Community NewsCommunity News

There's no way that we can possibly cover everything happening around bicycling, walking, and transportation in the Twin Cities region. That's why we started a blog network: a one-stop shop to get read all of the bicycling and walking blogs in the area. If you'd like to add your blog to this network, send an email to tlc@tlcminnesota.org. 

*** Sidewalk Yearend! ***

Twin City Sidewalks - Wed, 12/31/2014 - 3:11pm
Sidewalk Rating: Greatest Of All Time
A city sidewalk by itself is nothing. It is an abstraction. It means something only in conjunction with the buildings and other uses that border it, or border other sidewalks very near it. The same might be said of streets, in the sense that they serve other purposes besides carrying wheeled traffic in their middles. Streets and their sidewalks, the main public places of a city, are its most vital organs.
[Jane Jacobs.] 



[A well shoveled sidewalk in Saint Paul's Mac-Groveland neighborhood.]

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Reading the Highland Villager #121

Twin City Sidewalks - Tue, 12/30/2014 - 11:19am
[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."

TC SIdewalks Live!: The Saint Paul Coney at the History of Hip

Twin City Sidewalks - Mon, 12/29/2014 - 12:38pm
[Keenan's coney is the middle one.]Hey Twin Cities, coney dogs are catching on. I'm excited to be giving a short talk / interview / demonstration / song and dance / coney dog and pony show next Tuesday at the Bedlam Theater. After my wildly popular Saint Paul Coney Quest, the History Center invited me to help out with their History of Hip series, which explores the hidden history of everyday life in the Twin Cities. How perfect!

This is exciting to me because one of my goals in doing sidewalk tours is to trace new connections throughout our often overlooked urban landscape. Vernacular food -- things like Minneapolis' Jucy Lucy -- are one of the most delicious ways to do this, and in the Saint Paul coney, we have a gem. The Saint Paul coney, with its distinctive grilled bun, cannot be found anywhere else that I know of, and it's rare to be able to so clearly trace the evolution of food through space and time.

Come on down next Tuesday, and hear me chat with Bill Keenan (owner of Keenan's Bar) about the coney dog, running a bar, and the future of Saint Paul's working class culture.

Please note: There will be authentic Saint Paul coneys. Price of admission gets you a free Bedlam drink.

What: The Saint Paul Snack: A Brief History of Coney Dogs
Time: 7:40, Tuesday January 6th
Place: Bedlam Theater
Cost: $15 ($12 MNHS members) with drink included

Facebook event details follow:

Saint Paul’s ultimate vernacular bar food is like but not the same as its Michigan-based namesake, and its story is as cranky, weird and unique to the city as the bars and bartenders that carry it. Geographer and author Bill Lindeke shares the history and stories of Saint Paul coneys with Bill Keenan, whose legendary secret sauce keeps regulars returning to his namesake bar on West Seventh Street. Stop in for a beer and a bump and stay awhile. 

$15 ($12 MNHS members). Ages 21+ only.
[The Coney Tour outside the Original Coney Island on Saint Peter Street.]

*** Sidewalk Weekend! ***

Twin City Sidewalks - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 1:27pm
Sidewalk Rating: Uncanny The fear of the other, the poor and the stranger has often fostered the formulation of specific policies, while the history of the European city can be described as a succession of systems of intolerance, removal of the difference and normalisation efforts. The adoption of devices to prevent permeability and accessibility (such as walls, infrastructural and environmental barriers) in the past, has been replaced today by multiple and complex forms of segregation. [interview with Paola Pellegrini]

[The atrium in the Pioneer-Endicott building in downtown Saint Paul.]

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*** ***How many accidents are caused by texting in the U.S.?At least 200,000 per year.
[this]
*** ***The customer objected to paying the sales tax that raised the price to $1.93, and after Abualzain and the customer argued, Abualzain grabbed a machete he had behind the counter and struck the man twice, cutting his hand and arm, Abualzain admitted in court.

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3 Reasons Why I Re-Blog the Highland Villager

Twin City Sidewalks - Fri, 12/12/2014 - 12:11pm
For five years now, I have been re-blogging the Highland Villager, a print-edition-only local newspaper that focuses on Saint Paul local issues. I started doing this back in May 2009 because, as I explained at the time:
Basically, the problem is that the best source of local streets / sidewalks news in Saint Paul is the Highland Villager. This wouldn't be a problem, except that it's not available online. The editor / publisher Michael Mischke (who I've never met) clearly doesn't like the internet for some reason. But there's a lot of good stuff in this local bi-weekly about developments and street debates.

So basically, I'm going to have a twice-monthly post about what I discover when reading the Highland Villager. Maybe it'll encourage you to go get your own copy, available anywhere that's anywhere in Saint Paul. Or maybe I'm reading the Highland Villager so that you don't have to? Either way...until this newspaper goes online, information must be set free.
So, every two weeks for five years, I’ve been attempting to summarize the main local politics articles in the paper. I haven’t missed very many, and am up to 120 summaries and 8 op-ed reprints at this point. Because I can’t help myself, I also add a bit of commentary into the stories [clearly demarcated in red italics] with either a) important context missing from the piece or, b) sarcastic snark.

From time to time I get a bit of flak about this. (For example, one prolific Highland Villager reporter doesn’t seem to enjoy my summaries, as you can see in the comments here.) For this reason, I thought I’d outline three reasons I think it’s important to re-blog the Highland Villager, and why I intend to keep doing so until they bring their content online.

#1) The Coverage Area Exacerbates Income Disparities


[Highland Villager demographics.]The Highland Villager focuses primarily on the wealthier parts of the city. Though on the masthead they technically claim to represent “Highland Park, Lex-Ham, Mac-Groveand, Merriam Park, Snelling-Hamline, Summit Hill, Summit-University, West 7th, Longfellow, Nokomis, Lilydale, Mendota, and Mendota Heights, I’d estimate that over half of their content focuses on Highland Park, Grand Avenue, Summit Avenue, and downtown areas: in other words, the wealthiest parts of the city. This disparity is intentional; in order to attract advertisers, the Highland Villager even brags about their reader demographics on their news-less website.  (The inclusion of Mendota Heights, my wealthy suburban hometown, into the readership area seems like proof enough.)

