Reading the Highland Villager #197

[A Villager awaiting a haircut.]
[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: Council rejects petition to put Ford site plan on the ballot
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City Council voted unanimously to accept the City Attorney's recommendation to dismiss a petition gathered by people against the rezoning of the Ford site. There were multiple grounds for the rejection, including legal jurisdiction and a lack of signatures. Article includes [Scooby Doo villian-like] quote from the leader of the petition drive: "We will continue our efforts to stop the Ford Plan." [We would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for you meddling kids!]

Headline: City adopts $563 million budget for '18; Spending includes $1.5M in last-minute additions
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city passed a budget. Article mentions the street maintenance fee problem. Neighbors are concerned about high taxes. Interesting line: "unanticipated increases in revenue from the city's half-percent sales tax and parking meters and ramps covered much of the $1.5 million in budget additions." [Parking meters make cents, both from a policy perspective and a fiscal one.] The extra money will be spent on more parking meter upgrades, including the coin-operated meters by the Capitol. [Seems wise, and you're finally getting some money out of the Capital area, a fiscal sinkhole.] There is also extra money for "downtown street team" [a facile replacement for the BID that should be there] and a grant to study the Rondo land bridge. 

Headline: St. Paul mayor-elect lays out agenda for first year; Carter says his top priority will be to rebuild police-citizen relations
Author: Kevin Driscoll

Short short version: The incoming mayor is going to focus on police reform and public safety. Also the minimum wage, and "infrastructure of the city's cultural and economic corridors." [What kind of infrastructure? Perhaps street safety improvements and better sidewalks might help?] Article includes lots of biographical information.

Headline: County Board adopts 2018 budget with 4.3% levy increase; Rettman casts the lone 'no' vote out of concerns for large tax increases
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [Janice Rettman is up for re-election in 2018 and will have a strong challenger. Let's get her out of there! The fact that she's representing some of Saint Paul' most left-leaning, diverse, and poorest neighborhoods is a profound disservice.]

Headline: Ideas aired to realign Lexington, Elway
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There was a meeting to discuss plans to shift and realign a dangerous intersection. A new building is being built on the site of an old school, which makes the Lexington  / W7th change possible. The neighborhood group seems keen on it. Neighbors are concerned about being trapped, but engineers are sure that won't happen. Quote from a neighbor about the status quo: "you take your life in your hands biking through the intersection the way it is now." [True that!]

Headline: WSNAC supports Davanni's use of UST lot for 3 more years
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A neighborhood group is OK with a sandwich and pizza restaurant using a surface parking lot owned by the University. Someday the school will build housing there.The restaurant is going to pay into a fund to "convert student rentals to owner-occupied houses." [Seems a bit like a lost cause to me, as long as the housing shortage conditions are in place.]

Headline: PAC puts Riverview on track for new streetcar line; If local jurisdictions agree, more detailed studies of proposed transit will begin
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A committee voted to approve the preliminary plan for a modern streetcar along West 7th Street. Many details remain to be worked out. It might be done by 2027. Lots of quotes by people supporting the plan, and two people who voted against it did so because of concerns about construction, traffic, and parking. CM Noecker passed a resolution to focus on bicycle and pedestrian safety and construction impact mitigation.

Headline:St. Paul relaxes restrictions ahead of the Super Bowl
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Bars will stay open until 4AM during the Super Bowl weekend, and airBNB rentals wont be regulated as much.

Headline: Overflow shelter for homeless opens on Kellogg Boulevard
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Homeless people can sleep in the basement of a County office building while it's cold out now.

Headline: UPDC requests the closing of Starbucks' drive-thru window
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A neighborhood group wants the Starbucks drive-thru closed because it is disrupting traffic. Starbucks wanted to change the parking and drive-thru lane arrangements.

Headline: Patio OK'd for City House, but loud music and dancing is not
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The restaurant in the grain elevator down by the river can have people outside on a patio, as long as it's quiet. [#KSPB] Neighbors complained about noise, traffic and parking. [I am confused? Will it be the same as last year or different? Of course, the outdoor seating by the river was one of the greatest things to happen in the city all year!]

