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Car Washes Are Getting Larger, Even Less Urban

January 27, 2020 Featured, Planning & Design, Zoning Comments Off on Car Washes Are Getting Larger, Even Less Urban

When I was a kid washing the car often meant getting the garden house out and washing the car on our driveway. Or it meant going to the self-serve car wash with individual stalls. You get your bills changed to quarters and when it’s your turn you’d pull into the stall and wash your car. Fancy ones had a soapy brush option. Often I’d get wet from splash back from the high pressure sprayer.

I was aware of other car washes, from songs like Jim Croce’s Car Wash Blues and Rose Royce’s Car Wash.  Gas stations began to add automatic car washes to entice more people to stop and buy gas — the wash was often cheaper with purchase of fuel.

Large size dedicated automatic car washes aren’t new, but slowly they’ve replaced the manual DIY car washes I remember as a kid. For years I’d go to the Waterway car wash that was at Forest Park & Vandeventer — now The Standard apartments. I was glad to see this large site be redeveloped with a 5-story apartment building.

Lately it seems throughout South City and in much of St. Louis County a new breed of automatic car washes are popping up frequently. As my husband handles the car maintenance, I’d not been to a car wash in at least seven years.  That recently changed when we were running errands and decided to stop at a newer car wash on Kingshighway, which replaced a former QuikTrip gas station.

My husband had been to this and other car washes many times, but it was a first for me. I was driving so I had to use the touch screen to purchase the wash we wanted. We drove up to the wash and handed the attendant our receipt, he warned us Hyundai shark fin radio/navigation antennas have come off before.

My husband with our white Hyundai

After the wash we stopped at the “free” vacuum area. Free vacuum?!? The site plan is such that you must go through the paid wash to reach the vacuum area.  This saves needing a stack of quarters to vacuum out the interior. I can’t tell you how many times in the past my vacuum time has run out before I was finished.

Another row of vacs near the Kingshighway sidewalk.
A spot to collect water runoff. The vacs are on a central system.
I was happy to see one disabled spot.

The urbanist in me is aghast at the trend for all these new large car washes, although this stretch of Kingshighway and most suburban arterials are so far from being pleasant pedestrian environments. Still, if there’s an expectation for these corridors to improve then such designs shouldn’t be permitted up against the public sidewalk.

Suburbs Rock Hill and Crestwood each rejected another automatic car wash in their municipalities, in 2018 & 2019, respectively.

— Steve Patterson

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Sunday Poll: Do You Plan To Vote In The Presidential Primary?

January 26, 2020 Featured, Politics/Policy, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Do You Plan To Vote In The Presidential Primary?
Please vote below

Right now it’s hard to ignore Missouri’s neighbor to the north, Iowa. The Iowa Caucuses are the first in the nation to begin nominating presidential candidates.

The Iowa caucus campaigns are closing in on their final days. Whether you’ll be a first-time caucus participant or you’ve been participating for decades, now’s the time to put your knowledge to the test.

The caucuses gained national notoriety after helping catapult Jimmy Carter to the White House in 1976. This cycle has brought dozens of candidates to the state to win over Iowans. (Des Moines Register)

The Iowa Caucuses will take place on Monday February 3, 2020.  Interestingly, due to a rule change, more than one candidate could claim victory. New Hampshire is next, with a traditional primary, on Tuesday February 11, 2020.

Though President Trump is being nominally challenged for the GOP nomination in most states, this primary season will focus on the still-large field of Democratic candidates. Their focus will soon turn to other states, including Missouri & Illinois.

  • Monday 2/3/2020: Iowa caucus
  • Tuesday 2/11/2020: New Hampshire primary
  • Saturday 2/22/2020: Nevada caucus
  • Saturday 2/29/2020: South Carolina primary
  • Tuesday 3/3/2020: Super Tuesday with 14 states, American Samoa, and Democrats Abroad
  • Tuesday 3/10/2020: Missouri, 4 other states, and Washington D. C.
  • Thursday 3/12/2020: Virgin Island caucus
  • Tuesday 3/17/2020: Illinois plus three other states.

This continues into early June, see the 270towin primary calendar page here.

The winner(s) of the Iowa caucus will get a bump in polls and media attention, but that’s no guarantee of a victory in November.

Only three politicians have won a contested Iowa caucus and become president — Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. (Business Insider)

Which brings us to today’s poll:

This poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

 

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 29 of 2019-2020 Session

January 24, 2020 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 29 of 2019-2020 Session

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen meet at 10am today, their 29th 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 28.

