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Readers: Businesses Will Think They Are Grandfathered On New Smoke-Free Laws

ABOVE: Chevy's restaurant in Olivette lacked the required universal no-smoking symbol on Sunday
ABOVE: Chevy's restaurant in Olivette lacked the required universal no-smoking symbol on Sunday

Every year the week between December 25th and January 1st is the lowest readership.  Last week was no exception so I’m not surprised at the low number of votes in the weekly poll.  The current poll had more voters in the first 24 hours than all of last week. Here are the results:

Q: Will St. Louis businesses be ready when the smoke-free law begins on 1/2/2011?

  1. No, many will incorrectly think they are “grandfathered” 23 [34.33%]
  2. Yes, most will post the required signs but some won’t 20 [29.85%]
  3. No, some will post the required signs but most won’t 19 [28.36%]
  4. Unsure/no opinion 3 [4.48%]
  5. Other answer… 2 [2.99%]

The majority feel businesses wouldn’t be ready for Sunday, but for different reasons.  The two “other” answers were:

  1. Stupid poll
  2. NO, most will ignore or think they are exempt.

Sunday night I had dinner at Chevy’s in Olivette.  This was one establishment I stopped going to in 2008 due to the fact they permitted smoking in the bar area. It was nice to return for dinner with friends in a smoke-free environment. But like so many businesses, Chevy’s didn’t have the required universal no-smoking symbol displayed at the entrance.

Yesterday I went down both sides of Washington Ave from 10th to 16th trying to find a single business in compliance with the sign requirement of the new ordinance. Like St. Louis County, no smoking signs must be displayed at all entrances.   I’ve yet to see a business in compliance.  You might point out it has only been a few days. True, but both laws were passed in 2009, businesses had all of 2010 to get ready.  Businesses that were already smoke-free just needed to add a universal no-smoking symbol at each entrance.

How can compliance be so bad?  The departments responsible for enforcement got the word out didn’t they?

ABOVE: The St. Louis Dept of Health website last night gives you heat advisory alerts and where to find cooling centers, click to view larger version.

The St. Louis Department of Health could use a calendar, they think it is still summer. Someone should check on Dept of Health webmaster James A. Heitert to see what he is working on. It sure wasn’t putting out press releases.

ABOVE: Last press release issued by Health Dept was in May 2009

Although I shouldn’t put much stock in the City’s Press Release page to be accurate.

mayorprIt shows one press release from the Mayor’s Office in October 2010 and then March before that.  I know I’ve received many press releases not listed here.  It seems our folks at City Hall are so incompetent they can’t seem to get the word out about a significant new law with over a year to do so.  Or maybe they did but they forgot to archive the press release?

Licensed business owners could have easily received a notice of the new law with their license renewal in 2010, but they didn’t.  Successful compliance begins with communications.  Maybe the aldermen spread the word at well attended neighborhood meetings?  Can we get some real leadership in City Hall?

– Steve Patterson


Much Of The Region Should Be Walkable, Not Just The City

Late last week I posted about the lack of walkability at a subdivision in the western suburb of Chesterfield, These McMansions Will Be Hard To Give Away A Decade From Now.  As I expected I got this viewpoint in the comments: “I get it – you love urban living, but not everyone else does.  One size does not fit all, and commuting is highly personal, and for an increasing number of people, no longer includes the CBD.”

For the last 3 years I’ve lived downtown, just west of the central business district. The prior 17 years I lived in the CWE, Old North & Dutchtown/Mt. Pleasant neighborhoods.  I commuted by car to jobs in Rock Hill,  North St. Louis and Kirkwood.

The St. Louis MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) is 16 counties — 8 in Missouri and 8 in Illinois.

ABOVE: STL MSA. Not shown: Bond, Calhoun, & Macoupin counties in Illinois & Washington in Missouri. Click image to view the WikiPedia entry on the region

So? Our region is quite large geographically.  In 2000 we had 2.8 million living in 8,846 square miles.  The City of St. Louis represents only 66.2 square miles of the total area – less than one percent.  Even looking at St. Louis County & City only, the city represents only 11% of the total area.

We can’t all live in the city so I expect much of the region to be walkable.  That is, a person living in a developed area should be able to walk to a store.  Their kids should be able to walk to school.  The fact is this is already a reality for many throughout our region.  The concept of walkability shouldn’t be limited to within the city limits.

Yes, most will drive to reach their places of employment.  But for those living in walkable areas like downtown St. Louis, New Town at St. Charles, Ferguson, etc.  the many non-work trips can be done on foot. Many of the people I know who live downtown don’t work downtown.  They live here, in part, because it provides a walkable lifestyle for everything other than getting to/from their jobs.

Back to that McMansion subdivision in Chesterfield, those residents must drive everywhere.  They have no choice. Every no-work trip will be an auto trip.

There is nearly 20 miles from the street I mentioned before reaching the western edge of the City of St. Louis.

I don’t have figures on how much of the 8,846 square mile region is urbanized (developed) vs rural.  Parts of the city are, unfortunately, auto-dependent.  Some of the region outside the city is at least somewhat walkable.  But how much of the total area isn’t auto-dependent? Maybe 1-2%? I’d like to see that be 10% or more.

