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A New Saint Louis: Erasing Our Political Boundaries Through Consolidation

June 20, 2011 Politics/Policy, STL Region 75 Comments

It is time for the St. Louis region to realize that, over the years, we’ve created too many political entities, most from the last (20th) century. I propose a complete overhaul.

Before I get into my solution I want to outline the problem(s) as I see them:

  1. A strong “City vs. County” attitude exists dividing us, holding the region back.
  2. Municipalities within St. Louis County disagree how to share revenues.
  3. St. Louis County experienced a drop in population in the 2010 Census.
  4. We have poor & affluent school districts providing very unequal education to future voters.
  5. Numerous police & fire departments exist.
  6. St. Louis, and the region by association, is viewed nationally as on the decline. This limits the potential to retain talent and attract employers.
  7. In 1876 the bulk of the region’s population lived east of Grand, but now the population lives mostly in St. Louis County. As a region we’ve outgrown our 19th century viewpoint.
ABOVE: Transect diagram developed by Duany Plater-Zyberk, click image for more detail

OK, so here is my solution: government consolidation on a massive scale.

  1. St. Louis County would become an independent city and absorb the current City of St. Louis and all 91 municipalities within it’s current borders.
  2. The new City of Saint Louis would have a population of 1,318,248 (998,954 + 319,294), instantly making it the 8th most populated U.S. city, after San Antonio and ahead of San Diego (see list).
  3. The Greater St. Louis MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) would remain the 15th largest with  a population of 2,779,939.The new Saint Louis would contain 47% of the region’s population.
  4. Planning districts would be established to plan corridor/transportation projects.  These would be classified using DPZ’s Transects, shown above, offering something for everyone.
  5. Existing government buildings (city halls, for example) would be evaluated and some used as district offices.
  6. St. Louis County’s existing buildings in Clayton would become the new City Hall for the new Saint Louis.
  7. Expenses would be incurred in the short term but in the long run savings would be realized.
  8. A Council-Manager form of government would be adopted, a professional municipal administrator hired.
  9. A new non-partisan city council would contain seven members, the presiding officer (“Mayor”) would be selected by a vote of these seven. The mayor would oversee meetings and cut ribbons. As an alternate two representatives could be elected from each of seven districts and a mayor elected by the public.  Either way administrative power would reside with the city manager.
  10. Staff would be empowered to enact the policy established by the city council.
  11. Former municipalities such as Florissant, Ladue & Pacific would become neighborhoods for planning and identification purposes,

 

ABOVE: St. Louis City Hall would be a district office

None of this is new, cities and counties have merged in this manner before. Evansiville Indiana is currently in the process:

Tonight is likely the final workshop between the Vanderburgh County Commissioners and the Evansville’s City Council before they reconvene their public hearing on June 30 to address a possible city-county merger proposal.

Members of the two bodies have met for five weeks to work on changes to the initial consolidation proposal drafted by a citizen committee earlier this year. Both bodies must ultimately approve identical merger plans for the issue to go to referendum, possibly in November of 2012. (source)

This sort of radical departure from the current forms is needed for the region to end the 21st century better than when we started.  Discuss.

– Steve Patterson

 

Currently there are "75 comments" on this Article:

  1. Rick says:

    Who will be the first leader to stand up for this plan?  Without strong leadership, this will never happen.  With great leadership, it might.  It would be best if this plan came from the people, with elected leaders getting on a bandwagon once they saw a groundswell of community support.  Okay, so will the citizens of Chesterfield lead this effort?  Ladue?  Kirkwood?  Ferguson?  Maplewood?  I fear not.  They like their independent city status.

     
  2. Rick says:

    Who will be the first leader to stand up for this plan?  Without strong leadership, this will never happen.  With great leadership, it might.  It would be best if this plan came from the people, with elected leaders getting on a bandwagon once they saw a groundswell of community support.  Okay, so will the citizens of Chesterfield lead this effort?  Ladue?  Kirkwood?  Ferguson?  Maplewood?  I fear not.  They like their independent city status.

     
    • Fenian says:

      I totally agree. What incentive does someone in Ladue have to give up their locally controlled public services? There would be tangible benefits to the region, but I can’t see municipalities willingly giving up top-notch services for what would probably be a lower level of service. 

      As the second-most fragmented polity in the nation, consolidation of that extent is unlikely, especially if you were to suggest dissolving larger municipalities. At best, one could hope for smaller municipalities joining larger municipalities.

       
  3. Fenian says:

    I totally agree. What incentive does someone in Ladue have to give up their locally controlled public services? There would be tangible benefits to the region, but I can’t see municipalities willingly giving up top-notch services for what would probably be a lower level of service. 

    As the second-most fragmented polity in the nation, consolidation of that extent is unlikely, especially if you were to suggest dissolving larger municipalities. At best, one could hope for smaller municipalities joining larger municipalities.

     
  4. Drew says:

    There are only 3 independent cities in the United States outside of VA. Regardless of what one thinks of independent cities, it could be beneficial to examine the advantages of a consolidated city-county, where it is simultaneously a city (municipal corporation) and a county (state administrative division), such as Kansas City, Indianapolis, Louisville, Nashville, and others.

