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Sunday Poll: Should Missouri Eliminate Personal property Taxes?

December 15, 2019 Featured, Missouri, Sunday Poll, Taxes Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should Missouri Eliminate Personal property Taxes?
Please vote below

It’s that time of year. Holiday parties, sure. But I’m talking about personal property taxes. Our bill is on our fridge with a calendar reminder. We pay online so we can wait until the last minute.

Our bill is significantly higher than previously because of the newer used car we bought in 2018.

At present, Missouri residents pay a yearly property tax on their vehicles. State Senator Bill Eigel from St. Charles County wants to put an end to that practice.

“I’ve been getting lots of feedback from my constituents, not only in St. Charles but around the St. Louis area, that are talking about the burden placed on households for having to pay for personal property tax on vehicles for a single year,” he said.

When the lawmakers go back to session in Jefferson City on January 8, Eigel said he will be working to get his bill out of committee and passed through the legislature so Missouri residents can vote on it. (Fox2)

This is the subject of today’s poll.

This poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

 

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 26 of 2019-2020 Session

December 13, 2019 Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 26 of 2019-2020 Session

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen meet at 10am today, their 26th 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 25.

Today is their last full meeting prior to winter break, they’ll resume January 10, 2020.

Today’s agenda includes four (4) new bills.

  • B.B.#182 – Ingrassia/Coatar – An ordinance approving a Redevelopment Plan dated November 19, 2019 for the La Saison Scattered Sites Area.
  • B.B.#183 – Roddy – An ordinance approving a Redevelopment Plan dated November 19, 2019 (“Plan”) for the 4500-4540 Swan Ave. and 1305 & 1305R South Taylor Ave. Area.
  • B.B.#184 – NUMBER NOT USED THIS SESSION
  • B.B.#185 – Coatar – An ordinance approving a Redevelopment Plan dated November 19, 2019 (“Plan”) for the 618-624 & 700- 702 North 2nd St. Area.
  • B.B.#186 – Clark-Hubbard – An ordinance authorizing and directing the Fire Commissioner, to enter into and execute a Grant Agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, through the Missouri Department of Homeland Security, for the purpose of funding to support the Cybersecurity Coordinator position at the St. Louis Fusion Center, and to expend funds by entering into contracts or otherwise for grant purposes and containing an emergency clause.

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

 

Missouri Is A Solid Red State

December 11, 2019 Featured, Missouri, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Missouri Is A Solid Red State

When I moved to Missouri in 1990 it was a swing state, a bellwether:

The Missouri bellwether is a political phenomenon that notes that the state of Missouri voted for the winner in all but three U.S. Presidential elections from 1904 to 2016 (the exceptions are 1956, 2008 and 2012). While states like Ohio, Nevada, Florida and New Mexico have been arguably stronger indicators of political trends in recent years, Missouri was a consistent swing state throughout the 20th century. Prior to the 2008 elections, Lincoln County, Missouri was said to be the only bellwether county in a bellwether state. (Wikipedia)

Missouri would go red or blue throughout the 20th century. However, the last time Missouri went blue was in 1996. The country went blue in 2008 & 2012, but Missouri stayed red. The 2008 election was very close in Missouri, but widened in 2012 & 2016.

Vintage photo of the former offices of the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners. From my collection

Twentieth century bellwether, 21st century red state.  Here’s the results from the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: The right Democratic nominee could turn Missouri from Red to Blue in the 2020 General Election

  • Strongly agree: 4 [13.79%]
  • Agree: 2 [6.9%]
  • Somewhat agree: 2 [6.9%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 2 [6.9%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 3 [10.34%]
  • Disagree: 6 [20.69%]
  • Strongly disagree: 9 [31.03%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 1 [3.45%]

Most agree with me — regardless of the Democratic nominee a majority of Missouri voters vote for Trump. Illinois, meanwhile, remains a safe blue state.

— Steve Patterson

 

Examining the St. Louis MLS Stadium Site Plan, Part 3

December 9, 2019 Downtown, Featured, Planning & Design Comments Off on Examining the St. Louis MLS Stadium Site Plan, Part 3

Today I continue my detailed look at the proposed Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium site plan and surroundings. In part 1 I looked at the stadium and practice fields to the south of Market Street. In part 2 I looked at the need for a pedestrian crossing at 21st & Olive, plus the development potential north of Olive.

