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The St Louis Contrarian

Providing Independent and Intelligent Insight on St. Louis Public Policy Issues

The Real Cause of Vacancies in St. Louis

At the suggestion of Todd Swanstrom, I read a book by his colleague titled Housing Dynamics in Northeast Ohio by Thomas E. Bier. The book written about the Cleveland area is also applicable to St. Louis and many other cities.

The argument in the book backed by data is that vacancies occur when there is an oversupply of housing in the region. This oversupply of housing occurs because developers are looking to profit by building more housing, and land is cheaper in the suburbs. The author points out that when there is an oversupply the oldest, most worn out housing loses all market desirability and becomes vacant. The problem is made worse because developers can more economically build in the suburbs and the infrastructure in the suburbs is stronger.

This plays out when we look at the north side of St. Louis. There will only be a turnaround if the city figures out how to streamline its development requirements, crime is controlled, and schools turn around. In addition a marketing campaign to young people around the company would help. We could offer free housing and lots of land. Written by Paul Dribin

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Loop Trolley Debacle

The Loop Trolley in test runs has twice hit autos , knocking mirrors off of cars in minor accidents. Apologists say people did not park right. That is the point, we should not require perfection for the system to work. Written by Paul Dribin

Housing in Ferguson

One of the issues surrounding the Michael Brown shooting and its’ aftermath were the poor conditions of affordable housing projects in Ferguson. In fact, the Ferguson Commission raised the issue.

Recently the owners of several of these housing developments and the St. Louis County Housing Authority have cracked down on bad tenants. Lo and behold the community is up in arms about people facing eviction. Once again no one wants to take responsibility for bad behavior. Bad tenants are bad tenants, period. Written by Paul Dribin

Dysfunctional County Government

Is this dysfunctional or what. County Executive Steve Stenger an the County Council have each appointed a different board to the Port Authority. This authority is a cash cow and the two sides will battle it out in court. I don’t know the right answer, but this is ridiculous. Written by Paul Dribin

Loop Trolley: Update, the Good, Bad, Ugly and Beautiful

The trolley situation is still a mess. KWMU had a story which documented the large number of businesses which have gone out of business, at least partly due to the trolley construction. Also, The Riverfront Times published an article about the fact that the automatic ticket machines for the trolley are in before the trolley itself and these machines do not make change. An individual who needed change would need to send in the receipt through the mail and wait for change from the Trolley Association by mail. Overall, the whole thing still seems like a fiasco. One piece of good news, the Loop Business Association has hired Rachelle L’Ecuyer as Executive Director. She is top notch and has done a great job as Economic Development Director in Maplewood. I wonder how long it will take her to clash with Joe Edwards. Written by Paul Dribin

Arch Renovation in St. Louis

My wife and I visited the arch on October 19 for the first time since it had been rehabbed at a cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

I am mildly disappointed. The entrance is better and visitors do not have to cross busy streets to enter. Parking is further away, the grounds looks the same, and the museum is confusing. Overall someone who visited the arch previously would have a difficult time noticing the improvements. Written by Paul Dribin

Kemolls Leaves Downtown

Kemolls, an excellent restaurant that has been in the downtown for 90 years is leaving for Westport. Bad news for downtown, a real institution. Business must have been falling off.

Balance

St. Louis like many cities has an abundance of social problems that bring down life for our community. Several months ago, David Brooks wrote that there are two strongly different perspectives on the cause of our problems. Conservatives believe that poor people are mainly to blame for their problems due to poor choices they make. Progressives tend to blame societal structures such as racism for society’s ills and believe there is little individual responsibility.

The reality lies in the middle. Conservatives are blinded to societal prejudices that push down poor people. Liberals are unwilling to admit that even in a perfect society people make poor choices that ruin their lives. If we could ever understand both of these perspectives we might make progress in ending poverty. Written by Paul Dribin

Soccer Stadium in St. Louis

Some good news. A new soccer stadium and team have resurfaced in St. Louis. The best news is that it will be privately funded led by the Taylor family of Enterprise Car Rental. The people who voted against city funding for the previous stadium have been more than vindicated. Maybe if communities said no more often to these hairbrained schemes, good things will happen. I do not think the effort at a privately funded stadium would have surfaced unless the community said no to the publicly funded one. Written by Paul Dribin

New Zoo Park

The St. Louis Zoo is promoting a new endeavor; an adventure park in north St. Louis County. They are asking county voters for a sales tax increase to fund the development.

I have mixed feelings about this development. It can be an economic development tool for north county which needs it and will add to the list of attractions in the St. Louis area. The biggest negative is that other surrounding counties are not being asked to support it. Again, good news is that those who are not supporting it financially will need to pay for admission. I am not yet sure how I will vote. Written by Paul Dribin

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