravois to Roger Place (one block West of Gustine). The official name would be the “Tower Grove South Concerned Citizens Special Business District.”
First, what is with the “concerned citizens” bit in the name?  They’ll never get the full name on banners or on trash cans.  Doesn’t every area have concerned citizens?
Secondly, I never like it when major streets are used as edges for neighborhood or business district lines — Grand was once the center point for residential areas on both sides.  When using major streets as dividing lines we end up with different groups having a say on the same street — but only for their half.  When business districts are done this way you end up with money for improvements for half the street.  Using alley lines is the better way to go.

And lastly I always wonder who manages the money — in this case it would be a 7-member Board of Commissioners appointed by the mayor.  Five would be property owners and two would be renters.


Currently there are "22 comments" on this Article:

  1. Chris Grant says:

    I could be wrong, but I think this district is to raise money to hire security for the area, like in the Southwestern Garden neighborhood. Business owners and residents in the area have been meeting and discussing such a taxing district in response to two murders in the area late last year and a shooting this spring. I’m guessing that’s where the “concerned citizens” comes from.

  2. Steve2 says:

    Yes, but “TGSCCSBD” might fit on a door magnet for the patrol car.

    [slp – LOL, yes they could hire guides like downtown  — putting ‘TGSCCSBD guide’ on the shirts.]

  3. Mike says:

    My guess is that part of the reason for the boundaries of the district are based on voting precincts and not what is the most desirable boundaries. Since this must be voted on by the residents of the district I would think they would have to do it by precinct.

    I don’t think the residents will get the bang for their buck that they are expecting. One of the shootings was caused by a young man who was mentally ill. Another involved a homeless man (probably another case of mental illness). All the security in the world won’t stop someone who is suffering from mental illness to not do something that appears to be a good idea at the time.

    I’ve heard that to have a drop in crime rates an area has to have a triple increase in police presence. This tax won’t raise enough to provide that. I think the residents would get more results from organizing block units and use the money to do visual improvements to their blocks.

  4. VanishingSTL says:

    What you mention about neighborhood and district boundaries on street center lines is true of DeBaliviere Avenue. Neither Skinker Debaliviere nor Debaliviere Place truely take “ownership” of the street, and it shows. While there are other factors that have led to the street’s lack of luster, the division of neighborhoods has not helped.

  5. northside neighbor says:

    ^ okay, point taken. so vanishing STL, what action do you suggest, so who’s going to say something/do something to change it? Citizens, take ownership of your streets!

    Along those lines, is anyone here participating in the northside’s “oneness march”?
    The black community is working to generate some community solidarity. Isn’t that a lot more important than the design of a building here or there?
    So where art thou, ye architects, ye urban studies majors, ye planners? Drawing pretty pictures and drinking beer? Or walking among your northside neighbors?

  6. Maurice says:

    The group was formed in response to a variety of concerns by the residents within the boundaries. Yes, there have been 2 murders and an attempt within that boundary and that may have been the final straw, if one will. But that little area has rejuvinated itself out of the tragedies and are exploring a number of various options, including a special taxing district to provide for increased security, similiar to Southwest Gardens, Central West End and other small neighborhoods.

    It had nothing to do with political boundaries and everything to do with physical ones.

    Alderman Florida putting the proposal before the BofA is one of the many steps required. She and the group have worked very hard to examine a number of options.

    A bit more investigation would have provided a fairer, and more relavent story.

    [slp — you wrote “It had nothing to do with political boundaries and everything to do with physical ones.”  That is part of my relevant point — that at one time these streets were not borders but centering factors.]  

  7. mary says:

    Duh. If it has nothing to do with political boundaries an alderman wouldn’t be involved.

  8. swg says:

    How many neighborhood groups really have money to maintain public streets? Just asking…

    Plus, I think Grand is still the centerpoint for the people living east and west of it – it’s a road on which they surely travel daily, and it’s a reference point for much daily activity, to be sure. Neighborhood or SBD boundaries won’t change that. Ward boundaries don’t change that either. Would these change things from a jurisdictional standpoint? Sure. But, if the city’s going to do any sort of masterplanning for Grand, or Kingshighway, as they did recently, their going to do it on both sides of the street with assistance from both alderpeople – if, or when, necessary.

