Reading: Within Walking Distance: Creating Livable Communities For All by Philip Langdon

 

 Last week I received a new book that immediately caught my attention. Within Walking Distance: Creating Livable Communities For All speaks to a core personal issue for me — walkability. Before the personal automobile displaced public transit, most everything in American cities was within walking distance. For nearly a century now Euclidean, …

Sunday Poll: Should Missouri Close Interstate Rest Areas?

 

 Missouri has low fuel taxes and the legislature is unwilling to increase it. Maintenance needs remain. Some states in this situation have opted to closer rest areas: For more than half a century, old-fashioned, no-frills highway rest stops have welcomed motorists looking for a break from the road, a bathroom …

Lyda Krewson Is The 5th Mayor Since I Moved To St. Louis

 

 On Tuesday, while waiting for the inauguration of our first new mayor in 16 years, I reflected on the mayors we’ve had since I moved here in August 1990. For many of you, Francis Slay has been the only mayor you’ve had as a voting-age adult. This could be because …

Opinion: Turnstiles Are For Fare Collection, Not Public Safety

 

 Many, including regional elected officials, letters to the editor, and others, are pushing the idea of turnstiles as a way to increase public safety on our MetroLink light rail system. Incredibly ill-informed because turnstiles, physical & virtual, are meant to combat fare-evasion. Heavy rail systems like Chicago’s EL, the NYC …

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Readers Buy New/Nearly New Vehicles

February 8, 2017 Featured, Transportation Comments Off on Readers Buy New/Nearly New Vehicles
 
The Chicago Auto Show is held at McCormick Place

Rarely am I surprised by by poll results, but it happened Sunday. Nearly three-fourths of readers that resounded to the non-scientific Sunday Poll indicated their new vehicle will be new or nearly new.

Q: Your next vehicle purchase will be how old:

  • Brand new 16 [47.06%]
  • Nearly new, possibly certified pre-owned 9 [26.47%]
  • Used 4 [11.76%]
  • Well used 1 [2.94%]
  • N/A — won’t be buying a car 3 [8.82%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 1 2.94% [2.94%]

I’ve had many cars in the last 34 years — most used or well used. I have had two new cars — both costly mistakes. The best financial times were when I was car-free, but that’s not an option with my husband’s job.

Our last payment on our 2007 Honda Civic will be in early October, we’ll be actively shopping for a replacement then.   The Civic was 7 years old and had 90k on the odometer — just under the 100k our credit union would finance.

Because we want a fairly loaded midsize sedan new is beyond our budget — plus I don’t like owing more on a car that its resale value. Depreciation on a new car is steep. Many people now finance them for 6 years!

Now, if you buy a new car and keep it 10 years depreciation isn’t really an issue. What you can’t control is the other driver that totals your car and their insurance paying you thousands less than what you still owe on it, Sure, their are insurance plans that will replace your car but you pay more for that coverage — increasing your cost of ownership.

Later this year we will be looking at late model cars:

  1. Hyundai Sonata Limited w/Tech Package (2015)
  2. Honda Accord EX-L or Touring — 4 cylinder (2013-2015)

Why these two? As I explained last year, these are the two most affordable cars with memory seat — the Sonata also has memory mirrors.

We’ll potentially spend twice as much as we spent on our current car, but will be much newer with significantly fewer miles. Because we’ll be financing it for longer we’ll keep it longer.

Still, the appeal of a new car is strong. We’re heading to Chicago today for two days of auto show media events — the Chicago Auto Show opens to the public on Saturday February 11th, closing on Monday February 20th. Will be posting to Twitter & Facebook starting tonight.

— Steve Patterson

Reading: Handbook of Biophilic City Planning & Design by Timothy Beatley

February 6, 2017 Featured, Reading Comments Off on Reading: Handbook of Biophilic City Planning & Design by Timothy Beatley
 

Several book publishers contact me regularly to see if I’m interested in a review copy of new books, some know my interests and just send the book — like today’s.

I usually understand at least the title of the books, but today’s required a quick search to understand one word: Biophilic.

