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The St Louis Contrarian

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

Archive for the month “April, 2018”

Segregation in St. Louis-Dismantling the Divide

A report entitled Segregation in St. Louis-Dismantling the Divide is an outstanding document that carefully, accurately, and fairly analyzes the history of housing segregation in St. Louis. The report was prepared by a group of organizations and scholars led by the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Economic Opportunity Council. It should be required reading for everyone and hopefully will be a blueprint for action. The website for the report is forthesakeofall.org. Written by Paul Dribin

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A Decline in Ticketing Fines

The St. Louis Post Dispatch published an interesting article last weekend about the decline in ticketing in all communities in the St. Louis region. Police departments are taking the position that they have better things to do with their time than ticket drivers. Revenue from tickets has declined significantly. This is mostly good, makes sense, and most important unburdens low income people and many people of color of being thrown in jail for minor offenses.

The question that puzzles me is how do we deal with people who violate the law if there are not fines. People who drive without insurance, or with cars that are unsafe can hurt other people. I do not have a solution. Written by Paul Dribin

Public housing

shelterforce.org/2018/04/18/is-it-time-to-fight-for-public-housing/

a great article from Shelterforce Weekly about a new form of public housing and the limits of tax credits and homeownership

Families Living in Areas With Access to Good Public Transportation do not Necessarily Spend Less on Transportation

nlihc.org/article/study-questions-whether-transit-rich-neighborhoods-lower-household-transportation-costs

This article based on heavy research concludes that people who live near transit that takes them to jobs do not necessarily spend less on transportation. The reason they spend less is that they have lower incomes.

Vacancies in St. Louis

Good news! The City of St. Louis is mobilizing efforts to deal with the vacancy situation in St. Louis which encompass 7000 vacant properties. I have worked with issue when I worked with the city and HUD. Several factors in addition to economic instability contribute to the vacancy problem. These issues I am familiar with are:

1. The aldermanic system. Many aldermen do not want vacant properties razed because of some perverted idea that it will take constituents away from their communities

2. A reluctance to demolish anything.

3. A policy by the city of letting vacant properties sit because they think there will be a demand for these properties at some time in the future.

4. Historic preservationists also do not want buildings razed. I remember when I worked at HUD being chewed out by a historic preservationists because we razed a building that was severely fire damaged.

5. The aldermanic system in St. Louis.

6. A lack of funding to deal with environmental and lead based paint issues.

I wish the people working on this project well. Written by Paul Dribin

St Louis Budget Shortfall

The City of St. Louis will have a $10 million budget shortfall. This is a big deal and will require cuts in service. Too bad. Written by Paul Dribin

Yes in my neighborhood

www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2018/04/19/democrats-housing-problem/

A great article in Washington Post about the zoning and land use barriers we construct that cause housing to be unaffordable.

St. Louis Economic Development Partnership

This organization led by Sheila Sweeney has done some corrupt things. Sweeney who came over from the St. Louis County Port Authority has been in the middle of most of the crooked deals of the Stenger administration. These include attempting to develop a part of Creve Coeur Park for the Blues training facility and then lying about it, entering into a corrupt no bid contract with Montelle Williams to promote the county. This contract has now exceeded its’ budget by 30% and no one knows why. The Port Authority which has a close relationship with Sweeney is now providing the funding for the Blues facility in Maryland Heights. I know of no public discussion about this issue. Why is no one investigating? Written by Paul Dribin

Indirect Costs to Housing

When we talk about the lack of affordable housing we usually ponder about the lack of enough development programs, section 8 subsidy etc. These are all valid concerns. Another major problem is the artificial constraints we put on housing.

We are well aware of these constraints but usually don’t tie them into the affordability of housing. Some of these issues are zoning which does not allow for density, large minimum lot sizes, resistance to any sort of apartments, sidewalk requirements, density, and historic preservation.

A perfect storm of these barriers is the City of St. Louis. Who is not in favor of historic preservation but in St. Louis, cost knows no boundaries. The cost of developing a Low Income Housing Tax Credit unit in St. Louis is $250000. That is absurd. How many working class people are priced out of housing due to these requirements. Virtually every neighborhood in St Louis is considered historic.

Another example is Portland Oregon. About 20 years ago they issued a no growth boundary in an effort to curb sprawl. The result? The housing market became one of the least affordable in the country. Portland is now attempting all kinds of superhuman subsidy programs to stimulate housing. Ending the no growth barrier would do far more. Written by Paul Dribin

Bicycle Sharing in St. Louis

St. Louis is beginning a bicycle sharing program. This is a good program and I hope it works well. It will not make a difference in pollution, health etc. but is just fun and another amenity for our community. Written by Paul Dribin

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