But please, don’t assume that I’m speaking of the city vs the remainder of the region when I write about walkability.  Walking knows no political boundary.

– Steve Patterson


Poll: Will Area Businesses Be Ready On January 2nd For New Smoke-Free Laws?

December 26, 2010 Smoke Free, STL Region 26 Comments

nosmokingsymbolOne week from today, Sunday January 2, 2011, new smoke-free laws will begin in the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County.

In the city it is ordinance 68481, the St. Louis City Smoke Free Air Act of 2009.  There are a few notable exceptions, small bars in particular:

7. Bars in existence on the effective date of this ordinance in which only persons aged twenty one (21) years old or older are permitted to enter the premises, the square footage of the entire floor area of the level of the building on which the bar establishment is located is two thousand (2000) square feet or less. The square footage shall not include kitchen areas, storage areas and bathrooms. The bar shall prominently displays outside of the premises at each entrance and above the bar the following sign in lettering that is black bold Arial font at (ninety-eight) 98 point size: “WARNING : SMOKING ALLOWED HERE”. This exemption for bars shall expire five (5) years after the effective date of this ordinance.

So a place that is 2,200 square feet with 400sf of that in kitchen & bathrooms cannot be exempt? I can see a lot of confusion over this exemption.  But clearly places that believe they are exempt need to post a sign outside indicating as much. On January 2, 2016 their exemption goes away.

Conversely all other establishments are required to indicate they are smoke-free:

SECTION NINE. Posting of Signs

1. “No Smoking” signs or the international “No Smoking” symbol (consisting of a pictorial representation of a burning cigarette enclosed in a red circle with a red bar across it) shall be clearly and conspicuously posted in every public place and place of employment where smoking is prohibited by this Ordinance, by the owner, operator, manager, or other person in control of that place.

2. Every public place and place of employment where smoking is prohibited by this Ordinance shall have posted at every entrance a conspicuous sign clearly stating that smoking is prohibited. Every vehicle that constitutes a place of employment under this Ordinance shall have at least one conspicuous sign, visible from the exterior of the vehicle, clearly stating that smoking is prohibited.

3. All ashtrays shall be removed from any area where smoking is prohibited by this Ordinance by the owner, operator, manager, or other person having control of the area.

I can imagine many smoke-free businesses failing to indicate they are smoke-free as required.

St. Louis County’s law has similar requirements for signs:

Signs clearly stating smoking is prohibited must be prominently displayed on the outside of the establishment at all public and employee entrances. A person having control of a place shall clearly and conspicuously post “No Smoking” signs or the international “No Smoking” symbol (consisting of a pictorial representation of a burning cigarette enclosed in a red circle with a red bar across it) near all entrances where smoking is prohibited pursuant to this chapter. Such signage shall consist of letters not less than one inch in height. (605.050)

St. Louis County has a different exemption for bars:

Drinking establishments which are in operation on or before the effective date of this chapter; provided, however, that no smoke infiltrates into areas where smoking is otherwise prohibited, and further provided that each such drinking establishment has posted in a place visible to the public from its exterior a certificate of exemption issued by the Department of Revenue. Click here to apply for this exemption.

Confused yet? Take the poll this week (upper right) on how ready you think area businesses will be next week.

– Steve Patterson


New Resource Room For Area Homeless

December 17, 2010 Homeless, SLU, STL Region 5 Comments
ABOVE: New resource room at The Bridge
ABOVE: New resource room at The Bridge

On Wednesday a new Community Resource Room was opened at The Bridge, “a drop-in center providing a variety of services for the sojourners in downtown St. Louis, MO who are currently living without a home of their own.” The Bridge provides many services, including “in excess of 3000 meals per week.

So when Bridge Executive Director Kathleen Wilder posted plans for the ribbon cutting on Facebook, I knew I had to be there. Here is a short video from Wednesday afternoon:


Saint Louis University Social Work student Jessica Mueller led the project, transforming a room once piled with stuff to an attractive room with books and six new computers.  This project was her practicum. Unfortunately, demand for services exceeds supply.  If you have time and/or money please consider helping out.

– Steve Patterson


South County Connector Revisited, Open House 3pm-7pm Today 12/9/2010

ABOVE: Study area looks at connecting Hanley (upper left) to the River Des Peres (lower right)

A “Public Open House” will be held today, December 9, 2010, from  3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. to get feedback on the latest proposal for a South County Connector:

“St. Louis County has interviewed several consultant teams for conducting the Location Study and Environmental Document for the South County Connector. Negotiations will begin shortly with the selected team, and the study will begin in early 2010.

The South County Connector facilitates access between the central core of St. Louis County and South County and South City. The multi-modal aspect of the South County Connector corridor promotes the joint Livable Communities initiative of the U.S. DOT, HUD, U.S. EPA and other Federal agencies. It will help citizens gain better access to affordable housing, more transportation options and healthier communities and will promote sustainable development and economic growth.”

The open house will be held at the  Affton White-Rodgers Community Center located at 9801 Mackenzie Road St. Louis, Mo. 63123.

– Steve Patterson