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Downtown & Downtown West Neighborhoods Should Be Merged Into One

Technically Downtown, a city neighborhood, is only East of Tucker Blvd (12th). So much of what we think of as downtown is considered Downtown West.

Map of Downtown West Neighborhood bounded by Chouteau, Jefferson, Cole, & Tucker; click image to view on city website
Map of Downtown West Neighborhood bounded by Chouteau, Jefferson, Cole, & Tucker; click image to view on city website

All of the following are located not in Downtown, but in Downtown West:

  • Police Headquarters (old & new)
  • City Hall
  • Peabody Opera House
  • Scottrade Center
  • Main U.S. Post Office
  • Soliders Memorial (WWI)
  • Central Library
  • City Museum
  • Campbell House
  • Downtown YMCA
  • Union Station
  • Schlafly’s Tap Room
  • Civic Center MetroLink/MetroBus
  • Transportation Center (Amtrak, Greyhound, Megabus)

But I don’t want news reporters outside police HQ to say “Reporting from Downtown West”, I think we should combine the two.

From a 1989 Post-Dispatch article:

SECTIONS OF St. Louis have an identity crisis, says Mayor Vincent C. SchoemehlJr. ”There’s this impression that north St. Louis is some monolithic area that’s unfit to live in,” Schoemehl said. ”Frankly, there’re some very good neighborhoods in north St. Louis, as good as any around. But when you hear about a murder or a rape or some other crime occurring in north St. Louis, all the neighborhoods in north St. Louis become tarred with the same brush.” The identity crisis has sparked a campaign, beginning this week, that stresses neighborhoods – 74 to be exact. No longer will there just be the North Side, the South Side, the Central West End or downtown. ”This is one of our attempts to market the neighborhoods of the city,” said Clara Kinner, director of communications for the city’s Economic Development Corp. ”People should understand that there are several different neighborhoods with several different personalities and attributes,” she said. Many, but not all, of the new neighborhood boundaries will coincide with the boundaries set by existing neighborhood associations, Kinner said. (P4, October 15, 1989)

So when the city first created the neighborhood map it had 74 neighborhoods, but currently it is 79:

There are 79 different neighborhoods, each with its own distinctive style and characteristics. Many of these neighborhoods have very active community organizations and associations. Some are on the rebound, while others have remained stable for decades, and still others are striving for renewal. A variety of sources for information about neighborhoods exist, both on and off this website. None of these sources include everything there is to know about a neighborhood, but by putting together information from each of these sources, one may get a sense of the incredible variety of lifestyles available in the diverse neighborhoods of the City of St. Louis. (St. Louis Neighborhoods)

Now you might be wondering if the Downtown West neighborhood association would object to being consolidated with Downtown’s NA. Well, there has never been a separate Downtown West neighborhood association. The Downtown Neighborhood Association boundaries had included all of Downtown and about half of Downtown West, but last month their bylaws were amended to expand their boundaries to match both.

The Downtown Community Improvement District boundaries also includes much of Downtown West. Just because people in 1989 wanted to better identify where murders happened doesn’t mean we can’t alter the map 26 years later. It’s time to reduce the 79 neighborhoods to 78!

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Readers Not Interested in Poll on Hot Spot Policing

July 15, 2015 Crime 1 Comment

Only ten votes in Sunday’s poll, less than a third of the usual number. This could be because 1) I moved the poll location from the sidebar to the body post, 2) because of the topic/phrasing, or 3) a combination.

Q: How effective is “Hot Spot Policing”?

  1. Somewhat good 5 [33.33%]
  2. Good 3 [20%]
  3. TIE 2 [13.33%]
    1. Somewhat poor
    2. Unsure/No Answer
    3. Very poor
  4. Neutral 1 [6.67%]
  5. TIE: 0 [0%]
    1. Poor
    2. Very good

I have no insight into the question, but “Hot Spot Policing” doesn’t seem to address the root causes of much of our crime in the areas targeted. Some headlines this year:

Perhaps crime would be worse if hot spot policing wasn’t used? We shouldn’t continue ignoring the root causes though.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: How effective is “Hot Spot Policing”?

 

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson is an advocate of “hot spot policing”:

Through hot spots policing strategies, law enforcement agencies can focus limited resources in areas where crime is most likely to occur. The appeal of focusing limited resources on a small number of high-activity crime areas is based on the belief that if crime can be prevented at these hot spots, then total crime across the city might also be reduced. (National Institute of Justice)

This practice also has local critics. For today’s poll I want to see how effective readers think this strategy is.

The poll closes at 8pm.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Should Missouri follow Nebraska and abolish the death penalty?

Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar

Last week the conservative legislature in neighboring Nebraska voted to override their governor’s veto of a bill to repeal their death penalty:

Lawmakers in Nebraska overrode Gov. Pete Ricketts’ veto of their vote to repeal the death penalty, making it the first Republican-controlled state in the U.S. to repeal the death penalty since North Dakota in 1973. The vote was 30-19.