The planned MLS stadium (top) would be bounded by Olive (top), a new 22nd Street (top left), Market Street (center), and 20th Street (top right)

Today I’ll look at the area east of the stadium, including 20th Street itself. As you can see above, the stadium is set back from 20th Street to create an urban plaza for events. The problem is the other side of 20th isn’t urban at all. It’s either an open plaza (Aloe Plaza) or surface parking.

Aloe Plaza across from Union Station cleared away “undesirable” buildings, followed by decades more demolition creating the largely failed Gateway Mall. This 2013 view is looking west from 18th Street.
Meeting of the Waters by Carl Milles.

Parking lanes are fine if the corners are “bulbed” to reduce crossing distances, but unacceptable if they’re marked as “no parking.” If the outside parking lanes aren’t going to be used for parking then the space needs to be sifted from unused roadway to pedestrian space. The site plan looks like it is trying to reduce crossing distance, hopefully we’ll get some detail soon on their plan for 20th.

Looking West from 20th & Chestnut in this 2016 image shows how wide 20th is — 2 drive lanes plus 2 parking lanes.

A plaza across from a plaza. I’d like to see Aloe Plaza get completely redone — the 1939 Meeting of the Waters sculpture/fountain is the only thing significant about the two block space. At the 20th Street end I’d place a new park building with a restaurant and rooftop dining. This would help create a sense of urban feel at 20th & MarketChestnut.  Perhaps the space isn’t one restaurant, but several with shared dining space? A way to serve as restaurant incubator space for up & coming chefs?  A 2-story building is needed facing 20th between Market & Chestnut — food makes the most sense.

Back to 20th & Chestnut, specifically the block on the NE corner.

Looking north from 20th & Chestnut — fenced surface parking for tenants of apartments in an old historic building facing Pine.
The apartment building is the only structure left on the entire city block, 19th Street was even vacated for use by the newer building in the block to the east.

The only way to urbanize this is the same as the west end of Aloe Plaza — at least a 2-story building. This wouldn’t need to be deep, it could be a shallow liner building.

There’s nothing that jump-starts a place people will love to walk like liner buildings. It doesn’t matter whether you’re helping a place recover from sprawl or building a new neighborhood center; liner buildings get far more bang for the buck and make things possible today that would be completely impossible until years in the future using conventional mixed-use building types.

Liner buildings are very thin buildings that line the edge of a street, plaza, square, or other public space. They can be as little as 8-10 feet deep for retail uses and 12-14 feet deep if they include residential uses. They may be a single story high, or they may be several stories tall.

Liner buildings are a great way to build affordable housing, especially for those who don’t have a car.

Ideally the apartment owner would build underground or above grade structured parking for their tenants to make much better use of the large site. That said, no open parking garage should face Aloe Plaza — it should be closed with mechanical ventilation if across from the park. My guess is they won’t want to block views from the apartment’s windows. It could be great from an urban perspective, but would be challenging for a private for-profit owner.

The block to the north (bounded by Pine, 20th, Olive, and 19th) will likely see the most change in the next 10-20 years.

Looking north from 20th & Pine. Police headquarters is in the background, across Olive.
The banner marks the fact the lot is now owned by the St. Louis Language Immersion charter school. The school recently moved into a building in the next block east.
The rest of the block is a few smaller buildings on the east end.
Looking north at 19th, from Pine
This former office building turned charter school was built in 1987. Another entrance on Olive doesn’t have steps

Like the other directions, there will be some who wish to raze & pave, others who want to go up. These are mutually exclusive as surface parking devalues land to the point it doesn’t pay to build up nearby.

The area to the east includes areas that need development, but current ownership means that might not occur for many years, if ever.  The next part will look at building back 22nd Street and the blocks to the west of the proposed soccer stadium.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Will Missouri Go Red or Blue In The 2020 General Election?

December 8, 2019 Featured, Politics/Policy, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Will Missouri Go Red or Blue In The 2020 General Election?
Please vote below

Missouri’s Presidential Preference Primary is less than 100 days away, on Tuesday March 10, 2020. We don’t yet know who the Democrats will nominate at the end of their convention in July 2020, in Milwaukee, WI.

A number of states aren’t even holding a GOP primary, but Missouri’s GOP primary ballot will have at least one other name besides Trump’s. Still, it’s safe to assume Donald J. Trump will get the GOP nomination at their late August 2020 convention in Charlotte, NC.

Today’s poll question isn’t about the primaries, but about the general election on November 3, 2020. In 2016 Missouri’s 10 Electoral College votes were Red (Trump).

This poll will close at 8pm tonight. My thoughts and results on Wednesday morning.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

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