Headline: Tiffany is granted a license for 1,600-square-foot expansion
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A bar in Highland [the only bar in Highland, pretty much] can become larger now. The book store people have complained about litter on the sidewalk.

Headline: Lilydale receives a $275,000 grant for stormwater project
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The  city got money to add some stormwater drainage stuff to the park.

Headline: City Council OKs garden and performance space on Selby
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A "mentoring society" can have a garden with a stage on it.

Headline: City OKs entertainment at Bad Weather Brewing
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A brewery can have acoustic music now. Neighbors are concerned about noise.

Headline: Board reviews proposals for redeveloping Highland reservoir
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A large green space will be used for something, but nobody knows what yet. Article includes a list of the proposals, which include a grocery store, a solar power array and park, hockey and parking, soccer fields and a running track, or an "urban berry farm." [Which is the most boring? Why has nobody suggested a Boredom Museum, like The US Boring Hall of Fame, which would have exhibits like great moments in boredom, a "most boring" gallery, and a large beige waiting room.]

Headline: City offers $612,000 for Victoria Theater rehab
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City approved a grant for the rehab of an old theater on University Avenue. Article includes some o history of the building. It was going to be torn down for surface parking in 2009, but was saved. [Always MOAR PARKING.]

Headline: New brewery, restaurant proposed for historic firehouse; Tentative developer status is granted for West End site
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: An old fire station may become a brewery and restaurant. [Note that this is a different old fire station than the one that was "saved" earlier, over by Grand Avenue.] The brewery would be moving from Fairbault. Some people liked the idea, but others suggested that breweries are not a good idea. [Breweries are sort of traditional / historic in West 7th, are they not?] The building dates to 1885.

Headline: Commodore loses use of west dining room for lack of permit
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: An historic restaurant in Cathedral Hill is being denied a permit for one of its dining rooms. There is a question about whether the space was historically a dining room or not. Article includes history of the building, which is "complex", and dates to 1920. Who owns or owned which parts of the building seem a bit messy, and there was a lawsuit. Neighbors have "mixed feelings, and some are concerned about parking.

Headline: Venn is new friend for those in search of local craft beers
Author: Loren Green

Short short version: There's a new brewery by the Blue Line / 46th Street station, in Minneapolis.


Top 20 Twin City Sidewalks Posts of 2017

["I'm keeping an eye on it."]
2017 will not likely be on everyone's list of "best years of all time." In many ways, the last year was a festering dog poop left on a public boulevard, towards which nobody claims any responsibility.

That said, there were some good moments on this blog. In the off chance that you have missed some of them, here is my list of top 20 Twin City Sidewalks posts of 2017!

[See also, top Twin City Sidewalks posts of 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.]

#20. Minneapolis in 1986 Revisited

This was an opportunistic post sharing an archival "board game" poster that was, at the time, a ripping critique of developers and corruption in Minneapolis during the 1980s. Sort of a flashback moment, and something that was interesting and unusual enough to me that I had no choice but to share it with the readers of this blog.

#19. Sidewalk Mailbox #7: Counting Cyclists on Cleveland

An only-slightly-snarky response to an email from a friend of mine about the success (or not) of the Cleveland Avenue bike lanes. I feel a little bad about this one, but responding to criticism is one of the best parts of having a blog. If only I got more angry letters to respond to!

#18. There Might Be Something in the Duluth Reader

This was an off-the-cuff think piece about why I like the Duluth Reader so much. The Reader is Duluth's weekly community paper, and it reminds me a lot of how City Pages, the Twin Cities Reader, and a few others used to function.

Just some thoughts on the community media landscape, a topic that I've been closely involved with for many years here in the Twin Cities.

