Reading the Highland Villager #121

[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: Downtown divided over advantages of proposed bike plan; some fear the loss of parking, others say it will revitalize city
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Report on the December 5 public hearing before the Planning Commission on the bike plan. [Note: I'm on the Planning Commission, and sat through the whole thing.] Article outlines the basics of the plan and lists its [many] supporters. Article includes quote from prominent bike advocates who spoke [though spelling their names incorrectly] and goes over some of the back-and-forth between people who wanted to retain [free] on-street parking instead of build a downtown bike loop. Article includes the phrase "Jim Ivey scoffed..." [Versus the parking defenders who "urged"... For the record, I am far more likely to "scoff" in public than Mr. Ivey, who at least appears to be respectable. See my previous statement on the Villager's slant. Honestly, this piece is a disappointing recap of a hearing where 90% of the testimony was in favor of the bike plan. Dinner on me at Cecil's to whoever gets Jane on a bike ride.]

Headline: UST's request for parking lot extension prompts call for more campus housing
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The University of Saint Thomas (UST) wants to keep using a small surface parking lot for a few years despite past promises to build residential housing on the site. UST would like a few more years to prepare plans. Neighbors want to see residential built soon because they dislike students in neighborhoods. Article includes quotes from neighbors, UST officials. Resolution of the matter will be delayed for a few years.

Headline: Council admits slip-up, grants variance for converted garage
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A couple may keep the ADU (accessory dwelling unit) built without permits without having to [magically] create an extra parking space. Article includes claims about cars parked illegally in the alley. CM Lantry would like to see enforcement deal with the situation. The property was re-zoned last year, and has been bought and sold since the ADU was built. [Why can't we see more ADUs all through the city, especially in the Grand Avenue area? Minneapolis has done this, haven't they?]

Headline: Prince Street project cost doubles
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A new road that will be built to handle additional traffic near the under-construction Saints stadium will be more expensive than originally promised. Includes quote from CM Tolbert about cost overruns. Money for the street project will come from other street projects [zero-sum game style].

Headline: Council overrides mayoral veto to expand library hours
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Cit Council passed a budget but included an over-ride of a line-item veto of an allocation for library hours at branch locations. Many of them will be open until 8:00 instead of closing at 5:30. The money comes from a "parking meter repair fund," which will now come from parking revenues. [Brilliant idea to raise parking revenues? Actually start charging for on-street parking downtown instead of giving it away after 5:00.] Only CM Thune voted against the funding shift. Article includes [obligatory] quote from CM Bostrom about the Como Park café settlement. [Boy he must really hate Mike Hamm. Article also includes other budgetary factoids.]

Headline: Commission grants permit for next phase of Victoria Park apartments
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Another large building in the Victoria Park area [a former oil storage facility] will be built. It will be taller than the previous ones. The neighborhood group voted against the building because of height concerns and "the potential for traffic problems." [There aren't even any buildings or neighbors in this area yet! How can we have NIMBYs already?] There will also be a large parking lot. [Naturally.]

Headline: Gerber Jewelers appeals BZA denial of setback variance for Grand store
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A jewelry store may or may not get to expand its building all the way up to the sidewalk. Grand Avenue has special zoning because many of the shops are set back [being ex-single family homes]. OTOH the store did get a parking variance. [Hooray! A rare day in Saint Paul.] Article includes quote from BZA member about the "snowball effect of other similar variance requests."