31.5.11

Reading the Highland Villager #35 (April 27th - May 10th Edition)

[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 so that you don't have to. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free.]


Total # of articles about sidewalks: 15
Total # of articles about sidewalks written by Jane McClure: 15

[Editors note: Oh my! I'm still 3 Highland Villagers short of a full newspaper rack. Very behind the times! Today's entry will bring me up to a 2-Villager shortfall. I promise to get up to date by the end of the week!]

Headline: The highs and lows of CIB rankings; Some area projects fare far better than others as task forces sort the submissions
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: A list of the prioritized projects from the St Paul Capital Improvement Board task forces. In general it seems like most of the money is going to road and bridge (re)construction.


Headline: Local projects reach for STAR funding
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Description of projects that are trying to get St Paul's Neighborhood Sales Tax Revitalization money. For example, the mixed-use development at 1563 University in the Midway.


Headline: St Paul considers doubling right-of-way fees for colleges; City weighs fairness of charging colleges same rates for street work that it charges businesses
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Right-of-way fees are a big deal if you're a property owner, and colleges are currently receiving the lower 'residential' rate. CM Stark seems to be for it, while CMs Lantry and Carter are against the vague discussion. Article includes historical background on how the fees were instituted by ex-mayor Randy Kelly, and “were seen as a way to get the city's many nonprofit organizations and other governmental bodies, which are all except from property taxes, to pay for snow plowing, street sweeping, sidewalk maintenance, tree trimming, and street lighting.”


Headline: Federal funding finally arrives for Central Corridor project
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Description of the April 26th signing ceremony for the full funding grant for the LRT line.


Headline: Council [symbolically] votes to not tear down additional St Paul rec centers
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: At behest of CM Bostrom, on April 20th the City Council passed a symbolic resolution against demolishing any more rec centers. Article points out that rec center demolishing decisions are made by Mayor Coleman.


Headline: Commission favors area plans for last three light-rail stations
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: St Paul's Planning Commission unanimously approved the area plans for the last three LRT stations.


Headline: Plan to reduce pollution of Mississippi River introduced
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Discussion of how runoff pollution into the Minnesota River affects the Mississippi, and is the key driver of why the Mississippi is still polluted.


Headline: St Paul allows Summit Avenue yoga institute to remain open
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Someone using a house as a yoga school despite residential zoning can continue to do so. [I bet if it was a 'houka' school, the city wouldn't be so lenient. -Ed.]


Headline: LRT project's impact on business is too 'speculative' to quantify; but FTA requires monthly reports on efforts made to mitigate that impact
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Rather snarky discussion of the [then] recent Federal Transit Administration report on how the LRT line would have “no significant impact on local businesses. Description of FTA's policy for watching mitigation efforts by the LRT authorities.


Headline: More aid offered to University Ave businesses hurt during LRT project
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Report on the additional $3M that the Met Council is making available to University Ave businesses to mitigate impact of LRT construction in the form of small business loans. Includes laudatory quotes from Chamber of Commerce type folks.


Headline: UST rolls out Segway for party house patrol
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Article [including photo!!] of new St Thomas policing Segway to be used to patrol neighborhood sidewalks in search of parties and unseemly Tommie behavior. “The university is also considering lawn signs to remind students to party responsibly.”


Headline: Transit-oriented zoning approved for five miles of Central Corridor; but now without lowering maximum building height east of Lexington Parkway [Note: headline should read: "now WITH lowering maximum building height."]
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Melodramatic story about the new zoning changes aimed at creating density along the LRT line [which is the whole point of the LRT line]. Discussion of the “last minute amendment” from CM Carter which restricted building height limiting building height. Includes quote from head organizer of the of Preserve and Benefit Historic Rondo Committee: “People are very concerned about having the potential for downtown Manhattan right outside their door.” [This seems to me the least likely scenario for University Avenue, similar to the chances of the corner of University and Victoria becoming the world's largest copper mine . -Ed.]


