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Opinion: Plenty To Blame For Region’s Drop From 20th To 21st

March 28, 2018 Featured, STL Region Comments Off on Opinion: Plenty To Blame For Region’s Drop From 20th To 21st

Last week we learned nw U.S. Census estimates show the St. Louis metropolitan area dropping from 20th to 21st in terms of population.

Overall, the St. Louis metropolitan area, which comprises 14 counties and the city of St. Louis, grew slightly but at a much slower rate than other parts of the U.S., based on population estimates taken from July 1, 2016, to July 1 of last year.

The Baltimore area, which had been ranked 21st, swapped spots on the population list with the St. Louis region. The city of Baltimore saw a numeric population drop greater than St. Louis city, but Baltimore’s loss represented a 0.9 percent decrease, compared with a 1.4 percent loss in St. Louis. (Post-Dispatch)

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, but it is. Many still think a loss of population in the City of St. Louis means people just moved out to the suburbs. While that happens, it isn’t the story. The story is the entire region is suffering from rot. Our fragmented government to awful namesake pizza we’re stuck in the past. Everyone outside St. Louis can tell and steer clear.

The voters who approved the 1876 Great Divorce kicked off the downfall of both the city & region;

What made short-term sense in the 1870s turned into a long-term wall, separating entire generations of St. Louisans and creating barriers that the Great Divorce’s authors never could have foreseen. On the surface, St. Louis’s lower population and tiny footprint—among the smallest of any major American city—make its issues with violent crime look even worse as it annually tops lists of the country’s most dangerous cities. More deeply, the city-county divide creates a duplication of services, the cost of which possibly runs into the billions, and pits the city and county against each other in attracting businesses.

Generations since have been unwilling to undo this mistake. The problem has been leap-frogged by the population shift to St. Charles County. Hundreds of fiefdoms have created thousands of political positions that wan the pond to remain small so they seem important.

The entire region needs a reboot. A complete restructuring. I don’t see the needed change ever happening though. I do see a region that, in time, willl fall out of the top 25.

Here’s the results from the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: The City of St. Louis is the primary reason for the region falling from 20th to 21st.

  • Strongly agree 6 [15.79%[
  • Agree 4 [10.53%]
  • Somewhat agree 8 [21.05%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 4 [10.53%]
  • Somewhat disagree 2 [5.26%]
  • Disagree 3 [7.89%]
  • Strongly disagree 8 [21.05%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 3 [7.89%]

— Steve Patterson


Opinion: Generations of Shortsighted Decisions Continues To Dog St. Louis Region. Will Likely Continue

November 29, 2017 Featured, Politics/Policy, St. Louis County, STL Region Comments Off on Opinion: Generations of Shortsighted Decisions Continues To Dog St. Louis Region. Will Likely Continue
Economic disinvestment in the north county area at Chambers & Lewis & Clark

Many of our current problems in the St. Louis region can be traced back to decisions made long before any of us were born. The Post-Dispatch’s example of two women who own the same type of 2014 Cadillac the personal property tax on one was $895. the other $436. Why? Where each happens to live in St. Louis County.  You might think the higher bill is in a fancier area than the lower bill — but the opposite is the case!

The total amount of real estate taxes assessed in St. Louis County has increased 18 percent since 2010, to $1.75 billion. By comparison, during that time the total amount of personal property taxes grew by 21 percent, to $280 million.

The personal property tax has steadily become a major revenue generator for municipalities and fire districts. Municipalities have increased their personal property tax revenue by 27 percent since 2010, to $9.1 million. And fire districts across St. Louis County have increased the amount they collect from personal property by 30 percent, to $31.8 million.

Johnson’s tax bill is more than double O’Neal’s in part because the school and fire districts and municipality where Johnson lives are strapped for cash. She sees a Caddy parked in her driveway; her leaders see a way to pay for teachers, cops and firefighters.