I won’t begrudge anyone for trying to make a profit, especially a print newspaper (dying out everywhere). But the Highland Villager’s thorough coverage of Saint Paul's wealthier areas has the perverse effect of amplifying the voices of the well-off. This means that any time a neighborhood issue pops up on Grand Avenue, Summit Hill, or Highland Park, you can be sure that it will attract more attention. Meanwhile, stories in the poor parts of the city (e.g. the North End, Frogtown, East Side, or the West Side where I live) will not attract much attention.

This is as much about the failure of today’s news media to cover local and neighborhood issues as it is about anything else. The solution is to have economically stable local newspapers in all parts of the city, or to have a city-wide newspaper like the Pioneer Press retain the staffing levels that would allow them to cover every neighborhood equally. Those seem like pipe dreams, and until internet bloggers somehow get paid to do their own reporting about city issues, our local news media seem destined to amplify the voices of the wealthy.



[The Highland Villager's coverage area does not include the city's poorest parts.]
#2) The Highland Villager’s Issues have Extra-Local Relevance

The second big reason to re-blog the Highland Villager is that information is power. Those that are well informed about local political issues - such as plans for a road expansion or a new building - can have more active roles in shaping those outcomes.

But because the Highland Villager is not online, there ends up being unequal access to information. Those people in the Highland Villager coverage area have the information delivered to their doorstep, while those outside the coverage area have to seek it out at the downtown library.

This information disparity is important because Saint Paul local issues are not just for people in the neighborhood, but for everyone in the city (and even the larger region). The classic example is downtown, which doesn’t just "belong" to the people who live or work there, but to the whole city. It’s one of the few places that should be truly public. Anyone in Saint Paul should feel welcome to walk through the streets, parks, and museums downtown.

The same is true of local issues. Though I might sometimes tease Highland Village, I also buy tea, coffee, latkes, cat food, and film tickets there. Ford and Cleveland, or Grand Avenue, or West 7th Street, are important parts of my city, even though live in a completely different part of Saint Paul.

Heck, even someone from Minneapolis who bikes through Saint Paul, or a Macaester Student who only spends four years in Saint Paul, should be allowed a voice in community conversations about its future. In order to make sure that everyone can participate in our community, we need to make information as accessible as possible. To reach a broader audience, especially younger people, the internet is an important tool.

#3) The Highland Villager Has a Bias


Try as we might to be neutral and objective, all newspapers have a bias, as does this blog. A lot of this comes from questions of audience and journalistic methodology: who are we talking to? who do we interview for stories? what kinds of stories do we cover? 

How we answer these kinds of questions is important. But as I’ve been carefully reading the Highland Villager over the last five years, I’ve gradually become more frustrated with the way that the paper frames stories. For example, the Highland Villager seems to amplify concerns about parking and traffic while minimizing voices that view development or change in a more positive light.

Maybe this is intentional, or maybe it’s just giving the readers what they want. Maybe is the inherent nature of media; after all, conflict grabs readers, and nobody wants to read about how everyone agrees with each other. [Well, I do kinda, if it's done well.] But to me, the Highland Villager often frames issues in ways that exacerbate divisions around issues like street design and development that I find to be crucial for the future of Saint Paul.

In fact, having more positive and inclusive urban conversations is one of the main reasons why I helped to start streets.mn, along with a whole bunch of friends and colleagues from across the city. That website is "dedicated to expanding the conversation about land use and transportation issues', but implicit in that mission statement is a critique of existing conversations. I know how hard it is to be a reporter, and I know how difficult these things are. But unfortunately I sometimes feel that the Highland Villager inflames people about parochial issues at the expense of more collective values.

As I’ve said, every kind of media has a bias and specific audiences that they (try to) reach. For example, nobody without internet and a computer can read this blog. I like the Highland Villager and appreciate the fact that it’s out there covering neighborhood meetings that, otherwise, wouldn't get noticed. That's why I believe the Highland Villager is a net positive for Saint Paul.

But I also wish it spoke to, and about, all parts of the city. I worry that its economically unequal coverage and framing of particular voices can sometimes agitate city discussions in negative ways. That’s why I feel compelled to keep re-blogging the Highland Villager. I think its important to make sure that everyone has theoretically equal access to information and that broader perspectives are included in conversations about our city.

See you next fortnight!

[Some Highland Villagers waiting in the cold.]

Reading the Highland Villager Op-Ed Extra #8

Twin City Sidewalks - Thu, 12/11/2014 - 2:01pm
[Empty spaces on Wabasha in the middle of the day, fm Ken Paulman's twitter.]High cost, loss of parking argue for a better bike loop

By Bill Hosko

On Tuesday, December 2, downtown St. Paul residents and business people gathered for a follow-up discussion of Mayor Chris Coleman's plan for a "bike loop" in downtown. An earlier meeting with business people and residents on the bike loop was held on November 12. Public comments to the city were due by December 8.

[I went to one of these meetings, and listened to the following testimony from one elderly resident: "I’ve been a resident for just about a year and seeing a poster on a little deli was the first I’ve heard that 15 spots on Jackson might no longer exist. One of the biggest factors for us relocating to downtown from the suburbs, and we took six months to decide, was the parking for people who wanted to come visit us."]

The bike loop, as proposed, is an $18 million designated, curbed and landscaped bike path that would connect Wabasha, 10th, Jackson, and 4th streets. [The exact alignment for the loop hasn't been decided, though Hosko did choose my preferred streets as his example.] It would eliminate 147 metered parking spaces on top of the 131 metered spaces that were previously removed as a result of the construction of the light-rail Green Line downtown.

St. Paul has been working on a comprehensive citywide bike plan for the past three years, and released a draft of the proposal last winter. [Three years is a long time!] The plan, if fully implemented, would add 214 miles of bikeways in the next few decades to the 144 miles of bikeways the city now has. It includes two already-identified projects: the downtown bike loop and the completion of the Grand Round, a 27-mile route around the city on either bike lanes or off-street bike trails.

