Home » Zoning » Recent Articles:

Readers Support Kid’s Being Able To Sell Cookies & Lemonade From Home

August 31, 2011 Zoning 6 Comments

Readers clearly support the ability of kids to sell cookies. lemonade, etc. in front of their homes in the poll last week:

Q: Should zoning laws allow kids to sell cookies, lemonade, etc in front of their homes?

  • Yes, no restrictions 61 [50%]
  • Yes, but with some restrictions 39 [31.97%]
  • Maybe, depends upon the neighborhood. 7 [5.74%]
  • No, commercial activity shouldn’t be allowed in residential zones 7 [5.74%]
  • Other: 6 [4.92%]
  • unsure/no opinion 2 [1.64%]

You can read the intro post here for information on what prompted this question.  Here are the six “other” answers:

  1. Arrest them!!!!
  2. lemonade stand is different than GS cookies
  3. No, selling drugs is okay but not cookies or lemonaide.
  4. Classic case of laws over reaching their intent. Laws shouldnt apply.
  5. the fact that this happened just blows my mind
  6. Zoning laws should be silent… (see comments)

The following is the comment left by #6 above:

I think zoning laws should be silent on children’s sales of cookies, lemonade, etc (things that have gone on for YEARS with no real harm, and potential benefit to cities – people out and about meeting neighbors – a good thing). Police and code enforcement should work with extenuating issues on a case-by-case basis. This neighbor in Hazelwood should have dealt with the issue w/ the parent and worked out a mutually agreeable arrangement (specific dates/times/etc.).

I’m not a fan of Euclidean use-based zoning, it needs to be replaced nationwide by form-based codes.

– Steve Patterson


Poll: Should zoning laws allow kids to sell cookies, lemonade, etc in front of their homes?

The St. Louis region made the national news this month:

In Hazelwood, Mo., Carolyn Mills and her daughters, Abigail, 14, and Caitlin, 16, have sold Girl Scout cookies from their driveway for years. But after a neighbor complained that the cookie stand created too much traffic and was causing dogs to bark, city officials told the Millses that selling cookies there violated the city’s zoning code.

Hazelwood officials say scouts are allowed to sell cookies in the city but must go door to door or set up at a place like a grocery store parking lot (with the store’s permission). So while the front yard snack stand is one American tradition, the lawsuit is another. The girls urged the family to sue, and it did. (NY Times)

Other national coverage:

But the lawsuit didn’t go far:

CLAYTON • A St. Louis County judge [Circuit Judge Maura McShane] has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the mother of two Hazelwood teens who were ordered last spring to stop selling Girl Scout cookies in front of their home.

In her dismissal, McShane wrote that the Mills first should have exhausted their appeals asking the city to reconsider barring cookie sales before taking the case to circuit court. (STLtoday.com)

This  recent history is to introduce the poll question this week: Should zoning laws allow kids to sell cookies, lemonade, etc in front of their homes? The poll is in the upper right corner of the blog. Results on Wednesday August 31st.

– Steve Patterson


Urban Buildings Have an Obligation to Engage Each Street They Face

ABOVE: 10th & Convention Plaza corner of the downtown Holiday Inn Select from 1980

In an urban setting it is critical for buildings to “engage” the street.  By street I mean the entire public right of way, not just the road.  In other words, the public sidewalk on each side of the roadway.  By engage I mean interact, have access points & windows.

Downtown’s Holiday Inn Select was built in 1980 next door to the three year old Cervantes Convention Center (now called America’s Center). It occupies the entire block bounded by 9th of the east, Convention Plaza (formerly Delmar) on the south, 10th on the west and Dr. Martin Luther King Dr (formerly Franklin Ave) on the north.

ABOVE: Aerial view of hotel from Google Maps, click to view

The building fronts onto four streets but only barely addresses ninth, behind a circle drive.

ABOVE: west facade facing 10th street in completely inactive
ABOVE: blank wall next to Martin Luther King Dr. Image from Google Streetview, click to view

Sure, a relic of the period. But we have nothing on the books to prevent more of the same. The purpose of zoning is to dictate what the community desires from the built environment. From our zoning the above is still desired.

Our Board of Aldermen have no desire to change the zoning to articulate what is desired in 2011 rather than 1980. Why? So they get to negotiate for their approval, of course.