     
  5. Drew says:

    There are only 3 independent cities in the United States outside of VA. Regardless of what one thinks of independent cities, it could be beneficial to examine the advantages of a consolidated city-county, where it is simultaneously a city (municipal corporation) and a county (state administrative division), such as Kansas City, Indianapolis, Louisville, Nashville, and others.

     
    • Rick says:

      Just like Steve’s post, and numerous academic studies of record, there are countless reasons why a move like this makes sense.  Maybe that info could be used to sway the Ladue-ites and Chesterfieldians of the importance of restructuring our form of regional governance.  The question remains – who is going to lead the charge?  Remember the first axiom of St. Louis: St. Louisans do not like change.  And this is total change.  Very tough sell.

       
  6. Rick says:

    Just like Steve’s post, and numerous academic studies of record, there are countless reasons why a move like this makes sense.  Maybe that info could be used to sway the Ladue-ites and Chesterfieldians of the importance of restructuring our form of regional governance.  The question remains – who is going to lead the charge?  Remember the first axiom of St. Louis: St. Louisans do not like change.  And this is total change.  Very tough sell.

     
  7. JZ71 says:

    You’ve identified “problems” (in your mind) and “solutions” (in your mind).  The next step is to see if there is any real consensus on either.  How many people actually see this as an issue that really bothers them?  Enough to agitate or to actually vote for change?  We can’t even agree to reduce the number of aldermen in the city.  Inertia is a bear, as is protecting one’s own self-interests.  We’re in the show me state – “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

    Taking your points individually – A strong “City vs. County” attitude exists dividing us.  Yes, and this will change very little if we merge.  It doesn’t matter if we’re separate cities or “neighborhoods” in a larger city, we will continue to identify with our local ‘hoods, and because this is St. Louis, where we went to high school.

    Municipalities within St. Louis County disagree how to share revenues.  Yes, and the same battles will continue after any merger.  Look at how well we “share” among our richer and poorer wards inside the city.  Those that have, want to keep it, and those that don’t, want someone else to pay for it!St. Louis County experienced a drop in population in the 2010 Census.  So?!We have poor & affluent school districts providing very unequal education to future voters.  And this will change how?  People like neighborhood schools and many will continue to send their kids to the one nearest to them.  We already have busing and mixing; the biggest change would be in spreading legacy costs (like pensions) over a larger population.  And the biggest challenges are attitudinal, with poor parenting, “school ain’t cool” and teachers unable to maintain discipline in the classroom topping the list.Numerous police & fire departments exist.  Yes, and this would be one big area for savings.  But this does not require merger of governments, it just requires merging the departments.  St. Louis County already is “the law” in many suburban “cities”.  Going countywide and/or merging with the city/”metropolitan” police is eminently doable under the current governance structure, with the big exception of state control of the city department.St. Louis, and the region by association, is viewed nationally as on the decline. This limits the potential to retain talent and attract employers.  How would a merger improve perceptions?  Detroit is bigger and sucks worse!  Size, or lack thereof, is not the problem.  Being viewed as being not a great place to do business is!In 1876 the bulk of the region’s population lived east of Grand, but now the population lives mostly in St. Louis County. As a region we’ve outgrown our 19th century viewpoint.  No, it still boils down to neighborhoods.  It doesn’t matter if it’s Glendale or Pagedale, Soulard or Maryland Heights.  To outsiders, we live in (greater) St. Louis.  To locals, we live in Dogtown or Chesterfield or Affton.

     
  8. JZ71 says:

    You’ve identified “problems” (in your mind) and “solutions” (in your mind).  The next step is to see if there is any real consensus on either.  How many people actually see this as an issue that really bothers them?  Enough to agitate or to actually vote for change?  We can’t even agree to reduce the number of aldermen in the city.  Inertia is a bear, as is protecting one’s own self-interests.  We’re in the show me state – “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

    Taking your points individually – A strong “City vs. County” attitude exists dividing us.  Yes, and this will change very little if we merge.  It doesn’t matter if we’re separate cities or “neighborhoods” in a larger city, we will continue to identify with our local ‘hoods, and because this is St. Louis, where we went to high school.

    Municipalities within St. Louis County disagree how to share revenues.  Yes, and the same battles will continue after any merger.  Look at how well we “share” among our richer and poorer wards inside the city.  Those that have, want to keep it, and those that don’t, want someone else to pay for it!St. Louis County experienced a drop in population in the 2010 Census.  So?!We have poor & affluent school districts providing very unequal education to future voters.  And this will change how?  People like neighborhood schools and many will continue to send their kids to the one nearest to them.  We already have busing and mixing; the biggest change would be in spreading legacy costs (like pensions) over a larger population.  And the biggest challenges are attitudinal, with poor parenting, “school ain’t cool” and teachers unable to maintain discipline in the classroom topping the list.Numerous police & fire departments exist.  Yes, and this would be one big area for savings.  But this does not require merger of governments, it just requires merging the departments.  St. Louis County already is “the law” in many suburban “cities”.  Going countywide and/or merging with the city/”metropolitan” police is eminently doable under the current governance structure, with the big exception of state control of the city department.St. Louis, and the region by association, is viewed nationally as on the decline. This limits the potential to retain talent and attract employers.  How would a merger improve perceptions?  Detroit is bigger and sucks worse!  Size, or lack thereof, is not the problem.  Being viewed as being not a great place to do business is!In 1876 the bulk of the region’s population lived east of Grand, but now the population lives mostly in St. Louis County. As a region we’ve outgrown our 19th century viewpoint.  No, it still boils down to neighborhoods.  It doesn’t matter if it’s Glendale or Pagedale, Soulard or Maryland Heights.  To outsiders, we live in (greater) St. Louis.  To locals, we live in Dogtown or Chesterfield or Affton.