The bike plan has received the support of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce and the Greater St. Paul Association of Buildings Owners and Managers, and limited endorsement by the downtown CapitolRiver Council's executive and parking committees. [Note that Hosko pulls many of the strings for the CapitolRiver council, unfortunately.] Mayor Coleman has already budgeted $8 million of the city's $42.5 million 8-80 Vitality Fund to rebuild Jackson Street as the first segment of the bike loop--two months before the public comment was to end. [Yeah, that's how this city works.]

Before I go any further, I should mention that I'm car-free, bike year-round, and view the draft bike plan as largely an excellent document. I'm also certain that most of those who live and work in St. Paul support the thoughtful, cost-effective expansion of biking opportunities throughout the city. [Before I go any further, note that the bike loop really isn't designed for people who are already biking around downtown Saint Paul, but for people who aren't biking in downtown because they don't feel safe. Downtown curb-separated bike lanes are something that even kids should be able to ride on comfortably.]

In August, Mayor Coleman expressed great concern in an article published in this newspaper about a projected $9.6 million city budget shortfall. ("Budget cuts and tax hikes may be in store for 2015.") Coleman was quoted as saying, "Imagine having to cut every year for the last eight or nine years and then year we need to cut more. It gets very difficult." Was the mayor's concern sincere?

Mayor Coleman was elated in October when the City Council awarded the bike loop project $8 million to start the first phase of construction: rebuilding Jackson Street between 10th and 4th streets. That project alone would permanently eliminate 46 metered spaces -- as well as significant parking meter and ticket revenue -- and 10 loading spaces. [Parking revenue doesn't go away, actually. It moves around. That's why parking revenue needs to be seen as a whole. One great way to increase parking revenue in downtown Saint Paul would be to extend meter times past 5 PM. That would also have the added benefit of ensuring that spaces turn over more frequently. The argument about revenue is especially disingenuous because it seems like what people are complaining about is the loss of free parking, which generates no revenue at all.] Only after making budget cuts and raising city taxes and fees does Coleman propose to pull out $8 million in city taxes and fees for his pet project, which was based on a similar project in Indianapolis. [I can only hope that this is indeed a pet project for Coleman, which means it actually might happen!]

What Indianapolis has that St. Paul doesn't is [downtown art gallery owners with vision] flat terrain, milder winters and a strong economy. [Pretty sure that the Twin Cities' economy is doing better than Indianapolis'. If decades of free parking haven't made downtown Saint Paul's economy thrive, maybe we should try something else?] Additionally Indianapolis' downtown streets are significantly wider than St. Paul's. As a result, far fewer parking spaces were removed to accommodate that city's bike loop. [I'm actually curious about data on this.] Indianapolis also doesn't have two other major economic competitors to contend with a few miles away: downtown Minneapolis and Bloomington's Mall of America. [Note that the Saint Paul Macy's is thriving because of the free parking.] Coleman continues to insist that downtown St. Paul is "booming," when the truth is that St. Paul continues to economically fall further behind other municipalities in the metro area.

Is there a middle-ground in Coleman's bike loop plan? Absolutely. let's install bike and motor vehicle markers on traffic lanes along the bike loop to drive home the point that they are shared lanes for motor vehicles and bikes. [Sharrows, the last refuge of the scoundrel.] Coleman might even lead by example by starting to bike year-round -- we're the same age -- and show how easy it is is to commute the four miles between his West Side home and City Hall. [It'd be easier if they had a contiguous bike lane on Wabasha Street and a bike loop path that would let you easily get from City Hall to Bill Hosko's dynamic business on 7th Street, the Music Forest Café.]


Reading the Highland Villager #120

Twin City Sidewalks - Thu, 12/11/2014 - 12:02pm
[A Villager in winter. H/t Mike.][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: Homeowners feel pain of rising values; Housing market rebound brings big tax increases
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [Also greater net worth.]


Headline: St. Paul grants liquor licenses for Salt Cellar; Answer to Selby-Western parking woes still sought
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A restaurant that wanted to open up in a vacant building in a historic walkable area can now do so even though they don't have as many parking spots as other restaurants in the area would like them to have. Minimum parking requirements are vague on the subject, either requiring 31, 13, or 14 spaces. The restaurant will 13. The city staff said 14 but neighborhoods and the owner of W.A. Frost took it to the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) who denied the larger requirements. In a recent vote, the City Council sided with city staff and the BZA. Article includes quotes from the owners of the new restaurant about getting their employees to work, and some history of the building, which was formerly an art school. Best quote: "some business owners and residents have said that the Neighborhood ... has reached  a tipping point." [Classic Yogi Berra moment: "Nobody goes there any more, it's too crowded."] People are still concerned about parking. [The key to parking in this neighborhood is to park a few blocks away and walk a few blocks. It's nice to walk in this neighborhood because it's beautiful and doesn't have parking lots everywhere. Fancy restaurants also have valet parking, don't they?]


Headline: City vacates former Lexington Library
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: An building that used to have a library in it was sold. Other vacant buildings owned by the city will be sold in the future.


Headline: Grant awarded for transit [Least exciting headline in many months.]
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Counties Transit Improvement Board CTIB has given money to transit projects like SWLRT, Bottineau, Orange Line and Gateway.


Headline: City gets to work on new teardown policy; The question is, how do you legislate standards for new home design?
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city is considering new policies to regulate teardowns [when smaller homes in nice neighborhoods are torn down and replaced with larger homes], most of which is happening in the South-west quadrant of the city. Some questions include how to notify neighbors, what designs and style regulations might look like, and "lot splits."


Headline: Debbie Montgomery gets her name on part of Marshall Ave.
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A former Council Member gets a symbolic sign. [See also: SuperTarget.]


Headline: St. Paul takes aim at creating archery range near Pig's Eye
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: You may be able to shoot arrows in park land near Pig's Eye lake in the future. [You'll poke your eye out!]


