Opinion: Urban Design Only Works If Both Sides Of The Street(s) Are Also Urban

 

 When I started this blog over 14 years ago I was of the belief that all corridors in the city should be urbanized as new development replaced old. Gradually the corridor would slowly become more urban — with newer buildings up to the street rather than set back behind a …

Thoughts on the Midterm Election

 

 Among the biggest midterm election news is that deep red Missouri overwhelmingly approved the most liberal (Proposition 2) of three medical marijuana propositions, the other two failed (Prop 3 & Prop C). All 3 were described in a Sunday Poll in late September. In 2019 we’ll see rules for growers & …

Sunday Poll: Should All New Development in St. Louis be Urban or is Some Suburban OK?

 

 A century ago St. Louis was highly walkable with an abundance of streetcar lines, but in the last 100 years we’ve widened streets, created major interstate highways, developed suburbs not served by commuter rail, etc. In the city buildings built up to the sidewalk have been replaced by buildings set …

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 23 of 2018-2019 Session

 

 The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will meet at 10am today, their 23rd meeting of the 2018-2019 session. Today’s agenda includes four(4) new bills: B.B.#157 – Ingrassia – An ordinance approving a blighting study and redevelopment plan for Chouteau/Jefferson/La Salle/Missouri/ Hickory/Mackay Place Redevelopment; and containing a severability clause. B.B.#158 – Vollmer …

Recent Articles:

Opinion: Urban Design Only Works If Both Sides Of The Street(s) Are Also Urban

November 14, 2018 Featured, Planning & Design Comments Off on Opinion: Urban Design Only Works If Both Sides Of The Street(s) Are Also Urban
 

When I started this blog over 14 years ago I was of the belief that all corridors in the city should be urbanized as new development replaced old. Gradually the corridor would slowly become more urban — with newer buildings up to the street rather than set back behind a sea of parking. This has become the reality in a few places, mostly in the Central West End — but also in other places.

Arlington Grove has two 3-story buildings facing MLK in North St. Louis

The form is good, with active uses at the sidewalk level. So this helps to restore an urban feel to Martin Luther King Drive, right? No, because across the street is a typical suburban gas station & convenience store.

With this across MLK it’s impossible to create an urban street.

This came to mind Friday when Board Bill 157 was introduced for the redevelopment of the SE corner of Chouteau & Jefferson.

Looking East along Chouteau from Jefferson. The sheet metal workers building, on the left, is in Downtown West. The proposed redevelopment site, on the right is in Lafayette Square.

Lafayette Square has strict guidelines foe new construction, but given the suburban nature of both Jefferson & Chouteau it’s kinda hard to see the point of having only one of four corners be urban. Across Jefferson had some urban buildings until a few years ago.

Former buildings on the SW corner of Chouteau & Jefferson, in The Gate neighborhood.
A suburban QT now occupies a large site on the SW corner of Chouteau & Jefferson.

In the above image you can see the NW corner is no longer urban either. That corner, by the way, is in the Midtown neighborhood.

So we have a major intersection that’s mostly suburban in design — each corner in a different neighborhood. Only one of the four has urban design guidelines — but what’s the point in enforcing them when the other three corners are urban holes?

The recent non-scientific Sunday Poll asked about development along major corridors such as Jefferson, Chouteau, etc:

Q: Agree or disagree: St. Louis should accept most major corridors, with the exception of a few, are largely auto-centric/suburban and will never be re-urbanized.

  • Strongly agree: 1 [4.17%]
  • Agree: 1 [4.17%]
  • Somewhat agree: 2 [8.33%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 1 [4.17%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 7 [29.17%]
  • Disagree: 5 [20.83%]
  • Strongly disagree: 7 [29.17%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

Most disagreed with the statement, I used to be a “strongly disagree”, but now I’m barely a “somewhat disagree.”

Living in St. Louis foe 28+ years I’ve seen so much potential wasted as we constantly shoot ourselves in the foot with suburban development directly across from acceptable urban development. I just don’t see the political will to set guidelines that’ll eventually create great urban corridors. With this reality, it’s hard to be optimistic about St. Louis’ future.

— Steve Patterson

Thoughts on the Midterm Election

November 12, 2018 Drug Policy, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Thoughts on the Midterm Election
 
Most of the recreational marijuana stores we visited in Colorado in 2014 had a separate section for medical marijuana.

Among the biggest midterm election news is that deep red Missouri overwhelmingly approved the most liberal (Proposition 2) of three medical marijuana propositions, the other two failed (Prop 3 & Prop C). All 3 were described in a Sunday Poll in late September. In 2019 we’ll see rules for growers & dispensaries.  A year from now we should see storefronts fill up as dispensaries occupy them.

Missouri voters also approved a new redistricting plan with campaign limits (Proposition 1). The state’s minimum wage will now increase gradually to $12/hour by 2023.  A gradual fuel tax increase failed (Prop D).