     
    • equals42 says:

      The change in perception for the region would come from the change of actual boundaries. Right now it is easy for the list-makers to slice and dice S Louis as they please to put us high or low on the best/worst lists. St Louis taken as a region is not a dangerous area. If the city and county were one entity, the region would honestly be thought of differently. Every year we appear on those damn “most dangerous cities” lists we lose a LOT of tourism, mindshare and business. For those in Clayton and Ladue, I think even they can see the business rationale for that.

       
  9. Charlie says:

     what is more interesting to me is your plan to
    shuffle the structure of aldermen, and setup just seven non-partisan (what does that look like?) members of a board to be the ones who vote for mayor,
    instead of the people at large. What’s your reasoning behind that? It
    seems to me that you’re opting for an oligarchical form of government/management, seemingly just to make St. Louis look better. I agree with you that St. Louis’ system of aldermen and these little municipality ‘kings’ have really done a disservice to the people of St. Louis. Yet what I think we ought to aim for more is not ‘savings in the long run’ or hiring professional administrators, but a more just division of revenue
    and services. The problem is rampant development in these small, rich, county towns that draw growth away from other areas of St. Louis, divided up by the those aldermen and town mayors. You are right to call for a change in leadership style, and I agree, but perhaps it is too much geared towards partisan (even if it is non-partisan) spearheading than a democratic movement?To answer Rick, I say that cities like Clayton, Brentwood, and Olivette, which are large, influential centers of the county’s population but are beginning to suffer from the rampant sprawl, are beginning to desire a merger within the county and eventually with the city. Others like Chesterfield, where I believe a number of the current generation desire unity as well, are simply too far geographically to know just how to bind together St. Louis. Though Clayton is doing well not there are definitely a lot of young St. Louisans who love their city and live in Clayton who know that Clayton can’t be Clayton much longer without St. Louis.For the Metropolitan area of St. Louis on a whole, for the sake of the grand history this city is endowed with, and for the good people who remain, there must be a struggle to bring together the best of our city in one united community.

     
  10. Charlie says:

     what is more interesting to me is your plan to
    shuffle the structure of aldermen, and setup just seven non-partisan (what does that look like?) members of a board to be the ones who vote for mayor,
    instead of the people at large. What’s your reasoning behind that? It
    seems to me that you’re opting for an oligarchical form of government/management, seemingly just to make St. Louis look better. I agree with you that St. Louis’ system of aldermen and these little municipality ‘kings’ have really done a disservice to the people of St. Louis. Yet what I think we ought to aim for more is not ‘savings in the long run’ or hiring professional administrators, but a more just division of revenue
    and services. The problem is rampant development in these small, rich, county towns that draw growth away from other areas of St. Louis, divided up by the those aldermen and town mayors. You are right to call for a change in leadership style, and I agree, but perhaps it is too much geared towards partisan (even if it is non-partisan) spearheading than a democratic movement?To answer Rick, I say that cities like Clayton, Brentwood, and Olivette, which are large, influential centers of the county’s population but are beginning to suffer from the rampant sprawl, are beginning to desire a merger within the county and eventually with the city. Others like Chesterfield, where I believe a number of the current generation desire unity as well, are simply too far geographically to know just how to bind together St. Louis. Though Clayton is doing well not there are definitely a lot of young St. Louisans who love their city and live in Clayton who know that Clayton can’t be Clayton much longer without St. Louis.For the Metropolitan area of St. Louis on a whole, for the sake of the grand history this city is endowed with, and for the good people who remain, there must be a struggle to bring together the best of our city in one united community.

     
  11. Charlie says:

     what is more interesting to me is your plan to
    shuffle the structure of aldermen, and setup just seven non-partisan (what does that look like?) members of a board to be the ones who vote for mayor,
    instead of the people at large. What’s your reasoning behind that? It
    seems to me that you’re opting for an oligarchical form of government/management, seemingly just to make St. Louis look better. I agree with you that St. Louis’ system of aldermen and these little municipality ‘kings’ have really done a disservice to the people of St. Louis. Yet what I think we ought to aim for more is not ‘savings in the long run’ or hiring professional administrators, but a more just division of revenue
    and services. The problem is rampant development in these small, rich, county towns that draw growth away from other areas of St. Louis, divided up by the those aldermen and town mayors. You are right to call for a change in leadership style, and I agree, but perhaps it is too much geared towards partisan (even if it is non-partisan) spearheading than a democratic movement?To answer Rick, I say that cities like Clayton, Brentwood, and Olivette, which are large, influential centers of the county’s population but are beginning to suffer from the rampant sprawl, are beginning to desire a merger within the county and eventually with the city. Others like Chesterfield, where I believe a number of the current generation desire unity as well, are simply too far geographically to know just how to bind together St. Louis. Though Clayton is doing well not there are definitely a lot of young St. Louisans who love their city and live in Clayton who know that Clayton can’t be Clayton much longer without St. Louis.For the Metropolitan area of St. Louis on a whole, for the sake of the grand history this city is endowed with, and for the good people who remain, there must be a struggle to bring together the best of our city in one united community.