Headline: Owners of Grand property appeal parking spot denial
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A commercial/residential building housing a contracting business wants not to build a parking spot but the city is trying to make them do so. Neighbors say that tenants "park illegally in the alley."



Headline: Permit sought for next phase of Victoria Park apartments
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: An old industrial oil tank farm is still becoming apartment buildings near West 7th Street. 194 new units, outdoor pool, and underground parking. [Park in the pool! Swim in your car!]


Headline: County to pay $11.5M to raze old jail, West Publishing complex in downtown
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Old buildings across the street from City Hall along the bluff downtown will be torn down by the County because they couldn't sell them to anyone. Politicians hope that the demolition will accelerate redevelopment. Article includes history of the buildings, the oldest of which is from 1895. [The jail is so amazing; see here.] "Demolition will take a year." They might get a Met Council grant to help pay for some of it.


Headline: Consultants aid St. Paul's effort to upgrade winter street maintenance
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City Council is changing the rules about one-sided parking and snow emergencies to make it easier to tag and tow cars. They're using "data" now. [What will they think of next?] Article includes quote: "they faced a blizzard of complaints." They will especially clear snow around the Green Line.


Headline: St. Paul approves regs for Uber, Lyft
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city will let Uber and Lyft operate without requiring individual licenses for drivers. Article includes lots of explanation of what a "smartphone" is. Article includes claims from the companies that lists of drivers' names are "trade secrets." [My understanding is that each company poaches drivers from the other, which if course is bad for the companies because then they get into a bidding war with each other and end up giving more power to the drivers.]


Sidewalk Closed Signs #7

Twin City Sidewalks - Wed, 12/10/2014 - 5:01pm
[Downtown, Saint Paul.]
 [Milwaukee, WI.] [Finlayson, MN.] [Downtown Saint Paul.] [Downtown Minneapolis.] [Stockholm, Sweden.] [Stockholm, Sweden.][Maybe Grand Avenue?]

Sidewalks at Night #2

Twin City Sidewalks - Wed, 12/10/2014 - 4:51pm

 [Mendota Heights.]
 [Location forgotten.]
 [West 7th Street, Saint Paul.]
 [Selby Avenue, Saint Paul.] [South Minneapolis.]

Freeways Are Public Space Too

Twin City Sidewalks - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 11:58am
[Freeway in LA.]It’s not every day you see hundreds of people walking down Interstate 35W. But last week it happened, and the recent nationwide trend toward protesting on our roads is a sign that we’re beginning to rethink the politics of roads. We’re beginning to see them as public space.


Cities + Politics = Public Space

There’s been a lot of ink spewed over the years about urban design and civil society. A lot of it is semi-naive idealism about New England town hall meetings, or often problematic notions about what is and is not “social capitol.” Talking about the public sphere remains a delicate subject that can sometimes contain problematic notions about what constitutes proper citizenship.

That said, there are certainly lots of ways we can designs cities that improve our political discussions. In lots of ways, protests and public space are the foundation of politics. They can bring people together in ways that are often problematic for profit-driven media. That’s why we need our streets to be places where society comes together.

[Saint Paul's streets during the 2008 RNC.]But it’s very hard to do well. For example, earlier on this site I’ve written about three of my favorite moments in Twin Cities’ protest history, times when the dynamics of public space were thrown into sharp relief. The first was the University of Minnesota student protests in 1972, where students shut down busy Washington Avenue for over a day in order to protest the Vietnam War and the draft.

The second was during Saint Paul's Republic National Convention in 2008, where the police and the national security apparatus took over the public spaces downtown and completely re-made them with fences and checkpoints in order to ward off protest and free speech. To me, these two examples show extreme lengths to which the state can go to foreclose expression in advance in the 21st century.



Occupy What?

[The OccupyMN camp in 2011.]The most interesting Minneapolis public space moment in my memory, though, has to be the OccupyMN encampment back in 2011. People created a fascinating public space in a spot in downtown Minneapolis, right between the county government center and city hall, that I had thought to be lacking possibilities.

At the time, I wrote that the occupy encampment was easily marginalized simply because of the architecture and urban design of downtown Minneapolis:
Once the workers are gone, there’s no actual “public.” You’re surrounded by terrible architecture, each 80s and 90s office tower blander than the last. The parts of the city that actually have people in them are all at least a half a mile away, over by the stadia and restaurants and clubs and theaters and neighborhoods. The occupiers are easily ignored by almost everyone, which is probably one of the reasons why they’re tolerated (so far) by those in power.
In other words, we’re dealing with the age-old question: if a protest falls in a forest, but nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

As my friend Nathan has argued, protests invariably push the boundaries of what our public spaces can become, activating the edges of social convention and power. During a protest, police power becomes terribly visible. But it's easy to forget that these kinds of power are at work the rest of the time, too. Moments of exception, where a park or a street or a sidewalk becomes contested, demonstrate the always social nature of the city. What a park can become, or how a street behaves, are always open questions rarely asked outside or extreme circumstances.


Freeways as Public Space

That’s why it’s fascinating that the recent protests around police brutality have taken to the nation’s freeway system. It reminds me of the protest movement in Bolivia (that I read about years ago), where indigenous activists shut down all the freeways into and out of the city and effectively blockaded La Paz until their demands were met (starting a movement that elected Leftist president Evo Morales).

Unlike the OccupyMN encampment, a protest on a freeway is impossible to ignore, and reveals in an instant how central these massive segregating technologies have become to our cities and society. While these protests weren’t explicitly about automobility or urban design per se, there has been a lot written about the way that structural racism and urban form shape each other.

In short, freeways are not a neutral technology. They empower particular people in particular ways, allowing those with access to cars and suburban privilege the ability to quickly move through the city. Freeways allow us to separate ourselves from the social obligations that come with propinquity. A road like Interstate 35W might seem "natural," but history has shown that they are not, that freeway construction was a massively destructive force aimed at a particular way of urban life that many people of color relied on. Today and every day, freeways remain barriers dividing our cities poorest neighborhoods, and making streets unsafe by privileging the inherently violent technology of the automobile.