St. Louis County voters approved all propositions:

  • 1 (donation limits to candidates for county executive or council)
  • 2 (County council can hire their own attorney separate from the county counselor, who is appointed by the county executive)
  • B (County council more budgetary power)
  • C (Require specific County financial information be placed online)
  • D (Establishing a commission to examine revising county charter)
  • F (A casino-backed smoking change)
  • Z (one-eighth of 1 percent sales tax for the Zoo)

St. Charles County passed their first smoke-free law, with exemptions.

Claire McCaskill lost her bid for a 3rd term in the US Senate. Though I voted blue, I know she wouldn’t have won a 2nd term in 2012 had Todd Aikn not mentioned “legitimate rape.”  This was a gift she didn’t receive this year.  As I watched her ads about being right in the middle I hated that I had to fill in bubble next to her name.

The middle is a point equidistant from two poles. That’s it. There is nothing inherently virtuous about being neither here nor there. Buried in this is a false equivalency of ideas, what you might call the “good people on both sides” phenomenon. When we revisit our shameful past, ask yourself, Where was the middle? Rather than chattel slavery, perhaps we could agree on a nice program of indentured servitude? Instead of subjecting Japanese-American citizens to indefinite detention during WW II, what if we had agreed to give them actual sentences and perhaps provided a receipt for them to reclaim their things when they were released? What is halfway between moral and immoral?

When we revisit our shameful past, ask yourself, Where was the middle?

The search for the middle is rooted in conflict avoidance and denial. For many Americans it is painful to understand that there are citizens of our community who are deeply racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic. Certainly, they reason, this current moment is somehow a complicated misunderstanding. Perhaps there is some way to look at this–a view from the middle–that would allow us to communicate and realize that our national identity is the tie that will bind us comfortably, and with a bow. The headlines that lament a “divided” America suggest that the fact that we can’t all get along is more significant than the issues over which we are sparring. (Time)

If Democrats want to win in Missouri they need to stop trying to be GOP Lite.

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Should All New Development in St. Louis be Urban or is Some Suburban OK?

November 11, 2018 Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should All New Development in St. Louis be Urban or is Some Suburban OK?
 
Please vote below

A century ago St. Louis was highly walkable with an abundance of streetcar lines, but in the last 100 years we’ve widened streets, created major interstate highways, developed suburbs not served by commuter rail, etc. In the city buildings built up to the sidewalk have been replaced by buildings set back behind parking.

All this has taken a toll on the walkability of the city:

St. Louis has an average Walk Score of 65 with 319,294 residents.

St. Louis has some public transportation and is somewhat bikeable.

The most walkable St. Louis neighborhoods are Downtown, Benton Park West and Benton Park. (WalkScore)

WalkScore says “St. Louis is Somewhat Walkable: Some errands can be accomplished on foot.”  The site combines Downtown & Downtown West into one neighborhood called…Downtown (WalkScore is 89).  Many other neighborhoods are considered car-dependent.

Today’s poll is about going forward. Namely, should we try to add urban buildings when building new or should we only do so in a few areas that are currently urban/walkable?

Today’s non-scientific poll will close at 8pm.

— Steve Patterson

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 23 of 2018-2019 Session

November 9, 2018 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 23 of 2018-2019 Session
 
St. Louis City Hall

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will meet at 10am today, their 23rd meeting of the 2018-2019 session.

Today’s agenda includes four(4) new bills:

  • B.B.#157 – Ingrassia – An ordinance approving a blighting study and redevelopment plan for Chouteau/Jefferson/La Salle/Missouri/ Hickory/Mackay Place Redevelopment; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#158 – Vollmer – An ordinance authorizing and directing the Mayor and Comptroller to execute a Quit Claim Deed to Mary Jane Waggoner for certain City-owned property located in City Block 5054, which property is known as 3120 Alfred Avenue, upon receipt of and in consideration of the sum of Fifty-Five Thousand Dollars ($55,000.00), and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#159 – Williamson – Pursuant to Ordinance 68937, an ordinance authorizing the honorary street name Von Verson Avenue which shall begin at the intersection of Hamilton and Enright and run east on Enright to the intersection of Goodfellow Boulevard and Enright.
  • B.B.#160 – Roddy – Pursuant to Ordinance 68937, an ordinance authorizing the honorary street name Bob Gibson Way, which shall begin at the intersection of Gibson and South Kingshighway and run east on Gibson to the intersection of Gibson and Kentucky.

The meeting begins at 10am, past meetings and a live broadcast can be watched online here. See list of all board bills for the 2017-2018 session — the new bills listed above may not be online right away.

— Steve Patterson

 

Opinion: Financial Literacy Critical as World Goes Cashless

November 7, 2018 Crime, Featured, Politics/Policy, Retail Comments Off on Opinion: Financial Literacy Critical as World Goes Cashless
 
Shake Shack is one of the places mentioned as going/being cashless. Since we use plastic I have no clue if they accept cash or not.

The recent non-scientific Sunday Poll was about cashless businesses — establishments where you need plastic (debit/credit) to purchase goods/services. I current live essentially a cashless life — save for one $2 PowerBall ticket per month. After having paid off mountains of credit card debt the 2nd time I vowed to never have credit cards again. Then, in 2012, I sold my car. For a few years prior I didn’t use bills & coins, just my debit card. Once I sold my car I knew I needed a dreaded credit card again to be able to rent a card at times.

