New Arch To Riverfront Ramps Are A Great Improvement


 When I first moved to St. Louis in August 1990 the grand staircase down to our riverfront wasn’t complete — it was grass with steps only on the North & South edges. At some point the center steps were completed.But even as a young (20s) able-bodied person the steps were …

Sunday Poll: Should St. Louis Consider Ranked-Choice Voting?


 When you have two candidates running for office it is easy to understand the winner — the person who receives more than 50% of the vote — even if by just one vote. I’m looking at the March 7th Democratic primary ballot with 7 choices for mayor and 6 choices …

St. Louis’ Easton & Franklin Avenues Became Dr. Martin Luther King Drive 45 Years Ago Today


 Last month, on the Martin Luther King holiday, I posted my 13th look at the street named after the slain civil rights leader — see Annual Look At Changes Along St. Louis’ Dr Martin Luther King Drive. From a STL250 Facebook post that has since been deleted: This Day in …

Opinion: Sales Taxes Outdated In 21st Century


 We order stuff online frequently because it’s convenient to do so, not because we want to save on taxes. Often we’ll order from so we pay the same tax rate we do when we shop at Hampton Village location once per month.  Amazon is the bulk of our online …

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Sunday Poll: Should Height Restriction at 620 Market Remain?

December 4, 2016 Downtown, Featured, Planning & Design, Real Estate, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should Height Restriction at 620 Market Remain?
Please vote below
Please vote below

Local news stories are great sources for weekly poll topics. The November 30th story ‘Messenger: Mike Shannon takes on the Cardinals in battle to sell his building‘ is the basis for today’s Sunday Poll. Here’s a summary off the issue:

  • Any development at the location of the now-closed Shannon’s site is legally limited to 35 feet in height.
  • This 35′ height restriction dates back to 1997 or 1966 — depending upon who you believe.
  • The property is just North of the Ballpark Village site — where Busch Memorial Stadium was located 1966-2006.
  • If a new owner could build a new structure higher than 35 feet the property is worth more money.
  • Mike Shannon was a player and then announcer for the Cardinals.

The Cardinals offered to lift the height restriction but only if they  get a say in the site’s development.


Lots of great issues with this one, this poll will remain open until 8pm.

— Steve Patterson

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills 12/2/2016 (198-203)

December 2, 2016 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills 12/2/2016 (198-203)
St. Louis City Hall
St. Louis City Hall

The following six Board Bills will be introduced at today’s meeting of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, review today’s agenda here.

  • B.B.#198 – Roddy – An Ordinance designating a portion of the City as a redevelopment area known as The City Foundry Saint Louis Redevelopment Area pursuant to the Real Property Tax Increment Allocation Redevelopment Act; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#199 – Roddy – An Ordinance affirming adoption of a redevelopment plan, redevelopment area, and redevelopment project; authorizing the execution of redevelopment agreement between The City and FoPa Partners, LLC; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#200 – Davis – An ordinance repealing Ordinance 69589 and in lieu thereof enacting a new ordinance prohibiting the issuance of any package or drink liquor licenses for any currently non-licensed premises within the boundaries of the Nineteenth Ward Liquor Control District, and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#201 – Davis – An ordinance authorizing and directing the Street Commissioner to take all necessary actions to honorarily designate the 2800 block of Cool Papa Bell Avenue as Pastor Jerry Hodges Street.
  • B.B.#202 – Davis – An ordinance authorizing and directing the Street Commissioner to take all necessary actions to honorarily designate the 3600 Block of Finney as Rev. Dr. Jimmy L. Brown Street.
  • B.B.#203 – Green/Ingrassia/Spencer/Arnowitz/Cohn – An ordinance amending the antidiscrimination law of the City to add pregnancy and reproductive health decisions as protected classes by amending Sections One, Five, Seven, Eight, and Nine of Ordinance 67119; and containing a severability clause and an emergency clause.

The meeting begins at 10am, it can be watched online here.

— Steve Patterson

Readers: No Revote on Reducing Board of Aldermen

November 30, 2016 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on Readers: No Revote on Reducing Board of Aldermen

Writing this post on my iPad Monday morning while from the juror lounge at Civil Courts


The recent Sunday Poll was about the size of our legislative body. Four years ago we voted to cut the size in half — from 28 to 14. The change is still more than four years away, but some want voters to reconsider

There are lots of pros & cons either way. Here are the non-scientific poll results:

Q: Agree or disagree: We should vote again on reducing board of aldermen from 28 to 14, voters approved this in 11/2012

  • Strongly agree 13 [24.53%]
  • Agree 1 [1.89%]
  • Somewhat agree 2 [3.77%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 2 [3.77%]
  • Somewhat disagree 1 [1.89%]
  • Disagree 6 [11.32%]
  • Strongly disagree 26 [49.06%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 2 [3.77%]

As you can see above, more than half don’t think we should vote again. While I agree, I also acknowledge we need to do a significantly better job addressing perceived & real voter disenfranchisement.