     
  12. Charlie says:

     what is more interesting to me is your plan to
    shuffle the structure of aldermen, and setup just seven non-partisan (what does that look like?) members of a board to be the ones who vote for mayor,
    instead of the people at large. What’s your reasoning behind that? It
    seems to me that you’re opting for an oligarchical form of government/management, seemingly just to make St. Louis look better. I agree with you that St. Louis’ system of aldermen and these little municipality ‘kings’ have really done a disservice to the people of St. Louis. Yet what I think we ought to aim for more is not ‘savings in the long run’ or hiring professional administrators, but a more just division of revenue
    and services. The problem is rampant development in these small, rich, county towns that draw growth away from other areas of St. Louis, divided up by the those aldermen and town mayors. You are right to call for a change in leadership style, and I agree, but perhaps it is too much geared towards partisan (even if it is non-partisan) spearheading than a democratic movement?To answer Rick, I say that cities like Clayton, Brentwood, and Olivette, which are large, influential centers of the county’s population but are beginning to suffer from the rampant sprawl, are beginning to desire a merger within the county and eventually with the city. Others like Chesterfield, where I believe a number of the current generation desire unity as well, are simply too far geographically to know just how to bind together St. Louis. Though Clayton is doing well not there are definitely a lot of young St. Louisans who love their city and live in Clayton who know that Clayton can’t be Clayton much longer without St. Louis.For the Metropolitan area of St. Louis on a whole, for the sake of the grand history this city is endowed with, and for the good people who remain, there must be a struggle to bring together the best of our city in one united community.

     
  13. Charlie says:

    what is more interesting to me is your plan to shuffle the structure
    of aldermen, and setup just seven non-partisan (what does that look
    like?) members of a board to be the ones who vote for mayor, instead of the people at large. What’s your reasoning behind that? It seems
    to me that you’re opting for an oligarchical form of
    government/management, seemingly just to make St. Louis look better. I
    agree with you that St. Louis’ system of aldermen and these little
    municipality ‘kings’ have really done a disservice to the people of St.
    Louis. Yet what I think we ought to aim for more is not ‘savings in the
    long run’ or hiring professional administrators, but a more just
    division of revenue and services. The problem is rampant development
    in these small, rich, county towns that draw growth away from other
    areas of St. Louis, divided up by the those aldermen and town mayors.
    You are right to call for a change in leadership style, and I agree,
    but perhaps it is too much geared towards partisan (even if it is
    non-partisan) spearheading than a democratic movement?

    To answer Rick, I
    say that cities like Clayton, Brentwood, and Olivette, which are large,
    influential centers of the county’s population but are beginning to
    suffer from the rampant sprawl, are beginning to desire a merger within
    the county and eventually with the city. Others like Chesterfield,
    where I believe a number of the current generation desire unity as
    well, are simply too far geographically to know just how to bind
    together St. Louis. Though Clayton is doing well not there are
    definitely a lot of young St. Louisans who love their city and live in
    Clayton who know that Clayton can’t be Clayton much longer without St.
    Louis.

    For the Metropolitan area of St. Louis on a whole, for the sake
    of the grand history this city is endowed with, and for the good people
    who remain, there must be a struggle to bring together the best of our
    city in one united community.

     
  14. Charlie says:

    what is more interesting to me is your plan to shuffle the structure
    of aldermen, and setup just seven non-partisan (what does that look
    like?) members of a board to be the ones who vote for mayor, instead of the people at large. What’s your reasoning behind that? It seems
    to me that you’re opting for an oligarchical form of
    government/management, seemingly just to make St. Louis look better. I
    agree with you that St. Louis’ system of aldermen and these little
    municipality ‘kings’ have really done a disservice to the people of St.
    Louis. Yet what I think we ought to aim for more is not ‘savings in the
    long run’ or hiring professional administrators, but a more just
    division of revenue and services. The problem is rampant development
    in these small, rich, county towns that draw growth away from other
    areas of St. Louis, divided up by the those aldermen and town mayors.
    You are right to call for a change in leadership style, and I agree,
    but perhaps it is too much geared towards partisan (even if it is
    non-partisan) spearheading than a democratic movement?

    To answer Rick, I
    say that cities like Clayton, Brentwood, and Olivette, which are large,
    influential centers of the county’s population but are beginning to
    suffer from the rampant sprawl, are beginning to desire a merger within
    the county and eventually with the city. Others like Chesterfield,
    where I believe a number of the current generation desire unity as
    well, are simply too far geographically to know just how to bind
    together St. Louis. Though Clayton is doing well not there are
    definitely a lot of young St. Louisans who love their city and live in
    Clayton who know that Clayton can’t be Clayton much longer without St.
    Louis.

    For the Metropolitan area of St. Louis on a whole, for the sake
    of the grand history this city is endowed with, and for the good people
    who remain, there must be a struggle to bring together the best of our
    city in one united community.

