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The St Louis Contrarian

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

Archive for the tag “st. louis”

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

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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

New Development Proposed on Choteau

A new mixed use development is proposed on Choteau and Jefferson. It will be quite a large project encompassing commercial, residential, and retail. The area could certainly use something like this. We wish the project well. Written by Paul Dribin

How to stop urban violence

nyti.ms/2q1AlKp

A great article from New York Times.

Americans moving back to suburbs

www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2018/03/26/us-population-disperses-to-suburbs-exurbs-rural-areas-and-middle-of-the-country-metros/

The above linked article is from Brookings. Despite the love hipsters have for the city people raising children do not see it the same way. In St. Louis, why should someone live in the city and put up with all the shit. Cities have to figure out how to provide a higher level of service, and deal with the race, crime, and school problems. African Americans have been one of the largest segment of people to move to the suburbs. Is that not the American dream? Written by Paul Dribin

Brookings Institution Reports

I reviewed two Brookings reports today that should be of major interest to the St. Louis region and all communities.

First a report was issued entitled The Inheritance of Black Poverty. The report showed that African American men are severely impoverished and often hold their families back. Their absence in family life often causes more poverty for the wife.

The second report is titled How Life Outside of a School Affects Performance in School. Once again this article shows that children who are severely impoverished, or suffer from abuse, neglect, or lack of stable housing suffer in school. Their performance is often behind grade leading eventually to dropping out.

The answer I believe to both these problems is to provide an intense mentoring program to both the parents and children of impoverished families. These programs have been shown to work, there are just not enough of them. Written by Paul Dribin

St Louis Moves Ahead on Property Demolition

The Post contained a good but overly long article on demolition in St Louis. According to the article there are about 7000 properties in need of demolition. The city is more aggressively tackling the problem which is a major priority of Mayor Krewson.

I say congratulations. This is a step in the right direction. I have seen neighborhoods suffer for years due to the prescience of abandoned properties. The real problem again, is the political system in St. Louis in which the alderman must approve every tear down. Some have refused to approve any out of a mistaken notion that someone will return and rehab the property.

Written by Paul Dribin

More on Development Incentives

The Riverfront Times contained an excellent article today. It focused on a bill before the Missouri legislature which will improve the use of TIFs. It will require more transparency, shorter TIF periods, and allow the school districts more input and the possibility of opting out. The legislation is supported by both liberal and conservatives etc. The City of St. Louis is opposed to it because they want more “local control” over the process. Once again the City of St. Louis is on the wrong side of history. Written by Paul Dribin.

Zoo Fees and Sales Tax

St. Louis has one of the great zoos and museum districts in the world. Admission to the zoo, art museum, and history museum are free. The institutions are supported by property taxes imposed on St. Louis city and county residents.

Residents of the surrounding counties should either chip in or have to pay an admission. We are a region and these institutions should be supported regionally. If someone joins one of these institutions on their own and pays an annual membership, they should get free admission. Written by Paul Dribin

Sanctuary Cities

St. Louis and many other like minded cities in the United States have deemed themselves to be Sanctuary Cities. What this means to my mind is these cities will not cooperate with federal officials to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants. This is certainly a morally popular position to take and on the face of it makes sense. After all, immigration policy is in a shambles and many undocumented folks are key people in their communities.

I have two problems with Sanctuary Cities, both practical and philosophical. From a practical point of view, cities should not be harboring dangerous criminals. The Trump administration has seriously exaggerated the seriousness of this problem, but it exists. Second, I have a problem with any city disobeying federal law. I am a big believer in law and society will become unmanageable if everybody only followed laws they liked. What if some cities decided to not enforce civil rights laws or gay marriage. We can’t pick and choose what we obey.

The answer to the problem of Sanctuary Cities is to pass a sane immigration law. I am not optimistic this will happen in the near future. Written by Paul Dribin

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