I don’t think reducing to 14 is a magic bullet, no more than staying at 28.

— Steve Patterson

Reading: People Cities: The Life and Legacy of Jan Gehl by Annie Matan & Peter Newman

November 28, 2016 Featured, Reading Comments Off on Reading: People Cities: The Life and Legacy of Jan Gehl by Annie Matan & Peter Newman

One of my favorite memories is attending the 2006 Rail-Volution conference in Chicago, the closing plenary session in particular:

Participate in this lively presentation and discussion about the strong commitment to pedestrian accessibility in European cities — a critical hallmark of those cities’ livability and sense of community — and how some of those attitudes can “jump the pond” and be adapted in U.S. cities. Learn from one of the world’s premier pedestrian experts and hear how Europeans’ attitudes toward pedestrians have evolved during the past 50 years. Hear his views on what U.S. cities need to do to increase their pedestrian potential. Also hear from the current CNU president, who has been described as a “fiscally-conservative socialist” and who is nationally recognized for his commitment to light rail and innovative, effective urban design. Learn about his views on the applicability of European pedestrian approaches in the U.S. — what could work, what challenges lie ahead, and what some U.S. cities have already done.

The two speakers were former Milwaukee  mayor and then-Congress for the New Urbanism president & CEO John Norquist and Danish architect Jan Gehl. They debated if Gehl’s ideas were universal or limited to his European home turf. Seeing them debate pedestrian issues a decade ago was fascinating to me. At the time I’d just started grad school, later my unfinished capstone project was on pedestrian malls in North America.

Though I disagree with Gehl about the universal application of pedestrian streets, I have huge respect for his lifetime of work and his deep understanding of the European pedestrian. This is what makes him so important — he studied pedestrians in Copenhagen and the obstacles they faced. By the early 1960s cars had severely degraded the public realm there, but over many decades he pushed, studied, and pushed for more change.

Apeoplecities-gehluthors Annie Matan & Peter Newman in People Cities: The Life and Legacy of Jan Gehl look at his work and influence. It’s an inspiring celebration of a man who refused to give up on pedestrians and their role in healthy cities.

From the publisher:

“A good city is like a good party—you stay for longer than you plan,” says Danish architect Jan Gehl. He believes that good architecture is not about form, but about the interaction between form and life. Over the last 50 years, Gehl has changed the way that we think about architecture and city planning—moving from the Modernist separation of uses to a human-scale approach inviting people to use their cities.

At a time when growing numbers are populating cities, planning urban spaces to be humane, safe, and open to all is ever-more critical. With the help of Jan Gehl, we can all become advocates for human-scale design. Jan’s research, theories, and strategies have been helping cities to reclaim their public space and recover from the great post-WWII car invasion. His work has influenced public space improvements in over 50 global cities, including New York, London, Moscow, Copenhagen, Melbourne, Sydney, and the authors’ hometown of Perth.

While much has been written by Jan Gehl about his approach, and by others about his influence, this book tells the inside story of how he learned to study urban spaces and implement his people-centered approach.

People Cities discusses the work, theory, life, and influence of Jan Gehl from the perspective of those who have worked with him across the globe. Authors Matan and Newman celebrate Jan’s role in changing the urban planning paradigm from an abstract, ideological modernism to a people-focused movement. It is organized around the creation of that movement, using key periods in Jan’s working life as a structure.

People Cities will inspire anyone who wants to create vibrant, human-scale cities and understand the ideas and work of an architect who has most influenced how we should and can design cities for people.

The last sentence says it all, though his solutions for other cities might not work here, we can be inspired to find ways to make our cities work for us.

Available through Left Bank Books, publisher, Amazon, and others.

Here’s an hour-long presentation by Jan Gehl, note a few words are not safe for work:

In St. Louis we need to change the culture.

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Should We Reconsider Reducing The Board of Aldermen?

November 27, 2016 Board of Aldermen, Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should We Reconsider Reducing The Board of Aldermen?
Please vote below
Please vote below

In November 2012 more than 130,000 city residents voted on Proposition R — the measure to reducer the size of the Board of Aldermen.

Turnout for that election was 74%, but nearly 14,000 voters skipped Prop R. Turnout for the proposition was 66.9%. The following explains 2012’s Prop R:

The 14 wards called for by Proposition R would be drawn after the 2020 census. The first election in the new wards would take place in 2023. Odd-numbered wards would start with two-year terms, while the Board president and even-numbered wards would run for a full four-year term from the beginning. (St. Louis Public Radio)

Over eighty-thousand (61.5%) approved the proposition. Though it is still years away, some are wanting voters to reconsider the decision. Perhaps holding a new vote in four years.

This is the basis for the today’s poll:

The poll is open until 8pm.

— Steve Patterson