     
  15. Charlie says:

    what is more interesting to me is your plan to shuffle the structure
    of aldermen, and setup just seven non-partisan (what does that look
    like?) members of a board to be the ones who vote for mayor, instead of the people at large. What’s your reasoning behind that? It seems
    to me that you’re opting for an oligarchical form of
    government/management, seemingly just to make St. Louis look better. I
    agree with you that St. Louis’ system of aldermen and these little
    municipality ‘kings’ have really done a disservice to the people of St.
    Louis. Yet what I think we ought to aim for more is not ‘savings in the
    long run’ or hiring professional administrators, but a more just
    division of revenue and services. The problem is rampant development
    in these small, rich, county towns that draw growth away from other
    areas of St. Louis, divided up by the those aldermen and town mayors.
    You are right to call for a change in leadership style, and I agree,
    but perhaps it is too much geared towards partisan (even if it is
    non-partisan) spearheading than a democratic movement?

    To answer Rick, I
    say that cities like Clayton, Brentwood, and Olivette, which are large,
    influential centers of the county’s population but are beginning to
    suffer from the rampant sprawl, are beginning to desire a merger within
    the county and eventually with the city. Others like Chesterfield,
    where I believe a number of the current generation desire unity as
    well, are simply too far geographically to know just how to bind
    together St. Louis. Though Clayton is doing well not there are
    definitely a lot of young St. Louisans who love their city and live in
    Clayton who know that Clayton can’t be Clayton much longer without St.
    Louis.

    For the Metropolitan area of St. Louis on a whole, for the sake
    of the grand history this city is endowed with, and for the good people
    who remain, there must be a struggle to bring together the best of our
    city in one united community.

     
  16. Charlie says:

    what is more interesting to me is your plan to shuffle the structure
    of aldermen, and setup just seven non-partisan (what does that look
    like?) members of a board to be the ones who vote for mayor, instead of the people at large. What’s your reasoning behind that? It seems
    to me that you’re opting for an oligarchical form of
    government/management, seemingly just to make St. Louis look better. I
    agree with you that St. Louis’ system of aldermen and these little
    municipality ‘kings’ have really done a disservice to the people of St.
    Louis. Yet what I think we ought to aim for more is not ‘savings in the
    long run’ or hiring professional administrators, but a more just
    division of revenue and services. The problem is rampant development
    in these small, rich, county towns that draw growth away from other
    areas of St. Louis, divided up by the those aldermen and town mayors.
    You are right to call for a change in leadership style, and I agree,
    but perhaps it is too much geared towards partisan (even if it is
    non-partisan) spearheading than a democratic movement?

    To answer Rick, I
    say that cities like Clayton, Brentwood, and Olivette, which are large,
    influential centers of the county’s population but are beginning to
    suffer from the rampant sprawl, are beginning to desire a merger within
    the county and eventually with the city. Others like Chesterfield,
    where I believe a number of the current generation desire unity as
    well, are simply too far geographically to know just how to bind
    together St. Louis. Though Clayton is doing well not there are
    definitely a lot of young St. Louisans who love their city and live in
    Clayton who know that Clayton can’t be Clayton much longer without St.
    Louis.

    For the Metropolitan area of St. Louis on a whole, for the sake
    of the grand history this city is endowed with, and for the good people
    who remain, there must be a struggle to bring together the best of our
    city in one united community.

     
  17. Although there’s many benefits, I believe this plan would destroy the unique value and potential the St. Louis City has. If this plan happened, the city culture would suffer – and I would probably leave St. Louis for a more progressive place. 

    I grew up in St. Louis County; it is a very different beast than the city. The culture and priorities are very different, from transportation to commerce to law enforcement and more. It’s already hard enough to have an impact on local leadership; a governing council and figurehead mayor would just make this problem worse.

    Years ago, Jane Jacobs wrote that it’s vital for cities to remain separate from their surrounding area. Today, innovative thinkers worldwide are working on the “seasteading” movement – with the goal of creating MORE independent cities, not less.

    I believe the future of St. Louis City is to capitalize on our independence by moving quicker and fostering innovation within our borders. Neither of these causes would be helped by a massive county/city mega-entity. 

     
  18. Although there’s many benefits, I believe this plan would destroy the unique value and potential that St. Louis City has. If this plan happened, the city culture would suffer – and I would probably leave St. Louis for a more progressive place. 

    I grew up in St. Louis County; it is a very different beast than the city. The culture and priorities are very different, from transportation to commerce to law enforcement and more. It’s already hard enough to have an impact on local leadership; a governing council and figurehead mayor would just make this problem worse.

    Years ago, Jane Jacobs wrote that it’s vital for cities to remain separate from their surrounding area. Today, innovative thinkers worldwide are working on the “seasteading” movement – with the goal of creating MORE independent cities, not less.

    I believe the future of St. Louis City is to capitalize on our independence by moving quicker and fostering innovation within our borders. Neither of these causes would be helped by a massive county/city mega-entity.

     
  19. dylanized says:

    Although there’s many benefits, I believe this plan would destroy the unique value and potential that St. Louis City has. If this plan happened, the city culture would suffer – and I would probably leave St. Louis for a more progressive place. 

    I grew up in St. Louis County; it is a very different beast than the city. The culture and priorities are very different, from transportation to commerce to law enforcement and more. It’s already hard enough to have an impact on local leadership; a governing council and figurehead mayor would just make this problem worse.

