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Sunday Poll: Can A STL-KC Hyperloop Get Built Without The Use Of Eminent Domain?

February 9, 2020 Featured, Missouri, Politics/Policy, Sunday Poll, Transportation Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Can A STL-KC Hyperloop Get Built Without The Use Of Eminent Domain?
Please vote below

The idea of a high speed tube transportation system connecting St. Louis to Kansas City (Missouri, not Kansas) was back in the news recently after getting initial approval the Missouri House:

Although the long-term goal is to connect St. Louis and Kansas City with a pneumatic tube people mover that could transport passengers across the state in 30 minutes, a recent study commissioned by House Speaker Elijah Haahr recommends the state should first build a 15-mile track to test the feasibility of the concept.

The report put the price tag on the test track at $300 million to $500 million. The cost to build a track linking St. Louis, Columbia and Kansas City is estimated at $10.4 billion.

Before lawmakers gave their approval, however, Fitzwater proposed an amendment that would ban eminent domain for tube transport systems. (Post-Dispatch)

For those unfamiliar with the term eminent domain

Eminent domain refers to the power of the government to take private property and convert it into public use. The Fifth Amendment provides that the government may only exercise this power if they provide just compensation to the property owners. (Wex legal dictionary)

My one and only Hyperloop poll was in October 2018, and readers were split on Missouri being able to afford such a massive project.

Today’s poll is about the amendment banning the use of eminent domain added to the Hyperloop bill.

As always, today’s poll will close at 8pm. On Wednesday I’ll share my thoughts on Hyperloop and eminent domain.

— Steve Patterson

 

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 31 of 2019-2020 Session

February 7, 2020 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 31 of 2019-2020 Session

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen meet at 10am today, their 31st meeting of the 2019-2020 session. As previously noted, they have the first two meetings labeled as Week #1, so they list this as week/meeting 30.

Today’s agenda includes nine (9)  new bills.

  • B.B.#208 – Narayan/Green/Ingrassia – An ordinance amending Sections Ten, Twelve, Twenty-Five, and Twenty-Seven of Ordinance No. 68657 and codified in the City Code and Revised Codes as Title 11, Chapter 34, Sections .090, .110, .240, .250. concerning the Commission of Health’s Authority, Asbestos, Performance-based fee schedules related to asbestos and demolition air pollution, and Penalties; and containing a severability and effected date clause.
  • B.B.#209 – Clark – Hubbard – An ordinance approving a blighting study and Redevelopment Plan for the 5258 and 5268 Maple Ave. Redevelopment Area
  • B.B.#210 – Bosley – An ordinance approving a Redevelopment Plan dated January 21, 2020 (“Plan”) for the Jefferson/Gamble/Elliott/Mills Area
  • B.B.#211 – Todd – An ordinance authorizing and directing the Director of Streets to permanently close, barricade or otherwise impede the flow of traffic on the 4400 block of West Belle Place by blocking said traffic flow at the east curb line of North Taylor Avenue at the intersection of the 4400 block of West Belle Place and North Taylor Avenue.
  • B.B.#212 – Martin – An Ordinance recommended by the Planning Commission on February 3, 2020, to change the zoning of property as indicated on the District Map and in City Block 3209, from “B” Two-Family Dwelling District to the “E” Multiple- Family Dwelling District, at 8201 and 8221 Minnesota Avenue, so as to include the described parcels of land in City Block 3209; and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#213 – Bosley – An ordinance approving a Redevelopment Plan dated January 21, 2020 (“Plan”) for the 4101 North Grand Blvd. Area.
  • B.B.#214 – Roddy – An Ordinance recommended by the Planning Commission on February 3, 2020, to change the zoning of property as indicated on the Forest Park Southeast Form-Based District Map, from “NG2” Neighborhood General Type 2 Zone to the “NC2” Neighborhood Center Type 2 Zone in City Block 3981 4478 & 4484 Vista Avenue containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#215– Pres. Reed/Ingrassia – An Ordinance approving the Soccer Stadium Redevelopment Plan; making certain findings relating thereto, including that the redevelopment area described therein is a blighted area; authorizing and directing the Mayor and the Comptroller to execute certain documents related thereto, including a Master Redevelopment Agreement; and authorizing and directing the taking of other actions and approval and execution of other documents as are necessary or desirable to carry out and comply with the intent hereof.
  • B.B.#216 – Pres. Reed/Ingrassia – An Ordinance approving the Soccer Stadium Redevelopment Plan in accordance with Sections 99.300 to 99.715 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri; making certain findings relating thereto, including that the redevelopment area described therein is a blighted area; and pledging the cooperation of the Board of Aldermen.

