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East-West Gateway Survey & Where We Stand Update

Looking from the east to west at the Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower
Looking from the east to west at the Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower, click image for tower website

Our Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, is seeking feedback on how we engage in the community:

How Do You Engage in Improving Our Region?

East-West Gateway’s Public Involvement Plan helps EWG to ensure quality engagement and interaction with all of the citizens in the St. Louis metropolitan area. We need to know how we can design our outreach efforts in a way that makes your involvement easier, fuller and more likely. This survey will begin to form our public involvement plan. Please take a few minutes to respond. We appreciate your participation…Take Survey

Please take a few minutes to take the survey, then come back and share your thoughts on the questions being asked. They also just released the 7th update to most recent Where We Stand report (2011).

This update introduces new data on three measures of social mobility and discusses some of the community characteristics that are correlated with upward mobility.

The term “social mobility” refers to the idea that individuals can achieve a high standard of living, regardless of the circumstances into which they were born. The notion that even a poor child can work hard and get rich (or at least reach the middle class) has long had a hold on the American imagination, although numerous studies have documented that the United States has a far lower level of social mobility than most of the other wealthy nations around the world.

I’ve not had a chance to do more than scan the update, but I wanted to pass along the link.

— Steve Patterson

Readers Split on Giving the Chronically Homeless Apartments

February 26, 2014 Featured, Homeless, Sunday Poll 7 Comments

My views towards homelessness have changed over the years; I wasn’t a supporter of the “housing first” model, it didn’t make sense to me. Now, after looking into it with an open mind, I see it is very logical. We know from decades of experience that how we’ve been attempting to address the issue of chronic homelessness hasn’t worked, requiring the chronic homeless to jump through hoops doesn’t work. and is costly and detrimental to the community at large. A different approach is needed.

Enter the housing first approach advocated nationally by  100,000 Homes. Their manifesto has four elements:

Housing First:

For years, homeless service providers worked to offer medical and mental health care, addiction counseling, job training and countless other services to people living on the streets. Most homeless people were told they had to earn their way to permanent housing by checking these supplementary boxes.

While the intentions behind this approach were good, the unfortunate result was that very few people ever escaped the streets.

100,000 Homes communities believe this traditional approach is backwards, and the data agrees with them. Countless studies have now shown that we must offer housing first, not last, if we want to help people out of homelessness. An immediate connection to permanent supportive housing can ensure that over 80% of homeless individuals remain housed, even among clients with severe substance abuse and mental health conditions. (read more)

Know Who’s Out There:

Person-specific data is the key to ending homelessness for our most vulnerable (and often anonymous) homeless neighbors.

100,000 Homes communities identify their homeless neighbors by name through an event called a Registry Week, the organizing backbone of the 100,000 Homes Campaign. The Registry Week process is based on a simple idea: communities should work to identify their most vulnerable or at-risk homeless residents and prioritize them for permanent housing. Medical research published in highly regarded, peer-reviewed journals highlights several health and social conditions that make people more likely to die on the streets. We’ve created a survey tool, the Vulnerability Index, that screens for those conditions and helps communities identify the most vulnerable people in their midst.

After an extensive volunteer training, Registry Week volunteers comb the streets of their communities block by block to ask as many people as possible to complete the Vulnerability Index questionnaire. This process occurs early in the morning, usually between the hours of 4 and 7 a.m. to ensure that those surveyed are among the unsheltered homeless population. Unsheltered individuals and families tend to reflect those who are not seeking or engaging with local service systems independently, and thus, those who are most likely to remain unhoused without proactive assistance. (read more)

Track Your Progress:

Solving a problem is impossible without a broad-based team and a reliable way of measuring success. Without regular performance data, we have no way of knowing whether or not the methods that communities are employing to end homelessness are working. That’s why 100,000 Homes communities commit to reporting their housing progress monthly and measuring that performance against clear and carefully determined benchmarks.

