Reading: Urban Street Stormwater Guide by the National Association of City Transportation Officials

 

 Though I receive a lot of new books, it’s rare to see a technical best practices manual — plus hardcover with tons of full-color photos and illustrations. But last month I received just such a book. Though not a compelling novel for the nightstand, Urban Street Stormwater Guide is very intriguing …

Opinion: Razing Vacant Buildings A Short-Term Strategy With Negative Long-Term Consequences

 

 Razing buildings might seem like the answer, but the unintended consequences shouldn’t be overlooked.Sure, no vacant building but then you’ve got a vacant lot unlikely to be developed. Dumping, high weeds, etc are all nuisances that can happen at vacant lots. While rehabbing an old building is more expensice than …

Pine @ Tucker Treated Different Than Locust @ Tucker

 

 In April I wrote how some drivers get confused on one-way Locust approaching Tucker — some turn left from either lane because it’s not properly marked. Two blocks directly South, on Tine St, is the identical situation but properly marked.  Pine is also a 2-lane street one-way Westbound.  But the city …

Sunday Poll: Would Tearing Down Vacant Buildings More Quickly Help St. Louis?

 

 Vacant buildings are often in the news in St. Louis, here’s two recent examples. June 2017: Forum addresses dangers of St. Louis city’s abandoned buildings July 2017; Tests confirm presence of asbestos in Clemens House fire debris The morning the historic James Clemens house burned two other vacant properties also had fires. …

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Sunday Poll: Should Forest Park Ave & Grand Become An At-Grade Intersection?

July 2, 2017 Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should Forest Park Ave & Grand Become An At-Grade Intersection?
 
Please vote below

In late May Chris Naffziger advocated in a St. Louis Magazine piece that the intersection of Forest Park Ave & Grand Blvd should be changed — returned to a conventional at-grsde intersection.This is currently happening to the West at Forest Park & Kingshighway. See in Google Streetview if you’re unfamiliar.

I thought this was an interesting idea so I saved the article. I’m not going to quote from it because I don’t want to sway your vote in today’s poll.

This poll will close at 8pm. my thoughts & results on Wednesday

. — Steve Patterson

 

 

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: Board Bills 91-94

June 30, 2017 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: Board Bills 91-94
 
St. Louis City Hall

There are 3 new bills to be introduced at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen today. First, a bill on a later version of lsat week’s agenda so it wasn’t on my post last week.

  • B.B.#91 – Tyus/Green –An Ordinance pertaining to income which is exempt from the City earnings tax, repealing Ordinance 65094, removing an exemption on any income received by a person in the form of or related to the grant, vesting or exercise of stock options, performance shares or performance?based stock related incentive plans from the city earning tax, and containing an emergency clause.

ON AGENDA FOR INTRODUCTION TODAY 6/30/17:

Note that just because a bill is on the agenda doesn’t mean it’ll be introduced, similarly, bills not on the agenda might be introduced if they suspend the rules to do so.

  • B.B.#92 – Boyd –An ordinance repealing section 17.62.220 of section one of Ordinance 62047 approved July 20, 1990, pertaining to the administration and use of the parking meter fund, and enacting in lieu thereof a new section pertaining to the same subject matter.
  • B.B.#93 – Pres. Reed/Muhammad –An ordinance recommended by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, making a supplemental appropriation to the Annual Budget Ordinance ____for Fiscal Year beginning July 1, 2017 and ending June 30, 2018 amounting to the sum of Three Hundred Ninety Thousand Dollars ($390,000), and containing an Emergency Clause.
  • B.B.#94 – Muhammad –An ordinance authorizing the honorary street name, “Terry ‘Chip’ Jones Way,” on E. Lee Avenue between N. Taylor & Dryden.

The meeting begins at 10am, it can be watched online here. See list of all board bills for the 2017-2018 session.

— Steve Patterson

Opinion: St. Louis Wants To Pretend Racism Didn’t/Doesn’t Exist

June 28, 2017 Featured, Parks, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Opinion: St. Louis Wants To Pretend Racism Didn’t/Doesn’t Exist
 
The confederate memorial was dedicated in 1914, rededicated in 1964.

In Sunday’s non-scientific poll more than half of those who voted felt the city wasn’t the owner of the Confederate monument even though it had been in Forest Park since 1914.

Q: Agree or disagree: The Confederate Monument, placed in Forest Park in 1914, is the property of the City of St. Louis.