The meeting begins at 10am, past meetings and a live broadcast can be watched online here. See list of all board bills for the 2019-2020 session — the new bills listed above may not be online right away.

— Steve Patterson

 

Readers: Missouri Should Not Wait On Marijuana Legalization

February 5, 2020 Featured, Medical Marijuana, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Readers: Missouri Should Not Wait On Marijuana Legalization
Long lines for recreational marijuana this year in Illinois.

A number of years ago marijuana legalization proponents wanted to put the issue on the ballot, but the statewide polling showed it wouldn’t pass. Rather than face a certain loss, they waited. Many of us who’d hoped for full legalization were disappointed by the delay, but we understood why.

Then they realized starting with medical marijuana first, as other states had done, was the way to go. They sponsored one of several medical marijuana ballot initiatives that were on our November 2018 ballot — there’s was the one to pass.

Proponents of recreational marijuana legalization in Missouri have launched a campaign to place a question on the state’s November ballot.

Backers will have to move fast. To make the November ballot, the campaign Missourians for a New Approach will have to turn in more than 160,000 signatures by May.

That gives campaign workers just three full months for signature collection; a medical marijuana campaign spent much more time in 2017 and 2018 gathering signatures. (Post-Dispatch)

With a majority of Americans living in a state with some form of legal weed attitudes are changing. Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders has pledged to legalize weed nationwide on his first day as president, through executive order.

A majority of readers in the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll agree Missouri should move ahead on legalization.

Q: Agree or disagree: Missouri needs to wait a few years before considering legalization of marijuana for recreational use.

  • Strongly agree: 6 [21.43%]
  • Agree: 1 [3.57%]
  • Somewhat agree: 2 [7.14%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 1 [3.57%]
  • Disagree: 8 [28.57%]
  • Strongly disagree: 10 [35.71%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

I’ll post again when petitions are available to sign,

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Volunteer Labor Should Be Considered To Restart Loop Trolley

February 3, 2020 Featured, Transportation Comments Off on Volunteer Labor Should Be Considered To Restart Loop Trolley

Last week Mayor Krewson asked Metro to reconsider the idea of restarting the Loop Trolley by pooling unspent federal money. Metro’s board recently rejected the idea.

Loop Trolley 001, November 2018

If a way isn’t found to restart the short-lived trolley, St. Louis City & County might be on the hook for millions in federal funds used for the project.

That was a reference to a Federal Transit Administration official’s statement Friday that if the trolley wasn’t revived, his agency could file a lawsuit to recover $25 million in federal grant money that had been used to help build the trolley line and related projects.

The official, regional administrator Mokhtee Ahmad, said there would be no effort to recover $11 million in other trolley-related federal spending because those were “street projects that would be done anyway.” (Post-Dispatch)

While I’m not a fan of historic trolley lines, I hate to see this huge effort & financial investment go unused. I especially hate the idea of the City & County having to come up with another $25 million to repay the feds.

The green car over the service pit is a Melbourne car from Seattle, March 2017

Everyone, including myself, thought transit agency Metro was the only option to revive the trolley. The problem is the fares & sales tax collected collected in the transportation district aren’t enough to cover operating expenses. Either the revenue needs to go up, or expenses go down — or some combination.

