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Gotta Hurry to Get that Loaf of Bread

Earlier today, around 11am, I was heading eastbound on Loughborough, a 2-lane street with on-street parking on both sides.  I was roughly near the middle of Carondalet Park and all of a sudden a Chevy Caprice passes me.  It took me a second to realize I had just been passed.  I looked down at my speedometer on my scooter — I was doing roughly 32mph.  I look up at a speed limit sign and it is posted at 30mph.  Then I flip the guy the bird.

I ended up being right behind him at the traffic signal entrance to Loughborough Commons.  I tooted my horn and yelled “hurry up” as he had a back window down a bit.  Once he parked I asked why he passed me, stating that that was dangerous and what was his hurry.  His only response, “Are you a cop?”

Folks, before you get in such a hurry to pass those of us on two wheels take a look at the speed limit and check to see what speed we are traveling.  If we are going slow on a 4-lane road then simply use the other lane (although don’t cut back in front of us and then turn right).   If we are on a 2-lane road and traveling at the posted speed limit just wonder if you really need to get to your destination a second or two before we do.  The bread will still be on the shelves when you get there.

 

Two Open Houses on Sunday

Very brief shameless plug, I will have two properties open Sunday (7/15/07) from 1pm-3pm — one is a renovated large one-bedroom home at 3459 Itaska and the other is a 3,000sf multi-family/storefront property at 3463 Itaska ready for your renovation ideas.  Stop by and say hello.

 

Ald Young Missed a Billboard in Her Ward

This post is a continuation of a post from yesterday, regarding signs. Seventh ward Alderman Phyllis Young had written the following regarding a painted anti-eminent domain sign/mural on the side of a building:

I have worked diligently throughout my career as an alderman to reduce the number of billboards cluttering our neighborhoods and our city. As you drive I-44 you’ll see no billboards in my ward from Compton east to the intersection with I-55 other than the one in the commercial area at Jefferson. The wall sign is an affront to the neighborhoods, drivers, and the city. It should be denied and removed.

In yesterday’s post I included countless signs mostly from her ward, few if any had permits. I’m pretty certain, for example, that Dodge does not have a car dealership located within the stadium east parking garage despite large signs for the car company. But among my many pictures I did not have the one shot I should have had and as a result someone had the following comment:

In the alderwoman’s defense, the pictures you show do nothing to refute that paragraph, as none of them are visible from I-44.

To clarify here, Ald Young indicates reducing “the number of billboards cluttering our neighborhoods and our city” but I was able to illustrate many signs cluttering the city, and the 7th ward. But wait, what it that I see at I-44 & I-55, viewed from the Mississippi St bridge over I-44?

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Oh yes, that would be a billboard located in the 7th Ward and seen from east bound I-44. This is in addition to the one seen at Jefferson & I-44 that is in the 7th Ward and a couple at Jefferson located in the 6th Ward.

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Above: From the McKinley-Heights neighborhood you can see the highway and the forgotten billboard in full glory.

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Here is the same billboard as seen from Gravos near Tucker. Gee, I’m not sure how Ald Young could have forgotten about this billboard. I’m guessing she’s been too busy figuring out how to raze Bohemian Hill to notice? If you look closely under the highway you can see the eminent domain sign that is such an “affront.” Take a look at the above picture again. Someone please tell me how that painted political slogan on the side of a relatively small alley building is the affront and not everything else I am looking at?

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From the Tucker bridge over the highway(s) the sign is visible but in the big scheme of things is not the most offensive sight.

