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Advertising Blocks Public Sidewalk

January 22, 2007 Accessibility, Local Business, Midtown 26 Comments

Over the weekend I drove across the newly rebuilt and just reopened Chouteau bridge. At the end I pulled into the parking lot for Bellon’s Market Deli & Pizzeria, owned by the family which razes much of St. Louis’ history. I could not believe my eyes, a big cheap sign ugly blocking the public sidewalk.



I will be contacting Bellon’s as well as Ald. Joe Roddy, asking them to immediately remove the sign. If you spot other situations where the public space is being abused let me know.

UPDATE 1/22/07 – 2:45pm:

I received the following email response back from owner Carrie Bellon:

“I am very sorry about the sign. MODOT workers have been moving it around for several months, while all the road construction was going on. We will move the sign asap. Sorry I did not notice that it had been moved to the sidewalk.”

I’m glad they are on top of the situation now but I guess I am a bit confused why MoDot workers would be moving a sign that should be contained on private property, not in the public right of way where they have been working.

UPDATE 1/24/07 – 2pm:

The Potato, not to be confused with The Onion, did a really funny posting today mocking this post:  Newspaper Blocks Public Sidewalk


Currently there are "26 comments" on this Article:

  1. Are any of the car lots along S. Kingshighway still parking their cars on the sidewalks?

  2. Dustin says:

    “Are any of the car lots along S. Kingshighway still parking their cars on the sidewalks?”

    No, thankfully. As a matter of fact I noticed just yesterday that the new streetscape improvements on Kingshighway between Arsenal and Devonshire(?) include street trees and a low ornamental fence. Both of which I would have assumed the auto dealers would have not allowed to happen for visibility reasons. Since I first noticed the asphalt coming out of the tree lawn I have wondered if they would actually plant trees. What a wonderful difference this will make! Thanks to all responsible.

  3. steve smith says:

    Wait a sec… did that say three chilis and three soups homemade? Yay, I love soup. Now only if it had an arrow pointing to which direction I could go to get this soup…

  4. me says:

    Steve, you really need more to do. Big f-ing deal there’s a sign on the sidewalk. Nobody walks in this town, not because of crap on the sidewalks but because everything is spread out. (I know you criticize that, too, but really they are distinguishable here.)

  5. John says:

    Carrie responded to me as well. This is what she had to say:

    We did not put our sign on the sidewalk. The MODOT workers moved it out of there way & didn’t put it back. However we did purchase a new sign this morning to replce the old one & are planning to put it up on our property today. Sorry for the the misunderstading. Many construction workers used & abused our sign during the renovations. We never would of placed that sign on the sidewalk w/ such carelessness.

  6. Adam says:


    it’s a big deal to most of the people who read this blog, not just steve. there should not be a sign blocking the public sidewalk. PERIOD. but then, i guess as long as YOU don’t need to use the sidewalk then F*CK everybody else, right?

  7. STL Resident says:


    It is a “deal”, but not a “big deal”.

    Could we do something about the homeless problem before we get on someone for a sign on the sidewalk.
    How about the bouncer that got shot this weekend. Could we do something about things like this before we complain about a sign?

  8. equals42 says:

    Everyone has their own pet peeves. This one works for me as well since someone I knew was killed by traffic because they couldn’t use the sidewalks. She was disabled and rode a motorized wheelchair to school every day. Often this is caused by improper ramps at intersections and crosswalks. It also happens when places decide to use the side walks for an extension of their patio area. An example is Fridays downtown during baseball games. They place outdoor seating on the sidewalks down sixth and a beer stand with a tent awning on Chestnut. While I love beer, they make it impossible for anyone to use the sidewalks with a wheelchair.

    In this case, they may have had the sign placed somewhere that people could see during the years of construction in the area. I can’t blame them for doing what they could during those tough years. They also were very responsive and should be given a break Steve. Doing something once without knowledge or malice shouldn’t be cause for getting the “valet company treatment”.

  9. Patrick Wessel says:

    Dear STL Resident,

    If you have ever read Jane Jacobs book “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” you would understand that having a sidewalk that is free and clear for pedestrians to use can help abate crime.

    The more people that walk on a street means more eyes are on a street. With more eyes around, less crime is likely to occur. And while more pedestrians might not have stopped the shooting of the bouncer, to which you refer, it could stop other crime.

    I ask you, how can we get more eyes on the street if our sidewalks are obstructed?

    STL Resident, you can help reduce crime in the City of Saint Louis by walking on sidewalks more. No need to complain about problems, you can help prevent them simply by getting your eyes and feet on the street!

    All the best,
    Patrick Wessel

  10. Jeff Jackson says:

    Probably because the vast majority MODOT workers DRIVE cars… They don’t walk, ride a bicycle or use a bus.

    my .02

  11. Jeff Jackson says:

    I walk and do see many others walking here in St. Louis! I think there should be others out walking and bicycling like myself and others but things are a little cold out now days!

