3.7.15

*** ¡Sidewalk Weekend! ***

Sidewalk Rating: Aces

The car instead gives freedom of movement. One can travel, uningibited … The city street acruires then a peculiar function – to permit motion; if it regulates motion too much, by lights, one-ways, and the like, motorists become nervous or angry.... the anxiety comes from the fact that we take unrestricted motion of the individual to be an absolute right.

[-Richard Sennett, the Fall of Public Man.]

[Arrow sign on West 7th Street, Saint Paul.]



*** CLICK ON IMAGES FOR LINKS! ***



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http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20150630/lakeview/neighbors-are-mad-lincoln-hub-slows-traffic-but-that-was-kind-of-point


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"because big-box stores are designed to be functionally obsolescent, that comparable stores are those that have been closed and are sitting empty—the “dark stores” behind this method’s name."

[this.]

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http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/see-12-miniature-stage-sets-with-vintage-barbies-as-models?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=atlas-page


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http://catandgirl.com/?p=4914


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http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/scenes-from-a-surprisingly-stylish-traffic-jam-in-1980s-london


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http://littlebrumble.tumblr.com/post/122461188831/pineapples-by-bike

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http://stuffaboutminneapolis.tumblr.com/post/122000103799/fred-and-arthur-roach-with-bicycles-on-bridge


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http://bldgblog.blogspot.com/2015/07/slingshots-of-oceanic.html


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http://littlebrumble.tumblr.com/post/122913491161/in-college-i-asked-a-friend-to-come-up-with


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emotionally disturbed suburbanites convinced that, amongst all the concrete and imported palm trees, beneath the cars and swimming pools, there must be some sort of buried treasure, some great and lost thing that can redeem all this, making their lives of unbearable mundanity finally worthwhile.

[this.]

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http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/where-the-roads-have-no-name


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When it gets really hot in Baltimore, people in poorer neighborhoods spill out into the streets. This is because they don’t have air conditioning. Because crime goes up when the temperature goes up, the police department sees hot temperatures and people in the streets as a recipe for violence. So they respond by sending scores of cops into these neighbors to clear out the corners. The city ends up spending thousands of dollars on overtime just to basically harass the people in these neighborhoods for trying to keep cool.
[this.]

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A generation ago, however, Dolores Park — and this city — had a different set of concerns. Veteran cops recall it as an open-air drug emporium; crime was so rampant that cash-rich drug-dealers actually begged police for protection from armed robbers lest they be transformed into human ATMs.
[this.]

*
http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/06/housing_supply_and_affordabili.html#incart_related_stories
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There’d be a line out the door. We went from doing $2,000 or $3,000 a night in liquor sales to $10,000 a night. It got crazy there for a few years. I once saw a guy come out of the bathroom naked, get kicked out the front, then come back through the back door wearing a robe.

[this.]

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http://kottke.org/15/06/super-mario-bros-was-designed-on-graph-paper


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http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/pace-of-social-change.png


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http://bldgblog.blogspot.com/2015/06/transecting-amsterdam.html


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http://www.ruralicitydc.com/blog/runroutes
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http://stuffaboutminneapolis.tumblr.com/post/121861069124/mcad-an-aerial-map-of-what-is-presently-known

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http://www.citylab.com/politics/2015/06/incredibly-detailed-map-europes-population-shifts/396497/?utm_source=SFTwitter

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http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2015/06/2015-two-bedroom-rental-unit-housing-wage/


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http://www.citylab.com/housing/2015/06/every-single-county-in-america-is-facing-an-affordable-housing-crisis/396284/?utm_campaign=socialflow&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=tweet


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http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2015/06/us-economic-performance-by-state/

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http://www.citylab.com/design/2015/06/when-maps-lie/396761/?utm_content=buffer8046f&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer


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http://www.citylab.com/weather/2015/06/where-electric-vehicles-actually-cause-more-pollution-than-gas-cars/397136/


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http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/06/18/5-charts-show-the-stubborn-persistence-of-american-hate-crime/?postshare=9611434769165320

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http://metrocosm.com/could-the-lottery-be-the-largest-tax/


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http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2015/06/largest-company-by-revenue-in-each-state/


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https://www.distractify.com/sweden-039-s-new-russian-defense-nbsp-1197925008.html


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http://i.imgur.com/CnGdhOd.gif


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http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/nuclear-vogelsang-the-lost-soviet-city-everyone-wants-to-disappear