  9. Maurice says:

    With regards to your comment about street borders. Stop thinking in terms of a polictical basis. These boundaries are set for a special taxing district, so yes, there must be physical borders. Their request for a special tax district must go through the channels and that is where the alderman/woman comes in.

  10. JerryJ says:

    Boundaries aren’t the issue, effectiveness of this approach is. Have lived in areas where “private security” has been hired; my opinion- private=yes security=no. Seems to be only for the benefit of those so delusional not to live in the real world and to the actual benefit of no one. To create a “special taxing district” in a residential area to hire “Barney Fife” to be around the area is folly.
    An area that can place the costs on businesses, perhaps that is better. Very few are scared of Barney, but not vice-versa…

  11. Jim Zavist says:

    I’m a big fan of self determination (wich every BD purports to be/do), but it also raises the two questions of why is this necessary in the first place and why are existing city resources so inadequate and/or inequitably distributed that businesses are forced to create a special tax district to deliver what are essentially basic city services?! Is this result of a ward-centric political structure, where sharing for the greater good is a foreign concept, or is this simply a result of taxes being too low citywide to deliver basic city services, and more affluent areas are willing and able to increase taxes only if and when they’re restricted to relatively-more-affluent areas that generate them?

  12. Jim Zavist says:

    It’s no surprise the proposed boundaries follow the centerlines of streets – it’s easier (legally) than defining the alleys a haf block away, even though they’d make a lot miore sense in delivering services and addressing shared issues. That’s also the problem with defining boundaries pretty much anywhere – most challenges have fuzzy boundaries, not easily-defined ones . . .

    [slp— part of the proposed boundary includes an alley — they simply state something like the East-West alley between X and Y.  Done.  Pretty easy.] 

  13. What about E-W Gateways Traffic Calming Plan? Wouldn’t increased pedestrian traffic also increase public safety?

  14. Josh says:

    The name Tower Grove South Concerned Citizens was chosen by those citizens that mobilized to form the district. If you read the bill none of the city services are to change within the district. South Grand and Gravois upkeep will still be the responsibility of the city and the monies generated by the district are to be used exclusively for additional security be it security patrols or other security measures so the argument about monies for improvement for one side of the street are moot.

  15. Josh says:

    I forgot to mention this in the previous post. Even if you are opposed to the formation of a district like this, as many are, you cannot argue that having a group of people that is concerned and active in their neighborhood is a good thing. The special business distinct is one facet of what this group is focused on. They are also engaged in other activities like reporting problem properties, distributing information to the neighborhood, forming a neighborhood watch and scheduling alley, street and vacant lot cleanups.

  16. Doug says:

    The special security district is a well intentioned but terrible idea. The reality, at best, will be a part time rent a cop who will offer no deterrent whatsoever to crime but will hang out at Gravois Plaza or Walgreens while the neighborhood pays his salary. I have spoken with others in the Morganford area who also have very expensive and very part time (unarmed) security. If they see a crime they are instructed to call 911. The part time security service only has an answering machine apparently and is not available after 5pm, nor does he have a cell phone or any way to be contacted while on “patrol?”. This is flawed logic but does give a warm and fuzzy feeling to those who are more persuaded by image than reality. I am also incredulous at the lack of financial disclosure. I read the Petition, the Resolution and the Proposed Bill 89 and there are no pro forma financials, no budget, no operational statement, no line item disclosure (what salary, car?, armed?, radio, cell phone?….) And what will Shop and Save and Walgreens pay since he will spend almost all of his time there…..?

  17. Lisa says:

    Perfect, that’s what we need, more government. There has not been a tax increase that St. Louis citizens don’t like, add it to the list. I’m all for commercial advancment but if anyone has pull with Miss Florida, can you ask to have our dilapidated alley behind the 4000 block of Fairview repaired? We have been on the list 5 years. Oh, add the vacant 3 story eyesore on Oakhill and Potomac, boarded for 10 years complete with broken windows, illegal dumping and uncut grass. Thanks.

  18. Joe says:

    The Special District idea came out of a discussion by approximately 8 residents in the concerned area.