Today’s agenda includes five (5) new bills.

  • B.B.#193 – Tyus – An ordinance repealing Ordinance Number 70333 and containing an emergency clause. WHEREAS, ordinance number 70333 became effective August 14, 2016. As such the ordinance was designed to create a centralized process for traffic complaints received by the City of St. Louis so that they could be managed in an efficient manner to be called the City of St. Louis Traffic Calming Policy.
  • B.B.#194 – NUMBER NOT USED THIS SESSION
  • B.B.#195 – Tyus – An Ordinance directing the Director of Streets to permanently close barricade or otherwise impede the flow of traffic in the north-south bound, approximately 240
    linear feet., alley located between Palm Street and Lexington Avenue in C.B. 4456, approximately 95 linear ft. east of Kingshighway Memorial Boulevard east curb line and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#196 – Vaccaro – An Ordinance establishing a three-way stop site at the intersection of Mardel Avenue and Macklind Avenue regulating all traffic traveling eastbound on Mardel Avenue at Macklind Avenue and regulating all traffic traveling northound and southbound on Macklind Avenue at Mardel Avenue, and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#197 – Murphy – An ordinance approving a blighting study and Redevelopment Plan for the 3808 Wilmington Ave. Redevelopment Area.
  • B.B.#198 – Tyus – An ordinance pertaining to vendors; establishing comprehensive rules and regulations for vendors within the Kingsway East, Kingsway West, Penrose and Mark Twain Neighborhoods, prohibiting street vendors within the except within designated city park vending districts; establishing a city park vending districts within the Kingsway East, Kingsway West, Penrose and Mark Twain Neighborhoods, prohibiting vending on any LRA owned property, expressly prohibiting the distribution or sale of newspapers, pamphlets, handbills or other written or printed matter sold or distributed for the purpose of disseminating news and information in the Kingshighway Memorial Boulevard Median that runs from the southern end at Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard to the northern end at West Florissant Avenue, requiring The Director of Street to post No Vending, No Soliciting Signs in both of the medians of Kingshighway Memorial Boulevard intersecting Natural Bridge, promulgating rules and regulations for vending within vending districts; containing definitions, a penalty clause, a severability clause and an emergency clause.

The Board of Aldermen 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 Split on Residency Requirement for Police

January 22, 2020 Crime, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Readers Split on Residency Requirement for Police
Bank of holding cells at police HQ

The City of St. Louis has had an employee residency requirement for years now. The concept is simple, if you want to work for the city you need to live in the city. Their wages stay in the community and multiply as spent locally. It’s easier to understand a community when you’re part of it — not just an outside observer.

Fifteen or so years ago I listed a friend’s south city house for sale, the buyer was moving to St. Louis after accepting a city job. I recently saw the buyer at an event — she and her husband still live in the house and she still works for the city. This is the ideal outcome.

It seems the St. Louis Police are having a hard time filling vacant positions because qualified applicants in the region don’t want to move. This is common, as people all over the St. Louis region tend to commute to their jobs — they don’t necessarily move to the municipality where each new job is located.  This explains why I-64 and I-270 have daily backups as motorists commute to/from work.

This is one of those rare issues where I’m undecided. Here’s the non-scientific results of the recent Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: St. Louis Police shouldn’t have to live in the city.

  • Strongly agree: 15 [31.25%]
  • Agree: 6 [12.5%]
  • Somewhat agree: 2 [4.17%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 2 [4.17%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 2 [4.17%]
  • Disagree: 11 [22.92%]
  • Strongly disagree: 9 [18.75%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 1 [2.08%]

While I’m undecided I’m also not sure how I feel about removing the residency requirement for only one of many city jobs. Is the law enforcement profession so different than refuse handlers, bookkeepers, etc?

Oh right, some cops in St. Louis beat up a black colleague working undercover as a protestor. So here’s my question— would dropping the residency requirement mean we’d have more or less racist police? Or would the percentage remain unchanged?

— Steve Patterson

 

My 15th Look at St. Louis’ Martin Luther King Drive

January 20, 2020 Featured, MLK Jr. Drive, North City Comments Off on My 15th Look at St. Louis’ Martin Luther King Drive

Today is the annual holiday to honor the civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated in Memphis in 1968.

Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American Christian minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the Civil Rights Movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, King is best known for advancing civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience, inspired by his Christian beliefs and the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi.