– Steve Patterson


The Density Needed For Walkability Myth

Continuing the walkability theme from yesterday, I thought it would be interesting to explore the assertion that walkability requires density. So I decided to look at 1st tier suburb Kirkwood MO and 2nd tier suburb Ballwin MO to see if this is the case.   If you buy into the theory that walkability requires density then you probably think  Kirkwood is more walkable because it has greater density than Ballwin.

As you will see, walkability has less to do with density and everything to do with how the land is used, a reflection of the era in which they were created.

Kirkwood, MO:

Ballwin, MO:

ABOVE: Map of Ballwin, click to view larger version
ABOVE: Map of Ballwin, click to view larger version

For the Walk Score of both suburbs I just put in the city name, it determined the address it must consider the center point.

So the older, less dense, suburb is more walkable than the newer, more dense, suburb.  How can this be?  Ballwin was planned at a time when people thought nothing of getting in the car for every trip.  The lady of the house had her own car now so she could drive the kids to school, do some shopping and get groceries on the way home. Kirkwood, on the other hand, was laid out long before the car.  Being near the train station was important for reaching St. Louis.

Residential lots in Kirkwood are about the same size as those in Ballwin, the big difference is the Kirkwood lots are narrow & deep whereas the Ballwin lots are wide & shallow.  Commercial districts are vastly different between the two.  Kirkwood has too much newer auto-dependent retail but it also has a nice 19th century downtown.

Fortunately, Ballwin is not a lost cause.  It, and many other 2nd tier suburbs of the same era can be retrofitted to be more walkable.    The existing residential neighborhoods of single-family detached homes can remain unchanged, except for the addition of sidewalks internally and leading out to the commercial areas. Manchester Rd in Ballwin running through Kirkwood and into the City of St. Louis is an ideal corridor to be retrofitted. New structures can be built to infill the massive parking lots.  I can picture enhanced bus service or even a streetcar line the entire distance.

– Steve Patterson


Much Of The Region Should Be Walkable, Not Just The City

Late last week I posted about the lack of walkability at a subdivision in the western suburb of Chesterfield, These McMansions Will Be Hard To Give Away A Decade From Now.  As I expected I got this viewpoint in the comments: “I get it – you love urban living, but not everyone else does.  One size does not fit all, and commuting is highly personal, and for an increasing number of people, no longer includes the CBD.”

For the last 3 years I’ve lived downtown, just west of the central business district. The prior 17 years I lived in the CWE, Old North & Dutchtown/Mt. Pleasant neighborhoods.  I commuted by car to jobs in Rock Hill,  North St. Louis and Kirkwood.

The St. Louis MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) is 16 counties — 8 in Missouri and 8 in Illinois.

ABOVE: STL MSA. Not shown: Bond, Calhoun, & Macoupin counties in Illinois & Washington in Missouri. Click image to view the WikiPedia entry on the region

So? Our region is quite large geographically.  In 2000 we had 2.8 million living in 8,846 square miles.  The City of St. Louis represents only 66.2 square miles of the total area – less than one percent.  Even looking at St. Louis County & City only, the city represents only 11% of the total area.

We can’t all live in the city so I expect much of the region to be walkable.  That is, a person living in a developed area should be able to walk to a store.  Their kids should be able to walk to school.  The fact is this is already a reality for many throughout our region.  The concept of walkability shouldn’t be limited to within the city limits.

Yes, most will drive to reach their places of employment.  But for those living in walkable areas like downtown St. Louis, New Town at St. Charles, Ferguson, etc.  the many non-work trips can be done on foot. Many of the people I know who live downtown don’t work downtown.  They live here, in part, because it provides a walkable lifestyle for everything other than getting to/from their jobs.

Back to that McMansion subdivision in Chesterfield, those residents must drive everywhere.  They have no choice. Every no-work trip will be an auto trip.

There is nearly 20 miles from the street I mentioned before reaching the western edge of the City of St. Louis.

I don’t have figures on how much of the 8,846 square mile region is urbanized (developed) vs rural.  Parts of the city are, unfortunately, auto-dependent.  Some of the region outside the city is at least somewhat walkable.  But how much of the total area isn’t auto-dependent? Maybe 1-2%? I’d like to see that be 10% or more.

But please, don’t assume that I’m speaking of the city vs the remainder of the region when I write about walkability.  Walking knows no political boundary.

– Steve Patterson