The biophilia hypothesis suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. Edward O. Wilson introduced and popularized the hypothesis in his book, Biophilia (1984). He defines biophilia as “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life”. (Wikipedia)

Ah…makes sense. People have since applied this hypothesis to the built environment. Here’s a trailer for a documentary on the subject:

Twice before I’ve posted about books by Timothy Beatley, in March 2005 I included his book  Green Urbanism: Learning from European Cities in a post on my favorite urban books, in November 2013 I included a book he edited called Green Cities of Europe: Global Lessons on Green Urbanism in a post on new books on urban planning.

In his latest book Beatley continues the green theme by applying Wilson’s biophilia hypothesis to cities.

What if, even in the heart of a densely developed city, people could have meaningful encounters with nature? While parks, street trees, and green roofs are increasingly appreciated for their technical services like stormwater reduction, from a biophilic viewpoint, they also facilitate experiences that contribute to better physical and mental health: natural elements in play areas can lessen children’s symptoms of ADHD, and adults who exercise in natural spaces can experience greater reductions in anxiety and blood pressure.

The Handbook of Biophilic City Planning & Design offers practical advice and inspiration for ensuring that nature in the city is more than infrastructure—that it also promotes well-being and creates an emotional connection to the earth among urban residents. Divided into six parts, the Handbook begins by introducing key ideas, literature, and theory about biophilic urbanism. Chapters highlight urban biophilic innovations in more than a dozen global cities. The final part concludes with lessons on how to advance an agenda for urban biophilia and an extensive list of resources.

As the most comprehensive reference on the emerging field of biophilic urbanism, the Handbook is essential reading for students and practitioners looking to place nature at the core of their planning and design ideas and encourage what preeminent biologist E.O. Wilson described as “the innate emotional connection of humans to all living things.” (Island Press)

One of the best ways to initially size up a new book is to review the table of contents:

Part I. The Power and Promise of Biophilic Cities

Chapter 1. The Power of Urban Nature: The Essential Benefits of a Biophilic Urbanism
Chapter 2. Placing Biophilic Cities: Planning History, Theory and the New Sustainability
Chapter 3. Urban Trends and Nature Trends: Can the Two Intersect?
Chapter 4. Biophilic Cities: Examining the Metrics and Theory

Part II. The Practice of Biophilic Urbanism: Cities Leading the Way
Chapter 5. Singapore: City in a Garden
Chapter 6. Wellington, NZ: Nature on the Edge
Chapter 7. Milwaukee: Greening the Rust Belt
Chapter 8. Birmingham: Health, Nature and Urban Regeneration
Chapter 9. Phoenix: The Promise of Biophilia in the Desert
Chapter 10. Portland: Nature in the Compact City
Chapter 11. San Francisco: From Park City to Wild City
Chapter 12. Oslo: The City of Forest and Fjord
Chapter 13. Vitoria-Gasteiz
Chapter 14. Global Survey of Cities: Shorter City Cases and Exemplars

Part III. Exemplary Tools, Policy Practices
Chapter 15. Detailed Profiles of Biophilic Design Tools Techniques, Design Ideas

Part IV. Successes and Future Directions
Chapter 16. Biophilic Cities in the Age of Climate Change: Mitigation, Resilience Through Nature
Chapter 17. What Can Be Learned From the Best Biophilic Cities?
Chapter 18. Key Obstacles to Biophilic Cities (And Ways To Overcome Them)
Chapter 19. Conclusions and Future Directions

The publisher also provides a link to a Google Books preview.  It’s available in hardcover, softcover, and E-book formats.

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Do You Purchase New or Used Vehicles?

February 5, 2017 Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Do You Purchase New or Used Vehicles?
 
Please vote below

Later this week we’ll be in Chicago for 2-day media preview at the Chicago Auto Show — it opens to the general public Saturday morning and runs through February 20th.

First staged in 1901, the Chicago Auto Show is the largest auto show in North America and has been held more times than any other auto exposition on the continent. This year marks the 109th edition of the Chicago Auto Show.

The Chicago Auto Show utilizes more than 1 million square feet in the North and South Exhibit Halls of the McCormick Place complex. McCormick Place offers a total of 2.7 million square feet of exhibit halls with an additional 700,000 square feet of meeting room availability.

