29.1.17

Reading the Highland Villager #174

[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. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free. See also: Three Reasons Why I Re-Blog the Highland Villager.]  


Headline: Even with 4,000 new homes on Ford site, Highland traffic will remain at acceptable levels, city study says
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: People who live in a nice area of the city showed up to a meeting about traffic. The city hired engineering consulates to study how traffic might increase with new development at the site of an old factory. [They really must have hit an "old factory nerve" because something stinks!] With thousands of new people living in the neighborhood, some of them will drive cars, but not as many as many people think. Neighbors are concerned about traffic. One quote: "I've never heard why we need 4,000 new housing units!" That is about 9,000 people. A city engineer says that some people will have cars but not everybody. One neighbor stated "You wouldn't do this on Grand Avenue!" [Well, it would be a great idea to have more housing on Grand Avenue if you ask me.] The best quote by far: "It wasn't too many years ago that you could sunbathe in the middle of the street." [This is called the "Saint Paul dream" and it's like the American Dream but  more boring. ] 10% of Highland residents have three or more cars. [Holy moly. Three or more cars in Highland? One for every season.] The neighborhood group would like to see some changes to the street like traffic signals, turn lanes, or traffic circles. [Is the problem congestion or speed and safety? Those are very different "problems" and only one of them is really solveable. I would like to see neighbors get concerned about safety and not congestion. The idea that we can't build dense transit-oriented housing for people in Saint Paul because they will all drive cars is such backwards logic. There is a huge range of driving habits that exist in the world. Some people have three cars and drive everywhere. Others have zero cars and never drive. Many people are in between and there is a lot of range if you compare different places. Cars are expensive so some people don't have them for that reason. You get the kind of city you design for. Saint Paul is a place where some people have cars and others don't. This is pretty classic "Keep Saint Paul Boring" logic at work. You'd think that the Onion transit logic would intervene. The city should keep mentioning the expected $20M in annual tax revenue that the development will provide. People seem to like lower taxes.]


Headline: Twin Cities join nationwide surge to sing with your suds; Local Beer Choir kickoff set Jan. 28 at Summit Brewing
Author: Loren Green

Short short version: People will drink beer and sing. [I like it.]


Headline: St. Paul welcomes 2017 with more fee hikes
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: It will cost more to get water and get rid of your poop or empty bottles. Also permits. Nobody seems concerned.


Headline: City dispenses with competitive capital improvement process; CIB budget for '18-19 will be devoted to maintaining the city's existing facilities
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The normal two-year "process" to dole out money for different things ranging from bridges to buildings to bike lanes will not happen this time because all the money has already been spent. [There will also be efforts to reform the situation so that a non-negotiable falling down bridge isn't pitted against cops or bike racks. See my article on problems with the current process.]


Headline: With carts, recycling is no longer free for small organizations; Eureka's curbside service ends for small businesses and nonprofit institutions
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Neighborhood groups and other nonprofits will have to pay for recycling like everyone else.The city didn't have time to pass a new ordinance about it. There are new carts with wheels and the idea is to get more people to recycle. [Also, they are alive and sentient like Wintermute and coming for your freedom.]


Headline: St. Paul makes it easier for older properties to pass housing inspections
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: People who own old houses can have them "grandfathered in" more easily when the inspector comes over to inspect them. Landlords had been complaining that city inspectors were requiring "egress windows." But now they don't have to do that so much. [Living in an old building without an egress window is like being at a public meeting about parking but not sitting by the door. You are trapped!]


Headline: Ash borer battle moves to both Highland golf courses
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Ash trees will all be cut down. [Did you know that the city's golf courses are highly subsidized by taxpayers? Golf is a sport that used to be more popular that it is today.]


Headline: Plans continue for brewery's office building and rathskellar
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: An old building in the brewery complex that is owned by the neighborhood group is going to open someday, maybe early 2018.


Headline: Campaign wants Walmart to pay its share of police services
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A group of activists are trying to get Walmart to pay more money for all the times they call the cops. [This makes sense and should happen.] The Midway Walmart gets three police calls every day, on average.


Headline: City questions efficacy of Greater MSP
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Saint Paul pays $125K to a group that does business branding but the group only "counted" 70 new jobs that have come to the city over the past five years. [That seems really really low and this kind of "counting" is all statistical smoke and mirrors anyway, much like traffic projections.] Minneapolis just cut its contribution to the group. CMs Tolbert and Noecker were complaining about it. [My guess is that a large percentage of the attention of the group is regional, focused on "jobs" in suburbs like Shakopee and Eden Prairie. Does Saint Paul benefit from suburban growth? Good question. The answer is, not necessarily. Regional business priorities and Saint Paul's specific priorities are not the same. Sometimes they are but often they are not.]


Headline: Comment sought on St. Paul's 20-year plan
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city is writing a new comp plan. The nine "themes" are livability and equity, job, parks, community, public safety, road safety for bikes and peds, investing in people, affordable housing, and development. [Not a bad list. Keep it simple though! A plan is only as good as the number of people who understand it.]


Headline: Variances approved for Dayton Avenue duplex
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A guy can renovate and expand his duplex but not expand it by as much as he wanted. Neighbors are concerned about building size and the presence of students. [It would be a lot simpler if we just fitted Tommies with radio ankle bracelets.]


Headline: Jury still out on Linwood; Work on Adams, Highland, Mann expansion projects set to begin soon
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A crowded school might or might not be expanded. Neighbors are concerned about traffic and the loss of "open space".  [Kids today...]

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