#17. Public Character #7: Mark, who hosts a Beanbag League in his Yard off West 7th Street

Sometimes you happen across something cool and interview the people involved. This was a horseshoe tournament off West 7th street that caught my eye. A great example of public space in the city!

Thanks Mark.

#16. I, For One, Would Like to Welcome our Garbage Overlords

A defense of the city's then-contested organization of garbage collection. Here I tried to talk about freedom in a new way, not just as freedom from government, but as freedom to act collectively. There's something liberating about being able to decide things as a city, as a group, and to cultivate systems that allow things to happen at larger social scales. That's a kind of freedom every much as important as individual liberties, and the idea of civic and collective action is sorely needed these days.

Saint Paul finally making this common sense change is a good sign to me.

#15. Sunset for the Sunrise, Last of the South Minneapolis 3.2 Joints and And Then There Was One... Farewell to the Bee Hive, the Twin Cities' Penultimate 3.2 Bar

A pair of odes to 3.2 bars that closed last year. It was a rough couple years for dive bars, but such is the nature of dive bars. (This post led to another article that I wrote for the City Pages about the re-incarnation of the bar.)

By the way, long live the T-Shoppe!

#14. Close Horizons of the Winter City

A short essay with some thoughts about horizons in wintertime. You can appreciate all kinds of weather, and this is one of the ways that it works. The relations of space, sight, the living world, and the cold air come together to create our sense of place.

#13. Fight the Angry Flyers: Please Send Maryland Avenue Safety Comments

A from-the-heart hot-take reaction rant dealing with on-the-ground events around probably the most important street design event in Saint Paul over the past year: the 4-3 conversion road diet on Maryland Avenue. During the unveiling of the "test" change to the street, an angry man began fliering people stuck in traffic, and even put my name and phone number on the fliers he was handing out.

This post was my attempt to get people to counter-act the misinformation, and submit positive comments about safety and street design priorities to Ramsey County. Despite the angry man and his flyers, people in the community ended up changing the conversation, putting up signs, and keeping the road diet intact for another year.

I've been railing against "four lane death roads" like Maryland Avenue for years now. The success of the safer Maryland Avenue design is one of the best thing that happened in 2017!

#12. Four of my Favorite Urban Drawings

Another post I'd been thinking about for years, but finally got around to writing. It's simply a collection of four of my favorite urbanist illustrations. These are all great, and I put them together in a post and attempted to explain why I think they're so great.

I even added a bunch of great honorable mention cartoons, so this was fun.

#11. Pioneer Press Misses the Point: Rice Street Road Diet is a Huge Deal for Saint Paul

Another hot-take reaction piece that was written as a response to a front page Pioneer Press piece about changes to community groups in the North End, my old neighborhood. Here I go into some detail about what's happening politically in the area, and why I think it's so important.

This was heartfelt, informative, and important to me, and I was trying to shift the narrative around who gets to speak for and represent a community that I care about.

#10. Last Days of the Midway Pro-Bowl

In the vein of Jeremy's Vanishing New York, I've been writing more odes to things that I liked that are closing down. This was one of them, an unfortunate victim of the new soccer stadium.

(See also, Red's Savoy, Last Bastion of Greater Lowertown, Finally Crumbles, Another Dive Goes Down as Tracks Bar Hits the End of the Line, and Loss of a Scene as the Triple Rock Social Club Closes Down.)

#9. Another Predictable Tragedy Shows Need For Change on West 7th

When someone is killed on unsafe streets in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, I often feel it is my sad duty to call out the street design as a huge factor in their death. It happened again a few weeks back when Jose Hernandez was run over and killed by a speeding driver on West 7th Street.

One of the most promising things to happen in 2017 is that the city is finally making its first steps toward changing West 7th for the better, by investing in transit that might (hopefully!) trigger long-needed safety improvements.

This was a heartfelt and angry post about Hernandez' death and why that kind of change is long overdue.

#8. What Should We Make of Star Tribune Endorsements?

One of my two big election posts, both of which were the most read posts of the year. This one was about the Star Tribune editorial board and its recent track record of endorsing more and more conservative people for local office.