Each month, local advocates report the total number of people they have housed to the 100,000 Homes data team which uses that information to prepare detailed, individually tailored performance reports for each community enrolled in the Campaign. These reports outline a community’s progress toward its goal of ending homelessness and compare its efforts to the performance of similarly sized and resourced communities around the country.

When communities report consistently for three months in a row, they are placed on the 100,000 Homes Fully Committed List, a list regularly shared with national funders and media representatives in an effort to highly communities who are committed to using data to improve performance. (read more)

Improve Local Systems:

In most cases, the solution to homelessness is apparent– it’s implementing that solution that often proves challenging. This is because most communities have no clear, intentionally developed process for moving homeless people from the streets to permanent housing quickly and efficiently. Typically, different local agencies and organizations own different pieces of the housing process and rarely communicate with one another. These various groups require redundant forms, applications, and interview steps and often fail to process these requirements in a regular or timely way. As a result, it often takes more than a year to move a single individual from homelessness to a home, even with sustainable funding in place.

100,000 Homes communities are committed to pulling together their multiple overlapping service systems into a single, well-oiled housing placement machine capable of moving homeless individuals into permanent housing in as little time as possible. By applying process improvement techniques drawn from industry and the private sector to local housing and human service work, many communities have been able to dramatically reduce the amount of time required to house a single homeless person by as much as 80 percent. (read more)

St. Louis is listed as a community on the organization website but clicking on the dot on the map is disappointing:

Zero progress?
Zero progress?

I emailed St. Louis’ director of human services William Siedhoff who replied;

“St. Louis might be listed as a community as part of the 100k effort but we have never been a participant in this program and, to my knowledge, none of the surrounding counties are involved either. Therefore, there would be no reporting of data on people being housed in the St. Louis region to this program.”

That’s good to know. Siedhoff also sent me a link to an article from a few days ago:

TAMPA — In 2002, local leaders adopted a 10-year plan to end homelessness in Hillsborough County based on the “housing first” philosophy sweeping the nation. In 2005, the city of St. Louis adopted a similar plan.

Nine years later, St. Louis’ plan has lowered its homeless population by more than 30 percent.

Hillsborough’s plan was never carried out. (read more — highly recommended)

Some in Tampa want to emulate our model.

The poll question last week was on homelessness, here are the results:

Q: Do you support giving the chronically homeless apartments?

  1. Yes, it’s likely cheaper 36 [29.27%]
  2. Yes, but only after completing work/treatment programs 30 [24.39%]
  3. Maybe, I need to learn more 29 [23.58%]
  4. No, they need to work like the rest of society 24 [19.51%]
  5. Unsure/No Opinion 4 [3.25%]

The 24 who said no are probably the same ones who complain the loudest about the homeless, lots of talk but no actual solutions. Likewise the 30 who said only after completing programs need to understand how housing improves the success rate. Without housing social workers have less success helping these individuals.

The government and public are spending billions annually already, the question is how effective are we?  There’s evidence to support the idea that getting the chronic homeless off the streets first lessons the burden on the community and has a greater chance of helping the individuals long term.

— Steve Patterson


Best Thing Expected To Happen In The St. Louis Region In 2014…

January 8, 2014 STL Region No Comments

The top two answers in last week’s unscientific poll tied, with third close behind.

Q: Best thing expected to happen in the St. Louis region in 2014?

  1. Opening of the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge 21 [19.63%]
  2. Loop Trolley construction begins 21 [19.63%]
  3. St. Louis’ 250th anniversary 19 [17.76%]
  4. Phase One of Ballpark Village opens 15 [14.02%]
  5. Other: 14 [13.08%]
  6. Unsure/no opinion 6 [5.61%]
  7. Fields Foods grocery store opens 4 [3.74%]
  8. Same-sex marriage in Illinois (June 1st) 3 [2.8%]
  9. Medical marijuana in Illinois 3 [2.8%]
  10. March Madness (Basketball tournaments) 1 [0.93%]

The fourteen “other” answers supplied by readers were:

  1. None of the above
  2. Progress on CityArchRiver
  3. american airlines merger
  4. Groundbreaking on Paul McKee’s Northside project (if it actually happens)
  5. City wide form based zoning is adopted
  6. Not getting my car ganked downtown cuz now I park in a garage – only $140/month.
  7. northside project starts
  8. Rams Make a Deal to Stay in STL
  9. Buildings around old post office get redeveloped/ Further cwe/cortex development
  10. City re-enters the County
  11. Freeman Bosley Jr and Charlie Dooley go to jail.
  12. Continued neighborhood redevelopment and rehab.
  13. move toward city/county consolidation
  14. Announcement for Pevely reuse

My point was to look at things actually expected to happen. In the comments on the original post someone unhappy with my choices asked “Boeing decision?”

The company called off its nationwide site search in the wee hours of Saturday morning, immediately after word came that its Seattle-area Machinists union had voted to accept a pension-cutting contract to assemble the plane in the Puget Sound area, 51 percent to 49. (stltoday.com)

It was potentially an exciting thing for the region, but with 20+ states competing it wasn’t something we could’ve expected. In the end, Boeing used Missouri and other states to get their contract accepted in Seattle.

McKee’s vision calls for many projects, the first was completed a few years ago (new building on the north edge of downtown). The city will not reenter the county in 2014, though the topic may come up.  The Rams will reach a decision about the Edward Jones Dome, but we’ll see if anyone is excited by their decision.

I think 2014 will be a decent year, but 2015 will be a bigger year.

— Steve Patterson

Poll: Best Thing Expected to Happen in the St. Louis Region in 2014?

Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar

2014 will be a busy year in the region with a number of positive things:

  • Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge opens to traffic
  • St. Louis celebrates 250th anniversary
  • Phase One of Ballpark Village opens
  • March Madness basketball tournaments
  • Fields Foods opens

Some things that are controversial in some circles:

  • Same-sex marriages begin in Illinois (mine’s June 8th!)
  • Medical marijuana in Illinois
  • Loop Trolley construction starts

The poll this week asks you to pick one thing you think is the best thing for the region. Because there may be other things happening I didn’t list you can add your own item in the poll (right sidebar).

— Steve Patterson

Poll Results on Vehicles Per Licensed Driver

There are many ways to measure and compare regions/states on how auto-centric they are. For the poll last week I selected number of vehicles per licensed driver. The results of the poll are near the end but first I want to share other data.

Ford Focus at the 2011 St. Louis Auto Show
Ford Focus at the 2011 St. Louis Auto Show

Examples of vehicle miles traveled per capita in 2005:

  • 1) New York City metro: 5,889.9
  • 11) Chicago metro: 7,540.5
  • 22) Seattle metro: 8,552.6
  • 37) Wichita: 9,237.2
  • 46) Minneapolis metro: 9,585.0
  • 55) Austin metro: 10,220.3
  • 64) Kansas City metro: 10,726.2
  • 77) St. Louis metro: 11,511.4 
  • 88) Nashville metro: 12,275.4
  • 92) Oklahoma City metro: 12,325.0

I see this as good evidence our region is too auto dependent, 76 metro areas had less vehicles miles per person than we did in 2005! But maybe we’ve peaked:

When adjusted for population growth, the number of miles driven in the United States peaked in 2005 and dropped steadily thereafter, according to an analysis by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives, an investment research company. As of April 2013, the number of miles driven per person was nearly 9 percent below the peak and equal to where the country was in January 1995. Part of the explanation certainly lies in the recession, because cash-strapped Americans could not afford new cars, and the unemployed weren’t going to work anyway. But by many measures the decrease in driving preceded the downturn and appears to be persisting now that recovery is under way. The next few years will be telling. (New York Times)

Even if we’ve declined since 2005 like everyone else, we’re still driving considerably more miles per capita than 76 other regions.

Here are the results from last week’s poll:

Q: How many vehicles per licensed driver in your household?

