February greetings! Here’s city-related news for residents of Ward 1 and beyond.
No local sales tax for now: Last month, city council members voted not to initiate a process that may have led to a new local sales tax to fund road repairs in St. Louis Park. The option remains on the table for the future, though. Staff and council will continue to gather input from businesses and residents over the next year to support an informed decision on whether to forward a request to the state legislature to implement the tax. If approved by the legislature, the local tax (currently proposed at .5%, or 5 cents on a $10 purchase) would need to be approved by voters in a citywide referendum. Read more about it here.
Next steps for Wooddale Station South: When nonprofit PLACE backed away last year from their long-planned development on the south side of the future light rail station at Wooddale Ave. and W. 36th St., it opened up new possibilities for council and the community to determine what will be built in this vital area in the heart of the city. Since the city owns the land, we can issue a request for proposals (RFP) that is as creative and site-specific as we want it to be. Council will be discussing what to include in the RFP at our study session on Feb. 10. What would you like to see located in this area? Please email mewith your thoughts.
Protecting SLP renters: Renters are an important part of our community, comprising about half of all households in St. Louis Park. But people who rent their homes, particularly low-income individuals and families, face long-term risks to their future housing stability when faced with unexpected financial burdens like medical bills or job loss, since landlords can currently file an eviction action (not the same as an actual eviction) for nonpayment of rent as early as one day after rent is due. Even if tenants eventually pay the rent and stay in their homes, eviction filings remain on their records for years and can make it very difficult to find housing in the future. To protect tenants in SLP from harmful and potentially avoidable eviction filings, SLP is following the advice of housing advocates in proposing a new Notice of Eviction policy. The policy recommended by staff would require landlords to provide official notice to tenants seven days before filing an eviction action, giving renters time to work with STEP, the County, or other service agencies to access emergency rental assistance. A total of 177 eviction actions were filed in zip codes 55416 and 55426 in 2018. You can find detailed information on eviction rates in St. Louis Park and other Hennepin County communities here.
Fern Hill infrastructure improvements: Council approval is expected tomorrow for significant infrastructure work to take place later this year in the Fern Hill neighborhood. Proposed improvements include road reconstruction and narrowing, watermain replacement and sewer line repair, safety improvements at designated intersections, and new sidewalk segments, at a total cost of about $4.9 million. Find more information and a map of the proposed improvement areas here.
2020 road closures: 2020 will see ramped up construction activity for the Southwest Light Rail Transit (SWLRT) project having major impacts in St. Louis Park including road closures and detours. Here’s a project overview describing segments to be completed in SLP in 2020 and here’s where you can sign up for weekly construction updates via email.
Comcast contract renewal process: About every decade, communities like St. Louis Park revisit their agreements with cable service providers in order to maximize community benefit in exchange for companies’ continued use of the public right of way for their cable lines. A conservative estimate of Comcast’s cable TV revenues over the next ten years as a result of their agreement with St. Louis Park is $300 million, according to city staff. While franchise renewal may sound like a dull administrative exercise, it’s central to determining what future services residents will receive, not just in terms of commercial cable, but other technology and media services that directly serve the public interest. I attended a focus group session last month where ideas were shared for potential community benefits ranging from a new technology “hub” serving children, seniors and others; to interactive kiosks located throughout the community; to live streaming, high-definition format coverage of school sports events, music concerts, and other community events (including city council meetings) people can watch on their phones and other devices. Community input is vital to making the most of this agreement and now is the time to provide it. I hope you’ll take time to complete this survey on the topic before March 13. You can find more info on the franchise renewal process here.
Want to step up your community service? There are currently 25 open positions on eight boards and commissions in St. Louis Park. Board/ commission members are appointed by the city council and support and advise council on issues ranging from housing to parks to policing to technology. Applications are being accepted now through Feb. 28, with terms beginning May 31, 2020. You can find descriptions of board and commission duties hereand view the application here.
Here’s a select list of upcoming events:
My monthly meetup is TODAY, Sunday, Feb. 2, from 3-4:30 pm at Caribou Coffee, 5551 W. Lake St. (we’ll return to the roomier Birchwood Park shelter next month once the rink closes for the season!) Monthly meetups are informal opportunities to share ideas and opinions and ask questions related to city council business. All are welcome!
Crime-free ordinance/community input meeting: Tuesday, Feb. 4, 6-8 pm, Municipal Service Center, 7305 Oxford St., St. Louis Park. Residents and others are invited to provide input on two recommended options for changes to the city’s crime free, drug free rental housing ordinance. If you can’t make the meeting but want to provide input, you can submit comments online through Feb. 11. More info here.
19th Annual Empty Bowls event: Thursday, Feb. 13, 11:30-1:30 pm and 5-7:30 pm, Westwood Lutheran Church, 9001 Cedar Lake Rd., 55426. Annual community event to raise funds for STEP, St. Louis Park’s safety net organization which services nearly 10% of SLP residents. Join artists from GoodSpace Murals to paint a section of the Historic Walker Lake community mural. Info here.
Health in the Park Fair: Saturday, Feb. 22, 11 am-3 pm, SLP Middle School, 2025 Texas Ave., 55426. Learn about physical and mental well-being and resources available in St. Louis Park to support health & well-being. Snowshoeing, exercise classes, and speakers on topics including stress, relationships, hunger, and mindfulness. All activities are free. Info here.
Wishcycling Workshop, Thursday, Feb. 27, 6-7 pm, MSC. Ever throw stuff into the recycling bin not sure it’s recyclable, but hoping it is? I know I do. Learn what can and can’t be recycled a from our knowlegable city staff and pledge to stop wishcycling at this free event. Info and to register here.
Children First Champion’s Breakfast: Thursday, March 5, 7:15-8:30 am, DoubleTree Park Place Hotel, 1500 Park Place Blvd., 55416. Fundraiser and community get together hosted by Children First. Hear from new Children First Executive Director Margaret Ganyo, whose past experience includes leading an effort to launch a nationally recognized cradle-to-career community and schools education partnership in Idaho. Info here.
Thanks for reading and please stay in touch!
I send out a monthly summary of city-related news to Ward 1 residents and interested others, posted here. If you’d like to receive it via email, let me know here.