Alien Encounter


That’s why I’m glad that protest movements around race and justice have found the interstate onramp. Outside of airports, prisons, or military bases, there’s no more tightly controlled space in our cities today. Freeways are designed, regulated, and policed in order to allow only one kind of behavior (speeding cars) and to make all other kinds of social interaction impossible.

I can only imagine how alien it must feel to walk down Interstate 35W in the middle of the day. Once you get on the inhuman thing, you must walk a mile and half before you can return to the city streets. It’s no wonder that these kinds of moments are so rare.

But should these moments be exceptional? Should freeways be part of the discussions about public space and cities, and what kind of social environment we want to inhabit?

No matter how you feel about shutting down the freeway (and some people objected), the fact that last week’s protests began raising the question of freeways as public space is a watershed that reminds me of the Vietnam War contestations before I was born. I’ll be following the movement closely. The next time hundreds of people end up walking down a freeway to prove a point, I hope I can be there with them.


TC SIdewalks Live!: PhD Defense of my Dissertation: "In Search of New Riders"

Twin City Sidewalks - Fri, 12/05/2014 - 2:31pm
[I printed it onto paper.]As some of you probably know, I've been in graduate school for almost as long as this blog has been operational. It's been a long haul, certainly, but I'm finally nearing the end of the road and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

I finished the draft of my dissertation this week, and it's a 250-page document called "In Search of New Riders: Affective Exclusions and Bicycle Planning in Minneapolis/Saint Paul."

It's all about how new riders learn to ride through the cities of  Minneapolis and Saint Paul in really different ways, depending on individual differences like age, gender, race, or class.

There were really two parts to the research. The first was a series of 'ridealong interviews' that I did with new riders, where I chatted with them about what they liked and disliked about riding a bike around the Twin Cities. Then I followed them (in a hopefully non-creepy way) with a video camera on my head. It was interesting, and I ended up with a bunch of cool video data showing how people ride in different ways.

[Pictures of a ride-along interview with Bethany.]

[Pictures of a ride-along interview with Pete.]

The second part of the project was about attempts by planners in Minneapolis and Saint Paul to design spaces for new riders. As you may know, Minneapolis received a big pot of money a few years ago that they've used to build interesting bike infrastructure in Minneapolis and adjoining cities like Saint Paul. One of the goals of the NTP project was to appeal to new riders, so I compared my interview data with some of the project results.

[Pictures of the 2011 Lyndale Avenue Open Streets.]


That's it! My big conclusion was that advocates and planners need to be very thoughtful about how differently people ride bicycles. I outlined for types of "bicycling affects", a rough breakdown of the how different people are looking for different things when they ride bikes.

Anyway, I'll be presenting my research to the public as part of my defense. The presentation will likely take only about a half-hour, so if you want to come down and see it, you're invited! After that, my committee and I will meet in private.

What: William Lindeke's PhD Defense Public Presentation
When: Wednesday December 17th at 1:00pm
Where: 445 Blegen Hall, West Bank Campus of the University of Minnesota
Why: To learn about bicycling, urban geography, and to support me!

PS. There will be a less formal celebration party at Mancini's on Friday the 19th.

[Good D fences make good deneighbors.]

*** Sidewalk Weekend! ***

Twin City Sidewalks - Fri, 12/05/2014 - 2:19pm
Sidewalk Rating: Better

The Song of the Clarion Scout, appearing in the May 1895 issue of The Scout – A Journal for Socialist Workers, includes the following lines:What tho’ the weather be cold as an icicle,Bravely he clings to his Clarion bicycleScattering leaflets, sticking up labels,Filling a breach at old hostelry tables.Such is the being I’ll sing you about.Three hearty cheers for the Clarion Scout!
[from Dave Horton.]
[A Green Line car decorated for the holidaze.]

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Tiny apartment in Paris (8sqm only) from Kitoko Studio on Vimeo.
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5 Nazis Who May Be Living in Northeast Minneapolis

Twin City Sidewalks - Wed, 12/03/2014 - 1:25pm
Northeast Minneapolis is a well known haven for alleged Nazis like Michael Karcoc. How many other Nazis might be living in Northeast? We did some research and discovered the most likely suspects.Next time you go to a Nazi dinner party at Gasthaus, look around and see if you can spot these famous Nazis. [Check out the entire list below!] #5) Heinrich SchnitzelgruberSchnitzelgruber was fond of Minneapolis and visited the city on multiple occasions. He was once spotted at the Moose on Monroe. Does he live in Northeast? He'd be pretty old but it's possible. #4) Martin Heidegger's concept of DaseinSince its disappearance from the black forest in the 1950s, nobody is quite sure what happened to famous nazi-affiliated philosopher Martin Heidegger's notion of being-in-the-world. With its many bridges and cozy single-family homes, Northeast Minneapolis seems like a likely landing spot. #3) Albert SpeerThe famous nazi architect might or might not have worked on designing many of the Twin Cities' recent six-story apartment buildings. #2) Tony JarosCould be a nazi? Until we hear otherwise it's hard to be sure. #1) Adolph HitlerBody was never found.

Reading the Highland Villager #119

Twin City Sidewalks - Mon, 12/01/2014 - 11:54am
[A Villager on a doormat. H/t Mike.][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: Neighbors unite to save old house from demolition
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Someone bought an old house that needs a lot of repair and wants to tear it down instead of fixing it up because it's cheaper. They would then subdivide the house and build two much larger homes on the land. People stood outside the house holding candles. Article includes photo. Nobody knows what will happen. Nicole Curtis is mentioned. [The last thing Saint Paul needs is Nicole Curtis. Why can't she stay in Minneapolis?]


Headline: Luxury Apartments planned at Shepard-Davern
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: An old office building along the river is being redeveloped into apartment buildings. Some people like it, others are worried that the building will block their views. One woman is concerned about "adding more housing and traffic to the neighborhood." The neighborhood in question is referred to as "gateway village." [Really? Another "village"?] Shepard Road might also be re-routed to hopefully decrease some of the traffic on West 7th. The building is proposed to be six-stories, but does not seem to be mixed-use. There are other similar buildings planned for the area.


