Celebrating Blog’s 19th Anniversary


  Nineteen year ago I started this blog as a distraction from my father’s heart attack and slow recovery. It was late 2004 and social media & video streaming apps didn’t exist yet — or at least not widely available to the general public. Blogs were the newest means of …

Thoughts on NGA West’s Upcoming $10 Million Dollar Landscaping Project


  The new NGA West campus , Jefferson & Cass, has been under construction for a few years now. Next NGA West is a large-scale construction project that will build a new facility for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in St. Louis, Missouri.This $1.7B project is managed by the U.S. Army …

Four Recent Books From Island Press


  Book publisher Island Press always impresses me with thoughtful new books written by people working to solve current problems — the subjects are important ones for urbanists and policy makers to be familiar and actively discussing. These four books are presented in the order I received them. ‘Justice and …

New Siteman Cancer Center, Update on my Cancer


  This post is about two indirectly related topics: the new Siteman Cancer Center building under construction on the Washington University School of Medicine/BJC campus and an update on my stage 4 kidney cancer. Let’s deal with the latter first. You may have noticed I’ve not posted in three months, …

Recent Articles:

Presidential Primary More Important Than General Election For Missouri & Illinois Voters

January 29, 2020 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Presidential Primary More Important Than General Election For Missouri & Illinois Voters

The St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners is on the first floor at 300 N. Tucker (@ Olive)

Based on the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll an overwhelming majority of readers plan to vote in the upcoming presidential primaries.

Q: Agree or disagree: I’m NOT planning to vote in the upcoming presidential primary (either major party).

  • Strongly agree: 2 [8%]
  • Agree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat agree: 0 [0%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 1 [4%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Disagree: 2 [8%]
  • Strongly disagree: 20 [80%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

Both Missouri & Illinois are open primary states, registered voters get to pick which ballot they want at the polls. Other states, like Oklahoma, are the opposite. In those states voters must register to a party, that’s the ballot they get when voting in a partisan primary. Anyone in Missouri or illinois who claims to be a registered Democrat or Republican is mistaken.

Unlike four years ago, only one major party has a competitive primary this year. We already know in the November general election that Missouri will go red, Illinois will go blue. So voters in these states who want to the Democratic nominee to win need to vote in the primary.

Primary dates:

  • Missouri March 10th
  • Illinois March 17th

Like 2016, I’m voting for Bernie Sanders. His policy positions are right for the country, and the best alternative to 45.

Voting on all races in the November general election is important, especially House & Senate races.

— Steve Patterson

Car Washes Are Getting Larger, Even Less Urban

January 27, 2020 Featured, Planning & Design, Zoning Comments Off on Car Washes Are Getting Larger, Even Less Urban

When I was a kid washing the car often meant getting the garden house out and washing the car on our driveway. Or it meant going to the self-serve car wash with individual stalls. You get your bills changed to quarters and when it’s your turn you’d pull into the stall and wash your car. Fancy ones had a soapy brush option. Often I’d get wet from splash back from the high pressure sprayer.

I was aware of other car washes, from songs like Jim Croce’s Car Wash Blues and Rose Royce’s Car Wash.  Gas stations began to add automatic car washes to entice more people to stop and buy gas — the wash was often cheaper with purchase of fuel.

Large size dedicated automatic car washes aren’t new, but slowly they’ve replaced the manual DIY car washes I remember as a kid. For years I’d go to the Waterway car wash that was at Forest Park & Vandeventer — now The Standard apartments. I was glad to see this large site be redeveloped with a 5-story apartment building.

Lately it seems throughout South City and in much of St. Louis County a new breed of automatic car washes are popping up frequently. As my husband handles the car maintenance, I’d not been to a car wash in at least seven years.  That recently changed when we were running errands and decided to stop at a newer car wash on Kingshighway, which replaced a former QuikTrip gas station.

My husband had been to this and other car washes many times, but it was a first for me. I was driving so I had to use the touch screen to purchase the wash we wanted. We drove up to the wash and handed the attendant our receipt, he warned us Hyundai shark fin radio/navigation antennas have come off before.

My husband with our white Hyundai

After the wash we stopped at the “free” vacuum area. Free vacuum?!? The site plan is such that you must go through the paid wash to reach the vacuum area.  This saves needing a stack of quarters to vacuum out the interior. I can’t tell you how many times in the past my vacuum time has run out before I was finished.

Another row of vacs near the Kingshighway sidewalk.

A spot to collect water runoff. The vacs are on a central system.

I was happy to see one disabled spot.

The urbanist in me is aghast at the trend for all these new large car washes, although this stretch of Kingshighway and most suburban arterials are so far from being pleasant pedestrian environments. Still, if there’s an expectation for these corridors to improve then such designs shouldn’t be permitted up against the public sidewalk.

Suburbs Rock Hill and Crestwood each rejected another automatic car wash in their municipalities, in 2018 & 2019, respectively.

— Steve Patterson



Sunday Poll: Do You Plan To Vote In The Presidential Primary?

January 26, 2020 Featured, Politics/Policy, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Do You Plan To Vote In The Presidential Primary?

Please vote below

Right now it’s hard to ignore Missouri’s neighbor to the north, Iowa. The Iowa Caucuses are the first in the nation to begin nominating presidential candidates.

The Iowa caucus campaigns are closing in on their final days. Whether you’ll be a first-time caucus participant or you’ve been participating for decades, now’s the time to put your knowledge to the test.