    I know things are “spread” (sprawl) out but we all choose how we use our time and transport. Instead of driving a half hour or even 15 – 20 min. to a gym and then change in 10 min to do a 30min work out you could be riding a bicycle in an hour to work which is 1 hour away (10 miles). I know because I do it regularly! Or if your work is less mileage you will get there even faster. Plus if you have a road bike you will get there faster as well! I use a comfort bike with larger tires (mostly in the winter).

    It is all about our perspective and choices!

    Keep Cycling & Walking!

  12. STeel says:

    I lived in Forest Park Southeast for 6 years and I rarely if ever see people walking on that portion of sidewalk. I drive past Bellon’s at least twice a day, in the their defense, MODOT not only moved their sign mutliple times but closed that portion of sidewalk and even part of Bellon’s parking lot during the bridge construction, not to mention the affect the bridge construction had on their business. I understand your point Steve, but you dont have to fire an e-mail at every little violation you see. Perhaps instead, you could have patronized the business and spoke with Carrie youself.

    [UrbanReviewSTL — Yes, I could have patronized the business but at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon they were not open.  Had they been open I would have gone in and asked for the manager.  The fact remains the sign was located on a public sidewalk and I alerted both the business owner and alderman of the issue, asking that it be removed.  I did not assert that Bellon’s placed the sign there, just that it was their ugly sign.

    Numerous times owners can be quite hostel when you question their use of streets or sidewalks, I never know what reaction I will get.  In this case the owner was quite nice and apologetic, but that is not always the case.  By highlighting the issue on the site it has caused many readers to think about temporary signs and how they might end up inadvertently blocking an accessible route — one that may see more use now that the bridge has been reopened.  Who knows, Matt Villa might decide to walk from his office to Bellon’s for lunch.  

    I can understand that MoDot moved the sign but I have to wonder a) is the sign allowed at all per city ordinances, b) where is the sign normally kept so that MoDot kept moving it.  I’m just guessing here that the sign was a temporary measure during all the street/bridge construction in the area.  Not knowing all the information I did not lay blame with anyone.  However, I’m thinking the Bellon’s will pay closer attention to the issue of maintaining access to public sidewalks.]

  13. Maurice says:

    I too travel that way at least a few times each week, and I do see people walking…especially in the evenings. I know that there was bridge construction going on, but that is just plain carelessness to place the sign on the sidewalk. It is a big deal. If MoDot is doing it in one spot…you can count on them doing it in other places….like along gravois, chippewa, etc. And these are state care streets since they signed them away a few years back

  14. me says:

    Did you guys hear about this: apparently there’s a war in Iraq. I heard some people don’t have health care. China just shot a missle into space. The lunatics in Iran are seeking nuclear weapons. Oh yeah, the schools in St. Louis are shit.

    Who gives a shit about a sign on a sidewalk?

    [UrbanReviewSTL — You are certainly free to start your own blog and write about whatever you please, you can establish your own priorities.  I personally find numerous media speaking about Iraq, healthcare, China, nuclear weapons and our own school system.  What has been lacking is a discussion of planning related issues in our city & region —- that is what I provide.  If you don’t like the topics I cover then I suggest you go to google and find sites covering issues of importance to you.  

    For the rest of us, we are going to continue discussing the importance of accessible sidewalks an urban cities.  This is especially important, as someone pointed out, pedestrians using wheelchairs & mobility scooters are too often forced into the streets and some have unfortunately lost their lives as a result.  I hope that in providing safer environments for pedestrians in our own city we will help save the lives of our neighbors.  Who knows, a person that gets killed as a result of being forced into the street just might have been the person that finds the solution to the schools, homelessness, or healthcare issues.] 

  15. Lovely Day says:

    “I understand your point Steve, but you dont have to fire an e-mail at every little violation you see. Perhaps instead, you could have patronized the business and spoke with Carrie youself.”

    I think the issue about blocking sidewalks could have been brought up in a positive and constructive way. One could argue that people who spread good will make for a better world but I’m not one to preach…I have my own faults. I just see so much negativity and bitterness.

    If we can remove by big honking signs from blocking our sidewalks let’s do it. I’m afraid steve, that if you walk the streets of downtown you will see dozens of signs blocking the sidewalk. Many are near or around the Busch Stadium. It’s not fair to single out one business though I will safely assume that you have a little beef with them as they “raze much of St. Louis’ history.”

    Maybe you should have contacted the company first, followed up with a topic covering various sidewalk blockings with examples from around the city, and ended with another topic showing examples of lively and pedestrian friendly sidewalks to drive home the point.


    [UrbanReviewSTL — I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. I’m sure many violations of sidewalks exist throughout the city and out in the suburban areas (well, those with any sidewalks).   Do I have time to hunt them all down?  No, I do not.  This is not a vocation — I’m not making money here.  For the most part, I don’t go out on missions to write a particular story.  Instead, I have my camera with me and I snap pictures as I observe things in my daily life. Do I have a beef with Bellon?  Sure, I don’t like companies that raze beautiful buildings.  However, they can raze all the strip centers and drive-thru joints they like.  

