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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

 

Readers: MetroBus & MetroLink Are Equally Safe

I’ve been a regular rider of public transit in St. Louis for a few years now, I’ve never felt unsafe or witnessed any crime. Still, a recent assault on a train has many concerned.

Talking to people over the years some would only ride MetroLink light rail, they’d never consider MetroBus. I’ve asked [white] people if they’d ridden public transit, a common answer was “Yes, MetroLink.” Most are shocked when I tell them I use MetroBus far more often than MetroLink.

The vote count Sunday was low, but I liked the fair results:

Q: Which mode of public transportation do you think is the safest in St. Louis?

  1. Tie/equal 11 [45.83%]
  2. Bus (MetroBus) 6 [25%]
  3. Light rail (MetroLink) 5 [20.83%]
  4. Unsure/no answer 2 [8.33%]

Despite the hysteria on the local news, both MetroLink & MetroBus are largely safe modes. I’d be more worried about driving on I-270 than being assaulted on public transportation. I’ll leave it to others to dig through piles of data.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Which mode of public transportation do you think is the safest in St. Louis?

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

Today’s poll is about perceptions so it doesn’t matter if you ride public transit daily, frequently, rarely, or never. It also doesn’t matter if you think all public transit is unsafe — today’s question is: Which mode of public transportation do you think is the safest in St. Louis? So if it helps you it can also be read as Which mode of public transportation do you think is the least unsafe in St. Louis?

The poll choices are:

  • Bus (MetroBus)
  • Light rail (MetroLink)
  • Tie/equal
  • Unsure/no answer

These will be shown in random order in the poll — located in the right sidebar.

— Steve Patterson

 

Tax Scams Make Sensational News But Media Fails To Mention Adjusting Withholding To Reduce/Eliminate Refund

March 13, 2015 Crime, Economy, Featured, Media, Taxes Comments Off on Tax Scams Make Sensational News But Media Fails To Mention Adjusting Withholding To Reduce/Eliminate Refund
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I’ve circled the three places on KMOV’s home page where “Tax Cheats” stories appeared

When we watch television (vs Netflix, etc) it’s usually CBS — KMOV 4.1 here — unfortunately their promos on tax scams/cheats seem nonstop. Wednesday morning I checked local news sources for similar reports. KMOV had 3 mentions on their homepage, the others didn’t — but many had stories from this month:

These stories are designed to frighten you into worrying about someone steeling your refund — you go to file and someone else has already filed a return for you — taking your refund.  Meanwhile, commercials for auto dealers talk about using your refund as a down payment — some will even double it.  So a $3,000 refund becomes a $6,000 down payment.

Many get excited by a big refund — the bigger the better. The ideal, however, is little or no refund. Why? If you get a huge refund it means you’ve lent the federal & state governments your money interest-free.  A $7800 refund means you could’ve had another $15 in your pocket every week — $65/month.  I know some people use their refund as a savings plan, if so, put that amount into a savings plan every pay period rather than letting Uncle Sam hold it. In savings it’ll earn interest and should an emergency arise  — like car trouble — you can access your money.

You want your withholding set so you get little to nothing back at tax time. You can use the IRS’s Withholding Calculator to determine how your W-4 should be completed.

If you get a big annual tax refund you are leaving yourself vulnerable to fraud.

— Steve Patterson

 

A Look At Property Damage On West Florissant

Following the late evening announcement on Monday November 24, 2014 of the grand jury’s decision to not indict former officer Darren Wilson, we saw destruction far worse than we had in August. After the QT was torched on the night of Sunday August 10th I began the process of photographing every building along W. Florissant starting at the railroad tracks in Jennings to Pershall Rd next to I-270.  I recently returned to photograph the recent damage, allowing me to show you before & after photos.

We’ll start on the south end and work our way north.

Ferguson:

9163 W. Florissant, just north of McDonald's, in August
9163 W. Florissant, just north of McDonald’s, in August. Click image to view map.
The front now
November 28th
The building was very deep
The building was very deep
Side-facing storefronts now
Side-facing storefronts now
HealSTL was located in the last space
HealSTL was located in the last space
And now
And now
Sam's Meat Market 9241 W Florissant
Sam’s Meat Market 9241 W Florissant on August 11th
August 16th
August 16th
November 28th
November 28th
Public Storage at 9291 W. Florissant in August
Public Storage office at 9291 W. Florissant in August
November 28th
November 28th

Dellwood:

Hunan Chop Suey at 9806 W. Florissant on August 18th
Hunan Chop Suey at 9806 W. Florissant on August 18th
November 28th
November 28th
Title Max at 9814 W Florissant in August
Title Max at 9814 W Florissant in August
November 28th
November 28th
The Fashion R Boutique at 9844 W. Florissant in August
The Fashion R Boutique at 9844 W. Florissant in August
November 28th
November 28th
O'Reily Auto Parts on August 19th
O’Reily Auto Parts on August 19th
November 28th
November 28th
The Autozone at 10am on August 11th, the morning after the QT was burned
The AutoZone at 10am on August 11th, the morning after the QT was burned. Windows were broken here.
The AutoZone at 9947 W. Florissant in Dellwood was one of many businesses burned following the grand jury decision.   Photo date: August 19, 2014
More than a week later, on August 19th, the broken windows are boarded.
The same AutoZone on Friday November 28th
The same AutoZone on Friday November 28th
Prime Beauty Supply at 1475 Chambers at W. Florissant
Prime Beauty Supply at 1475 Chambers at W. Florissant in August
On November 20th they had boarded their windows
On November 20th they had boarded their windows
A week later
A week later
AutoBuyCredit at 10250 W. Florissant in August
AutoBuyCredit at 10250 W. Florissant in August
Their car lot in August
Their car lot in August
A total of 16 cars were destroyed in November
A total of 16 cars were destroyed in November
I don't seem to have a good before of the Conoco station at 10280 W. Florissant, just north of the car lot.
I don’t seem to have a good before of the Conoco station at 10280 W. Florissant, just north of the car lot.

Much more damage in Dellwood. I doubt all will be rebuilt. The adjacent residential housing is nice, but it may not stay that way if the commercial district doesn’t come back.

— Steve Patterson

 

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