The post is a bit flawed, but has lots of good data and I hope it helped improve the conversation around the city election in Minneapolis this year. It certainly got a lot of traffic!

#7. The Last Ice Palace of Saint Paul

An premature homlly for Saint Paul's grand ice palace tradition. I might have written this one too soon, as some crafty folk have decided to make a "palace" this year after all, albeit with only a 1/5th of the usual number of ice blocks.

We'll see... We'll see...

#6. A Christmas Prayer for Streets and Sidewalks

Something I wrote for a church service. I hadn't been to church in many years, but a sidewalk prayer can still get me in the doors.

Pray for your sidewalks, folks, if the spirit moves you.

#5. The Everyday Surrealism of Automobile Violence

One of the three most-read posts of the year, this was a reaction to a crazy crash that happened in Saint Paul this year. It was the kind of crash that's defies the odds and really sticks in your mind, but in another way it was the "exception that proves the rule." The violence of crashes happens every day, but rarely in such a crazy way.

This was a post written in the wake of tragedy that attempted to point that out.

#4. Can We Not with the "Most Livable City" Thing?

One of my favorite posts in a while, and something I've been thinking about for years. I was triggered when I was browsing through the streets.mn forums one day, and came across a joking reference to the Saint Paul "most livable" slogan.

Well, hot on the heels of the Ford site "livable" debates, it really stuck in my craw and I tried to write a good rant about why I think the city's slogan needs to go away quietly.

Maybe the new mayor will retire the livable hucksterism?

#3. An Open Letter to Charles Hathaway

Another heartfelt reaction piece, this one to a Highland Villager LTE by the chief organizer of the anti-Ford Site movement. I tried to respectfully and honestly respond to his letter. This post was was well-read and hopefully helped more people understand a pro-Ford perspective.

The passage and widespread support for the city's Ford plans, in spite of the people like Hathaway who really tried to undermine them, was another big positive for 2017. Let's hope it's a sign of good things to come in the coming year!

#2. Why I'm Supporting Melvin Carter for Saint Paul Mayor

The other of my two big election posts. Supporting Melvin Carter for mayor was a decision that, despite my initial caution, turned out to be pretty easy. I waited until there were some clear differences between the candidates about some of my key issues, and tried to lay them all out in my post here.

This one got a lot of traffic! And it turned out that Mayor-elect Carter did not need much help, but because he handily wiped the floor with the other people running for office. Carter's easy win was one of the biggest pleasant surprises of the year, and might point to a shift in the political landscape in Saint Paul.

#1. Saint Paul Walkability Hell Trek: a DIY Walking Tour

My favorite post of the year, a guided tour of the worst places to walk around Saint Paul's downtown. This was written in honor of the national Walking Summit that was held in Saint Paul this year.

Typically when events like these take place, folks gravitate to the nicer and more walkable streets. I wanted to offer up a contrasting view, and I think [SPOILER] I'm going to do an actual tour sometime this year where a group can take this trek in real life.

Stay tuned!


A Christmas Prayer for Streets and Sidewalks

God bless our sidewalks, and the spaces that bring us closer to each other every day.
Instill in us the strength to listen, and give our cities, parks, and streets the grace of rich connections.
Bless us with the patience to treat each other with kindness, toleration, and love, even when our world makes this a difficult task, even in the thousand rushed hours of our daily routines.
Let anger and frustration fall from our thoughts and roll off our backs like raindrops from the awning of a corner store.
Let us travel with the relaxing poise of a drifting cloud.

God give us the strength to love our neighbors as ourselves, to shovel the ice and snow from our sidewalks, to trim our hedges and share the benches in our parks.
Give us the wisdom to be stewards of our inheritance, the parks, buildings, trees, and countless nonhuman lives that form the cities where we make our homes.
Give us the vision to see and know the people that dwell in public places, not just those that speak our language or share our taste in music, but even the strangers to our eyes.
Give us the grace to share our space, our thoughts, and our streets in new ways, to reward ourselves with the compassion, care, and camaraderie that come from lives of rich connection.