King led the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and in 1957 became the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). With the SCLC, he led an unsuccessful 1962 struggle against segregation in Albany, Georgia, and helped organize the nonviolent 1963 protests in Birmingham, Alabama. He helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

On October 14, 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. In 1965, he helped organize the Selma to Montgomery marches. The following year, he and the SCLC took the movement north to Chicago to work on segregated housing. In his final years, he expanded his focus to include opposition towards poverty and the Vietnam War. He alienated many of his liberal allies with a 1967 speech titled “Beyond Vietnam”. J. Edgar Hoover considered him a radical and made him an object of the FBI’s COINTELPRO from 1963 on. FBI agents investigated him for possible communist ties, recorded his extramarital liaisons and reported on them to government officials, and on one occasion mailed King a threatening anonymous letter, which he interpreted as an attempt to make him commit suicide.

In 1968, King was planning a national occupation of Washington, D.C., to be called the Poor People’s Campaign, when he was assassinated on April 4 in Memphis, Tennessee. His death was followed by riots in many U.S. cities. Allegations that James Earl Ray, the man convicted of killing King, had been framed or acted in concert with government agents persisted for decades after the shooting. (Wikipedia)

Following King’s death many cities began renaming streets in his honor. In 1968 the Veterans Bridge, opened in 1951 over the Mississippi River, was renamed to honor King.   Four years later, after much debate, St. Louis joined other cities by renaming two streets through the city after King — beginning at the Missouri end of the Martin Luther King Bridge.

Dr. Martin Luther King Drive starts down by the Mississippi River’s edge, and follows what was Franklin Avenue, making fits and starts in the convention center. King Drive continues westward, following old Franklin until just west of Jefferson Avenue. There, it abandons Franklin and gives King’s name to Easton, which, for generations, was an important shopping and socializing avenue for the blacks and whites in the northern part of the city and the inner ring suburbs of St. Louis County. (St. Louis Public Radio)

By 1972 the Wellston Loop shopping district, once second only to downtown, on Easton at the city/Wellston city limits, was already in decline. In 1965 Northwest Plaza had opened a short 15 minute drive further into St. Louis County.

In 1972 some wanted a more prominent street renamed after King — Lindell, for example. These days streets are not renamed, an honorary designation is added but addresses aren’t changed.

Let’s start today’s look at Martin Luther King Jr. Drive at the west end at the Wellston Loop.

For decades this was the point where streetcars turned around to head back downtown. The last few years a tarp had cover the roof, but it is no longer in place.
In this view you can see the lack of tarp protecting the building from water damage.
The street is increasingly sparse. I still miss the 4-story building that was on the other side of the Loop building. Click image for more information on that building.
As it looked in 2013
2017
The 2-story building on the NW corner of MLK Drive and Hamilton is now gone. It wasn’t remarkable, but it was part of a continuous group on that block — now a hole. This is part of the Wells-Goodfellow neighborhood which was getting a huge demolition focus in 2019. 
Just after demolition in August 2019.
Up close in July 2019
Last year
The group a year ago.
Just west of Union is the vacant site, I’d watched the home deteriorate for years.
In 2017
In 2013
East of Union is a still intact group of commercial buildings. One looks like it was hit by a car. Reviewing Google Streetview this happened after August 2017.
Just east of Kingshighway (4965 Dr. Martin Luther King Dr) a new building has been under construction since last summer, but the future occupant is unclear. City records list WM Grand Plaza LLC of Ballwin as the owner.
Recently palleted bricks site on the sidewalk where a building once stood.
Last year I said this was “Another building in need of stabilization.” It was actually two buildings, both from 1893. 4740-42 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive.
The former John Marshall School at Newstead is still vacant and deteriorating.
4208-4216 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive is in the final stages of demolition.
Last year bricks were starting to fall from it, I said then “It should be stabilized, but it’ll likely be allowed to crumble until neighbors demand it be razed.”
Another building I’ve been watching crumble is 3047 Dr. Martin Luther King, the back wing has now completely collapsed. Built in 1880 it is owned by the City’s Land Reutilization Authority (LRA)
In 2012 the rear wing was still intact…sorta.
At Tucker the former Post-Dispatch newspaper building is being converted to offices for Square.

In some of the years past long vacant buildings were getting renovated, new housing being built. Those positives remain, but otherwise the deterioration  continues.

— Steve Patterson

 

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