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Readers happy about new single stream recycling

The weekly poll last week was about the city’s new trash collection fee:

Q: St. Louis has just started a trash fee of $11 per month per unit. Which of the following two best describes your reaction:

  1. Glad single-stream recycling was added 75 [37.69%]
  2. The fee is fair for the service provided 39 [19.6%]
  3. Other taxes being collected to the city should cover trash collection 20 [10.05%]
  4. I don’t mind the fee as long as they continue picking up twice per week 17 [8.54%]
  5. I live outside the city and pay for my trash collection. 15 [7.54%]
  6. Multi-family buildings should pay a lower fee per unit than single family houses 11 [5.53%]
  7. I pay for private trash collection through my condo fee (or similar) 8 [4.02%]
  8. The city went to once per week collection for a bit just so $11/month for twice a week wouldn’t seem so bad. 7 [3.52%]
  9. Unsure/no opinion 4 [2.01%]
  10. Other answer… 3 [1.51%]

Voters were allowed to vote for two answers.  No matter their view on the fee, they liked the recycling.  Had the recycling not been added I think we would have seen a revolt.

The three other answers were:

  1. I MAYBE trash 1 bag/2 weeks. Everything else is composted/recycled.
  2. I think the whole thing is crap.
  3. If we would work on increasing the population

Share your thoughts on the fee below.

– Steve Patterson


Motorcycle & scooter parking needed in our region

Before my 2008 stroke I got around on a 49cc Honda Metropolitan scooter.  Because of the small displacement engine it did not need to be licensed by the Missouri (some states require registering all scooters regardless of engine size).  I’d park in out of the way places but at times I’d get notes from officers suggesting I park in a metered parking spot.  My scooter was tiny and would be lost in a space.

scooter at parking meter
ABOVE: Scooter at parking meter, wasting space

Recently I noticed a much larger scooter parked at a meter on Lindell Blvd near Grand Ave. What I don’t know is if the space was empty when the scooter was parked or if the owner slipped in front of a car that left before I took the photo.  Either way you can see the ridiculousness of having fixed-length parking – the one-size-fits-all formula that wastes lots of space.

In high demand areas we need to have motorcycle & scooter parking. In the space of one car you can fit in parking for 3-6 motorcycles/scooters.  For payment you use pay-per-space machines:

ABOVE: Motorcycle parking, San Francisco 2/2004
ABOVE: Motorcycle parking, San Francisco 2/2004

You pay for the number for the slot you park in. Regular meters can also be used where you have 2-3 spaces.  By creating the spaces perpendicular to the curb line you can fit in many motorcycles & scooters.  Motorists will be less frustrated by not having a scooter taking a full space.  Riders will be happy having a designated space for their compact tw0-wheeled vehicles. The city will collect additional revenue.

– Steve Patterson


Poll: new $11/month trash fee per unit

ABOVE: A typical alley in St. Louis
ABOVE: A typical alley in St. Louis with dumpsters

If you own property in the City of St. Louis you are probably aware of the new trash collection fee:

Mayor Francis Slay has signed a new $11-a-month fee for trash pick-up in the city.

This is the first time time residents will have to pay an additional fee for the service, which was previously funded with tax dollars from the city’s general revenue. But bulk pick-up and yard waste are included, as is single-stream recycling, a new service.

The fee, which will be included on water bills, is charged per unit. Opponents said it would hit elderly residents the hardest, especially those who may live in a two-family building they own. Water rates also went up 12 percent on July 1. (Source: St. Louis Public Radio)

Many are not pleased, others say it is a fair way to help offset a major budget shortfall.

The city struggled for a way to avoid charging for trash collection, said Barbara Geisman, executive director of development for the mayor’s office. But with the city facing a serious budget shortfall and with officials wanting to add a citywide recycling program, that wasn’t possible, she said.

In alleys, new blue containers for recyclables would join yard waste containers and containers for trash.

“You can put your cans and your paper and your glass all in that blue dumpster,” Geisman said.