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http://curbed.com/archives/2015/06/26/barbican-properties-london.php


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http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/basically-every-city-in-the-u-s-has-a-piece-of-the-berlin-wall


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http://stuffaboutminneapolis.tumblr.com/post/122304218329/jaymehalbritter-look-into-the-crystal-ball


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http://curbed.com/archives/2015/06/25/giant-pigeons-a-surprisingly-nice-addition-to-city-streets.php


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http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/26/mother-canada-statue-nova-scotia-stephen-harper


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http://peewee.com/2015/06/22/fridgehenge-pranksters-make-a-stonehenge-of-old-fridges/


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http://www.parkbugle.org/minnesota-chemical-company-celebrates-100-years-in-st-anthony-park/


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http://100alleys.blogspot.com/2015/06/60-9th-and-hennepin.html

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http://stuffaboutminneapolis.tumblr.com/post/122389077044/mashmpls-lines-leading-to-the-city-minneapolis

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29.6.15

Reading the Highland Villager #133

[Villagers wait for customers to park on Cleveland Avenue.]
[Basically the problem is that the best source of Saint Paul streets & sidewalks news is the Highland Villager, a very fine and historical newspaper. This wouldn't be a problem, except that its not available online. You basically have to live in or frequent Saint Paul to read it. That's why I'm reading the Highland Villager. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free.] 


Headline: Council postpones vote on Cleveland Avenue bike lane; Tolbert pushes for a plan that preserves business parking
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [In yet another new chapter in the Russian novel that is building bike infrastructure in Highland] an article on the recent City Council hearing about bike lanes through the heart of Highland Village [which I blogged about here rather passionately just the other day]. After a packed public hearing, the Council voted to delay action on deciding about the issue, pending less hostile discussions between parties down the road [sic]. Article includes [fairly well balanced] quotes from both the bicycle enthusiasts and the parking enthusiasts [By the way, "parking enthusiasts" is a strange concept; the Villager typically uses the "concerned residents" euphemism.] Quote from local bicyclist: "It upsets me that Chris Tolbert is willing to make this street more dangerous." Quote from local driver [and University of Saint Thomas spokesperson???]: "I don't know how you get trucks and buses and bikes down Cleveland at the same time." [Does St Thomas have a math department? History professors? Experts in logic? I'm sure they can figure that one out. Particularly given how much energy Saint Thomas spends trying to minimize neighborhood impacts from their campus, of which parked cars are second only to drunken sophomoric bros, you'd think they'd be more understanding when it comes to accommodating and encouraging bicycling.]


Headline: Views sought on modes of transit, viable routes for River Corridor
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Someone is going to build something non-car-oriented along the West 7th / Riverview corridor, likely soon-ish, but nobody knows what. Feel free to comment. Probably. Article includes useless map. Commuter rail has been ruled out because there is no railroad there. [Good decision!]


Headline: Randolph shop is struggling with disruptions of street work; Loyal customers still make the trek to J&S Bean, but drive-by business is down
Author: Boraan Abdulkarim [A new Villager writer? Seemingly non-white? Huzzah!]

Short short version: The road in front of the coffee shop is torn up for construction and people can't drive their cars there. People still walk there though. Best quote: "We've seen people walk across Randolph and lose their shoes in the mud." [One lesson of all this might be that catering to customers on foot or bike is a good way to increase customer loyalty.]


Headline: Downtown bike loop gaining ground; New St. Peter Street alignment is proving to be more popular
Author: Kevin Driscoll

Short short version: The city is planning (and has already funded part of) a [so-called] "bike loop" that will run through downtown Saint Paul and connect [disconnected] bike routes that all stop short. Saint Peter is the new Wabasha [which was derailed by trolls]. Quote from consultant: "St. Peter's traffic pattern is much quieter, and therefore safer and more comfortable than Wabasha's." [Well, OK.] Article includes quote from Chamber of Commerce spokesperson about how people should [relax about] study parking and test things out before building permanent routes. [I'm of mixed feeling on this topic: see "limits of pop-up urbanism." Temporary tests are great unless you just build something half-assed that pisses everyone off and pleases nobody.] Article quotes three business owners from St. Peter Street, [that in a minor miracle] none of whom say anything particularly ridiculous. [Maybe Kevin Driscoll asks questions differently than other Villager reporters?]


