The St Louis Contrarian

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

Archive for the category “Uncategorized”


Legalizing Marijuana in St Louis

There is a bill before the Board of Aldermen in St. Louis to legalize marijuana. Alvin Reed on Donnybrook suggested this could be an economic development tool for the city that would bring people into town. Who knows, he could be right. This is a more sane idea than a trolley for instance. Written by Paul Dribin

Patriotism, the Flag, the Anthem, Black Lives, and the NFL

This topic is of course off topic in a literal sense but very important.

I have never understood token patriotism and why things like the flag and national anthem are so important. I attend a lot of sporting events and always find those things to be superficial and unnecessary. Years ago, Phil Wrigley, the gum manufacturer, owned the Cubs. He only played the national anthem on special occasions, national holidays, etc. He felt it diminished the anthem to play it too often. Good for him.

Second, I don’t understand equating patriotism with the military. Why is the flag about the military? Why at sporting events do they single out a military person in attendance for a standing ovation? Don’t teachers, social workers, nurses, and just good people contribute much to our country and deserve to be honored?

This gets at my third point. The NFL and all the professional sports leagues have used cheap patriotism to promote themselves. They marketed this stuff particularly after 9/11.

Third, people who believe the flag is being dis respected should complain as loudly about flag clothing, underwear, t shirts and other articles of clothing in flag colors. They should also complain about misuse of the flag, letting it get dirty, etc.

Finally, the protest begun by Black athletes is not about the flag or patriotism, but about how poorly people of color are still treated in this country. I give credit to those initial athletes who were willing to risk their careers for the cause. Written by Paul Dribin

Housing Affordability: More Voices

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Following the platform announcement by the NPA civic by-election candidate (who wants to see Vancouver-wide rezoning and higher housing density everywhere) more council candidates have joined the call.

So far, the calls for an end to Vancouver’s exclusionary zoning seem to be edging upward among many other ideas about improving housing affordability. There is also a steady drift towards improving availability and protection for those who prefer to rent.

With thanks to Mike Howell in the Vancouver Courier:

First: Pete Fry of the Green Party wants inclusionary zoning, plus support for renters:

 . . . the party’s housing plan is focused on what can be achieved with existing tools at city hall. He, too, advocated for inclusionary zoning to create affordable housing and tie that type of housing to median local incomes.

Other measures include creating a city tenants’ office to support tenants and prevent “renovictions” and short-term rental…

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A Tale of Two Cities~Should Kids Use Transit to Get to School?

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The Daily Scot Bathgate reminds us that it is September and parents are wrangling their children back to school. At a time that active transportation and lessening car use is being vigorously pursued, Mayor of Calgary Naheed Nenshi is reassuring parents that the Calgary transit system is just fine for kids to take to school.  While Calgary does provide those distinctive yellow school buses for most students,  children that may be farther away or going to  particular schools are provided with a financial rebate to purchase a monthly transit pass.

There’s even a program called Bus Buddies where older students taking Calgary transit provide companionship and guidance to younger students taking the conventional bus.  As the Mayor notes, “Calgary transit is committed to the safety and convenience of every passenger – particularly, our youngest passengers.”

Turn to Vancouver where a Dad who has led the way raising his five kids…

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St. Louis Real Estate Interest Rates Still Low — CBS St. Louis

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – With interest rates remaining low, the St. Louis real estate market continues to be hot. But, Christina Strait of Strait Realty says supply is struggling to keep up with demand. “We are definitely seeing a shortage in the market of inventory. We buyers right now that cannot find homes,” she says.…

via St. Louis Real Estate Interest Rates Still Low — CBS St. Louis

Walking Tour Though Bad Zoning — Price Tags

In some cities like Houston, zoning is minimal if it exists at all, resulting in explosion-prone chemical factories located in residential areas. Not a good idea. But in Vancouver, we have zoning that is far more controlling and exclusionary. Even as affordability continues to decline, low-density land use continues to be the norm. Here’s a […]

via Walking Tour Though Bad Zoning — Price Tags

Arch Grounds Renovations

The Arch Ground Renovations which everyone has supported are significantly behind schedule and over budget. I have not followed this story closely but kind of wonder what is going on. More important, the arch people have refused to allow the St. Louis Business Journal to see the budget. Something doesn’t smell right. Written by Paul Dribin

Noises Off at Brooklyn Bridge Park

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Sandy James Images
Via NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver is this Fast Company article on the Secret Life of Parks. Diana Budd explores the work in Brooklyn Bridge Park that Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) has undertaken in making parks quieter, even when surrounded by traffic and other noise. “By sculpting the land, MVVA gives cities their very own mute button.” 
In the parks of three major cities heavily impacted by traffic noise- Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York, Maggie Daley Park in Chicago, and A Gathering Place for Tulsa,  MVVA  decided that having a conversation at normal tone was a measure.  “If you have to yell or get really close together to talk, it’s not park-like . . . You try to lower ambient noise level so people can start to hear the insects.”
Sandy James Images
Last month I visited Brooklyn Bridge Park with NYC…

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The Curious Effect of AirBnB

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Writing in “Building“, Andrew Sobchak and Laura LeBlanc look at short term rentals (STR’s) in Vancouver, from a broad perspective including small and large players.


Perceived issues?  Well, a few of them are listed to kick off the article.  Plus opinion and data (pro and con) to sharpen thought about these issues’ merits.

Headlines have been turning on Airbnb for the better part of two years, first in cities like San Francisco and New York, then, with more frequency in 2016, as the platform achieved scale in other cities. At a time in Vancouver of peak foreign investment and plummeting vacancy, advocacy groups lined up in opposition:

  • Renters claimed Airbnb siphoned away long-term rental stock, thereby driving up prices
  • Hotel industry lobbies claimed Airbnb facilitated the operation of informal hotels, reducing bottom lines and threatening employment
  • Condominium boards and neighbourhood associations claimed Airbnb increased transience, decreasing safety and…

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