God grant us the beauty of long walks.
Let us understand ourselves as we understand our streets.
Let our perambulations be like pilgrimages along our sidewalks and through our alleys.
Give us the patience for a pedestrian pace.
Allow us to breathe freely as we go on our way, and grant us the space for serendipity.
Let us discover new and precious things even in our own back yards.
Let us hear the sounds of birds, bells, laughter, and the rustling of leaves as we wind our way through the coming new year.

God thank you for this life we live together and grant us the grace to receive it with curious eyes, open hearts, and springs in our steps.


[Delivered during the 2017 Christmas Eve service of the Judson Memorial Baptist Church in South Minneapolis.]


Close Horizons of the Winter City

One crucial trick to living in Minnesota is appreciating winter.

For many, long months of colder weather, ice and snow, shut windows and thick jackets, offer nothing. We wallow in a mentality where winter strips our theoretical freedom to be Californian, to drive with open windows or bask in the sun. We freely wield the moralistic assumption that warmth is good and cold is bad, that melting snow should be greeted with sighs of relief, that winter is a thing to overcome or ignore or engineer out of existence with tanning beds or heated garages or skyways or flights to Florida.

It's all too easy to fall into these canyons of climactic resentment, as the small talk builds up and weather reports plot daily escape. It's far harder to appreciate winter, to see seasons not as limits but opportunity.

This winter I've found myself marveling anew at its expanse and openness. I love the way that leafless trees expose the surrounding city, and seem to draw it closer like a hug. This year, I'm embracing the sight lines of the winter.

It helps that I live near a bluff, just south of downtown Saint Paul, and just downstream of where the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers come together. Here the valley opens up and expands into a wide bend.

In the summertime, the views of the valley seem suffocated, as the trees and sumac and various vines explode to swallow up the landscape. In summer, it seems as if the ground beneath the streets is alive and trying to buckle. The edges of the valley around seem distant and unclear, far removed from the rich world unfurling around me.

In the winter, it's the opposite. The valley telescopes in strange new ways. The leaves disappear. Trees quiet. Horizons appear closer.

From my back porch in winter, I see the crisp ridge of Saint Paul's East Side over the rooftops. It appears as perfect as an origami fold edging the city. There is Mounds Park, the pulsing lights of the airport tower, the purple glow of the Metro State building (a former hospital), the red cross of the old Lutheran church on the edge of Swede Hollow, and there is the row of yellow streetlights cresting the bluff top. It's all plain as day during long winter nights. These places seem closer in the cold, offering new arrangements. Looking at the silent horizon, I feel I could reach out and brush the bluffs with a bit of snow, like Bob Ross adding a highlight.

Walking in winter, the bluffs newly manifest. Rocks arrive. Foundations expose themselves. The limestone cliffs, normally hidden beneath a thick quilt of green, are now frosted with thin white snow.

The bluffs are thick, ancient, and impassable, the basis of the city below your feet, and walking down Wasbasha, in wintertime I can look up and see the house that sits on the end of Delos Street, its windows poking up aglow. It levitates over the streets below like a magic carpet.

Driving along Highway 13, that narrow road that curves over the river below, the West 7th neighborhoods stretch out. The lights of the buildings and streets read like a braille sequence, and the Schmidt Brewery sign sits atop the story like cake decor. The edges of city are visible in new ways, and everything from the downtown Minneapolis skyline, poking above Highland, to the alabaster Capitol dome is right there for your eyes to encompass.

This is to say that Saint Paul shrinks in winter, its geography contracting like an iris. Sweep the horizon with your glance. Notice the fresh connections. Winter offers such subtle surprises, cold vistas to appreciate, and even the dark embraces.


