Coney Guide Booklet and Two More Out-Of-Print Booklets Now in Stock

I'm happy to report that, after years of work (and apparently years of my life flushed down the toilet), I'm finally done with my comprehensive guide to Twin Cities coney dogs: "Coney Dogs of Greater Saint Paul." 

If you missed any of my coney dog bike rides in the past, this is a good primer on how to make up for lost time. And it turned out pretty good! The legendary WACSO offered his artwork for the cover, and I have photos of all but one of the coneys I reviewed. They are located in eight (8!) different municipalities, and offer a great range of flavor and atmosphere for the discerning hot dog connoisseur. 

Featured coney dogs include twenty-nine (29!) different coney dog reviews and rankings, past and present, as well as some tasting tips, history, and opinions. Ranked establishments include: Carbone's, Dari-ette Drive-in, Dar's Double Scoop, Gallaghers, The Gopher Bar, Keenan's Bar, The Original Coney Island™, Rooster's, Ran-Ham/Nook, the State Fair, Norm's Wayside, The Corner Bar, Mortimer's, Uncle Franky's, Neumann's, B-Dale Club, Grumpy's, Al's Corral Bar, The Coop, and the Dine-1-1 food truck. Each has a photo, ranking, and review, and the rest of the booklet includes some history about coneys in general and Twin Cities coneys specifically.

You can buy one today and I'll get it shipped ASAP.

Meanwhile, the Noteworthy South Minneapolis Dive Bars (updated and revised to include the Bull's Horn, Cardinal Bar, and the Vincent Giantvalley American Legion) and Noteworthy Dives of Payne and Arcade booklets are back in print as well. 

Find them all in my store!


Book Release Event Postponed Indefinitely

This is just an announcement to say that I am postponing my book release event due to COVID-19 continuing to be a problem. It sucks, but it is what it is. 

Please get vaccinated and/or ask others to do so.

I hope to have the event someday in the future when the time seems right.


Open Letter to the St. Paul City Council on Off-Street Car Storage Mandates

An unnecessary Saint Paul parking lot, built because of needless regulations.

Dear Saint Paul Council Members,

I have three quick points on the debate over off-street parking minimum mandates that are on your agenda today.

#1. Eliminating parking minimums helps keep housing affordable 

During the discussion of parking minimums at the Planning Commission, some affordable housing advocates claimed that eliminating parking minimums will be a huge burden on the poor. In fact, the opposite is true. The current parking mandates are a direct subsidy from the least affluent people in St. Paul to owners of private vehicles driving in the city, a disporportionately wealthy group. 

For example:

  • a study from UCLA found that requiring off-street garage parking raised rents by 17%
  • A study from Los Angeles found that parking requirements increased rents by $200 a month
  • A study from the Victoria Transport Policy Institute found that mandating parking in affordable housing increased costs for renters by 12.5%
  • A study from the Transportation Research Policy Center found that parking minimums increased rents for low-income tenants by 15%
  • The GAO found that parking minimums increased housing construction costs by $56,000 per unit in California and Arizona

(See this link for these and other studies on this topic.)

In other words, parking is expensive. Forcing everyone to pay for it is not remotely equitable.

#2. Climate change

At this point, I shouldn’t really have to discuss why climate change should be a huge priority. The IPCC report that came out this week warned clearly that we must act now to reduce carbon emissions. As one of the report authors stated, “if we do not halt our emissions soon, our future climate could well become some kind of hell on Earth.”

Currently we are not on track to meet St. Paul’s goals of reducing driving in the city (aiming for 2.5% reduction in VMT, vehicle miles traveled, every year), only one of the many changes we need to our city. Eliminating our city-policy of requiring mandatory the construction of off-street parking will allow businesses and property owners to make low-carbon choices. Removing these harmful mandates is a clear first-step toward creating a low-carbon city.

#3. Simplification is good

Part of today’s debate centers on whether to fully eliminate off-street parking minimums or reduce them, while keeping the basic structure of off-street parking minimums intact for new developments.

Frankly, the reduction policy, predicated on the benefits of “leverage” over developers, seems a bit too cute. I am sure all of you have talked to developers and entrepreneurs in the past about working in Saint Paul. When I do so, they almost always cite the complexity of the regulatory landscape in our city, and the difficult and opaque rules that exist around building homes or starting a business.  The “regulation is leverage” approach flawed because it relies on the supposed benefits of regulatory complexity, which is something our city should be avoiding when possible.

Instead we should ask developers, entrepreneurs, and property owners, clearly and simply, to make choices that match city goals. The full elimination option will allow PED staff to focus on travel demand management (TDM) policies that will help reduce driving in the city, and help bring St. Paul into a low-carbon, more equitable future.

I urge your support for the full elimination of parking minimums in St. Paul. Thanks for your time.


St. Paul: An Urban Biography Release Event with Maggie Ryan Sanford POSTPONED

Update: this has been postponed indefinitely due to COVID-19. 

Hey I'm excited to finally have my new book on St. Paul history out and available in stores! Go get it at your local bookstore, or order a signed copy from my online store.

Or, in best of both words, come to my ...


...on August 19th and buy one there. We'll have folks from Subtext Books on hand to sell books, I'll be signing them, and I'll even do a reading and author Q&A with another St. Paul local author, my friend Maggie Ryan Sanford

We'll do something fun on the stage of back room at the Black Hart Bar on University Avenue, discussing the book and what (if anything?) is to be learned from the sometimes sordid and weird history of the city of St. Paul. 

Don't miss it! You're invited.