    Years ago, Jane Jacobs wrote that it’s vital for cities to remain separate from their surrounding area. Today, innovative thinkers worldwide are working on the “seasteading” movement – with the goal of creating MORE independent cities, not less.

    I believe the future of St. Louis City is to capitalize on our independence by moving quicker and fostering innovation within our borders. Neither of these causes would be helped by a massive county/city mega-entity.

     
    • Luqman says:

      As a progressive county resident, I couldn’t agree more. The next generation of St. Louis city leadership seems poised to do great things.  I would hate to see a system where some of the great young alderpeople like Antonio French, Shane Cohn, Scott Ogilvie, etc. would have to fight with each other in order to continue the great work they are currently doing.

       
  20. The mayor in a council-manager form of government is a figure head. It is the manager, hired by the elected council, that runs the government.

     
  21. Tpekren says:

    Sorry Steve, Politically I think this is a pipe dream.  However, I believe their parts that need some serious thought and is happening already.  As well as some items that need serious consideration.

    1) I think Dylan is onto something, A city re-enter into the county makes sense.  However, Having it remain the biggest and defining urban core/muni for the region is a plus.  Especially if the region realizes that population growth in the center is good!
    @370dc1ce65ffa7d92b9a359887e0d07b:disqus 
    2) St. Louis City and the community needs to answer on simple question.  Why do we need 28 Aldermen?  You have answered that many times but yet its not being of community leaders in a vocal manner.

    3) St Louis County has pockets of discussion, but also like the city.  No one is vocalling asking the question to the community.  Why do we need +90 muni’s in the county.

    In my opinion, the region would make a giant leap forward with a city re-entry into the county and down sizing the number of alderman and county muni’s.  These items are also doable and have some support from business community as well as residents who have come to see small city govt nothing more then speed trap collection locations.

     
  22. Tpekren says:

    Sorry Steve, Politically I think this is a pipe dream.  However, I believe their parts that need some serious thought and is happening already.  As well as some items that need serious consideration.

    1) I think Dylan is onto something, A city re-enter into the county makes sense.  However, Having it remain the biggest and defining urban core/muni for the region is a plus.  Especially if the region realizes that population growth in the center is good!
    @370dc1ce65ffa7d92b9a359887e0d07b:disqus 
    2) St. Louis City and the community needs to answer on simple question.  Why do we need 28 Aldermen?  You have answered that many times but yet its not being of community leaders in a vocal manner.

    3) St Louis County has pockets of discussion, but also like the city.  No one is vocalling asking the question to the community.  Why do we need +90 muni’s in the county.

    In my opinion, the region would make a giant leap forward with a city re-entry into the county and down sizing the number of alderman and county muni’s.  These items are also doable and have some support from business community as well as residents who have come to see small city govt nothing more then speed trap collection locations.

     
  23. Stlplanr says:

    Clean up your respective houses (# City alderman / # County munies) before running to the courthouse to get hitched.

     
  24. Stlplanr says:

    Clean up your respective houses (# City alderman / # County munies) before running to the courthouse to get hitched.

     
  25. DoubleJ says:

    What would you do with all of the school districts that often coincide with the different municipalities you want to eliminate?

     
  26. DoubleJ says:

    What would you do with all of the school districts that often coincide with the different municipalities you want to eliminate?

     
    • aaronlevi says:

      there are currently several consolidated school districts that cross township lines, there’s no reason those districts couldn’t remain intact.  for instance, in kansas city you have Center district which is carved out in the middle of KC, grandview school district (a suburb) covers part of south KC, etc..

       
  27. Anonymous says:

    there are currently several consolidated school districts that cross township lines, there’s no reason those districts couldn’t remain intact.  for instance, in kansas city you have Center district which is carved out in the middle of KC, grandview school district (a suburb) covers part of south KC, etc..

     
  28. Luqman says:

    As a progressive county resident, I couldn’t agree more. The next generation of St. Louis city leadership seems poised to do great things.  I would hate to see a system where some of the great young alderpeople like Antonio French, Shane Cohn, Scott Ogilvie, etc. would have to fight with each other in order to continue the great work they are currently doing.

     
  29. Anonymous says:

    The change in perception for the region would come from the change of actual boundaries. Right now it is easy for the list-makers to slice and dice S Louis as they please to put us high or low on the best/worst lists. St Louis taken as a region is not a dangerous area. If the city and county were one entity, the region would honestly be thought of differently. Every year we appear on those damn “most dangerous cities” lists we lose a LOT of tourism, mindshare and business. For those in Clayton and Ladue, I think even they can see the business rationale for that.

     
  30. Anonymous says:

    I disagree with the mayoral position you describe. It should be elected directly. I also think the existing neighborhoods should retain some semblance of local control. Webster Groves, for instance, should be able to continue to have a say in the planning of their neighborhood centers, festivities, etc. There are great advantages to some of the small cities we currently have. I would hate to see Kirkwood and others be absorbed as Carondelet was.
    So really I would craft some board as Steve described from the general areas: North and South City, South County, Clayton areas of West County, far West County, North County. How many from each area is not too important to me as long as we recognize the distinct areas of the county/city and give them representation. Taxation and police should be uniform and most regional planning removed from parochial control. The boroughs method voted down in the 50s or 60s might accomplish this well too. Maybe that should be revisited with more local control of planning as I described.