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Directly in front of the sign suggesting we end eminent domain abuse is this area inside the cloverleaf where storage trailers are covered in graffiti. I’m sure Ald Young and all the neighborhood groups have been working hard to clean this up too…

Here are some additional thoughts:

  • All the other signs I showed, I did not say I objected to those.  I was simply showing the proliferation of signs and the city’s inability to recognize the fact that vinyl banners are put up ‘temporarily’ for years as a means of skirting their antiquated sign ordinance.  I actually like a good many signs although I prefer higher quality signs over the long-term use of vinyl banners.
  • Painted signs have a long history in cities — a good ‘model example’ to use our local historic preservation preference for citing other examples in the city.  Several buildings adjacent to this one but closer to Tucker have evidence of much larger painted signs as one time.
  • The city’s sign ordinance is long overdue for a major overhaul/replacement.  In the late 60s and early 70s it was thought that clutter contributed to the loss of population and general decline of the city.  However, many cities that are thriving and full of life and people exhibit what St. Louis officials consider to be clutter to be removed.  They’ve managed to remove the clutter and the people that go with it.
  • Roos’ sign is downright ugly, but that doesn’t mean he should not have the legal right to paint the side of his building.  In other words, do we all not have the right to place some art or message on the sides of our own buildings facing an adjacent property rather than a public street?
  • As everyone has noticed, the message is wrong — you shouldn’t say ‘end eminent domain abuse’ and have the red circle with cross through it  — that looks like you support eminent domain abuse.
  • Words do not make a sign per the ordinance just as images only without words automatically makes something an artistic mural.  I bet someone could paint a wonderful mural without a single word to communicate the same message.  Sounds like a fun contest to me…
  • Two web addresses are shown on the mural but are more a ‘signature’ if you will and are not readable by anyone passing by on the highway or other roads like Gravois — you must seek out the sign to notice the web addresses, which are, mo-cpr.org and medac.info.
  • The St. Louis political establishment has no problem with signs throughout our city as long as they are for beer, smokes, or cars and those companies donate to campaigns or throw big parties with lots of free booze and food.  Policical positions against the wishes of the establishment are simply not tolerated.


 

Halliday St. Illegal Parking Pad Fiasco Continues at City Hall Wednesday Afternoon

You know, I think the issue of the little parking pad that couldn’t typifies the City of St. Louis perfectly. Let’s examine the city hall logic/process so far:

  • Because the building once had drugs and prostitution, Alderman believes anything the developer does should be accepted by neighbors without question. Those outside block have no say no matter what, even when tax incentives are used.
  • The renovation must have parking because everyone has a car.
  • The parking must be off-street and deeded forever to unit.
  • Alderman dangles $30K of tax money in front of residents for street exit markers in exchange for accepting the idea of a concrete front yard used for vehicle storage.
  • Developer paves yard without proper permits, Alderman blames residents for not approving final design of the bribe in time.
  • Alderman calls meeting of residents of that block to make a decision about a public right-of-way owned and used by the general public.
  • Alderman gives appearance of supporting wishes of residents while pushing for the paved parking pad.
  • Alderman indicates on-street parking is OK (not really, wink wink) as long as the city vacates that land and gives it to condo owners, by deed, forever.

Sometimes I wonder how it is that we managed to stop losing population at 350,000. Why do we continue to elect the same people (or types of people) over and over again and think that somehow things will improve? Oh yes, the precious charter reform measures of 2004 didn’t pass so we continue to have 28 of these types of aldermen rather than half as many. BFD, so you’d have half as many people ‘effin up the city in wards twice as big. Stop using crutches that only continue to enable this dysfunctional line of thinking.

I believe:

  • We should not pave front yards for parking.
  • We should not design parking pads so that cars back out over public sidewalks.
  • We should not use tax money to manipulate the public into going along with a bad idea.
  • We should not deed a section of a public right-of-way to a few condo owners.

Like other areas of the city where a private building does not have any off-street parking, we should designate a portion of the public street as permit parking only and issue those permits to the residents of the condos. Then we should all take turns behind a jack hammer to remove the illegally poured concrete front yard.

The St. Louis circus continues at the next Board of Adjustment hearing on 7/11/2007 at 1:30pm in the Kennedy Hearing Room (Rm 208), City Hall. I’ll be there tomorrow, I haven’t been to a good comedy show in a while.

Related Links:

UPDATE 7/12/2007 @ 8:30am

This item, a continuance from last month, was heard first, although some who had called had been told it would be later.  The printed agenda, not available online but distributed at the meeting lists the item last (6th).

