Home » Events/Meetings » Recent Articles:

Preservation Board Meets Behind Closed (and Locked) Doors

April 23, 2007 Events/Meetings 8 Comments

Yes, tonight’s Preservation Board meeting was held behind closed and locked doors! Well, not on purpose. As ususal, the public had assembled in the conference room on the 12th floor of the office building located at 1015 Locust for the 4pm meeting. People generally find the room although it is not marked as such.

During the meeting I stepped out into the hallway around 5pm and noticed the door between the elevator lobby and the hall leading to the room was closed. As in past months, the door was locked so that someone arriving late would be unable to reach the meeting. I opened the door and propped it open. A woman waiting for an elevator, likely an SLDC (St. Louis Developement Corporation) employee, asked me not to prop open the door — that it was supposed to be closed after 4:30pm. I explained a public meeting was being held and that in the past people were unable to gain access unless someone let them in by opening a closed door. She indicated people go go through the SLDC reception area which does have access to the conference room. I didn’t bother arguing with her nor did I check the SLDC reception area. This interaction was witnessed by Ald. Lyda Krewson.

I returned to the conference room with the door still open. A bit later I returned to see if the door was still open, it was. However, I was able to check the glass SLDC reception doors which were locked. The lights were off, the receptionist had gone home. Had I not opened the door, a late arrival would have been unable to gain access to the public meeting. A bigger issue is that in case of fire or other emergency, some people might have used the door to leave the room and go into the SLDC reception area where they would have encountered the locked glass doors. Unlike most security doors, these do not have a “panic” bar which allows you to exit. The public should not get led to a place where they might get trapped by locked doors.

My hope here is that the Preservation Board, the Cultural Resources staff and the city’s Development Corporation staff will review their emergency exit procedures as well as their policies on access for after hours public meetings. Some signage would be nice too. And while I am wishing, it would be swell if the members of the Preservation Board would actually use the microphones provided for them so that those of us in the gallery can actually hear what they are saying.


City’s Press Release Contains Misleading Statement on Population

On Wednesday the Mayor’s office issued a press release announcing a press conference.  I attended on Thursday AM and wrote a post about facts & figures.  Here is the press release:

Mayor’s Office     Wed, Apr 18, 2007
St. Louis City Population Grows for Fourth Consecutive Year Official Census Bureau Estimate at 353,837
Mayor Francis G. Slay will join Rollin Stanley, City Planner & Urban Designer on Thursday, April 19, 2007, at 10:30 a.m. to announce the results of the latest U.S. Census Bureau estimate of population.

After five decades of non-stop decline, the population in the City has increased by nearly 18,000 in the last four years.

The announcement will be in the Mayor’s office, Room 200.

WHO:    Mayor Francis G. Slay Rollin Stanley, City Planner & Urban Designer

WHAT:    City Population Grows for Fourth Consecutive Year

WHERE:    St. Louis City Hall Room 200

WHEN:    Thursday, April 19, 2007 10:30 a.m.

# # #

But one sentence above gives a totally false impression of the true picture:

After five decades of non-stop decline, the population in the City has increased by nearly 18,000 in the last four years.

Wrong!  The population has not increased by 18,000. The misleading information above is from the city’s official press release but the mayor’s campaign site, mayorslay.com, got it right:

The U.S. Census Bureau, which annually estimates cities’ populations, has agreed that our population for July, 2006, was 353,837, an increase from the previous July. This marks the fourth straight year our population has gone up.

It has not been a dramatic jump, about 6,000 people since the last Census, but it has been a steady one.

Yes, the actual rise in population since the 2000 Census has been 5,648, less than a third of what the press release from the mayor’s office is reporting.

In the Mayor’s announcement on Thursday he actually repeated the 18,000 figure.  Mayor Slay said:

“Compared to the 2002 estimate the city’s population has grown by almost 18,000 people.”

Again, this is misleading at best.  So where’d they get this “almost 18,000” figure?  Well, they are comparing the Census’ original 2002 estimate (336,253) and saying compared to the newly accepted figure the difference is almost 18,000 higher (17,584).   This is playing with numbers and twisting the truth around.

For this to be true, we must accept that between the 2000 Census figure of 348,189 and 2002 that we lost 11,936 and then gained back 11,783 in a single year (2002 to 2003) to reach the revised census figure for 2003 of 348,039.  I think we can all reason that we did not gain nearly 12,000 residents in the 12 months between July 1, 2002 and July 1, 2003.

So the Mayor’s staff is comparing original low estimates with higher revised estimates to create the illusion of “almost 18,000” in new residents.  Luckily, I didn’t find that any of the news agencies went with this misleading figure.  I expect better of our city’s higest leader and his staff.


St. Louis Population: Census History, Estimates, Challenges and Projections

St. Louis, like most “rust belt” cities, experienced significant popuation loss during the later half of the 20th Century. Yes, old news but here is a recap:

In the 1950s St. Louis lost 106,770 people (12.5%), in the 60s that figure was up to 130,757 (17.4%), and in the 70s it continued to clime to 166,465 (26.9%). By the 80s we saw the losses slow to 56,119 for the decade (12.4%). In the 1990s the rate of decline dropped again, this time to 48,496 — the lowest decline in a decade, but still a major decline (12.2%). Added up we lost almost 60 percent of our population.

Nearly everyone we will agree the city is no longer hemorrhaging population as we had during the previous five decades. Today Mayor Slay and Planning Director Rollin Stanley announced the U.S. Census Bureau had once again partially accepted the city’s challenge to official 2006 population estimates. The Census had estimated a population of 347,181 while the city argued for 354,943. The final number per the Census for July 1, 2006 is 353,837.