    My two cents…

     
  31. equals42 says:

    I disagree with the mayoral position you describe. It should be elected directly. I also think the existing neighborhoods should retain some semblance of local control. Webster Groves, for instance, should be able to continue to have a say in the planning of their neighborhood centers, festivities, etc. There are great advantages to some of the small cities we currently have. I would hate to see Kirkwood and others be absorbed as Carondelet was.
    So really I would craft some board as Steve described from the general areas: North and South City, South County, Clayton areas of West County, far West County, North County. How many from each area is not too important to me as long as we recognize the distinct areas of the county/city and give them representation. Taxation and police should be uniform and most regional planning removed from parochial control. The boroughs method voted down in the 50s or 60s might accomplish this well too. Maybe that should be revisited with more local control of planning as I described.

    My two cents…

     
    • OK, how about no mayor at all? The 7-member council would elect their leader from within and they’d hire the manager. Yes, the area would be divided into districts where planning and other issues would be specialized for that area.

       
      • Rick says:

        Mayor, County Executive?  Same question remains unanswered:  who leads this effort?  Urbanist bloggers?  Unlilkely?  The Post Dispatch?  Probably not.  A coalition of elected officials?  Maybe.  Who gets the fire burning?  I don’t see anyone raising their hand.  Maybe this idea catches on through regional sustainability planning led by EW Gateway?
           

         
      • JZ71 says:

        I’m not sure I’d support a 7-member council for a city of 1.3-1.4 million.  That’s nearly 200,000 constituents per rep, assuming that they’d be elected by distrcict or ward.  That equates to 1.5 for the current entire city, or one replacing 16 or 17 of our current aldermen.  I understand your frustration with the current 28 aldermen for a city of 320,000, but going from 1/11,400 to 1/188,325 seems to be swinging from one extreme to another, and, in itself, likely to doom any consolidation scenario.

         
        • The City of Los Angeles has a 15-member City Council and a population of nearly 3.8 million. I’m not saying my ideas are etched in stone, I’m just putting my vision out there, feel free to suggest a different organizational form or number of members.

           
      • dylanized says:

        An detached governing council that holds all the power? Given the history of St. Louis powerbrokers, this seems like it would be a recipe for cronyism and maintaining the status quo…

         
        • JZ71 says:

          The closest existing analogy would be the Bi-State / Metro Board, where four members come from Illinois and four come from Missouri.  Quick, name the board members who represent you and how you can contact him/her/them!

           
    • Rick says:

      Great comment.  With respect to local traditions, an idea like this might get more support.

       
    • dylanized says:

      Similar ideas have been floated in the past, referred to as the borough plan. I think that makes sense, as the city could be its own borough and retain significant influence.

       
  32. OK, how about no mayor at all? The 7-member council would elect their leader from within and they’d hire the manager. Yes, the area would be divided into districts where planning and other issues would be specialized for that area.

     
  33. Rick says:

    Great comment.  With respect to local traditions, an idea like this might get more support.

     
  34. Rick says:

    Mayor, County Executive?  Same question remains unanswered:  who leads this effort?  Urbanist bloggers?  Unlilkely?  The Post Dispatch?  Probably not.  A coalition of elected officials?  Maybe.  Who gets the fire burning?  I don’t see anyone raising their hand.  Maybe this idea catches on through regional sustainability planning led by EW Gateway?
       

     
  35. Anonymous says:

    I’m not sure I’d support a 7-member council for a city of 1.3-1.4 million.  That’s nearly 200,000 constituents per rep, assuming that they’d be elected by distrcict or ward.  That equates to 1.5 for the current entire city, or one replacing 16 or 17 of our current aldermen.  I understand your frustration with the current 28 aldermen for a city of 320,000, but going from 1/11,400 to 1/188,325 seems to be swinging from one extreme to another, and, in itself, likely to doom any consolidation scenario.

     
  36. The City of Los Angeles has a 15-member City Council and a population of nearly 3.8 million. I’m not saying my ideas are etched in stone, I’m just putting my vision out there, feel free to suggest a different organizational form or number of members.

     
  37. Moe says:

    Why is it always the City merges with the County.  What about the County merging with the City?  Afterall, the City was here first!

     
  38. Moe says:

    Why is it always the City merges with the County.  What about the County merging with the City?  Afterall, the City was here first!

     
    • JZ71 says:

      Semantics.  I think you’re confusing annexation with merger.  In reality, the only way merger works is if a new governmental structure replaces what’s in place now.  And if the county part of St. Louis city goes away, and the city rejoins the county, the city does need to merge with county, since the opposite is legally nearly impossible.

       
  39. Doe says:

    This might sound like a “blonde” question but, what would happen to my city’s muny pool?  It sounds dumb, with all the seriousness of the city-county merger, but I bought my house for the school district and the fact that my city has an awesome rec-center pool.  What would you think would happen to these facilities in a city-county merger?  I don’t really want to share them with the rest of the county/city and I can’t afford private school and country clubs. 

     
  40. Doe says:

    This might sound like a “blonde” question but, what would happen to my city’s muny pool?  It sounds dumb, with all the seriousness of the city-county merger, but I bought my house for the school district and the fact that my city has an awesome rec-center pool.  What would you think would happen to these facilities in a city-county merger?  I don’t really want to share them with the rest of the county/city and I can’t afford private school and country clubs. 