  • Strongly agree 5 [19.23%]
  • Agree 2 [7.69%]
  • Somewhat agree 1 [3.85%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree 5 [19.23%]
  • Disagree 5 [19.23%]
  • Strongly disagree 5 [19.23%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 3 [11.54%]

Last week the Missouri Civil War Museum had sued the City of St. Louis to be able to remove the monument, claiming the now-defunct b

In a settlement between St. Louis and the Missouri Civil War Museum, the museum agrees to remove the massive marker by the end of the day Friday — and perhaps much more quickly. Workers began rapidly deconstructing the monument Monday, shortly after the settlement was announced.

The museum will foot the bill for the move, and agreed to store the monument until a permanent new location is found for it. That permanent location must be at a Civil War museum, battlefield or cemetery, the agreement says.

 The museum also agrees not to display the monument in the city of St. Louis or St. Louis County. (Post-Dispatch)

So not only are we working hard to forget our ugly history, this will never be on display again in the city or county? Awful.

— Steve Patterson

 

Autonomous Vehicles Will Change Urban Areas

June 26, 2017 Featured, Transportation Comments Off on Autonomous Vehicles Will Change Urban Areas
 
Volvo S60 with pedestrian detection at the Chicago Auto Show

The auto industry is quickly moving toward full self0-driving cars. The impact on cities, including St. Louis, could be huge. You might be thinking it is a decade or more away, but earlier this month GM announced a a major accompaniment.

General Motors said Tuesday it has finished making 130 self-driving Chevrolet Bolt test vehicles, an achievement that the automaker says will help put it at the forefront of the race to develop and deploy autonomous cars.

CEO and Chairman Mary Barra said GM is the only automaker currently capable of mass-producing self-driving vehicles. (USA Today)

Other automakers. and tech giants like Alphabet (Google), Apple, etc are all racing to be first and/or the best.  Honda, for example, outlined its timeline earlier this month:

Honda has been one of the more cautious automakers when it comes to self-driving cars, and a recent study put the company at 15th out of 18 in terms of overall advancement. At a media event this week, however, Honda shared more about its plans and set a target of 2025 for introducing vehicles with Level 4 autonomous driving capability. 

Honda has already said that it intends to have vehicles capable of Level 3 freeway driving on the market by 2020, and is reiterating that goal today. Level 3, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers, refers to highly automated driving where the driver still needs to be able to take over the vehicle upon request. Level 4 automation means that the car is capable of handing most driving situations itself, whereas Level 5 is largely theoretical and covers complete automation in any condition. (The Verge)

Level 4?  We’re not going to go from fully human-controlled cars to full self-driving overnight.

  • Level 0: This one is pretty basic. The driver (human) controls it all: steering, brakes, throttle, power. It’s what you’ve been doing all along.
  • Level 1: This driver-assistance level means that most functions are still controlled by the driver, but a specific function (like steering or accelerating) can be done automatically by the car.
  • Level 2: In level 2, at least one driver assistance system of “both steering and acceleration/ deceleration using information about the driving environment” is automated, like cruise control and lane-centering. It means that the “driver is disengaged from physically operating the vehicle by having his or her hands off the steering wheel AND foot off pedal at the same time,” according to the SAE. The driver must still always be ready to take control of the vehicle, however. 
  • Level 3: Drivers are still necessary in level 3 cars, but are able to completely shift “safety-critical functions” to the vehicle, under certain traffic or environmental conditions. It means that the driver is still present and will intervene if necessary, but is not required to monitor the situation in the same way it does for the previous levels. Jim McBride, autonomous vehicles expert at Ford, said this is “the biggest demarcation is between Levels 3 and 4.” He’s focused on getting Ford straight to Level 4, since Level 3, which involves transferring control from car to human, can often pose difficulties. “We’re not going to ask the driver to instantaneously intervene—that’s not a fair proposition,” McBride said.
  • Level 4: This is what is meant by “fully autonomous.” Level 4 vehicles are “designed to perform all safety-critical driving functions and monitor roadway conditions for an entire trip.” However, it’s important to note that this is limited to the “operational design domain (ODD)” of the vehicle—meaning it does not cover every driving scenario.
  • Level 5: This refers to a fully-autonomous system that expects the vehicle’s performance to equal that of a human driver, in every driving scenario—including extreme environments like dirt roads that are unlikely to be navigated by driverless vehicles in the near future. (Tech Republic)

A study released in April says Ford is leading others in the race to produce autonomous vehicles.