  1. One+, but less than two 33 [45.21%]
  2. Less than one, more than zero 21 [28.77%]
  3. Two+, but less than three 9 [12.33%]
  4. Zero 6 [8.22%]
  5. Three+ 4 [5.48%]

I’ll admit I broke an important rule when it comes to polls — keeping the answers uniform. It appears the readers who responded don’t have an excess of vehicles, with over 8% saying their household has zero cars per licensed driver.

— Steve Patterson

Readers: City & County Should Reconcile

September 18, 2013 Politics/Policy, STL Region 99 Comments

More than ninety percent of readers that voted in the poll last week favor some form of reconciliation between the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County.  Voting was nearly double the usual.

Q: Should St. Louis City & St. Louis County Reconcile? If So, How?

  1. St. Louis City should rejoin St. Louis County as the 91st municipally 65 [36.31%]
  2. St. Louis City & St. Louis County (and all its municipalities, schools districts, fire districts, etc) should become one government body 52 [29.05%]
  3. St. Louis City & St. Louis County (and all its municipalities) should become one government body 45 [25.14%]
  4. St. Louis City & St. Louis County should remain separate, but partner more 12 [6.7%]
  5. St. Louis City & St. Louis County should remain completely separate (no change) 5 [2.79%]
  6. Unsure/No Opinion 0 [0%]

More than 54% favor some form of consolidated government, not just becoming the 91st municipality. If St. Louis became the 91st municipality it would be the largest in terms of population and 2nd largest in land area, Wildwood is slightly larger in area.

For years I’ve favored a super consolidation  — all municipalities, school districts, fire districts, etc being made into one. But I recognize this wouldn’t be a magic bullet to solve issues of poverty, unemployment, stagnant/declining population, in the city & county. Some regional problems would be solved, but others would be created in the process — unintended consequences tend to pop up.

What needs to take place isn’t a discussion of solutions, but a discussion of problems facing the region. From there we can work toward a collective solution(s). Our history has been a group or individual has pushed a change in governance out of selfish interests. There’s been some mild effort to give the appearance of a grassroots movement rather than what it is.

I want change, I think the region needs change.  But we must learn from the consequences of other city-county consolidations.We shouldn’t do this so one person can get his wish to end income taxes and fund government largely through sales taxes. As a low-income person I know the burden sales taxes place on the poor. I’m not willing to suffer so millionaires can reduce their obligation to society.

Here are some groups currently working on consolidation/merger:

Right now I’m still research each to see if they’re legit, or just a front. Part of that includes reading from a variety of sources, for example:

If the city’s current system of having “county” offices that operate independently of the city is an absurd waste of resources and duplication of services, then what is to be said of a county that has 43 fire districts and more than 60 police departments? Compared outright to St. Louis County, St. Louis city is a model of economy and streamlined public services. It may be ridiculous that the city has a comptroller, treasurer, collector of revenue and license collector, but for many of its square miles the county is nothing – governmentally speaking – more than a speed trap that feeds money into one strip mall city hall or another. (St. Louis American)

I believe we can have a better government structure that makes us competitive with other regions, bettering the lives of everyone, not just a few.  It’ll take open dialog to get there.

— Steve Patterson

Poll: What Three (3) St. Louis Area Restaurants Have Closed That You Wish Were Still Open?

Many restaurants I remember from my childhood in Oklahoma City have since closed: Split-T, Al’s Hideaway BBQ, Nicolosi’s, etc. In my 23 years in St. Louis I’ve seen many restaurants come and go too. All I have left are fond memories.

Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar

The poll this week asks: What three (3) St. Louis area restaurants have closed that you wish were still open? So put on your nostalgia hat and review the list of 30 I’ve included as options in the poll:

  1. 94th Aerosquadron
  2. Bleeding Deacon
  3. Brandt’s
  4. Busch’s Grove
  5. Chez Leon
  6. Chuy Arzola’s (Dogtown)
  7. Del Taco
  8. Delmar Lounge
  9. Duff’s
  10. El Burrito Loco
  11. Empire Sandwich Shop
  12. Flaco’s Tacos
  13. King Louie’s
  14. Marty’s Baking
  15. Minions Cafe
  16. Miss Hullings
  17. Monarch
  18. O’Malley’s
  19. Papa Fabare’s
  20. Parkmoor
  21. Pestalozzi Place
  22. Red Moon
  23. Rossino’s
  24. Sunshine Inn
  25. The Salad Bowl
  26. Shangri La Diner
  27. The Stable
  28. Tangerine
  29. Tin Can
  30. Zoe’s Panasian