Headline: St. Paul restaurants, residents seek easing of liquor restrictions
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Restaurants would like to loosen the "food-to-alcohol" ratios which restrict them. Quote from owner of restaurant: "I would love to able to serve a real Bloody Mary at the Highland Grill." [First they come for our parking spaces, then they come for or liquor restrcitions. Next thing you know, Highland Village is Frank Miller's Hell's Kitchen.] Saint Paul limits the number of full liquor licenses according to Ward [I did not know this!]: "26 in Ward 1, 41 in Ward 2, 7 in Ward 3 [OMG!], 16 in Ward 4, 18 in Ward 5, 26 in Ward 6, and 18 in Ward 7." [The rationale for this formula is quite clear.] Quote from neighborhood group person: "We have at least five restaurant owners in Highland who would jump at the chance for an on-sale liquor license." Exceptions to the liquor licenses limits can exist in special "commercial districts" [which somehow include the area around the former Amtrak station?]. The Restaurant Association would like the "60-40 rule" eliminated. Minneapolis eliminated this rule for their neighborhoods two years ago. [The place seemingly hasn't gone to pot. Fascinating article!]  


Headline:  Cooper's to stay open longer than expected in Sibley Plaza
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A grocery store in a strip mall will close next spring instead of this summer.


Headline: HRA helps Skyline Tower with $12.7M improvement project
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The largest subsidized affordable housing building in the state is getting rehabbed thanks to some help by the city and other government sources.


Headline: Quest to keep Getten Credit in St. Paul hits another roadblock
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A "consumer lending company" is still struggling to find a place to relocate after it got displaced by a new bank. Zoning limits where they can go.


Headline: Kowalski's to purchase land for expansion of Grand market
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The grocery store on Grand Avenue is getting bigger thanks to the purchase of a "city-owned right of way." [What magic strip of land is this?] The plans call for "an off-sale wine shop and a coffee house." [There goes the neighborhood.]


Headline: CIB committee frees up money for additional local projects
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The citizen committee that prioritizes every project in the city found more money for more things by giving less large sums to fewer things and more small sums to more things. New projects to be funded [tentatively, pending the mayor] include a community center, lighting for Cleveland Avenue, a circus school expansion, and a bike trail [see below].


Headline: I-35E trail among those added to list
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A [strange] bike trail by the freeway sound wall will be made nicer, probably: "resurfacing, signage, lighting, and new crosswalks." Article includes quote from neighborhood group guy: "There hasn't been a lot done along there for 30 years." [Yup.]


Headline:  Federation hopes more work goes into design of new labor building
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A local neighborhood group didn't like the designs for a new labor and trades building. [Could always be worse: compare to the godawful Teamsters building on University? For some reasons, union and labor-oriented buildings always seem to be completely dominated by parking lots.] Quote from neighbor: "It seems like a really utilitarian building." Article claims that "labor officials said significant off-street parking will be needed because of the many events that will be hosted at the building." [Saint Paul, a great place for a parking lot. Home of the National Federation of Street Pavers and Parking Attendants Local #FreeParking. Even the Amalgamated Transit Workers Union HQ has a huge parking lot, from what I have heard.]


Headline: Debate continues over proposal for liquor store at Midway SuperTarget
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [See also this blast from the TCSidewalks past.] Target would like to sell booze, but there's already a liquor store just two strip malls over. A debate is raging over how to quantify the distance between strip malls. [How many strip-mall-liquor-store-frequenting angels can park on the head on the head of a pin? If a tortoise throws an empty vodka bottle towards a strip mall, and it travels 1/2 way to the strip mall in one instant, and 1/2 of the rest of way in the next instant, and so on forever, does it ever strike the concrete surface parking lot?]


Headline: Dowling enters phase two of creating extra special playground
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A school in [the tiny part of] Minneapolis [that the Villager ostensibly cares about three times each year] will expand its playground by adding zip lines. [Really?] The school has a long history that includes FDR and special needs children.

22.6.15

Twin City Street Musicians #15

 [Guitarists. Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis.]

 [Guitarist. Stockholm, Sweden.]

 [Drum circle. University Avenue, Saint Paul.]

 [Guitarist. Mears Park, Saint Paul.]

 [Accordionist. Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis.]

 [Trumpeter. Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis.]

[Guitarist. 7th Place Mall, Saint Paul.]

19.6.15

Reading the Highland Villager #132

[Villager stacking up in West Saint Paul.]

[Basically the problem is that the best source of Saint Paul streets & sidewalks news is the Highland Villager, a very fine and historical newspaper. This wouldn't be a problem, except that its not available online. You basically have to live in or frequent Saint Paul to read it. That's why I'm reading the Highland Villager. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free.] 


