7.11.07

Why Saint Paul City Council election results matter

Well, let's just admit it: nobody knows why the Saint Paul City Council matters at all. Really, what do they do? Apart from personal charisma, or message themes, should I care that one person got elected rather than another? Do they have any real power?

Well, when it comes to sidewalks and land use, the composure of the city council matters a lot! In this city, land use and development issues are probably the City Council's #1 job, because (unlike Minneapolis) the mayor has most of the power in the city to set and carry out the budget. So, when it comes to issues like zoning ordinances, transit oriented density, affordable housing, walkability, and development subsidies, the city council matters a lot.

That's why yesterday's election results are great news. Not only did voters get rid of one of the most pro-Chamber of Commerce (read: corporate) development members in Debbie Montgomery (she never saw a big box store she didn't like), but they added former University United employee Russ Stark to the mix. Voters rejected (either through apathy or opposition) the message sent out by the tens of thousands of dollars that megalomaniacal developer Jerry Trooien spent on this election, which will hopefully mean he'll take his dog and pony show to some other town where civic life isn't quite so well defended. Anyway, I'm quite excited by the possibility that Saint Paul will adopt some common sense ordinances about walkability, transparency (and here I'm talking about walls), and encouraging non-auto transportation during the next few years, particularly along the future University Avenue LRT corridor. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

7 comments:

John said...

Yes, very happy to have Russ Stark on the the Council.

jhop said...

I bet Montgomery loves the way University-Midway looks today.

Parking lots, big box and ugly strip malls for as far as the eye can see...Until you cross Dale.

Bill Lindeke said...

Actually, I know she does. Here's the link to my earlier post about the Super Target building that went in near University and Hamline... tcsidewalks.blogspot.com/2006/07/univeristy-united-zoning-proposal_24.html

Montgomery was clearly annoyed by Brian's University United speech, and kind of apologized to the Target spokespeople afterward for inconveniencing them with all this talk of walkability, density, and neighborhood.

Sure, the U.U. target proposal (they wanted a two-story building) would have never been built, but this was a complicated issue and Montgomery just seemed like she was kissing ass, as if the Target people were doing Saint Paul a favor by tearing down a hotel to move their store 200 ft. south.

She annoyed me that day, and replacing her and Benanav w/ Stark and Carter sounds like a pretty good trade.

Bill Lindeke said...

oopes, here's the total link voila!

GML4 said...

Off topic -

Another sidewalk to cover...

http://www.startribune.com/10241/story/1538788.html

Andrew said...

Maybe Trooien will take his development to Maple Grove, where there is no street life at all, Arbor Lakes doesn't count.
Very happy to hear that Russ Stark made it to the council, and with the cooperation between a proggressive mayor in the form of Chris Coleman and a council that supports Transit Oriented Development in the Central Corridor, should lead to a brighter future for the Midway District and revive Saint Paul, our capitol city.

Polymander said...

I was in the big used bookstore at Snelling and University (you know, the one with all the signs up about defeating the (b)light rail) the other day and the proprietor, who is the crankiest, crackpottiest, LOUDEST Ron Paulite you ever encountered, gave an hourlong rant to his poor employee, declaring (among many other things) that Montgomery was the only person on the council who cared about small business, and all the rest were big-boxers, and that Melvin Carter was an elitist "punk" who would certainly be the death of all things good on University Ave.

Given that my first encounter with Debbie Montgomery was at the 2006 caucuses, where she was bragging about having brought the Supertarget to our ward, I was going to grit my teeth and argue the point, but by the time I came out of the stacks he had left.