Reading the Highland Villager #196

[A Villager bundled up for the wintertime.]
[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: Council may vote Dec. 6 on validity of petition seeking a referendum on Ford plan’s repeal
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A group of people trying to overturn the city’s adopted plan to rezone an old truck factory collected signatures on pieces of paper and submitted them to the County election officials in the hopes that the officials would put them on the ballot. One organizer stated, “now we are organized, and we will not be ignored.” [*narrator voice* They were ignored.] Article includes some history of the issue. There was a question about how many signatures were required to put a ballot measure on the ballot, and whether or not they had enough. [*narrator voice* They did not.] Article includes some question about the validity of this avenue in the first place, and mentions the upcoming City Council meeting. [Update: The City Council voted unanimously to reject the petition because it was not legal. They did not bring up the voter threshold issue.]

Headline: City scrambles to solve growing homeless problem
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There are more homeless people in Saint Paul than there used to be, and shelters turn away people every night. They are creating an “overflow” shelter in a Ramsey County building downtown. Article includes photo of tents at a “homeless camp” by 35E and the Cathedral. CM Noecker is leading the conversation about reducing homelessness. The “tight housing market” and rising rents are big parts of the problem. The vacancy rate for rental housing is 2.4% in Ramsey County. [Building more housing would seem to be prudent, in this light. These people are paying the cost for the lack of options at the bottom. Having a massive increase in affordable housing funding and/or a transformation of the private-property-based socio-economic order would probably also work.] Quote from a guy at the County saying we need to build more affordable housing. Catholic Charities shelter is expanding. County people are trying hard to count homeless people but it is very difficult.

Headline: St. Paul embraces new police-civilian review board; all-civilian membership is hailed, though some don’t trust the process
Author: Kevin Driscoll

Short short version: There is a group of people that tries to keep the Police from making mistakes, and handles complaints. Article includes a lot of details about the process and perspectives of the group, which vary widely.

Headline: Advisory committee OKs modern streetcar line for Riverview Corridor
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A technical advisory group approved the modern streetcar concept for West 7th transit at a meeting. It will be expensive. Planners are hoping it gets ranked well by the Federal government. The national park service is worried about the river crossing. Quote from a guy there: “we’re not in any position to embrace or promote the idea of a new bridge.” [The new bridge concept that was originally raised would have gone from blufftop to blufftop and the train would have gone north of Fort Snelling by the visitor center. That was nixed by the NPS people, apparently, and how they are planning a very expensive and less ped/bike friendly tunnel instead. Then it turns out the NPS people are still not happy about it? Strange to me. I suggested during a Committee conversation that a new ped/bike/rail bridge next to the old bridge would be quite good for the park, the river, and Ft. Snelling because it would dramatically increase access and views of these things for people not in cars, unlike the ugly and polluting car bridge that is there today. When discussing river views and “scenic resources”, in my view, it is important to consider the existing human impact of things like roads, freeways, and already-built development and not treat this bit of land as it is a virgin forest.] There will be a meeting of the decision-makers. [They voted to approve it just today!]

Headline: Trouble brewing over Starbucks drive-thru
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A drive-thru coffee shop has been causing traffic to back up at a key intersection. A cop stands there often to direct traffic. Plastic bollards try to keep cars from blocking the bike lane. Starbucks people are looking to fix it by re-striping their parking lot. Quote from a neighbor: “I love Starbucks, but I was against this plan from the beginning. It’s a horrible place to put a drive through.” [For the record, I have never in my life gotten a drive-thru coffee.]

Headline: Misery was in good company at county tax hearing
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Property taxes went up in Ramsey County.

Headline: Planning begins to manage traffic, parking near soccer stadium
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking during future soccer games. [If you build parking lots, they will drive. Let’s make sure instead that it’s very welcoming, convenient, and safe to walk and bike to the stadium.] Quote from a Planning Commissioner: “From my home three block away, I hear crashes on a regular basis.” [Prediction: the soccer game day traffic and parking will be terrible for a while, but will then get better.]