Headline:  Council denies appeal, calls for shorter building on Shepard Road
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A developer wants to build a six-story mixed-use apartment building on the site of an old, smaller office building but neighbors don't like it because they think it's too tall and/or would ruin views from/of the river valley below. The planning commission approved it, but the City Counci over-rued the decision citing height. the Friends of the Mississippi River (FOMR) are mentioned as a key plaintiff in the appeal. [Why is a supposedly environmental group fighting urban density that would help prevent sprawl?] Quote from FOMR head: "The variance would alter the essential character of the surrounding area." [Note: any time someone starts taking about "essential character" of something, you should get really skeptical. It doesn't even matter what it is, essentialism is troubling. Ask the Dakota people what they think about the essential character of the river.] Another quote from a National Park Service site who says "the projct would have major impacts on the river area, while giving the neighborhood little in return." [I really don't understand this logic at all. Density in Saint Paul, along a key transit corridor, is really good for reducing our impact on the surrounding land, and reducing dependence on fossil fuels. Saint Paul is a city.] The developer is going back to the drawing board. The building is the first of a multi-part development on the site.


Headline: Commission OKs new rules on size, design of homes; Most of the rules would apply only in Highland and Mac-Grove for now
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Planning Commission [of which I am a member] approved new rules for "teardowns" and additions that would shift [slightly] what developers can do, but only in the city's 3rd Ward [i.e. where almost all of the wealthier people in the city live]. The commission approved an amendment that reduced heights even further than city staff recommended. A lot of people are pissed about "teardowns." [I don't think this proposal will stop teardowns, and won't likely solve the probem except around the very extremes. The root of the issue is changing tastes, private property, and the real estate market.] One big debate was over whether or not to apply rules city-wide or just in Ward 3. [Some commissioners don't want to begin creating different ruels for different neighborhoods, and have (IMO very valid) concerns about a slippery slope that would fracture the city's otherwise relatively straightforward zoning code along class and geography lines.]



Headline: Union Park, city come to terms over cell tower funds
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city is going to pay the neighborhood group $50K out of a fund from cell phone tower fees because of previous negotiations.


Headline:  Hundreds of comments collected on Ford site traffic plan; City eyeing infrastructure on Ford site that lessens the dependency on cars
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There was a big public meeting at the site of an old car plant in Highland Park to talk about how to not drive all the time. People are concerned about traffic and parking. [Reminds me of the famous Onion headline: "Report: 99% of US commuters favor transit for others."] The redevelopment is "expected to have a profound effect" on traffic and parking. Some ideas floated: making the river road one-way, with bike lanes; reducing speeds on Cretin and/or Montreal, no big-box stores; roundabouts and/or chicanes [I bet folks had to look that up]; and paying for parking. [Dear lord, a parking meter in Highland? That'll be the day!] Best quote from a city planner: "We could build a ton of parking, and people would be delighted." [Bet you a beer that's what ends up happening.]


Headline: Options narrowed for intersection of Hwy. 5-Shepard Road; Study seeks bets way to direct traffic off West 7th
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city is studying whether or not to try to improve traffic flow where the highway from the airport runs into West 7th Street and Shepard Road [right next to where the aforementioned development is located]. The goal is to divert more traffic onto the under-utilized Shepard Road and off the over-utilized and pedestrian-heavy West 7th Street. [It's impossible and dangerous to cross the street there, and there are also many transit riders, poor people, and/or people of color who live along there.] There is a consultant on board. The solution, if any is chosen, will likely involved "curved streets" diverting eastbound traffic. "Traffic calming benefits vary," according to a city engineer.


Headline: Rising cost of street work may waylay [good word!] some St. Paul projects; Bids are coming in much higher than anticipated
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: It turns out roads are expensive.


Headline: Hopeful continue to push for CIB funds; some say it's unfair to pit playgrounds against public safety
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Article on "the process" [see my recent pieces on it]. The city is funding some rec centers, police, fire, and bridge projects [and now also many bike/walk improvements, at least so far].


Headline: New police, fire stations to city's requests
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [See also.]


Headline: St. Paul OKs Sunday growler sales; restaurants also may begin selling liquor at 8 a. m. on Sundays
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [You can stop driving to Wisconsin, going to church.] CM Thune was the one vote against the ordinance, saying "this just opens the door for those who want Sunday off-sale in Minnesota."