Headline: Up to 15,000 new housing units expected along light-rail line; Debate continues over using density bonuses, inclusionary zoning to keep units affordable
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Discussion of speculation over new developments that will follow the LRT line and how to keep them affordable. Particular issue are “density bonuses” which would encourage more affordable housing, where developers get variances in exchange for making new units affordable.


Headline: Mama Mia! Cossetta eyes $10.5M expansion; Despite $2M city subsidy, council grants West 7th market and pizzeria an exemption to St. Paul's living-wage ordinance
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Article on the expansion of Cossetta's pizza on West 7th, which received a $2M grant of city funds, and then also rec'd an exemption from the city's living wage ordinance. [… so that they can continue underpaying their employees. Which raises the question of why we bothered to pass a living wage ordinance in the first place. Which points to how zoning and regulation is pretty much toothless in comparison with the kind of business community old boys network stuff that has made city's tick for hundreds of years, which points how the height restrictions mentioned above may not be all that important because the City Council can just pass variances for developers that “grease the wheels” properly by being all friendly with the Council Members. -Ed.]


Headline: Pizzeria among 15 projects included in effort to Rebuild St. Paul
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: See above, context for the grant rec'd by Cossetta's. Also lists other projects, like old Schmidt Brewery and the Frogtown Square development at University and Dale.

28.5.11

*** Sidewalk Weekend! ***

Sidewalk Rating: Mercurial

By now, of course, most American cities were in trouble. But compared with St. Louis, even Detroit looked like a teeming metropolis, even Cleveland like a safe place to raise a family. Other cities had options, good neighbors, a fighting chance. Philadelphia had land to work with. Pittsburgh could count on help from Allegheny County. Insular and constricted, St. Louis had by 1980 dwindled to America's Twenty-Seventh City. Its population was 450,000, hardly half the 1930 figure.

-Jonathan Franzen, The Twenty-Seventh City.

[Morris dancers dancing on the sidewalk on St. Anthony Main Street, Minneapolis.]


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[Click on photos for links!]



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26.5.11

Sidewalk of the Week: Irving Avenue North

[These days on Irving Avenue, every side of the street is the sunny side.]

We tend to take for granted all the things that make it possible for us to walk down the street every day: the concrete, the earth, the trees that give us shade and oxygen. On a nice spring day when the sun is shining and the leaves are green and the smell of lilacs tickles your nose, it's easy not to notice all the little things that make our lives so easy. It's easy to get mired in some anonymous annoyance, pacing past and thinking on myriad problems, pounding the concrete with your feet assuming that all the buildings and lampposts and telephone poles and cars and trees and pavement and windows and shingles and bricks and earth that surround you each every day are sturdy and unmoving will support you forever and its almost as if they owe you something.

That's why its so bizarre and strange and completely disconcerting when something comes along and shakes up your world completely. Something like a tornado.

The sidewalks of North Minneapolis are very strange these days, after the tornado blew through town and killed one person and completely moved around all kinds of things we take-for-granted every day.

For one thing, you can't really walk down the sidewalk with any sort of consistency, though things are improving every day. There are all sorts of trees and trunks and large branches that bar your way, forming a sidewalk steeplechase, so that lots of people just opt for walking right down the middle of the street and the cars and trucks traveling the city slow down accordingly. (So many trucks! Trucks of all sizes and shapes and with all kinds of various trailers and hydraulic lifts and appendages and devices.)

[These things are normally vertical.]

[This tree is bowed down over a fence.]

[The earth is normally under the sidewalk and now exposed to the sun.]

And you become very aware of just how many trees there are and used to be and how large they in fact were, and how very deep and wide their root system extended. This becomes clear because of the way that the ground is upearthed, that giant swaths of dirt and root and layers of earth like an indelicate cake have been pushed and pulled out of the ground, exposed to your eyes and hands for the first time.