The developer was present and asked for another continuance for another month, indicating he is willing to remove the parking pad while they work out details of on-street parking.  Again, the developer and aldermen seem to want to vacate part of the street so that the condos take ownership of that section.  I’m not sure how they’d do that legally — would they also vacate the portion of the public right-of-way that contains the public sidewalk?

As I have previously stated, I think these condo owners shoud be able to have a single permitted space on the street — that seems like a reasonable compromise.  The problem here is that the developer promised parking spaces to the buyers and may face litigation if suddenly the owned space went away (either from a condo owner or their lender).  If the city does vacate part of the public street for private use I think it needs to come at a price — what is the value of that land?  The developer would need to buy it.

The other issue is that if the developer really intends to break out the concrete parking pad and go with the on-street parking they really don’t need to waste anymore time at the Board of Adjustment, this group of appointees by the Mayor hears appeals on denials of building permits — such as a parking pad/lot.  However, the Board of Adjustment has no authority to grant a variance to deed a portion of the publicly owned right-of-way to private citizens.  That would require legislation to accomplish that.  So I ask, why hasn’t the developer withdrawn his appeal?  The simple answer is that he and the aldermen will take another 30 days to wear down the residents of the block to keep the parking pad, illegally poured, in place.

 

Sometimes You Just Have to Ask the Right Person

A couple of years ago I emailed St. Louis’ Citizens’ Service Bureau asking them to add directional arrows on Hartford at Grand. For years I’ve seen drivers be confused as they leave the Commerce Bank drive-thru/parking area or the parking area behind the commercial strip that contains the St. Louis Bread Co. and Kinkos. Many drivers, it appeared, either forgot or did not realize this was a one-way street heading toward Grand. You would routinely see a driver in the right lane but make a left turn — potentially cutting off someone correctly in the left lane to turn left. I went throught the proper channel but it never got done.

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But as you can see above it was recently done. Sometimes it takes the right person asking the right person and good things can happen. Last month I ran into Director of Streets Todd Waeltermann down at City Hall during a meeting of the Board of Aldermen. We had a pleasant conversation but I am certainly not his favorite person after I’ve made such a big deal over valet parking and other issues impacting his department. Still, I think, we both realize a good working relationship is best in the long run. So, during our impromptu chat I mentioned this area and followed up with an email that read, in part:

Hartford in the block east of Grand (next to Commerce Bank) is one-way westbound. People coming out of the bank and Breadco don’t always realize this and stay to the right as they head to Grand and then make a left turn — conflicting with those in the left turning left. I’ll try to get a picture to send you. What is needed is a simple dividing line with the left lane marked as left-turn only and the right lane marked as straight or right. Better signs might help but people often don’t see signs as they exit from these two areas onto westbound Hartford. Better pavement marking would greatly help.

A few days ago, after dinner on the patio at City Diner, I noticed the striping and arrows I had suggested had been done. Needless to say, I was very glad to see this finally in place — I sent Waeltermann a thank you via email that night. I’m not sure when this got done, perhaps at the same time as the intersection up the street at Grand & Magnolia (see post). I went back on Saturday to get photos and observe traffic and it did appear the pavement markings helped people as they were busy driving, putting away cash from the ATM and talking on their cell phone. Only one vehicle out of 25 or so turned left from the right lane, an improvement to be sure.

Other items on my wish list to Waeltermann were a bit more involved so I understand why they are not done. One involves striping along South Broadway between I-55 and I-55 (Cherokee to Osceolla roughly) so that the outside lane is not the current 20ft+ width which encourages people to pass on the right in the parking lane. This type of striping has been done in the 11th Ward section of Broadway further South and it made a big difference. This area is being looked at for bike route planning so I doubt anything will happen until the planning has been done. I’d heard talk of removing on-street parking on one side so that 4-traffic lanes plus bike lanes could be accommodated. I personally would keep the on-street parking and drop the traffic from four lanes down to two but that is a good subject for an entirely different post.

Again, I appreciate the responsiveness of Todd Waeltermann in implementing logical markings to help motorists and hopefully reduce accidents (or at least angry drivers) at this intersection.

 

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