The St. Louis Auto Show, held last month, is a dealer show. The Chicago Auto Show, though sponsored by dealers, is represented by manufacturers.

Thinking about all the new cars we’ll see got me wondering if readers buy new or used cars. Today’s poll question breaks it down a bit more:

The poll will remain open until 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: Last Board Bills of 2016-2017 Session (275-309)

February 3, 2017 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: Last Board Bills of 2016-2017 Session (275-309)
 
St. Louis City Hall
St. Louis City Hall

The ice storm a few weeks ago meant the Board of Aldermen didn’t meet as scheduled, throwing off their schedule and mine. So here are the board bills that have been introduced since my last posting on new bills:

  • B.B.#275 – Hubbard – An ordinance authorizing the execution of a Parcel Development Agreement by and among the City, Northside Regeneration, and Northside Urgent Care Property, and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#276 – Hubbard – An ordinance recommended by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment authorizing and directing the issuance and delivery of not to exceed $6,475,000 plus issuance costs principal amount of Tax Increment Revenue Notes (Northside Regeneration—Healthworks Hospital Project) Series 20___-A/B, of the City; prescribing the form and details of such notes and the covenants and agreements made by the City to facilitate and protect the payment thereof; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#277 – Number not used.
  • B.B.#278 – Krewson – An Ordinance designating a portion of the City as a redevelopment area known as the Northgate Redevelopment Area pursuant to the Real Property Tax Increment Allocation Redevelopment Act;; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#279 – Krewson – An Ordinance affirming adoption of a redevelopment plan, redevelopment area, and redevelopment project; authorizing the execution of a redevelopment agreement between the City and Pace-Delmar Associates; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#280 – Krewson – An Ordinance recommended by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment authorizing and directing the issuance and delivery of not to exceed $4,374,377 plus issuance costs principal amount of tax increment revenue notes (Northgate Redevelopment Project) Series 20__-A/B, of The City; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#281 – Roddy – An ordinance adopting an Amended and Restated TIF Redevelopment Plan; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#282 – Roddy – An ordinance recommended by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment authorizing the execution of an Amended and Restated Redevelopment Agreement between the City, and St. Louis Innovation District; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#283 – Roddy – An ordinance recommended by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment authorizing and directing the Mayor and the Comptroller to execute and deliver the Third Supplemental Trust Indenture; authorizing and directing the taking of other actions and approval and execution of other documents as necessary or desirable to carry out and comply with the intent hereof; superseding provisions of prior ordinances of the City to the extent inconsistent with the terms hereof; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#284 – Roddy – An ordinance recommended by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment authorizing and directing the issuance and delivery of one or more series of tax increment revenue notes (St. Louis Innovation District/RPA 5 Project) Series A and Series B (collectively, the “RPA 5 Notes”) in an aggregate principal amount not to exceed $12,200,000, plus costs of issuance; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#285 – Roddy/Davis – An Ordinance designating a portion of the City, as a redevelopment area known as the Armory District Redevelopment Area pursuant to the Real Property Tax Increment Allocation Redevelopment Act; approving a redevelopment plan and a redevelopment project; adopting tax increment financing within the redevelopment area; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#286 – Roddy/Davis – An Ordinance affirming adoption of a redevelopment plan, redevelopment area, and redevelopment project; authorizing the execution of a redevelopment agreement between the City and with Green Street Development Group; designating with Green Street Development Group, as developer of the redevelopment area; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#287 – Boyd – An ordinance authorizing the St. Louis City Board of Election Commissioners upon approval of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, to expend any funds received by the SLBEC from the 2016-2018 awarded by the Missouri Secretary of State to provide assistance to local election authorities to improve election processes with state funds to assist with election activities, systems and equipment maintenance, voting equipment purchases, maintaining voter lists and polling place accessibility; to fulfill the obligations of said Grant, limited to expenditures covered entirely by grant funds and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#288 – Villa – An Ordinance authorizing the execution of an amendment to the redevelopment agreement between the City and Carondelet Broadway TIF, Inc. for redevelopment of the Carondelet Coke Redevelopment Area; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#289 – Roddy/Davis – An Ordinance approving a petition for the creation of the Armory Community Improvement District; authorizing the district to impose district sales tax; finding a public purpose for the establishment of the Armory Community Improvement District; and containing a severability clause and an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#290 – Ingrassia An ordinance recommended by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment and the Board of Public Service authorizing and directing the execution and delivery of a Stadium Project Financing, Construction and Lease Agreement by and among The City, SC STL, and the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority of the City, pertaining to the design, construction, financing and leasing of a new multi-purpose stadium designed to host professional soccer and amateur sports, concerts, and community events to be located on property currently owned by the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission as part of the I-64 at 22nd Street Interchange; containing an emergency clause and a severability clause.