Even O’Neal doesn’t think that’s fair. She knows that sales taxes from the West County Mall help subsidize services for her area. (Post-Dispatch)

You’re probably asking what old decision is responsible for this current situation, right?  The answer is the 1876 divorce of the City of St. Louis from St. Louis County.

On August 22, 1876, in what was undoubtedly the stupidest move ever in the history of St. Louis, St. Louis City and St. Louis County decided to separate. Like the American Revolution, the great event was prompted by taxes — the 310,000 city residents didn’t feel like wasting money on the 27,000 county residents and reasoned that the city wouldn’t expand much further west than Grand Boulevard. (The boundary was eventually set at Skinker Boulevard so the city could claim Forest Park.)

Ah, short-sightedness! Thy name is St. Louis voters! Within 25 years, the city found itself pushing against its western border at Skinker and began to regret the decision to divorce itself from the county. (Riverfront Times)

As the land-locked City of St. Louis struggled as population and tax base fled to St. Louis County many County residents/leaders smugly thought something like “That’s the City for you!’ Now St. Louis County is going through the very same thing the city did in the last century — middle class fleeing certain areas with jobs, retail, etc following behind. In their place are lowered hime values, more crime, and an increased in concentrated poverty.

Had St. Louis not selfishly left St. Louis County it would have been able to annex smaller towns/villages as it grew. The city limits today would likely be out to at least the I-270 loop — North, West, and South. There would be a few municipalities that resisted annexation, but they’d be completely surrounded by the City of St. Louis. The majority of the region’s residents would live in the City of St. Louis. They’d all be covered by the city’s fire department and live within a few school districts. We wouldn’t have the disparity of taxes we do now.

Of course, this isn’t to say we’d be problem-free. We wouldn’t be. And thinking about this hypothetical scenario doesn’t change current reality. We’re one of the most fragmented regions in the country — a very high number of units of government — all with taxing ability.  Today many are as shortsighted as those in 1876 — their little corner of St. Louis County (or elsewhere in the region) is comfortable so this isn’t their problem. This is the “do nothing” approach to problem solving.

OK, let’s examine that option. Residents of North St. Louis County who cam afford housing elsewhere vote with their feet and leave — as many have been doing for years. Housing values drop so more poor move to North County, but in fewer numbers than those who left. Small municipalities continue to struggle — some raise taxes, others disincorporate themselves. Employers leave. Crime worsens. Income and other inequalities in the region get worse.

As I see it, the only answer is to reduce the units of government in the region. Sadly, many just accept the status quo as a given. From the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: Lower-income areas of St. Louis County require more services (police. EMS. etc) so it makes sense those residents pay more pers. property tax

  • Strongly agree 5 [18.52%]
  • Agree 4 [14.81%]
  • Somewhat agree 1 [3.7%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 2 [7.41%]
  • Somewhat disagree 3 [11.11%]
  • Disagree 5 [18.52%]
  • Strongly disagree 7 [25.93%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 0 [0%]

As is often the case, the selfish shortsighted mentality will likely prevail. Please prove me wrong.

— Steve Patterson


Opinion: Doubtful St. Louis Will Be A Finalist For Amazon’s HQ2…And That’s OK

October 25, 2017 Featured, STL Region Comments Off on Opinion: Doubtful St. Louis Will Be A Finalist For Amazon’s HQ2…And That’s OK
After a $10 million dollar investment, the Stamping Lofts opened in April 2013, part of a historic district.

It seems nearly everyone wants to land Amazon’s 2nd headquarters, dubbed HQ2:

Amazon says it has received 238 proposals from cities and regions wanting to host the company’s new headquarters.

Proposals came from 54 states, provinces, and districts.

All US states except Arkansas, Hawaii, Montana, Vermont, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota submitted bids, according to a graphic released by Amazon. Provinces and territories in Canada and Mexico also submitted bids that Amazon said would be considered. (Business Insider)

Little Rock, AR took out a full page ad in the Washington Post saying ‘no thanks.’ Very smart. Still, the experience our region went through may prove valuable in the future. Without knowing who has submitted proposals and what will sway Amazon’s final selection.