     
  41. Rick says:

    Not a blonde question at all, but really at the heart of the matter.

     
  42. Anonymous says:

    Semantics.  I think you’re confusing annexation with merger.  In reality, the only way merger works is if a new governmental structure replaces what’s in place now.  And if the county part of St. Louis city goes away, and the city rejoins the county, the city does need to merge with county, since the opposite is legally nearly impossible.

     
  43. Similar ideas have been floated in the past, referred to as the borough plan. I think that makes sense, as the city could be its own borough and retain significant influence.

     
  44. An detached governing council that holds all the power? Given the history of St. Louis powerbrokers, this seems like it would be a recipe for cronyism and maintaining the status quo…

     
  45. Anonymous says:

    The closest existing analogy would be the Bi-State / Metro Board, where four members come from Illinois and four come from Missouri.  Quick, name the board members who represent you and how you can contact him/her/them!

     
  46. Terry says:

    I live in Town and Country, and I worked hard to get here. I graduated from a public high school, then attended private university where I earned bachelors and masters degrees. I drove old beaters while in college and grad school, and for 3 years after graduation. But now it’s different. My kids attend one of the finest schools in the area. Do you think, even for a minute, that I would support a program of any type that would compromise my kids’ educational exposure and invite “trouble” into their classroom? Do you think for a minute that my problems/concerns/issues are similar to those in NSL? Please, Steve, don’t be naive. I want nothing to do with the City and their issues.

     
  47. Terry says:

    I live in Town and Country, and I worked hard to get here. I graduated from a public high school, then attended private university where I earned bachelors and masters degrees. I drove old beaters while in college and grad school, and for 3 years after graduation. But now it’s different. My kids attend one of the finest schools in the area. Do you think, even for a minute, that I would support a program of any type that would compromise my kids’ educational exposure and invite “trouble” into their classroom? Do you think for a minute that my problems/concerns/issues are similar to those in NSL? Please, Steve, don’t be naive. I want nothing to do with the City and their issues.

     
    • Wow, great attitude. And when you lose your job and can’t find another because employers aren’t attracted to our region you will see why it is critical we all stick together to build a stronger metropolitan area.

       
    • Matt says:

      …..exactly why this region is in the state that it is……….I worked hard with a similar track as you but my goal was to buy a grand old house in the city and work to improve this great place and raise my kids in a beautiful neighborhood.  Working hard to get to Town and Country doesn’t sound like an ambitious goal to me.

       
    • William says:

      You have your head in the sand.

       
  48. Wow, great attitude. And when you lose your job and can’t find another because employers aren’t attracted to our region you will see why it is critical we all stick together to build a stronger metropolitan area.

     
  49. Matt says:

    …..exactly why this region is in the state that it is……….I worked hard with a similar track as you but my goal was to buy a grand old house in the city and work to improve this great place and raise my kids in a beautiful neighborhood.  Working hard to get to Town and Country doesn’t sound like an ambitious goal to me.

     
  50. William says:

    You have your head in the sand.

     
  51. jimbo says:

    If Clayton gets the new St. Louis city hall and becomes the major administrative hub in this new “city” I’m moving back to Chicago.  Clayton is a cancer, don’t feed it.

     
  52. jimbo says:

    If Clayton gets the new St. Louis city hall and becomes the major administrative hub in this new “city” I’m moving back to Chicago.  Clayton is a cancer, don’t feed it.

     
    • That’s the spirit that will make us one happy region.

       
      • Jimbo says:

        Nobody likes the suburbs in these other more “progressive” cities that blogsters are always harping about; you think people in city of Chicago care about or like or want anything to do with Schaumburg?  We need to rally around the city and make it a better place, not just find some prosperous inner ring burbs and re-name them the city.  Maybe cancer is too strong a word for, but it retards the success DT has had in the last decade.  Lets strengthen our urban core, not dilute it by saying that people in Chesterfield, or Clayton for that matter, are just as much part of our city as St. Louis residents.  City residents, at least the ones who chose to live there as opposed to the desperately poor, have made a commitment that many in the county can’t or couldn’t stomach.  Asking people who have already voted with there feet (moving to county) to now embrace the city as part of there community is asking them to completely reverse their attitude, and may be counter productive in undermining the strong pride many City residents have for St. Louis CITY.  

         
  53. That’s the spirit that will make us one happy region.

     
  54. Jimbo says:

    Nobody likes the suburbs in these other more “progressive” cities that blogsters are always harping about; you think people in city of Chicago care about or like or want anything to do with Schaumburg?  We need to rally around the city and make it a better place, not just find some prosperous inner ring burbs and re-name them the city.  Maybe cancer is too strong a word for, but it retards the success DT has had in the last decade.  Lets strengthen our urban core, not dilute it by saying that people in Chesterfield, or Clayton for that matter, are just as much part of our city as St. Louis residents.  City residents, at least the ones who chose to live there as opposed to the desperately poor, have made a commitment that many in the county can’t or couldn’t stomach.  Asking people who have already voted with there feet (moving to county) to now embrace the city as part of there community is asking them to completely reverse their attitude, and may be counter productive in undermining the strong pride many City residents have for St. Louis CITY.  

     

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