  • B.B.#291 – Ingrassia – An ordinance recommended by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment amending Ordinance no. 55390, approved August 16, 1969, as amended by Ordinance No. 55522, approved February 18, 1970, as amended by Ordinance No. 56178, approved June 21, 1972, as amended by Ordinance No. 56912, approved March 6, 1975, as amended by Ordinance No. 62515, approved February 21, 1992, as amended by Ordinance No. 65669, approved October 24, 2002, as amended by Ordinance No. 66772, approved July 18, 2005, and as amended by Ordinance No. 68380, approved June 16, 2009, pertaining to the entertainment license tax; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#292 – Ingrassia – An Ordinance pertaining to preventing passage to and from a health care facility and prohibiting activities near certain facilities; containing a severability clause and an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#293 – Ingrassia – An ordinance approving a blighting study and redevelopment plan for 2232-2256 South Grand Blvd.; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#294 – Flowers – An ordinance prohibiting use of smokeless tobacco at professional, collegiate, high school and organized amateur sporting events.
  • B.B.#295 – Ingrassia – An ordinance for public health and welfare creating a new Chapter in the St. Louis Municipal code to be entitled “Conversion Therapy” to prohibit licensed professionals from engaging in counseling, practices, or treatments with the goal to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity; and containing a severability clause and an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#296 – Tyus – An Ordinance recommended by the Planning Commission on January 4, 2017, to change the zoning of property, from “B” Two-Family Dwelling District and “F” Neighborhood Commercial District to the “F” Neighborhood Commercial District only, in City Block 4455 (4967-71 Palm Street); and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#297 – Hubbard – An Ordinance designating a portion of the City as a redevelopment area known as the Jefferson Arms Redevelopment Area pursuant to the Real Property Tax Increment Allocation Redevelopment Act; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#298 – Hubbard – An Ordinance affirming adoption of a redevelopment plan, redevelopment area, and redevelopment project; authorizing the execution of a redevelopment agreement between the City and Alterra Jefferson Arms; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#299 – Hubbard – An Ordinance recommended by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment authorizing and directing the issuance and delivery of not to exceed $20,000,000 plus issuance costs principal amount of tax increment revenue notes (Jefferson Arms Redevelopment Project) Series 20__-A/B, of The City; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#300 – Roddy – An Ordinance Approving The Petition Of Various Owners Of Certain Real Property To Establish A Community Improvement District, Establishing The Kings-Oak Community Improvement District, and containing an emergency clause and a severability clause.
  • B.B.#301 – Tyus – An Ordinance recommended by the Planning Commission, to change the zoning of property, from “A” Single- Family Dwelling District to the “F” Neighborhood Commercial District, in City Block 5090 (4547, 4901, 4903, 4905 & 4909 Geraldine Avenue); and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#302 – Coatar – An ordinance regarding certain Municipal Court operations; amending Ordinance 57839, Section Two, to be codified in the Revised Code at Chapter 1.12.045; repealing Section Seven of Ordinance 62779, as codified at Chapter 17.53.070 of the Code ; and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#303 – Bosley – An ordinance recommended by the Board of Public Service authorizing the 2017 St. Louis Works and the 50/50 Sidewalk Programs City Wide, appropriating $5,400,000.00 from the Street Improvement Fund; containing sections for description of the work, approval of plans and specifications, work and material guarantees, estimated costs from City funds and supplemental agreements and reversion authorizations, applicable state and federal wage rate requirements, equal opportunity provisions, the Mayor’s Executive Orders, contract advertising statutes, and a public work emergency clause.
  • B.B.#304 – Bosley – An ordinance to repeal Ordinance No. 70419 and enacting in lieu thereof an ordinance authorizing the lease of certain real property owned by the City located in City Block 2437; containing a severability clause. This ordinance authorizing and directing the Mayor and Comptroller to enter into a Lease Agreement with Sun Ministries, Incorporated.
  • B.B.#305 – Kennedy/Williamson/Davis/Flowers/Moore/French/Carter Hubbard/Pres. Reed/Bosley – An ordinance approving a minority and women-owned business enterprise program for the City; authorizing certain other actions; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#306 – Kennedy – An amendment to Ordinance 69984 (which established the Civilian Oversight Board, extending the number of days that the St. Louis Civilian Oversight Board has to review complaints and make recommendations by amending Section Six of said ordinance 69984; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#307 – Ortmann – An Ordinance pertaining to tampering with a witness or victim; prohibiting conduct by any individual which has the intention to or causes a witness or victim to fail to comply with or assist a police investigation or legal proceeding, including a Court proceeding, an Administrative hearing, or a Board hearing and all related investigations thereto within the City; containing definitions, prohibitions, and penalties.
  • B.B.#308 – Coatar – An Ordinance pursuant to ordinance 62234 for Police Division Sergeant Bargaining Unit between the City and the St. Louis Police Officers Association/Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 68.

