Charging Electric Vehicles Part 1: Charging Stations

 

 Though I’ve had a couple of car-free periods, I’ve owned a car most of the nearly 37 years since I got my driver’s license. All my 17 vehicles have had an internal combustion engine (ICE). I’ve wanted a hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or electric vehicle (EV) for a while now. We …

Sunday Poll: Will Paul McKee’s Urgent Care, Hospital, and Medical School Open By June 2023?

 

 On Friday the St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved a bill (103aa) worth $8 million in incentives for developer Paul McKee: The bill, which passed on a 23-2 vote, will help fund a three-bed urgent care center at Jefferson and Cass avenues that, along with infrastructure improvements, will cost about …

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 19 of 2019-2020 Session

 

 The St. Louis Board of Aldermen meet at 10am today, their 15th meeting of the 2019-2020 session. As previously noted, they have the first two meetings labeled as Week #1, so they list this as week/meeting 18. Today’s agenda includes six (6) new bills. B.B.#129 – Arnowitz – An ordinance authorizing and …

Readers Opposed To Loop Trolley Bailout

 

 I’m a huge fan of modern streetcars, like the line in Kansas City, but I’m indifferent to “heritage” trollies that use vintage or reproduction of early 20th century equipment. They’re great for nostalgia buffs, Instagram-worth photos, etc. Actual transportation?  Sorta, mostly for tourists. Many comments I read online said the …

Recent Articles:

New Book — Soft City: Building Density for Everyday Life by David Sim, Forward by Jan Gehl

August 30, 2019 Books, Featured Comments Off on New Book — Soft City: Building Density for Everyday Life by David Sim, Forward by Jan Gehl
 

Upon receiving the email about this new book I immediately responded, “Yes, I’m interested.” Of course, European cities are very different from sprawling American metropolises. Still, I think there’s value in David Sim’s analysis of the approach we need to take.

From the publisher:

Imagine waking up to the gentle noises of the city, and moving through your day with complete confidence that you will get where you need to go quickly and efficiently. Soft City is about ease and comfort, where density has a human dimension, adapting to our ever-changing needs, nurturing relationships, and accommodating the pleasures of everyday life. How do we move from the current reality in most cites—separated uses and lengthy commutes in single-occupancy vehicles that drain human, environmental, and community resources—to support a soft city approach?

In Soft City David Sim, partner and creative director at Gehl, shows how this is possible, presenting ideas and graphic examples from around the globe. He draws from his vast design experience to make a case for a dense and diverse built environment at a human scale, which he presents through a series of observations of older and newer places, and a range of simple built phenomena, some traditional and some totally new inventions.

Sim shows that increasing density is not enough. The soft city must consider the organization and layout of the built environment for more fluid movement and comfort, a diversity of building types, and thoughtful design to ensure a sustainable urban environment and society.

Soft City begins with the big ideas of happiness and quality of life, and then shows how they are tied to the way we live. The heart of the book is highly visual and shows the building blocks for neighborhoods: building types and their organization and orientation; how we can get along as we get around a city; and living with the weather. As every citizen deals with the reality of a changing climate, Soft City explores how the built environment can adapt and respond.

Soft City offers inspiration, ideas, and guidance for anyone interested in city building. Sim shows how to make any city more efficient, more livable, and better connected to the environment. (Island Press)

The number of topics covered is overwhelming— zoning, transportation, walkability, climate change, etc. This book is packed with photos and colorful diagrams. See sample pages & contents at Google Books.

— Steve Patterson

Effectiveness Of Police Body Cameras Can Vary

August 28, 2019 Crime, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Effectiveness Of Police Body Cameras Can Vary
 
The St. Louis Police “Incident Command Center” truck in 2012

St. Louis City & County are both looking to get police body cameras. This is a good thing, especially based on experience in other cities.

A quick online search reveals how body camera footage has been helpful, here are a few:

The above makes a very convincing argument in favor of cameras. Looking to Chicago, however, tells me effectiveness is closely related to how they’re implemented within each department.