As we reported Tuesday, Ricketts, a Republican, vetoed the legislation flanked by law enforcement personnel, murder victims’ family members and state lawmakers who support capital punishment. Opposition to the death penalty in the conservative state came from Republicans who were against it for religious or fiscal reasons, as well as from Democrats and independents. (NPR)

Of course, just because a neighboring state does something it doesn’t mean we should follow them. Still, this is a good public policy subject for a Sunday Poll.  The poll is at the top of the right sidebar of the desktop layout, it’ll close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

Not All Surface Parking Lots Are Secured Despite 2011 Rules

In 2011 St. Louis experienced a rash a car break-ins at various downtown surface parking lots, to restore the public confidence City Hall made a big deal about a new rule to make sure they’re secure. From a September 2011 press release about the new rules:

The City of St. Louis and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD), worked together to create new public parking lot rules. The highlights are:
• Parking lots shall be attended by an employee when in operation; and
• Parking lot attendants shall be educated by the SLMPD; and
• Parking lots shall be secured when not in operation.

The City of St. Louis Building Division will grant waivers to parking lots that have demonstrated they are safe and secure. These waivers will be reviewed periodically.

You can read the complete Building Commissioner’s Order #1001.

On April 30, 2014 I emailed various city officials, including Building Commissioner Frank Oswald, about the surface parking lots adjacent to the east & north of my building, asking if they were exempt from this rule.  I also mentioned the poor condition of the one to the East (1601 Locust).

I included this May 2013 image of the rough paving with my email
I included this May 2013 image of the rough paving with my email

Mr. Oswald replied the next day:

Steve, These lots are not exempt. It sounds that you are telling me the one lot is used for ballpark pay parking? I will copy my staff to put this on there list to check on for compliance with order 1001. I am not sure but it sounds if you are concerned that one or both lots are in poor condition, I would appreciate you putting in a c.s.b. complaint so we have a record. 622-4800 and we can then do a property maintenance inspection.

I contacted the Citizens Service Bureau (CSB) and the next day replied to all with their report number — SR #601609.

This email I included a current pic of a car parked in the one disabled spot with the disabled marking barely visible
This email I included a current pic of a car parked in the one disabled spot with the disabled marking barely visible
And a pic of the sign for $5/day
And a pic of the sign for $5/day

One staff person replied to all:

Frank,

We have looked at lots in this area very recently and have found many lots don’t appear to have an actual physical person attending the lot. One of the big problems in enforcing Rule # 1001 is the difficulty in determining if an attendant is within 1 (one) mile of the lot. For example, an attendant for the lot at 1200 Washington could actually be at the Casino Queen in Illinois and still be considered in compliance according to the “Rule”!

Huh? How can an attendant watch a lot that’s one mile away? This lot used a metal collection box for parkers to self pay — no attendant unless during a special event. Oswald replied to all:

Ok but if we look at it 3 times in 10 days and no one is there each time I think we can conclude they are not monitoring in accordance to the policy and we should tell them they are in violation.

That was the last I heard from them on this issue. Here are some more photos:

May 2, 2014
May 2, 2014
June 13, 2014
June 13, 2014
June 22, 2014
June 22, 2014 — cars frequently pull up and block the sidewalk
June 13, 2014
June 13, 2014

Things only got worse as the months passed by, nothing changed — until November 25th — the old metal cash box was gone.

November 25, 2014
November 25, 2014 — a new concrete pad
December 2, 2014
December 2, 2014 — a worker finishes set up of the new electronic payment box,
The new electronic collection station
The new electronic collection station

The other change is the parking fee dropped from $5/day to $3/day to compete with the lot to the north of our building.

Recent photo of what used to be pavement
Recent photo of what used to be pavement collecting water
The blue Hyundai is parked in the one disabled spot -- without plates or hangtag
The blue Hyundai is parked in the one disabled spot — without plates or hangtag
Now a Cadillac is parked in the disabled spot without disabled plates/placard
Now a Cadillac is parked in the disabled spot without disabled plates/placard
Not really the fault of those drivers, the pavement marking is almost gone and the space lacks the required vertically-mounted sigh
Not really the fault of those drivers, the pavement marking is almost gone and the space lacks the required vertically-mounted sigh
The recent pic from a neighbor's balcony shows the poor condition of the pavement
The recent pic from a neighbor’s balcony shows the poor condition of the pavement, the disabled spot (far right) is vacant in this shot

Recap: poor physical condition, not secured, cars able to overhang the sidewalk, only one disabled space — not properly marked, no attendant.

This lot is owned by PHAM LLC of Wood River, Il., the tax records are mailed to a residence. The resident is Peter Heinz, principal at Cardinal Investments, Inc., of the same address. The lot is managed by Central Parking. Time to follow up with Frank Oswald and perhaps mail a letter to Mr, Heinz in Wood River IL.

— Steve Patterson

 

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