Headline: St. Paul looks at realigning Shepard/W.7th Intersection
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The redevelopment above might coincide with a realignment of Shepard Road where it meets the Highway 5 bridge. There is no funding for the project yet. Some homes would be torn down. The idea is to shift traffic from West 7th onto Shepard Road [which is underused for a limited-access freeway design]. Article states that "Shepard Road would be engineered to slow traffic down to 35-40 mph." [Seeing is believing, though that's still too fast for an urban neighborhood.] There's also a transit study going on that might change everything.


Headline: City Hall wants to hear if you have a better idea for Ford site
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [No they don't.]


Headline: Owner rejects historic status for St. Paul's last two movie theaters
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The two old theaters in Saint Paul recently got a grant from the city to fix them up, and some folks in the preservation community want to also make sure the exteriors of the buildings are preserved, maybe even putting them on the National Register. The preservationists are upset about the recent rehab to the Highland Theater, especially the "sheet metal siding" covering the "Vitrolite ties." [Whatever that means.] The owners of the theaters, the Mann brothers, don't want the buildings preserved, at least not in that way. CM Tolbert says that the Manns have done a nice job so far.


Headline: Commission favors keeping current Sibley Plaza zoning; Recommendation moves planned redo of shopping center another step closer
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A Saint Paul strip mall will not be forced to move its large parking lot away from the sidewalk because they have redevelopment plans. The whole area is being rezoned as part of a planning study. [The main problem with the street and the area is that West 7th is horribly dangerous and unwalkable, something that the plan doesn't really address.]


Headline: Redevelopment plan does not include spot for Cooper's; Loss of Highland location may mean upgrades to chain's West End grocery
Author: Kevin Driscoll

Short short version: The aforementioned strip mall redevelopment will eliminate the existing grocery store next summer. Instead, a new store called "Fresh Thyme Farmer's Market" will open up in the strip mall. [Really? Nothing about that name seems like it will be true.] Article includes quotes from owner of Cooper's Foods, including the fact that "Grandpa Joe and grandma Rose came west by horse-drawn wagon in 1917." Grocery retail is tremendously competitive. [Much of the public support for the strip mall at the zoning hearings was centered on people's appreciation of this store, so it's ironic that it's being forced to leave.]


Headline: BZA approves storm water runoff variance for Brandychase condos
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A 1980s condo can change how water flows and freezes around it, which involves changing their parking lot. The "soil borings", existing trees, and sewer inflow are the issue. Apparently it's really icy as it is. [So boring.]


Headline: City defers to 2017 alley pickup of recycling in wheeled carts
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city has been trying to move recycling pickups from the street in blue bins to the alley in wheeled carts, but its taking longer than anyone thought and is also more expensive.


Headline: Macalester-Groveland delivers revised district plan to City Hall
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Mac-Grove neighborhood has a new district plan that limits teardowns, and many other things like town-gown issues and recycling.


Headline: County puts finishing touches to plan for reconstructing Randolph; project from Brimhall to I-35E will be done in stages in 2015-2016
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Ramsey County is reconstructing a big chunk of Randolph Avenue. Some people want traffic calming, but there isn't any. It will have 11' traffic lanes and 9' parking lanes and 5' sidewalks in each direction. [Those parking lanes seem large to me? This article doesn't mention anything about the intersections and widening the street to create turn lanes. That's the key detail.]

*** Sidewalk Weekend! ***

Twin City Sidewalks - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 1:44pm
Sidewalk Rating: Worthy
--> I found my bicycle (I didn’t know I had one) in the same place I must have left it. Which enables me to remark that, crippled though I was, I was no mean cyclist, at that period. This is how I went about it. I fastened my crutches to the cross-bar, on either side, I propped the foot of my stiff leg (I forget which, now they’re both stiff) on the projecting front axle, and I pedaled with the other. It was a chainless bicycle, with a free-wheel, if such a bicycle exists. Dear bicycle, I shall not call you bike, you were green, like so many of your generation, I don’t know why. It is a pleasure to meet it again. To describe it at length would be a pleasure. It had a little red horn instead of the bell fashionable in your days. To blow this horn was for me a real pleasure, almost a vice. I will go further and declare that if I were obliged to record, in a roll of honour, those activities which in the course of my interminable existence have given me only a mild pain in the balls, the blowing of a rubber horn—toot!—would figure among the first. (15) [Sam Beckett.]
[The steam plume in Downtown Saint Paul.]
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Signs of the Times #97

Twin City Sidewalks - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 11:22am
BUS RIDERSHAVE A SEAT ONME
[Truck. Lexington Parkway, Saint Paul.]

 PADELFORDPARKINGHERE
[Boulevard. West Side Flats, Saint Paul.] NO PARKINGVIOLATORSWILL BE TOAD
[Lowertown, Saint Paul.]

BICYCLESROLLER BLADESOR SKATE BOARDS
[Pillar. Isanti County.]

SECRETLURESINSIDE
[Pole. Grand Marais.]

NOBICYCLESSKATEOBARDSROLLER BLADSONSIDEWALK
[Stop sign. Grand Marais.]

Please No Pets or Food
[Steps. Grand Marais.]
THE BEAVER HOUSEIS FOR SALEFor BLDG and LANDMDSE is NEGOTIABLE
[Window. Grand Marais.]

Sidewalk Flotsam #5

Twin City Sidewalks - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 11:15am
[Cedar Riverside.]
[Downtown Saint Paul.]

[Somewhere with brand new curbs.]
[Territorial Road area.]
[Downtown Saint Paul.]
[South Minneapolis.]
[Old Town Stockholm.]
[Saint Paul probably.]

The Annotated [Pulled] Rick Harrison Met Council Hit Piece

Twin City Sidewalks - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 10:32am
[See also: The All New Annotated Met Council "Streetcar Letter" to Minneapolis, the All New Annotated U of MN v. LRT Lawsuit, or the Best of the 5-County Manifesto (Translated).]