When will this happen? From May:

When will I be able to buy an autonomous car?
That’s not an easy question to answer because it’s not yet clear how the technology will come to market. It’s likely that most automakers will be able to build Level 4 autonomous vehicles by 2021 or so, if not before — but the first Level 4 vehicles may be very expensive, and they may be offered only to fleet customers (like Uber or Lyft).

That said, it’s likely that one or more automakers (Tesla, perhaps others) will offer Level 4 technology to retail customers at some point in the next few years. But no automaker (or software company) has announced a firm date yet. (Motley Fool)

Many, including automakers, expect a shift from owning a car to using a ride share service. The coming changes will be massive, below are some thoughts from 50 Mind-Blowing Implications of Self-Driving Cars (and Trucks):

  • 1) People won’t own their own cars. Transport will delivered as a service from companies who own fleets of self-driving vehicles. There are so many technical, economic, safety advantages to the transportation-as-a-service that this change may come much faster than most people expect
  • 6) There won’t be any parking lots or parking spaces on roads or in buildings. Garages will be repurposed?—?maybe as mini loading docks for people and deliveries. Aesthetics of homes and commercial buildings will change as parking lots and spaces go away
  • 24) Cities will become much more dense as fewer roads and vehicles will be needed and transport will be cheaper and more available. The “walkable city” will continue to be more desirable as walking and biking become easier and more commonplace.
  • 29) Cities, towns and police forces will lose revenue from traffic tickets, tolls (likely replaced, if not eliminated) and fuel tax revenues drop precipitously. These will probably be replaced by new taxes (probably on vehicle miles). These may become a major political hot-button issue differentiating parties as there will probably be a range of regressive versus progressive tax models
  • 40) Many roads and bridges will be privatized as a small number of companies control most transport and make deals with municipalities. Over time, government may entirely stop funding roads, bridges and tunnels.
  • 41) Innovators will come along with many awesome uses for driveways and garages that no longer contain cars. There will be a new network of clean, safe, pay-to-use restrooms that become part of the value-add of competing service providers.

What does all this potentially mean for St. Louis? Fewer privately owned cars means on-street parking and parking garages will have increasing vacancy. Less revenue from meters and parking tickets. Privately-ownewd garages will no longer be profitable — unless leased to a fleet operator. Enterprise already owns the garage attached to Mansion House, Gentry’s Landing, and hotel.

Some jobs will see less demand and eventually go away. Parking enforcement, for example. There will be less demand for gasoline but an increased demand to infill more densely. Will the city have the funds to narrow roads, improve infrastructure to work with autonomous cars? Maybe, new residents might add enough to the tax base. Will St. Louis be one of many municipalities in St. Louis County by then or even be a big consolidated government?

Car dealerships, new & used, will begin to disappear. New houses, condos, etc won’t have garages as we know them. Existing garages may be converted into additional living space, perhaps a mother-in-law suite.    Oil change, tire shops, and auto repair will also see reduced demand until finally disappearing. Yes, autonomous vehicles will need tires but the fleet companies won’t run to the corner tire shop.

There are many more positive and negative implications of the transition to autonomous vehicles. The important thing to remember is it won’t happen overnight — but it’ll likely happen faster than many expect.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Who Owns The Confederate Monument In Forest Park?

June 25, 2017 Featured, Parks, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Who Owns The Confederate Monument In Forest Park?
 
Please vote below

In the recent past I’ve voiced opposition to the removal of the Confederate monument in Forest Park — it’s a good reminder of our ugly history. If a Confederate flag was flying at city hall I’d, of course, favor removing it. The monument, in my eyes, is different. It will eventually be moved, I accept that.

Now the question is who will remove and store it?

The Missouri Civil War Museum in Jefferson Barracks is claiming ownership of the controversial Confederate statue in Forest Park, but city officials maintain they have control over both the structure and its removal.

Citing a 1912 city ordinance giving the United Daughters of the Confederacy the green light to erect and maintain the monument in the city’s largest public park, museum executive director Mark Trout said the organization signed over the rights to the museum on Tuesday. (Post-Dispatch)

Last week a judge ordered the monument to stay in place until after ownership & control is determined. The court will decide but I’m curious what readers think on this issue.

The poll will close at 8pm

— Steve Patterson

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