Headline: St. Paul has changes in store for permit parking program
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The “permit parking” zones, where only residents can park, is scheduled to be updated. Some zones may be removed, depending on how well used they are. Costs for new permits may increase, but probably not by much. There was a survey. Quote from the administrator: “almost nothing is universal about permit parking.” [The hassle of the way the city has been doing this program is almost impossible to describe. Each area has different rules and processes and hours, it seems.] Quote from same person: “Police have said that’s difficult to enforce” [referring to the short-term e.g. 1-hour limits. In fact, it’s impossible to enforce and are based almost entirely on the honor system, much like many Saint Paul traditions. Unless there are some seriously eagle-eyed whistle blowers, nothing happens.. The open secret about Saint Paul’s short-term zones is that nobody enforces them at all, and that goes double for permit parking short-term zones. The system is very flawed and would require huge increases in parking enforcement staff to make it work.] The plan will move forward and people will get to comment on the proposals.

Headline: Council considers new regulations for alternative financial institutions
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Odd credit agencies might be permitted in some zones. One particular credit agency was displaced and looking for a new location, but could not find one because of the zoning. They are now “happy in Mendota.” [I love Mendota. Very quaint, a home of 19th c. financial speculation, and a good place for a loosely regulated credit agency.]

Headline: Vacant 1509 Marshall building may house three new businesses
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: An old roller rink [wait, what?] is going to become new businesses after it was rehabbed. It could be lots of things, but might be an architecture firm, fitness center, and/or restaurant.

Headline: New housing eyed at Marshall-Western
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The old Boy Scouts HQ might be rezoned [NOTE: it was rezoned] and could become housing instead of its current offices. It would become TN2 zoning. Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking. One neighbor was pleased, but the neighborhood group did not support the idea.

Headline: St. Paul JCC now seeking city approval for $15M expansion
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Jewish Community Center in Highland might become larger. There might be new pools and other things. [Little known fact: I was in multiple musicals at the JCC when I was a child!]

Headline: Design still evolving for Marshall-Moore apartments
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There might be a new apartment building on Marshall Avenue that would be marketed for college students. [Though the article does not mention it, I understand that neighbors are concerned about students and tearing down the existing homes.]

Headline: Highland reservoir proposals include grocery, greenhouse
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There are a bunch of ideas for what to do with the land currently occupied by a now-unneeded reservoir. It’s on Snelling Avenue [directly across from the Highland Villager offices] and some of the ideas include a grocery store, a strawberry greenhouse, a solar array, an ice rink, and field space. [Can’t believe they suggested a Hy-vee across from the Villager offices!]

Headline: Rezoning sought for senior housing on Morning Star site
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: An old church and its [massive!] parking lot may become housing for older people. It would require TN zoning. [This is very similar to the Boy Scouts situation, only with older people.] There will be underground parking.

Headline: Union Park seeks district plan changes for part of Selby Ave.
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A neighborhood group wants to change the plan it created so that a stretch of Selby Avenue is reframed to only have “smaller scale” development or mixed-use buildings. There will be a public hearing. Neighbors are concerned about density and the character of the neighborhood.

Headline: HPS rejects request to replace Summit brick alley with asphalt
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: People in a fancy part of town cannot repave their alley except with bricks. The bricks are expensive and fall apart.

Headline: Landlord appeals decision to shut down overcrowded student rental
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A landlord had his “student rental” license revoked because too many students were living there. The limit is four but there were nine. [The limits are dumb, especially in larger homes. Students like saving money and living in smaller spaces, as I did when I was that age.] City housing inspectors inspected it.The city’s “unrelated adult” rules were in play. [That is another thing that is very backwards. Who are cities to say who can live together in a place or who can’t? Or what constitutes a “family”?] Quote from a neighbor: Over-occupancy is not only illegal, it’s dangerous.” [IMO Fire code is one thing but antiquated bourgeois morality is another. I’d be curious to know more about this particular situation.] Article is full of quotes about the landlord being frustrated about the situation. Quote from him: “he is … unhappy with his neighbors, who he believes simply do not like college students.” [Well, they are Tommies… Stay tuned for more on this evolving situation!]