Since Amazon announced their intentions to build a 2nd headquarters, articles have listed cities/regions with better chances than others. Amazon may end up picking one pf these, but thru might also surprise everyone. WE just don’t know. They’ll have some process from going from 238 to 1. I doubt we’ll hear nothing between now and the wining city/region. Will they narrow to 50 and them to 10, before 1? We don’t know.

I do know our region looked at the North Riverfront area very differently than it had a couple of years ago. Recently our region saw it as a place to level everything in site and start over. Hopefully our proposal envisioned new buildings filling in the gaps between old buildings. Even if Amazon doesn’t pick St. Louis we can create a new vision for the central business district, North riverfront, and East St. Louis.

Most who voted in the Sunday Poll are doubtful St. Louis will be selected.

Q: How confident are you the St. Louis region will be among the finalists for Amazon’s HQ2?

  • Very confident 2 [3.77%]
  • Confident 2 [3.77%]
  • Somewhat confident 6 [11.32%]
  • Neither confident or doubtful 4 [7.55%]
  • Somewhat doubtful 8 [15.09%]
  • Doubtful 10 [18.87%]
  • Very doubtful 21 [39.62%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 0 [0%]

Those who say St. Louis has a zero chance and those who’re convinced we’ll be selected need a dose of reality. At this point it is just too early to know. I do know our sites have great development potential. If Amazon isn’t interested, we need to market them to smaller companies, startups, etc.

— Steve Patterson


Readers: Lawsuit Against NFL Won’t Be Successful

May 17, 2017 Featured, STL Region Comments Off on Readers: Lawsuit Against NFL Won’t Be Successful
In 2012 the Rams proposed expanding the EJD across Broadway and Baer Plaza

On Friday we learned about the legal team coming to St. Louis to defend the NFL & Rams against the lawsuit filed by St. Louis:

To no one’s surprise, the NFL is sending in its “A-team” in the St. Louis breach of contract lawsuit over the relocation of the Rams to Los Angeles.

The Washington-based law firm of Covington & Burling will represent the NFL and 31 of its 32 teams, according to court records and sources familiar with the case.

The exception is the Rams, who are represented by Kirkland & Ellis, also a nationally prominent law firm but headquartered in Chicago.


Also representing the NFL and the 31 other teams locally is Jerry Carmody of Clayton-based Carmody MacDonald. (Post-Dispatch)

The case is filed in St. Louis Circuit Court (22nd): 1722-CC00976 – STL REGIONAL CONV ET AL V NATL FOOTBALL LEAGUE ET.  (find on CaseNet)

In the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll a slim majority of those who voted don’t think the lawsuit will be successful.

Q:  Agree or disagree: St. Louis’ lawsuit against the Rams/NFL will recoup millions spent trying to keep the team here.

  • Strongly agree 9 [16.67%]
  • Agree 5 [9.26%]
  • Somewhat agree 7 [12.96%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 3 [5.56%]
  • Somewhat disagree 1 [1.85%]
  • Disagree 8 [14.81%]
  • Strongly disagree 20 [37.04%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 1 [1.85%]

The home field advantage for the plaintiffs certainly helps, but the local jurors will need to be convinced. I’m not going to say either way because it is hard to predict outcomes of lawsuits. I’m tracking the case through CaseNet — the jury trial is currently scheduled to start at 9am on Monday October 2, 2017. The case is currently assigned to Judge Michael K Mullen.

I hope they’re successful, but I can’t help but think of Metro’s 2007 court loss.  Not an apples to apples comparison — but it comes to mind as an embarrassing loss.

— Steve Patterson


Sunday Poll: Should Our Convention Center Be Expanded?

Please vote below
Please vote below

In February, the topic of expanding the downtown convention center came up:

The city’s convention center complex should expand to more than 900,000 square feet, half again its current size, according to a report given Thursday to the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission. (Post-Dispatch)

So this is the topic for today’s poll:

The poll closes at 8pm.

— Steve Patterson