    After an open community meeting at Grand Oak Hill in November 2007 (following the stabbing on McDonald and shooting on Fairview) where several Police Officers and others involved in our neighborhood (Stabilization Officers, GOH personnel and Alderwoman Florida) were available to discuss with citizens what was being done to improve security in our area, several of us began to talk amongst ourselves.

    We decided to investigate options by talking about what we all had heard and seen other neighbourhoods doing to decrease crime (for example, Special Tax Districts in Southwest Garden, Soulard, CWE and most recently Shaw) and what we individually thought we could do to improve our area. None of us knew each other and had met at this meeting.

    The name, Tower Grove South Concerned Citizens was agreed as an appropriate name for the time being and we are discussing an alternative. There is no intention of placing this name on trash cans or banners.

    It should also be known that this proposal was discussed, debated and agreed upon by us: residents of the area. It is after we agreed that this would be one tool to possibly use to improve the security in our area that we approached Alderwoman Jennifer Florida to learn how to proceed with our proposal.

    The boundaries of the area had originally included a far larger area, however after several discussions, it was agreed that focusing on a smaller geographic area would be more efficient. Again, this decision was made by the residents and not by Alderwoman Florida or any other official in City Hall.

    The objective in determining the area was to use “natural” barriers such as major Boulevards (Gravois and Grand) and an alley (running parallel and to the North of McDonald) to avoid the division of a residential street. Roger Place is the western boundary and with the lack of any substantial alley running north and south in that area, the decision was made to use the eastern side of Roger as the western most boundary.

    It should also be noted that many of us have been out knocking on doors in the late afternoon and early evening as well as on weekends to inform people of what is being proposed. We schedule weekly meetings to discuss and update each other and invite anyone who lives in our area to join us and contribute to our discussions.

    None of us like addtional taxes. However, the reality is that a proposed Special District financially supported by residents in the area is an option given the size of St. Louis, the crime and delinquency that we all witness and the limited resources of the city.

    We view a Special District as one tool of many we have at our disposal. It is one which we support based on the success these Special Districts have had in other neighbourhoods in our city and one which we believe with proper oversight, management and direction will be an enhancement to our neighborhood.

  19. Christian says:

    “I have spoken with others in the Morganford area who also have very expensive and very part time (unarmed) security.”

    There isn’t ANY unarmed or armed security in the Morgan Ford area other than the secondary police (armed) officers hired by 7-11.

    The TGSCC effort is a resident initiative. A few of these residents are taking a stand and being proactive. This includes a weekly litter pickup, trying to find buyers for abandoned properties and more (safety follows a well maintained neighborhood). That includes an out reach to J-Flo.

    Lisa, please email me at xianintgs@yahoo.com and I will provide you with a link to our neighborhood listserv. Also, I’ve been documenting the building at Potomac and Oak Hill for the last 3 years: http://stlouisbricks.blogspot.com/search?q=3460+oak+hill

  20. theatregal2 says:

    I’m trying to find out more information on this bill and when the meeting is – however – there is nothing here with that info. Neighbors, who have lived in CWE found the crime rate to go up when this bill was passed there. When calling 911 they were told to call their security service instead. Why would I want to pay more for security, if I don’t get MORE security. Also, the big question is $$$. There are many ways to figure this and none of the amounts given on the info sheet comes close to what I figured my cost would be AND that is from the “assess value” not “appraised value”.

  21. Mark says:

    If anyone has a better idea to deter crime against persons and property in the short-run, than having more police presence, then, I’d like to hear it. For the renters in this SBD, it’s a “no-brainer” – they would receive great value, without paying a penny! For the property owners, the average costs is between $35 and $140/year; so, if they have a more cost-effectve alternative, then, I’d like to hear it. For this small price, in my opinion, it’s a huge value! There are many long-term solutions, and, there are many additional “tools” in the fight against these crimes in this SBD, but, it seems to me that the presence of an off-duty Police Officer is, by far, the best short-term deterrent. It’s worked in other areas of the city (based upon the facts, not hearsay); so, it can work in this area too. My only hope is that the voters in this area make an informed decision, and, vote for this SBD to pay a small price for a very effective “tool” in this fight against crime, and, for a better quality of life for those of us who live in this area.

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