My thought turned to historic trolley lines I’ve experienced, wondering how they’re financed & operated. How do they make it work? The cities I’ve experience vintage/heritage streetcars are: New OrleansLittle RockMemphisSan Francisco, and Dallas.

All of the above, except Dallas, are operated by the local transit agency. All have operated for years, some decades. All have been expanded from their original length.

At least San Francisco and Dallas use a nonprofit and volunteer labor. While I haven’t examined the operating budget, I have no doubt that labor is a large portion — so reducing labor to one or two nonprofit staff might help the trolley line break even.

Dallas’ McKinney Ave Trolley (aka M-Line) in July 2012

Dallas’ McKinney Avenue Transit Authority model is worth considering:

Founded in 1983 with the intent of returning heritage streetcars to the streets of Dallas, the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority successfully accomplished that goal in July of 1989. The M-Line’s air-conditioned and heated, restored vintage trolleys operate 365 days a year, providing safe, clean, and convenient public transportation, free of charge (except charters) in Dallas’ vibrant Uptown Neighborhood.

Since it’s beginnings, MATA’s fleet has grown from its original two cars to today’s beautifully restored seven car fleet, operating year-round for over half a million rides a year. The once 2.8-mile track now covers almost 5 miles from Cityplace’s Uptown Station to the Downtown Arts District and back.

For 30 years, MATA has seen the city grow around it, and is an institution serving Dallasites and visitors with this unique, fun, reliable transportation. (MATA)

It wasn’t always free, but they recognized asking for donations works better for them. Groups can also charter a trolley.

Dallas’ McKinney Ave Trolley in May 2015.

I fully recognize this idea might not work here, there might be unique circumstances to prevent it. We already have a taxing district working for some funding and a nonprofit that operated the trolley. From their volunteer page:

McKinney Avenue Transit Authority is looking for a few good men and women!

Ever dream of being a Motorman. . . of a restored, vintage streetcar? Like working with your hands restoring vintage trolleys? Enjoy woodworking, mechanics, problem-solving? You are in luck! McKinney Avenue Trolley needs your help.

We are seeking volunteers to be trained as Motormen or Conductors to operate and greet passengers on our 7-car fleet of trolleys. We also need skilled volunteers to help us restore trolleys – inside and out.

Like working on special events to help us raise funds or marketing campaigns or App design to help enhance the trolley experience? We can use your talents!

Interested? Complete the form below and we’ll set up an interview.

This could the best volunteer position you ever had!

Every region has residents who have an interest in operating old trolleys, or an interest in the maintenance side. I could also see a connection with our local trade schools.

As part of due diligence I think it’s worth considering a volunteer labor model.

—Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Should Missouri Wait & See Before Considering Legalizing Recreational Use of Marijuana?

February 2, 2020 Drug Policy, Featured, Missouri, Politics/Policy, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should Missouri Wait & See Before Considering Legalizing Recreational Use of Marijuana?
Please vote below

The group that backed the successful medical marijuana constitutional amendment in 2018 is looking for a repeat in November 2020. New Approach Missouri plans to gather signatures to place a measure on the November 2020 ballot for legalization  of marijuana for recreational use.

New Approach’s petition would legalize adult use of marijuana for those 21 or older.

The state would tax sales at 15%, with the proceeds going to veterans, highways and drug addiction treatment.

People with marijuana convictions would also be able to apply for sentence reductions and conviction expungement. The petition would require local voter approval to ban dispensaries.

Fiscal analyses of the proposal estimate the program would generate between $93 million and $155 million for state coffers annually.

Running the program would cost the state $21 million initially and then $6 million a year. (Post-Dispatch)

Though the state has awarded licenses for medical marijuana businesses, actual sales won’t begin until the summer.

Today’s poll assumes they gather the required signatures in time.

This poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

 

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