Board Bill 309 isn’t listed on the agenda where it was introduced.

Today’s meeting begins at 10am, it can be watched online here.

— Steve Patterson

 

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More Than Half Of Readers Willing To Send Their Child To St. Louis Public Schools

February 1, 2017 Education, Featured Comments Off on More Than Half Of Readers Willing To Send Their Child To St. Louis Public Schools
 
Cole School. 3935 Enright Ave. was built in 1936. Now it's the Gilkey Pamoja Preparatory Academy @ Cole -- click for info on this market educating program
Cole School. 3935 Enright Ave. was built in 1936. Now it’s the Gilkey Pamoja Preparatory Academy @ Cole — click for info on this market educating program

The St. Louis Public Schools recently became fully accredited again — a result of vast improvements from a decade ago when barely more than half graduated and there was a huge budget deficit:

Today, the high-poverty, majority-African-American district has a 72 percent graduation rate and 95 percent attendance rate. The district had a $19.2 million surplus in June. The district has improved its students’ test scores year after year.

Still, Superintendent Kelvin Adams and the appointed Special Administrative Board acknowledge that the district is not meeting its academic goals.

“It’s really about the young people … who deserve to have the kind of education we all want for our kids,” Adams said after the board’s vote. “We’re not going to stop until every single kid can read, every single kid has that opportunity.”

About 37 percent of students who took state tests last year scored proficient or advanced in English, and 26 percent did so in math. Only 12 percent of district high school graduates who were tested scored at or above the national average on the ACT. (Post-Dispatch)

In the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll just over half the readers said they’d send their kids to a St. Louis Public School:

Q: Assume you have a child ready to start 1st grade. Agree or disagree: Now that they’re accredited, I’d send my child to St. Louis Public Schools.

  • Strongly agree 10 [21.28%]
  • Agree 6 [12.77%]
  • Somewhat agree 14 [29.79%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree 0 [0%]
  • Disagree 4 [8.51%]
  • Strongly disagree 9 [19.15%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 4 [8.51%]

A couple of comments on social media do a good job summarizing

Celia Watson on Facebook:

This is a tough one to answer. I love my kiddos SLPS magnet school, but our neighborhood school is still not a consideration for us. I do feel that SLPS is well run, and employs excellent teachers and staff.

Jason Stokes on Twitter:

Have a current kindergartener. Moving to STL next month. Will send him to SLPS.

The more good students attend the schools the better they’ll do. The more involved parents & prospective parents are in the schools the better they’ll do.

— Steve Patterson

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