Compared to the 2000 Census population of 348,189 we show a total net population gain of 5,648 in a six-year period. While an average annual gain of 941 people is not substantial it is certainly cause to celebrate compared to losing anywhere from 4,850 to 16,647 people per year (avg.) as in prior decades. Still, this represents a gain of only 1.6% since 2000 so I wouldn’t really call that gaining — more like treading water. When we have double digit gains in a decade then I think we can proclaim we are indeed increasing our population.

Census figures show a 1,175 drop in population from 350,214 in 2002 to 349,039 in 2003. The city’s figures, shown at today’s press conference, show our population lower than the census figures for 2001 & 2002 (347,954 & 347,252, respectively).  UPDATE @ 3:15pm – Director of Planning Rollin Stanley just returned my call from earlier with a clarification on why the census figures for 2001 & 2002 don’t match that of the city.  As the city had challenged 2003-06 figures the newly revised are etched in stone but the Census continues to make slight adjustments in those numbers which were unchallenged by the city (2001-02).  Regardless of the differences, the city & census seem to agree we continued to loose population very slowly between 2000 and 2003 for a net loss of 150 people.  Thus, our gains are only very recently. For 2006 we show an increase of 1,265 but in 2005 the increase was 1,867 and a large 2,666 in 2004. Each increase is a fraction of one percent of our population.

So while the census and the Mayor annually hug and come to agreement something is still not right with population figures: projections on future population from the East-West Gateway Council of Governments. Their most recent figures, from the Legacy 2030 Transporation Plan (adopted March 2005), shows St. Louis continuing to decline through 2010 before making a slow climb by 2030 to a figure lower than today:

This is not exactly a rosey picture. The 2000 figures shown above are from the 2000 Census, the balance are projections. We will know in a few years after the 2010 Census how accurate the projections, published in 2005, really were. I confirmed with East-West Gateway these are the most recent public projections they have released. A spokesperson indicated they are in the process of revising their projections and was uncertain what decisions, if any, were based on these figures from their Legacy 2030 Transportation Plan.


I put together the above chart to see the differences between the 2005 estimated projection by E-W Gateway and the Census estimates for the same year. Most were close but three stand out: St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Charles County. E-W Gateway under-estimated the populations of both St. Charles County (4.6%) and St. Louis City (7.4%) while over-estimating St. Louis County (a minor 1.6%). Clearly, the population is moving around differently than E-W Gateway had anticipated in just the first five years of their transporation plan, much less the remaining 25 years.


NRA Conference Attendees Didn’t Shoot Up the Streets

April 16, 2007 Events/Meetings 18 Comments

I joked to friends this weekend that if a car backfired downtown that you might get a bunch of NRA members to open fire down the street.  With concealed weapons allowed in Missouri and a major National Riffle Association convention in town you just never know what may happen.  Yes, I know that really wouldn’t happen but it was a fun way to joke about the NRA being in town.
As you might expect, I’m not a fan of guns. Still, I have to respect the 2nd Amendment:

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” 

Militia?  Oh, that doesn’t sound good.  I’m glad militia is preceeded by “well regulated.”   Of course, debate often centers on what sort of arms fall within the concept of well regulated.  Of course the NRA includes “rifle” in their name.  I don’t know that even the most hard core anti-gun activist has any objections to someone owning a rifle.  However, the fire power that is available today is so different than when the Bill of Rights was signed.  Where is that line between well regulated and not infringing on the rights of the people?


Norman Krumholz to Speak on the ‘Future of the Planning Profession’

Next week well known urban planner Norman Krumholz will be speaking at a luncheon in St. Louis, April 11 2007. As noted below, Krumholz was Cleveland’s planner for three mayors including Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.

From the press release from the St. Louis Metropolitan Section of the American Planning Association:


Our April speaker is Norman Krumholz. Mr. Krumholz is an internationally recognized figure in the planning community; a past
president of both the American Planning Association and the American Institute of Certified Planners; a past recipient of the APA award for Distinguished Leadership and a current AICP fellow. He’s held several noted planning positions in Pittsburgh, PA; Ithaca, NY; and Cleveland, Ohio, including Director of Planning for the City of Cleveland during the administrations of Carl Stokes, Ralph Perk, and Dennis Kucinich (who’s currently running for President of the United States; again).

Best known for his emphasis on neighborhood planning, Mr. Krumholz is a champion of community involvement in urban revitalization. He’s a widely published author on the subject with a devoted following among planning activists. Yet, Mr. Krumholz is widely respected across the political spectrum for his ability to negotiate common ground without yielding his principles. Additionally, Mr. Krumholz was instrumental in the development of the AICP cannon of ethics, something all current and future AICP members know or will come to know well. Come to hear him speak on the future of the profession.

Where: The Doisy School of Allied Health Professions Building on the SLU Health Sciences Campus (Building #1 on map)
When: Wednesday, April 11, 2007 — 11:30am to 1:30pm
What: A buffet style lunch will be served by Fresh Gatherings.
Cost: $15 per person, $13 for students
Parking directions: From I 64: Head south on Grand toward SLU hospital. When you get to Park turn left. Travel to Compton and turn left. Travel to Rutger and turn left. Follow Rutger to the end at the parking garage. After parking, walk south out of the parking garage. The Doisy School of Allied Health Professions building will be in front of you. The lunch will be in the Dean’s room on the third floor. Signs will be posted to direct you to the right location.

RSVP by 5pm Friday April 6, 2007 to Jason Jaggi via email at (jjaggi at ci.clayton.mo.us).