[Courtesy of Chris Steller.][Editor's note: Joel Kotkin's New Geography website is the last refuge of the urban planning right wing hacks. I used to think there was no way they would pull a piece for being too lazy, too dog whistle-y, or too just plain wrong on facts. But then this piece came along, appearing in my .rss feed only to disappear again shortly later. Enjoy.]

-->
Would the Twin Cities Survive New Urbanism?
Newgeography.com - Economic, demographic, and political commentary about places by Rick Harrison  /  1h  //  keep unread //  hide  //  preview
In the next few weeks, the Metropolitan Council of the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul, is scheduled to vote on a vision for the region's housing and transportation future. "Thrive MSP 2040” is the council’s comprehensive development plan for the seven county Twin Cities metro area for the next 30 years. It's a regional growth plan that will result not in a cure for the area's ills, though, but in a virus that will kill its vitality.
The Minneapolis/ St. Paul area is one of the most livable regions in the nation. That's not because residents were forced onto transit and into high density housing, as Thrive will do. Growth occurred in a natural manner, in an area with great schools, because people here had the freedom to choose the size of yard for their kids, and the ability to embrace the natural openness of the region. The vigorous suburban growth that resulted has helped our vitality, despite past decisions from the Met Council to neutralize it.
[Subtext: I live in an all-white suburb and never think about economic disparities.]
The Metropolitan Council isn't alone in adopting New Urbanist plans on a wholesale basis. Their approach, and the problems that go with it, are being repeated by many planning boards nationwide. The 350-page ‘Detroit Future City’ plan, is a tunnel-vision strategy based on the same New Urbanism thought. With the best of intentions — goals of avoiding pre-fabricated monotony and sprawl, and creating affordable, livable communities — municipalities are actually writing prescriptions that will do just the opposite.
[Subtext: Detroit = scary black people.]
I speak with the perspective of a locally-based development consultant, and an observer and resident of the region for 31 years. I've witnessed what has actually helped make this area succeed. At my company, we've designed hundreds of sustainable neighborhoods that don't adhere to the New Urbanist principles of high density and only public transit.
[??????Sustainable LOL "Coving?" Here are some names of Harrison developments: Fairway Estates, Pintail Ponds, Remington Coves, Sandstone Hills... They remind you of theoretical Edina neighborhoods.]
Two decades ago, the Met Council placed its faith in an urban growth boundary, limiting sewer development in the metro area to inoculate itself against “sprawl”. The result was an increase in the very “sprawl” the council sought to avoid, as development leap-frogged outside the seven-county area to escape the high land prices created by the artificial land limitation.
[Note: There’s a big difference between an urban growth boundary and making sure sewer investments aren’t huge subsidies. Conservatives might take note.]
The Met Council hired Peter Calthorpe, the founder of the ”Congress of New Urbanism”, for several million in tax dollars, to provide a singular vision for our region’s future growth. The ‘one size fits all’ approach resulted in projects like Clover Ridge in Chaska, Ramsey Town Center, and indirectly, others like St. Michaels ‘Town Center’, all of which failed to deliver the promises that had been made.

Calthorpe’s attempt to create a ‘sense of place’ failed to attract home buyers. For example, the ‘conventionally planned’ sections of Clover Ridge sold well. But, with their sardine-like density, the housing along alleys remained vacant. Because the development did not attract as many homebuyers as anticipated, among other reasons, local shopping and restaurants did not materialize as the Met Council had promised.
[Question: Is this even true? I’d have to go to Chaska to find out… Someone please let me know.]
More recently, ‘Smart Growth’ projects such as ‘Excelsior and Grand’ in St. Louis Park failed to acknowledge why their retailers were abandoning their spaces. A spokeswoman for Panera Bread cited location and convenience for customers. Yet 'Excelsior and Grand is a model New Urbanism plan, complete with the obligatory central ‘traffic circle’ with a ‘sense of place’ sculpture.
[OK this the other SLP development is a pretty successful place, so successful that real estate effects are trickling out to Golden Valley next door. (Look an actual link to an actual source.)]
These smart-growth projects are examples of architects preaching a singular growth model that does not work for all people, in all climates. Those who assume the working class will appreciate waiting outside in 20 below zero weather at an architecturally designed “sense of place” bus stop and then coming home to the 14th floor of a high rise are clueless. And the dense projects being built in this region have the same sort of repetition of design that smart-growth planners criticize in suburbia.
[Note: By “singular growth model”, It’s as if he’s describing single-use single family cul-de-sac land use patterns. Meanwhile, apartment demand in places like Minneapolis and Saint Paul are off the charts without sign of slowing.] 
Today in the Twin Cities, sales of new, single-family homes are rebounding, creating a catalyst for economic stability. Despite this market reality, some developers are still submitting new multifamily housing proposals. That's due to Met Council density mandates, not because of market demand. The Council’s assumption is that the population will migrate to the urban core for its (expensive) restaurants and its 19th century rail technology, abandoning spacious suburbs and cars. But sales suggest otherwise.
[Note: the opposite is true.]
The Met Council’s ‘Thrive 2040' vision will undermine the American Dream of obtaining an affordable single-family home in an area where one desires to live, with the freedom of travel (and protection from our harsh winters) that only personal vehicles currently provide.
Under the ‘Thrive’ mandates, more workers will need to live in ‘affordable housing’ (mid- or high rises) and take mass transit to their jobs. Yet ‘affordable housing’ remains elusive in ‘Smart Growth’ projects, unless it is heavily subsidized with tax dollars.
[Read: I like my suburb surrounded by white people, not scary high rises filled with poor people who don’t look like me.]
Calthorpe’s Congress of New Urbanism actually boasts of the gentrification it produces. When home prices go up, what happens to the living standard for displaced low-income families? The working class, regardless of race, should be outraged by ‘Thrive’.
[Yes, mixed-use Traditional neighborhood development is very popular.]
Density does not guarantee affordability. We cannot forever throw tax dollars at high-density development solutions in an effort to make them economically feasible. A successful, balanced housing market drives the economy. At their December meeting, let's hope the Met Council recognizes that the 'Thrive' vision is anything but balanced.
Rick Harrison is President of Rick Harrison Site Design Studio and Neighborhood Innovations, LLC. He is author of Prefurbia: Reinventing The Suburbs From Disdainable To Sustainable and creator of Performance Planning System. His websites are rhsdplanning.com and pps-vr.com.
[Read: Rick Harrison is a hack.]