Since the program’s inception, the department has issued 8,200 body cameras to officers through city funding and grants. The U.S. Department of Justice has also awarded the department more than $2 million in grants to assist with the implementation of the program. The goal is to improve transparency, accountability, and safety between police and the public.

But a compliance evaluation by the City of Chicago Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found watch operations lieutenants failed to complete required reviews of body camera footage, and the department does not have a standardized process to do so. [CBS Chicago]

We know off cameras aren’t effective.  An overwhelming majority of us believe these cameras are worth the cost — from the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: Police body cameras are a huge waste of money.

  • Strongly agree: 1 [2.7%]
  • Agree: 2 [5.41%]
  • Somewhat agree: 1 [2.7%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 1 [2.7%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 2 [5.41%]
  • Disagree: 8 [21.62%]
  • Strongly disagree: 21 [56.76%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 1 [2.7%]

I plan to keep looking into pitfalls other regions have encountered as they added body cameras. I’m also concerned about costs — annual leasing versus buying upfront. How much money could we save over the next couple of decades depending upon how we purchase? The other question I have is how long before we’d need to upgrade to new technology?

— Steve Patterson

White Flight, Black Flight, Abandonment, Poverty, and Gentrification

August 26, 2019 Featured, Neighborhoods, North City, Planning & Design, Politics/Policy Comments Off on White Flight, Black Flight, Abandonment, Poverty, and Gentrification
 

St. Louis has some positive things going on lately, Square announcing they’re moving/expanding from Cortex to downtown, Major League Soccer awarded a St  Louis ownership group an expansion team, etc.  These will bring new needed investments and jobs.

Will any benefit reach those north & south of the “central corridor?” The central corridor runs from the central business district west to the burbs.

A friend on Facebook said Square’s move downtown will cause more gentrification.  Not sure he’s correct, but the challenge of attracting investment and jobs without leaving out large segments of the region is real.

This is a good opportunity to talk about how we bring new investments without negative consequences. It’ll help me get these thoughts out of my brain.

5744 & 5748 Highland Ave, Wells-Goodfellow neighborhood

Merriam-Webster defines gentrification as follows:

The process of repairing and rebuilding homes and businesses in a deteriorating area (such as an urban neighborhood) accompanied by an influx of middle-class or affluent people and that often results in the displacement of earlier, usually poorer residents.

Gentrification is a major problem in many regions, but here we still have so many highly vacant neighborhoods. Sure, the average worker can’t afford a downtown loft, but that’s not gentrification.

First we need to look at how we got here.

By the 1920s the white middle class began leaving the City of St. Louis for life in the suburbs. With new people moving to the city from rural areas looking for work the census didn’t show what was happening.

In 1948 the Supreme Court ruled on a St. Louis case, saying racial restrictive covenants couldn’t be enforced through the courts (Shelley v Kraemer).  This prompted more white middle class residents to flee. Upwardly mobile black middle class residents were now able to purchase nicer housing than where they’d been limited to previously.

This house at 4600 Labadie was at the center of the case Shelley v Kraemer

Post WWII brought many to the region looking for work, others just trying to escape oppressive Jim Crow laws in the South. Basements and attics were crudely converted into living spaces. Large homes were subdivided. The population was too high, our housing stock just couldn’t handle all the people resulting in overcrowding. In 1950 St. Louis recorded its highest population — 856,796.

It didn’t help that entire neighborhoods were being razed for “urban renewal” projects and others being divided as highway construction cut wide paths through densely-populated neighborhoods.

Neighborhoods like Fountain Park remained respectable middle class, just now black instead of white. Eventually the black middle class got older, while some would stay but others began buying housing in North County as the white middle class there began moving to St. Charles County.

Some north city neighborhoods have been without the black middle class for decades now. In these neighborhoods the working poor have also been leaving, seeking affordable housing in other neighborhoods or in older north county areas where the black middle class have left more recently. An example is Wells Goodfellow — more vacant lots than residents.

!912 Clara Ave, left, and 1904 Clara Ave are occupied, the two houses in between were just razed.