They’re alphabetical here but will be presented in random order in the poll (right sidebar). Here are more closed restaurants you might want to include in the other field:

  1. Colorado
  2. Gulf Coast Cafe
  3. Kitchen K
  4. Kopperman’s
  5. La Fourchette
  6. Mattingly’s
  7. Mojo Tapas
  8. Moxy
  9. Pelican
  10. Sage
  11. Simply Fondue
  12. Shuggas
  13. Southern Belle Supper Club
  14. Tanner B’s
  15. Terrene

You can also review a list of closed restaurants on UrbanSpoon.com.

Thanks to my Facebook friends with help generating all these names, I’d forgotten about many. Please share your memories in the comments below.

— Steve Patterson

Poll: Why So Little Transit-Oriented Development In The Last 20 Years?

The 20th anniversary of the opening of our light rail sys system, MetroLink, is next week.For the last 12-18 months there has been a big push by Citizens for Modern Transit and East West Gateway Council of Governments to kickstart development around the stations.

ABOVE: Looking west toward the Union Station MetroLink Station from 16th & Clark
Looking west toward the Union Station MetroLink Station from 16th & Clark. The offices on the left aren’t oriented to transit, just adjacent.
ABOVE: The only thing at the station currently is 1,583 parking spaces (926 surface, 657 in garage)
The only thing at the North Hanley station  is 1,583 parking spaces (926 surface, 657 in garage)
ABOVE: After the shortcut through the park the residents still have to walk through a parking lot. Pedestrians shouldn't have to walk through a parking lot, they're among the least appealing places to walk.
Not much exists around the Wellston Station, the jobs center in the background is hard to reach on foot, easy by car though

The poll this week lists many possible reasons why development hasn’t happened around the stations, you can pick up to 3. The choices are presented in random order.

On July 31st, MetroLink’s 20th anniversary, I’ll share my thoughts on why development hasn’t happened  and what we need to do so the next 20 years are more productive.

— Steve Patterson

New Books From Reedy Press: Black Missourians, Eckert Summer Cookbook, Do Before You Die, St. Lou-isms

I’ve received a number of books recently, this post is about four from St. Louis-based publisher Reedy Press.


Covers of the four books
Covers of the four books

The first fills in a gap in my knowledge about some names I’ve heard in my nearly 23 years as a resident of St. Louis.

Extraordinary Black Missourians: Pioneers, Leaders, Performers, Athletes, and Other Notables Who’ve Made History by John A. Wright Sr. and Sylvia A. Wright, $19.95.  ISBN: 9781935806479

African Americans have been a part of Missouri from its territorial days to the present, and Extraordinary Black Missourians describes more than 100 pioneers, educators, civil rights activists, scientists, entertainers, athletes, journalists, authors, soldiers, and attorneys who have lived in the state for part or all of their lives. Josephine Baker, Lloyd Gaines, Langston Hughes, Annie Malone, Dred Scott, Roy Wilkins, and others featured in the book are representative of individuals who have contributed to the African American legacy of Missouri. They set records, made discoveries, received international acclaim and awards, as well as led in the civil rights movement by breaking down racial barriers. These accomplishments, and others, have played a major role in shaping the history and culture of the state and nation. Extraordinary Black Missourians attempts to put a face on these individuals and tells of their joys, failures, hardships, and triumphs over sometimes insurmountable odds.

With a look at blacks from all over the state, there are names in the contents I’ve never heard before. Glad to have this indexed book for future reference.