*** Sidewalk Weekend! ***

Twin City Sidewalks - Fri, 11/14/2014 - 1:30pm
Sidewalk Rating: Diametric
 Sayyid’s route twisted through a maze of fire escapes that climbed through narrow, chimney-like atria. Periodically, a stairway led to the roof of a building, where the gray streak of the Nile was visible two blocks away. Zamalek is a relatively prosperous part of Cairo, and it has always attracted foreign residents, but there are also many middle-class and even poor people, because rent-control laws keep the price of some apartments as low as a few dollars a month. As a result, landlords rarely make improvements, and old buildings have a kind of fading glory. On my street, many structures were built in the Art Deco style, with marble lobbies and beautifully patterned wrought-iron grillwork along the balconies. It’s common for apartments to have a kitchen door that leads to the fire escape, like mine.[Peter Hessler]

[Green Line on Halloween.]

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*** ***Pastor Black says, "We believe very strongly that Jesus taught us that we are to feed his sheep."Mayor Jack Seiler warned arrests were coming, "We enforce the laws here in Fort Lauderdale."[link]

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*** *** You will need to know: all the streets; housing estates; parks and open spaces; government offices and departments; financial and commercial centres; diplomatic premises; town halls; registry offices; hospitals; places of worship; sports stadiums and leisure centres; airline offices; stations; hotels; clubs; theatres; cinemas; museums; art galleries; schools; colleges and universities; police stations and headquarters buildings; civil, criminal and coroner's courts; prisons; and places of interest to tourists. In fact, anywhere a taxi passenger might ask to be taken.
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Reading the Highland Villager #118

Twin City Sidewalks - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 11:29am
[A Villager blows in the wind.][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: Highland to unveil new library, updated rec center on Nov. 16
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The library is nicer now. [It's OK, they only paved half a softball field for parking.] The architects tried to "connect the building with Ford Parkway."


Headline: Next year's road work may bring a more walkable Snelling Avenue;' District councils push for wider sidewalks, boulevards and lantern lighting
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [Horribly unwalkable and deadly] Snelling Avenue might have nicer sidewalks. [Might not.] Article includes blithe statement "Motor vehicles heading to and from the I-94 entrance and exit ramps travel pretty fast generally." The top priority is wider sidewalks near the 94 bridge.


Headline: Proposed river corridor rules are attacked from both sides
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The DNR is trying to craft new rules on development for the Mississippi river area. Everyone is worried that they will be too strong or not strong enough. One issue is the number of non-conforming lots that regulations would create.


Headline: Frost owner appeals parking decision for new Salt Cellar
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: An restaurant that wants to move into a new building might or might not have to build one extra parking space, or might just install a bike rack.


Headline: Public gets glimpse at plans to renovate Palace Rec Center
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: And old theater downtown is going to be fixed up with city money.


Headline: UPDC delays action on license for Midway Target liquor store
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: They might sell booze at Target, depending on how far away the distance of the store is from Big-Top Liquors. [Market Pantry® discount vodka.]


Headline: Hearings on proposed St. Paul fee hikes draw sparse turnout [Much to the Villager's dismay, no doubt. There went their front page.]
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city has fees for street and sidewalk improvements, among other things. Nobody really seems to care.


Headline: City to maintain pedestrian sign near Macalester College
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A sign that flashes by a bus intersection with lots of college students crossing the street was installed by MNDOT, but the city will pay to keep it working.


Headline: St. Paul seeks applications for 2016-2017 CIB projects
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [CIB stands for "Capitol Improvement Budget."] They're due January 16th. [Typically, you have to spend a lot of time building support in neighborhoods and with the committee.]


Headline: City Council sets hearing on plan to improve snowplowing
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: When it snows, it's hard to drive and Saint Paul spends a lot of time and money pushing the snow out of the way for cars with big trucks.


Headline: St. Paul to leave snow piles on corners for citizens to clean up
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: When they push the snow out of the way for cars, they push it into piles by the side of the street that make it harder to park. Also it goes onto the sidewalk so you can't walk any more sometimes.


Headline: Plans for the 2015 reconstruction of Randolph, Ford Pkwy. fine-tuned
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The county is reconstruction Randolph and Ford Parkway. Sidewalks will be replaced. Ford Parkway will get bike lanes. [Unresolved question: will they try to widen Randolph where it meets Lexington?]


Headline: New use sought for Grand-Cleveland lot; But UST seeks extended permit for parking on site
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A parking lot by Grand and Cleveland might become mixed-use student housing,  a "green space," or remain a parking lot. There are a lot of details. [MOAR parking vs. STUDENTSAREHORRIBLE vs. the included quote from the UST person saying "we don't think the [green space] makes sense". Place your bets... PS I admit to not understanding this one. Isn't a building the right thing to do for all parties?]


Headline: Pleasant Ridge moves ahead with plea to replace trees, parking
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A development in Summit Hill is trying to re-add lost parking spaces because neighbors asked for the parking spaces back. Also trees.


Headline: City Council blocks plan for self-storage at Schmidt site [really buried this story for some reason]
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City Council voted not to allow a non-conforming use permit for a self-storage facility next to the new Schmidt Brewery apartment complex. [I wrote about this issue here.]


Headline: City committee favors keeping current Sibley Plaza zoning [buried this one too!]
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Planning Commissions' Zoning Committee voted to allow a strip mall not to be re-zoned into traditional neighborhood mixed-use because they want to build mixed-use but also keep all the surface parking lots abutting the street. [See previous three Villagers for more.] Article includes quote from one commissioner who didn't wanted to re-zone it: "It feels like a suburban strip mall to me." [That's exactly what it is.]