    I’ve got more to say but I’m not in a good mood so I’ll just leave it at that.]

  16. MeterMaid says:

    I drove by this morning on my way to work and the sign is gone. I have eaten at Bellon’s before – it was good. I like that they chose to use their building as a restaurant instead of abandoning it when they no longer needed it. Kudos. I think the point Steve made is fair and I am more apt to patronize businesses who respond quickly and positively to criticism and requests. You can always point your fingers to bigger problems – doing so accomplishes nothing. There were always be a bigger problem and that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t solve the little ones.

  17. Jim Zavist says:

    Problem identified. Problem (apparently) solved. Why shoot the messenger? Yes, Steve can be abrasive, at times, in his presentation, but he’s usually right (the law is pretty much always on his side). For a city to work, it takes complainers. It’s not the nature of most civil-service employees to go out and invent work to do – it takes complaints from interested and concerned citizens to make sure that little issues don’t become big ones. Do I like it when I get busted for minor infractions (like getting a parking ticket on street-sweeping day)? No, but it beats the altrernative, of having cars blocking the curb every month and the streets not being swept effectively. The same goes here and elsewhere. Sure, it’s just one sign and yes, pedestrians can squeeze by. Multiply that by 10 or 12 more in the same block, throw in a couple of parked cars and a bunch of broken concrete and you no longer have a sidewalk or a public way – you have chaos, both visual and physical. So, to get back to whether it’s right or wrong, if you don’t agree with the law saying no, you can’t do that – get the law changed! Until then, be prepared to have infractions like this pointed out to you. And to their credit, the folks at Bellon’s did exactly the right thing – they fixed the problem, even though they apparently didn’t really cause it. Like they said in the Godfather – it’s just business – get over any hard feelings!

  18. Adam says:

    gosh, really? there’s a war going on? there are homeless people? well damn! i’m just going to completely ignore every other issue that ever arises until these two problems are resolved! give me a break, people. just move the sign out of the public right of way. there. done.

  19. To allow the slightest obstruction of the walkable environment only paves the road for its destruction. Well done.

  20. steve smith says:

    War in Iraq? Chinese communists running amok? Crappy schools in the city? Who cares when there is homemade soup!

    I didn’t see the sign on the sidewalk yesterday.

  21. Steve,

    How about restaurants with outdoor seating that impedes foot traffic? I am freaking tired of having to walk through the maze that Mosaic puts out during warm weather on Eleventh and Lucas streets (in addition to the stupid terrace entrance that they built on Lucas taking up public space).

    [UrbanReviewSTL — Yes, sometimes it can be difficult or impossible get through places.  I’ll have to look at various sidewalk cafe situations this spring when they are really set up fully.  On one hand I love what they bring to the street — color, conversation, sound but they can make navigating the sidewalk an issue.  Tough topic]

  22. speaking of outdoor seating, navigating through the obstacle course on S. Grand that Mangia sets up often brings to mind a favorite Tyler Durden/Fight Club line “no doubt about it, as I pass do I give you the ass or the crotch?”
    I doubt neither option appeals to Mangia diners, but what are we pedestrians supposed to do? walk out into the street (which sometimes you have to do depending on how crowded the sidewalk is).

  23. Kara says:

    Ideally, the sidewalks would be built wider in the first place. This would accommodate pedestrian safety as well as provide space for outdoor seating when a restaurant moves into the commercial buildings.

    An alternative that can be acted upon today that doesn’t require redesigning the streets is to utilize the small parking lots in front of the outdated suburban architecture of the 60s as outdoor patios for sidewalk dining. They can be bricked over and trees can be planted along the street to create a pleasant environment. There is probably room in many of these situations to widen the sidewalks as well.

  24. Jim Zavist says:

    The problem with wanting wider sidewalks in most commercial areas is that there’s not enough pedestrian activity, much less sidewalk dining, to make them feel lively. Better to limit sidewalk dining in “hot” areas than to create concrete wastelands everywhere else!

  25. I love sidewalk dining, too, and I like most sidewalk signs. However, if I’m struggling as an standard able-bodied person to wander through a set-up like Mosaic’s or Mangia’s, if I were in a wheelchair I’d have even more worries.

    I wonder if such sidewalk obstruction is legal per ADA regulations.

  26. Jim Zavist says:

    Limiting public accessis definitiely illegal under the ADA. Unfortunately, enforcement is a civil and federal issue, not a city issue. Since the ADA is civil rights legislation, it requires that an individual either file a complaint with the Dept. of Justice or take an offending business to court (much more difficult than just making a phone call). Realistically, the city can go after any business for obstructing a public sidewalk (it belongs to the city, not the business, after all), but apparently both tradition and the current political environment makes this difficult for public-sector employees to accomplish!


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