And you become very aware of how many trees and branches there used to be up above your head absorbing the sun, covering you with cool shade, branches that were previously overhead stretching up into the sky but are now mounting higher all about you on every boulevard and edge and patch of grass along sidewalk curbs. They mount up, collecting on the streetcorners like snowbanks and the rich earthy smell of dead and dying treebranches lingers in the concrete, the odd mix of life and death.

[Things that were picked up and moved by the air collect along the streetside.]


[A neat stack of former-tree.]

And you're very aware now of the sudden fragility of rooftops, how easily they seem to strip themselves of their most important qualities, things like water resistance and having no holes.

And you're aware of the ubiquity of powerlines, as they all seem to have come down all around you through the trees and across the yards like some giant spiderweb fallen from the sky. And the men in trucks appear in all the alleys moving slowly and constantly, waltzing to the whine of a thousand chainsaws everywhere cutting through broken wood.

Little bits of shingles are all about underfoot. The sidewalk is four feet in the air. Houses are covered in plastic tarps. People are out on the street walking around and talking and slowly we all get to work.

[The root system must have been extending itself all this time under the concrete.]


[A concrete slab, now angled quite upward, no longer seems to be a sidewalk.]

23.5.11

Twin City Doorways #3

[SE Portland OR.]


[Lowry Hill, Minneapolis.]

[Downtown / Warehouse District, Minneapolis.]

[Downtown / Warehouse District, Minneapolis.]

[Cedar-Riverside, Minneapolis.]


[Lyndale Avenue, Minneapolis.]

[Cathedral Hill, Saint Paul.]

[Selby Avenue, Saint Paul.]


[University Avenue, Saint Paul.]

[Selby Avenue, Saint Paul.]

Signs of the Times #29

Free Pile

[Porch. Portland OR.]

AREA 41
"The Place that is never open."

[SE Portland OR.]


Happy B-DAy
Jeneral & Charli
Love Mom & Dad
RIP Uncle Chuckie
Service today 1:00
Hustead Funeral

[Sign. North Portland.]


It you don't
Like the Price
To Bad

[Fence. NE Portland.]


Tabor Hill Cafe
Classic American food without surprises, panache, or strong flavors. The traditional Monte Cristo ($5) -- layers of ham, turkey and Swiss cheese on white bread, dipped in egg batter and fried -- provides a comforting warmth that leaves you slightly sleepy and feeling full. Breakfast is served all day so opt for an order of French toast ($3.95) as an alternative to the usual nighttime fare. Sprinkled with cinnamon instead of powdered sugar this early-morning treat is perfect on a cold evening -- especially when accompanied by a glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice ($2.95).

[Window. Hawthorne Avenue, Portland OR.]


Come in
...
PUSH

[Door. Hawthorne Avenue, Portland.]


We do tent repair

[Window. Clinton Street, Portland OR.]


you are
beautiful

[Door. Belmont Street, Portland OR.]


LOST
In your neighborhood (possibly on 12/05)
White and grey stuffed cat

Our child is inconsolable
Any information on the lost cat ... or best ... on the
found cat will be highly appreciated.

[Telephone pole. SE Portland OR.]

Good Food Here!
is all about great food
in a family friendly
atmosphere.

Please respect that
smoking and alcohol
are not allowed
on this site.

[Patch of grass. SE Portland OR.]

13.5.11

*** Sidewalk Weekend! ***

Sidewalk Rating: Boding well

The screech and mechanical uproar of the big city turns the citified heads, fills citifed ears -- as the song of birds, wind in the trees, animal cries, or as the voices and songs of his loved ones once filled his heart. He is sidewalk happy.

-Frank Lloyd Wright, 1958.*



[A yarnbombed bike rack on the West Bank campus at the U of MN.]


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Bike City // How To Fix A Flat + Stupor Bowl from MPLS.TV on Vimeo.



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