The caucuses gained national notoriety after helping catapult Jimmy Carter to the White House in 1976. This cycle has brought dozens of candidates to the state to win over Iowans. (Des Moines Register)

The Iowa Caucuses will take place on Monday February 3, 2020.  Interestingly, due to a rule change, more than one candidate could claim victory. New Hampshire is next, with a traditional primary, on Tuesday February 11, 2020.

Though President Trump is being nominally challenged for the GOP nomination in most states, this primary season will focus on the still-large field of Democratic candidates. Their focus will soon turn to other states, including Missouri & Illinois.

  • Monday 2/3/2020: Iowa caucus
  • Tuesday 2/11/2020: New Hampshire primary
  • Saturday 2/22/2020: Nevada caucus
  • Saturday 2/29/2020: South Carolina primary
  • Tuesday 3/3/2020: Super Tuesday with 14 states, American Samoa, and Democrats Abroad
  • Tuesday 3/10/2020: Missouri, 4 other states, and Washington D. C.
  • Thursday 3/12/2020: Virgin Island caucus
  • Tuesday 3/17/2020: Illinois plus three other states.

This continues into early June, see the 270towin primary calendar page here.

The winner(s) of the Iowa caucus will get a bump in polls and media attention, but that’s no guarantee of a victory in November.

Only three politicians have won a contested Iowa caucus and become president — Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. (Business Insider)

Which brings us to today’s poll:

This poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 29 of 2019-2020 Session

January 24, 2020 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 29 of 2019-2020 Session

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen meet at 10am today, their 29th meeting of the 2019-2020 session. As previously noted, they have the first two meetings labeled as Week #1, so they list this as week/meeting 28.

Today’s agenda includes five (5) new bills.

  • B.B.#193 – Tyus – An ordinance repealing Ordinance Number 70333 and containing an emergency clause. WHEREAS, ordinance number 70333 became effective August 14, 2016. As such the ordinance was designed to create a centralized process for traffic complaints received by the City of St. Louis so that they could be managed in an efficient manner to be called the City of St. Louis Traffic Calming Policy.
  • B.B.#195 – Tyus – An Ordinance directing the Director of Streets to permanently close barricade or otherwise impede the flow of traffic in the north-south bound, approximately 240
    linear feet., alley located between Palm Street and Lexington Avenue in C.B. 4456, approximately 95 linear ft. east of Kingshighway Memorial Boulevard east curb line and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#196 – Vaccaro – An Ordinance establishing a three-way stop site at the intersection of Mardel Avenue and Macklind Avenue regulating all traffic traveling eastbound on Mardel Avenue at Macklind Avenue and regulating all traffic traveling northound and southbound on Macklind Avenue at Mardel Avenue, and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#197 – Murphy – An ordinance approving a blighting study and Redevelopment Plan for the 3808 Wilmington Ave. Redevelopment Area.
  • B.B.#198 – Tyus – An ordinance pertaining to vendors; establishing comprehensive rules and regulations for vendors within the Kingsway East, Kingsway West, Penrose and Mark Twain Neighborhoods, prohibiting street vendors within the except within designated city park vending districts; establishing a city park vending districts within the Kingsway East, Kingsway West, Penrose and Mark Twain Neighborhoods, prohibiting vending on any LRA owned property, expressly prohibiting the distribution or sale of newspapers, pamphlets, handbills or other written or printed matter sold or distributed for the purpose of disseminating news and information in the Kingshighway Memorial Boulevard Median that runs from the southern end at Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard to the northern end at West Florissant Avenue, requiring The Director of Street to post No Vending, No Soliciting Signs in both of the medians of Kingshighway Memorial Boulevard intersecting Natural Bridge, promulgating rules and regulations for vending within vending districts; containing definitions, a penalty clause, a severability clause and an emergency clause.

The Board of Aldermen meeting begins at 10am, past meetings and a live broadcast can be watched online here. See list of all board bills for the 2019-2020 session — the new bills listed above may not be online right away.

— Steve Patterson

Readers Split on Residency Requirement for Police

January 22, 2020 Crime, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Readers Split on Residency Requirement for Police

Bank of holding cells at police HQ

The City of St. Louis has had an employee residency requirement for years now. The concept is simple, if you want to work for the city you need to live in the city. Their wages stay in the community and multiply as spent locally. It’s easier to understand a community when you’re part of it — not just an outside observer.

Fifteen or so years ago I listed a friend’s south city house for sale, the buyer was moving to St. Louis after accepting a city job. I recently saw the buyer at an event — she and her husband still live in the house and she still works for the city. This is the ideal outcome.

It seems the St. Louis Police are having a hard time filling vacant positions because qualified applicants in the region don’t want to move. This is common, as people all over the St. Louis region tend to commute to their jobs — they don’t necessarily move to the municipality where each new job is located.  This explains why I-64 and I-270 have daily backups as motorists commute to/from work.

This is one of those rare issues where I’m undecided. Here’s the non-scientific results of the recent Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: St. Louis Police shouldn’t have to live in the city.

  • Strongly agree: 15 [31.25%]
  • Agree: 6 [12.5%]
  • Somewhat agree: 2 [4.17%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 2 [4.17%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 2 [4.17%]
  • Disagree: 11 [22.92%]
  • Strongly disagree: 9 [18.75%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 1 [2.08%]

While I’m undecided I’m also not sure how I feel about removing the residency requirement for only one of many city jobs. Is the law enforcement profession so different than refuse handlers, bookkeepers, etc?

Oh right, some cops in St. Louis beat up a black colleague working undercover as a protestor. So here’s my question— would dropping the residency requirement mean we’d have more or less racist police? Or would the percentage remain unchanged?

— Steve Patterson