Here is what I struggle with. We need money in the city — we need middle class and more affluent people so jobs will be created. This doesn’t mean white, though that’s often what happens.

How do we change long-disinvested neighborhoods so they’re attractive to all people with more money — without pricing out those who still call the neighborhood home?

In the ideal world we’d invest in neighborhoods in a way that attracts & accommodates all races & economic classes. This means housing at a variety of price points — from low-income to high end with everything in between.  Retail & restaurants should appeal to all segments and pocketbooks.

This may not be possible, I know it won’t happen without regulation. Free-market capitalism has demonstrated it is ok with excluding many.  The trick is learning from other regions so we can reduce unintended negative consequences from regulations.

Unfortunately I think our city/region is too laissez-faire to enact regulations to transform vacant neighborhoods so they’ll become great neighborhoods.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Are Police Body Cameras Worth The Cost?

August 25, 2019 Crime, Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Are Police Body Cameras Worth The Cost?
 
Please vote below

St. Louis City & County are both moving closer to equipping police officers with body cameras.

He [Board President Lewis Reed] estimated that the cost to the city would be a little more than $1 million per year, covering cameras for the department’s 1,100 officers, plus the necessary data storage and maintenance. Reed said he got his cost estimates from St. Louis County’s police body camera vendor, Utility Associates, Inc.

St. Louis County police officials announced earlier this month that 700 officers will be outfitted with body cameras by April. The $5 million purchase is being paid for by Proposition P, a tax hike approved by voters in 2017. The chest-mounted cameras secured inside the officers’ uniforms  automatically activate when gunshots are detected, when officers start running or when they draw their guns. (Post-Dispatch)

Today’s poll is about the costs associated with police body cameras.

This poll will automatically close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

Sports Team Ownership Is A Billionaire’s Hobby

August 23, 2019 Featured, Popular Culture Comments Off on Sports Team Ownership Is A Billionaire’s Hobby
 

Earlier this week we got confirmation that St  Louis will be getting a Major League Soccer (MLS) team and the name of the new XFL football team that’ll begin playing at The Dome starting in February 2020 — the BattleHawks.

Often these announcements bring out civic pride even among the most jaded of us. What we shouldn’t do is let this civic pride cloud our judgement when it comes to public coffers.  Remember — one thing major sports team owners have in common is billionaire net worths.

There are 62 billionaire owners of teams in major sports leagues around the world, who are the majority shareholder of managing partner of a team. These billionaires sports team owners have a combined net worth north of $375 billion and collectively own 78 teams.

To find out, the CEOWORLD magazine used net worth numbers from the Forbes’s World’s Billionaires ranking as of Tuesday, September 18, 2018 to rank the 20 richest sports team owners in the world. (CEOWORLD)

Owning major sports teams is a billionaire’s hobby. It’s also a business venture. While some major sports teams lose money, others add to their owners wealth.

The Taylor family (Enterprise Rent-A-Car) is somewhat unique in major sports — mostly women. The family is also very committed to St. Louis.

In my 29 years in St  Louis I’ve seen so many companies be taken over by other companies in other cities. This is largely due to the owners of these former St. Louis companies cashing out by going public. Doing so increased their personal wealth, but put the fate of the company to a board of directors and shareholders.

The Taylor family, on the other hand, has kept Enterprise private. No listing on the stock market, no answering to out of state hedge fund managers. I applaud them for this.

We just shouldn’t let our enthusiasm get in the way of making sound decisions for St. Louis, and the entire region. I can guarantee you they’re keeping their emotions in check.

— Steve Patterson

 

Advertisement



FACEBOOK POSTS

Unable to display Facebook posts.
Show error

Error: (#10) To use 'Page Public Content Access', your use of this endpoint must be reviewed and approved by Facebook. To submit this 'Page Public Content Access' feature for review please read our documentation on reviewable features: https://developers.facebook.com/docs/apps/review.
Type: OAuthException
Code: 10
Please refer to our Error Message Reference.

Archives

Categories

Advertisement


Subscribe