Everyone that has lived in St. Louis knows the name Eckert. Last year I posted about The Eckert Family Fall Cookbook and now they’re out with a summer volume:

The Eckert Family Summer Cookbook: Peach, Tomato, Blackberry Recipes and More compiled by Jill Eckert-Tantillo and Angie Eckert, $12.00. ISBN: 9781935806462

The second installment of the Eckert Family Cookbook Series features delectable, time-tested recipes from their famous summer harvest. From roasted tomato gratin to peach cobbler, The Eckert Family Summer Cookbook covers every category from soups and salads through desserts. Recipes emphasize ingredients pulled straight from the fields during summer months, when tender fruits flourish alongside root vegetables, sturdy greens, and woody herbs. Highlights include corn saute, peach tomato mozzarella salad, pork tenderloin with balsamic peaches, and fresh blackberry tart, among other delights. Tips and techniques for preparation and storage also fill The Eckert Family Summer Cookbook-the latest example that eating locally grown foods is a family tradition for the Eckerts! Jill Eckert-Tantillo is vice president of Marketing and Food Services for Eckert’s. Angie Eckert is vice president of Retail Operations for both the Country Store and the Garden Center for Eckert’s. Both Jill and Angie love to prepare meals for family and friends using the freshest ingredients of the season. They believe the best family memories are made around the dinner table.


Bored? Here’s a book with 100 suggestions on things to do here in St. Louis. Scanning the list I’d say I’ve only done about 20-25 of them, so I’d better get busy.

100 Things to Do in St. Louis Before You Die by Amanda E. Doyle, $15.00. ISBN: 9781935806509

Let’s face it: St. Louis is a big city, and life is short. Whether it’s moving some musts to the “done” column of your bucket list or finding fresh ways to spend your summer in the city, this handy compendium will make the most of your minutes. Bike the Riverfront Trail to the Chain of Rocks Bridge, sip a chocolate malt at Crown Candy Kitchen, hold your breath during the high-wire act at Circus Flora, or admire the architectural and design splendor of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ebsworth Park home: you just gotta do it! One hundred ways to connect with your town await. Special features include insider tips on getting the most from your stops and themed itineraries for the truly adventurous. As the associate editor of Where Magazine for the past 13 years, and as mom to a curious preschooler, Amanda E. Doyle enjoys seeking out the city’s singular charms, including those documented in her two previous books, Finally! A Locally Produced Guidebook to St. Louis, By and For St. Louisans, Neighborhood by Neighborhood and To the Top! A Gateway Arch Story.


Every region has lingo that is unfamiliar to newcomers, St. Louis is no exception.

St. Lou-isms: Lingo, Lore, and the Lighter Side of Life in the Gateway City by John L. Oldani, PhD, $19.95. ISBN: 9781935806448

Do you warsh your dishes and rinsh them in the zink? Do you eat mustgo for dinner? Heard about zombies in Wildwood or St. Louis Hills? Ghostly hitchhikers in Florissant? What or who is a St. Louis Hoosier? In St. Lou-isms, John “Dr. Jack” Oldani documents wholly new St. Louis folklore related to senior citizens, baby boomers, lawyers, nurses, new St. Louis vocabulary, Irish and Bosnian folklore, and even urban belief tales. Dogtown, St. Louis Hills, Valley Park, Wildwood, Ellisville, and other communities are connected through jokes, beliefs, tales, speech, lingo, graffiti, games, and other lore. St. Lou-isms decodes the lingo and traces the stories, shared by all St. Louisans. This book will keep you from being St. Louis “stupid,” or a few clowns short of a circus! You can live, laugh, and learn to leave a legacy! For more than 30 years, Dr. John L. Oldani, a St. Louis native, has been a professor of American Studies and folklore at American and international universities. From his fieldwork, he has collected more than 150,000 folklore texts from the St. Louis area. He is the author of four other books on American folklore, one highlighting the American quilter.

Look for these at local bookstores like Left Bank, AIA, Missouri Botanical Garden, etc., or click the title link to order direct from the publisher.

— Steve Patterson


The Sunday Poll isn't scientific, but a way to see what readers think on different topics.



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