My parents, both now deceased, were raised in Oklahoma during the Great Depression/Dust Bowl. They tried very hard to instill good money management habits in me. I listed…then did all the wrong things over and over. I was never a fan of cash, though I still remember going with my dad as a kid when he bought a used van from an individual. They haggled on the price and when they agreed on a number my dad pulls out his wallet from the bib in his work overalls. He then proceeded to count out the $5,o00-$6,000 amount in $100 bills. Today people would think they were counterfeit, but it was like 1981 and people were more trusting. The seller had a shocked look on his face because my dad never looked like he had much to his name — but he usually had a few thousand in cash on him. I rarely have more than $5 on me.

Since my stroke and father’s passing in 2008, and selling my car & meeting my husband in 2012, I’ve applied all the financial advice my parents gave me. I do things differently than they did, however. We pay for everything we can on credit cards. This allows me to do a monthly cash flow spreadsheet for the next month. I know when each payment is due and when we each get paid. By paying off all cards on the due date we don’t pay any interest. In fact, we basically borrow a couple of thousand dollars each month interest free.

I know a person who received a small amount from social security every month. The government stopped mailing checks long ago, and she can’t manage a checking account with or without a debit card. She got her benefits through a checking cashing place that charged high fees to receive her money electronically and convert it into cash for her. For those like her  they can receive benefits on a government debit card — no checking account required.  Still, it’s hard for people who’re used to carrying cash to adjust to non-cash on a debit-only or checking account. I’ve been trying to educate my brother-in-law for a few years now.

Which brings me to cashless businesses. I got on this topic because of the homeless asking me for change. I barely have a $5, and certainly don’t have any coins. I recognize it’s unlikely they realize the world is going cashless. Think of all the things that require plastic: renting scooters/bikes, parking apps, transit fare machines?, Redbox/Netflix.  There are non-attended gas stations, like the one at Broadway & Chouteau, that only accepts credit cards.

b

I worked retail for about 6 years when I was in high school & college, thankfully never encountered a robbery. For a few years I was one of the people that went to the registers at Toys “R” Us to remove excess cash during the holidays.

Last week one local retail clerk wasn’t so lucky.

An armed robber opened fire inside a Dollar General store in St. Louis Thursday afternoon, hitting and killing a store clerk, police said. (Post-Dispatch)

Going cashless can reduce crime.

In Sweden, which is leading the race toward a cashless society, negative attitudes toward the decline in cash usage has increased as the country progresses toward a cashless society. Although cash is still used extensively in several countries, such as Austria and Germany, the use of physical cash is diminishing across the board.

Even the U.S., where cash accounts for one-third of all purchases, the use of cash is declining. But at the same time, the amount of cash being issued is growing. Forty years ago there was approximately $80 billion of cash in circulation. Today, this number has increased nearly 20 times, to roughly $1.5 trillion in circulation. In the same period, the amount of $100 bills has increased from 25 percent in the mid-1970s to around 80 percent today.

The obvious explanation is inflation. However, the increase has exceeded inflation — with a good margin. According to economist and author Kenneth Rogoff, the world is drowning in cash, and it is making us poorer and less safe. He argues in his book The Curse of Cash that this phenomenon is not an American phenomenon, but also the case for every other widely used currency — and the primary explanation is that cash is the preferred means of value exchange in the black-market economy. His solution? Phase out the larger bills. (Techcrunch)

Of course cash is also the currency for legal medical & recreational marijuana — because retailers can’t get back accounts because of outdated federal drug laws.

I don’t want cash-only people to be excluded from society, but increasingly being cash-only means they’re not part of the mainstream. I want to help find ways to ease them into new habits. So do the credit card companies. They make their money from fees charged on every transaction. Those of us with excellent credit scores can get rewards cards to offset fees but most don’t qualify for these cards.

This is a long way of saying I have no clue about banning cashless businesses. Would have zero impact on my life either way, but would keep many from being excluded. In the non-scientific poll most didn’t think we should ban cashless businesses:

Q: Agree or disagree: St. Louis should ban cashless businesses & discounts for paying with cash

  • Strongly agree: 2 [8%]
  • Agree: 2 [8%]
  • Somewhat agree: 3 [12%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 1 [4%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 3 [12%]
  • Disagree: 6 [24%]
  • Strongly disagree: 7 [28%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 1 [4%]

As more commerce moves online/apps the number of legal cash transactions will decline. As cash transactions decline and store robberies increase, we’ll see more businesses make the decision to go cashless.  Now is the time to increase financial literacy to help others adjust.

— Steve Patterson

Advertisement



FACEBOOK POSTS

There’s enough room on sidewalks for cafe tables, signs, scooters, etc.; but only if thoughtfully placed — not next to each other. Turns out my power wheelchair can easily knock scooters out of the way...#stl ... See MoreSee Less

23 hours ago  ·  

Noticed Friday morning downtown signals were changed to give pedestrians a signal a second or two before traffic gets a green light. Yay, this is very helpful to us pedestrians! Is it citywide? #stl ... See MoreSee Less

2 days ago  ·  

Archives

Categories

Advertisement


Subscribe