Headline: New signals, other upgrades in store to make Grand safer
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There is a roughly $1M grant to improve pedestrian safety on Grand Avenue. [How many people had to get injured or die before we finally got around to doing this?] The plans include leading pedestrian intervals, new crosswalks, new pedestrian ramps, bumpouts and/or median refuges [probably bumpouts], and redesigned bus stops. There might be some restrictions on left-turns at some places. A median might be built at Chatsworth, which is planned to have a bicycle boulevard. Article includes some history of the street and safety issues.

Headline: Palace takes over Wild Tymes space; new bar-restaurant in works to complement operation of theater
Author: Kasey McKee [The Villager’s new bar and booze beat reporter?]

Short short version: The crappy bar with a bad name [but super cheap beer during happy hour!] was bought by the First Avenue folks. It will be rebranded [thank god]. It will be done by May 1st. There will no longer be music there. [Also thank god. Their patio was nice though. And their happy hour went all-day on Sundays. I bet that won’t still happen.]


Signs of the Times #133

Please Enjoy
Thank you!

[Door. Cleveland Avenue, Saint Paul.]




[Door. Location forgotten.]


[Yard. Frogtown, Saint Paul.]

Just Say
To Parking
Along Side Of

[Wall. Location forgotten.]


[Fence bucket. West Side, Saint Paul.]

[some chemtrails nonsense]

[Pole. Location forgotten.]


[Fake stop sign. West Side, Saint Paul.]
Close Today (MON)
due to ECLIPSE watching 
in Nebraska
We're so sorry for the

[Door. West Side, Saint Paul.]


*** 25 Weekend Sidewalk Links for You! ***

Sidewalk Rating: Slippery

With a clamor of bells that set the swallows soaring, the Festival of Summer came to the city Omelas, bright-towered by the sea. The rigging of the boats in harbor sparkled with flags. In the streets between houses with red roofs and painted walls, between old moss-grown gardens and under avenues of trees, past great parks and public buildings, processions moved. Some were decorous: old people in long stiff robes of mauve and grey, grave master workmen, quiet, merry women carrying their babies and chatting as they walked. In other streets the music beat faster, a shimmering of gong and tambourine, and the people went dancing, the procession was a dance. Children dodged in and out, their high calls rising like the swallows' crossing flights, over the music and the singing.

[From Omelas, by Ursula Le Guin.]

[Saint Paul's West Side before the cold front blew in.]



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Banning cars is as simple as it sounds: It’s restricting private automobiles from entering a geographic area. You might have already seen how this works in a pedestrian-prioritized historical district, which is common in bigger cities. So we start the ban there, in the biggest cities


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You made another point about China. I have been to China recently as well. They are building lots of things, and the reason we shouldn’t be directly comparing the United States or developed countries in Europe or Australia with China directly is that it is starting from a much less developed base. So, when you’re in a country with no intercity highways, it’s very important to build freeways. When you’re in a country where we finished the interstate highway system in 1982, more or less, it’s much less important to build new highways because we’ve already connected all of the places that need to be connected and we’re just arguing about the widening of roads and capacity expansions rather than building connectivity in the first place.


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“Back in the late sixties, James’s comments about his former life in Minneapolis and teaching experience at the University had made me skeptical of the city ... I thought of it as ugly and his life there as sad and lonely. … When negotiations with the University concerning the placement of James’s papers to the Manuscript Department took place, I realized that ‘the bad guys’ had long left the University and the new ‘good guys’ involved were devoted to James’s work.”


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Twin City Shop Windows #16

[West Bank, Minneapolis?]

[West Bank, Minneapolis.]

[Marshall Avenue, Saint Paul.]

[West Bank, Minneapolis.]

[West 7th, Saint Paul.]

[Memphis, TN.]

[New Orleans, LA.]

[Lafayette, LA.]