The existing twice-a-week trash pickup, weekly yard waste pickup during spring, summer and fall and monthly bulk refuse pickup would continue.

The program would affect about 139,000 houses, apartments and condominiums. Buildings that now have private pickup would not be affected. (Source: Suburban Journals)

Condo associations, like mine, have always paid for private trash collection and recycling.  The poll this week is trying to get a sense of how you, the reader, feels about the issue.  The poll is located at the top of the sidebar to the right.

– Steve Patterson


Gardening inside St. Louis’ Medium Security Institution

In March I visited St. Louis’ Medium Security Institution (Unexpected green on St. Patrick’s Day) to check out the installation of some garden plots.

ABOVE: MSI garden plots, March 2010
ABOVE: MSI garden plots, March 2010

Prisoners would volunteer to do the work with the food donated to local food pantries, per the requirements of the grant.  You heard about MSI recently:

Two 17-year-old prisoners, Eric Glenn Gray and Kurt Michael Wallace, escaped from the Workhouse in North St. Louis early Wednesday morning. They were apprehended late that afternoon. Gray and Wallace were discovered hiding in a vacant house in the 5900 block of Wabada at 5:45 p.m. and arrested without further incident. (Source)

So I inquired as to the status of the garden plots.

ABOVE: garden plots at MSI, Photo by Charles Bryson
ABOVE: garden plots at MSI July 2010, Photo by Charles Bryson

I was pleased to see pics of the items growing in the plots.  Conditions are less than ideal, inmates don’t stay long, watering is not easy, etc.

The area where they are gardening is quite large — I can picture a large gardening operation.  This would require intensive square foot gardening and drip irrigation.  I’d like to see the inmates grow much of their own food.

– Steve Patterson


Boycott all gasoline, not just BP gasoline

Everyone is angry at BP right now. Given the ecological disaster in the Gulf it is understandable. Many are boycotting BP branded gasoline and buying gasoline from non-BP stations instead:

Across the country, American consumers are voicing their disgust with BP (BP) over the worst oil spill in U.S. history the only way they can — by not buying gas sold under the oil company’s name. Despite their good intentions, however, it turns out that this will do little harm to the U.K. company’s bottom line.

In 2008, BP announced it was exiting the retail gasoline business because the margins were lousy. Rivals ExxonMobil (XOM) and ConocoPhillips (COP) did the same thing. Today, BP owns only about 100 of the 900 or so gas stations bearing its name.  See full article from DailyFinance.

So the boycott may be hurting local business owners in your community.  Certainly employees of these stations may face a loss of their job if the customers stay away.  The answer is not to boycott BP gasoline, but to boycott all gasoline.  We, the users of products made from crude oil, are the reason companies such as BP are drilling deeper offshore.  Granted we didn’t force them to take the risks that made have led to the explosion, worker deaths and the massive amounts of oil continuing to spill into the gulf.

But boycott all gasoline?   Yes, by significantly reducing your energy consumption.  Here are some ways:

  • Walk, bike and use public transportation more.  Any increase in these three is good.
  • Carpool with co-workers.
  • Get a high mileage motor scooter.
  • Reduce car ownership in your household — 2 > 1, 3 > 2, etc
  • Combine trips.  Don’t drive somewhere just for one task — make sure you can do one more thing while you are out.
  • Avoid products made from crude.  Hard to do since oil is in everything around us. Buying locally produced products made from renewal resources helps.
  • Buy products with less packaging.
  • Adjust your thermostat just a couple of degrees so you use less energy.
  • Buy from stores closer to your house to reducing your driving. If you are walking, biking or using transit you are already doing this but if you are driving consider your route and options on where to buy the things you need. Know the retailers between your house and work so you don’t drive out of your way.
  • If you drive a car more than five days per week see if you can reduce the number of days — try to go 2-3 days without getting in your car.

Driving past the BP station to get gas from another brand just doesn’t seem effective in the big scheme of things.

– Steve Patterson