Hello and happy new year! Here’s news for residents of Ward 1 and beyond.
Crime Free Housing Ordinance update: Many community members took notice of a news story on KSTP-TV in November regarding St. Louis Park’s Crime Free Housing Ordinance. While the story contained some inaccuracies, it resurfaced concerns council members had expressed, earlier in the year, about potential unintended impacts of the ordinance including unfair/unnecessary lease terminations and a chilling effect on renters contacting the police. Based on these concerns, and the need for more data to determine how the ordinance is impacting renters in our community, City Council voted on Dec. 17 to place a moratorium on parts of the ordinance. A work group is being formed to study the issue that will include tenants, property managers, city staff, and others. Council will discuss the issue again on Jan. 14. More info here.
PLACE/Via: Thanks to the hard work and patience of city staff, legal counsel and staff from the nonprofit development team PLACE, financing and land conveyance for Via Sol, the northern portion of a major redevelopment project planned for Hwy. 7 and Wooddale Ave., closed on Dec. 28. The future of the project, in the works since 2014, appeared precarious when financing challenges emerged last year, but in the final hour, those challenges were overcome. The mixed-use, mixed-income, transit-oriented development, once completed, will include 299 apartment units, a 110-room hotel, coffee shop, cafe, bike shop, makers space, co-working space, e-generation and greenhouse, and one-acre urban forest. Via incorporates a mix of renewable energy sources including an anaerobic digester, wind turbines, and solar panels, which will provide 90 percent of heat and power for the development. Soil remediation and construction have begun.
Winter sidewalks: City staff are working to keep some sidewalks clear, but the thaw/freeze cycle presents challenges, particularly given our goal to avoid using salt and chemicals to reduce environmental harm. Did you know that staff clear snow & ice from about half of our city's public sidewalks? The remaining half are the responsibility of residents/business owners to clear. Some SLP residents are asking the city to clear 100% of public sidewalks, to encourage safe walking in all seasons and create equity for people who are unable to clear sidewalks due to age or disability. Recent estimates put the cost of clearing all sidewalks at an additional $150,000/year for the next 8 years (.004% of the annual city budget), dropping to about $65,000/year once new equipment is paid off. Do you have an opinion on this topic? Please email me here.
Monthly Meetup (today): My December meetup drew new attendees and good discussion, so I plan to keep them going for the foreseeable future. Meetups take place the first Sunday of each month and provide an opportunity for residents to share their views on city-related issues. Past topics have included Design Guidelines for New Home Construction, Pedestrian Safety, and Police Body Worn Cameras. This month’s topic will be Citizen Engagement. All are welcome! Today’s meetup will take place at Caribou Coffee, 5551 W. Lake St., from 3-4:30 pm. Next month’s meetup will be Sunday, Feb. 3, 3-4:30 pm, at SLP Nest, Park's youngest coffee shop, at 3416 Library Lane.
Thanks for reading and please stay in touch!