Parking used to be the big issue



I like to describe the city of St. Paul as parochial. It is parochial in a curmudgeonly old Uncle kind of way. We love the old Uncle he is family.

Last October the City launched a city-wide garbage pick-up program. They sent us new carts for our garbage after sending out postcards asking us which size we wanted.

Several of my immediate neighbors’ had trouble with the instructions about when to use the new carts and when to stop using the old ones. The people who did not respond to the postcards sent to every home were given whichever cart the city thought they should have.

For some people, trash removal costs went up. For some of us, they went down. Our bill will be about half of what it was. Add on the property tax assessment for the new cart and we are still paying less.

Citywide trash collection has been a popular topic for newspaper letters to the editor and for conversation in neighborhood Facebook groups. Neighbors are outraged by the new system. Many say it is too expensive. They don’t want the City to be involved in refuse removal and I think some don’t like the color of the new carts.

I would agree that if the city is involved it can get messed up but in this case, the city isn’t doing the work they are managing the contract. What could possibly go wrong?

There is a bright side though. It seems like there is a lot less complaining about parking and permit parking.

There is still confusion over the new program. There are rumors and there is a lot of drama and pain as neighbors discuss the new program. All of the details about who gets which cart and why can be found o the City of St. Paul website. The city moves pages on a regular basis so that links get broken. If the link doesn’t work search of the words “St. Paul residential garbage”.

The smallest neighborhood

Downtown St. Paul is small but the residential population has grown to about 8050 people. I like to think of it as the other neighborhood because it is so different. The housing is different too because most of it is condominiums.

In recent years more apartments have been added to the mix. In the last couple of years, more bars and restaurants have opened in the area. There are also fewer businesses downtown and a lot of vacant offices and retail space.

Here is a look at downtown condo prices over the last 5 years. Prices have gone up. No surprise.

downtown st. paul condo prices
downtown St. Paul condo prices

The data in the chart above comes from the NorthstarMLS which is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

My life is in your hands

I know it sounds dramatic but my safety and maybe even my life is in the hands of my neighbors. Some of those neighbors shovel their sidewalks and keep the ice off of them and others do not.

There is a local French restaurant by Irvine park that never shovels the walk. Their customers can pull up to the door and go it while a valet parks their car. Businesses like that make for very bad neighbors.

The worst thing I saw last snow season was an elderly woman using a walker and leaving tracks in the snow along the sidewalk in from of the local grocery store.

Saint Paul City Ordinance requires snow and ice to be removed from sidewalks within 24 hours. It doesn’t provide an exemption for businesses that do not use the sidewalk in front of their business. It does not provide an exemption for condos or townhouses either.

There are no exemptions for houses that are for sale or for vacant properties.

To report a sidewalk that’s a safety hazard and needs shoveling, contact the Department of Safety and Inspections at 651-266-8989. Be sure to tell us the address of the property and check to be certain it’s within city limits. 

The City will contact the property owner to make sure the sidewalk is shoveled as soon as possible. If the owner does not comply, the City will send a crew to clear the sidewalk and bill the property owner for the (high-priced) work.

The city also has a downloadable, printable door hanger that can be used to remind a neighbor to shovel.  I am not sure how to use that on the sidewalks that are along Kellogg Blvd and in other places where there are no homes or businesses. There are several downtown sidewalks that never get shoveled.

I walk every day. Most days I walk at least three miles. I walk as if my life depends upon it because it does.

Serious buyers should take advantage of winter

tree
On the river bluff – Cherokee Heights neighborhood

The dusting of snow we got on Tuesday was a reminder of what is to come. It will get colder and snowier and usually, the real estate market slows down a bit.

In some parts of the country, the seller’s market is starting to lose its grip but here in the metro area, the inventory of homes on the market remains small. Prices usually do not go up as much during the winter as they do in the spring.

Serious buyers should start looking or keep looking during the winter months and particularly during the holidays. Sellers tend to be more motivated this time of year and most years we see fewer “bidding wars” in the winter.

Home sellers are often reluctant to list homes for sale during the holidays yet every December there are homes on the market and people buy them.

Personally, I like to take advantage of the kind of real estate agent slowdown I see this time of year. I make my self-available to work with both buyers and sellers.

I’ll be voting tomorrow

vote

Most of us are tired of the endless commercials about how bad the other guy is and what will happen to us if we vote for him or her. If you are like me and are waiting until election day to vote you still have time to do a little research.

If you don’t know where to go to vote you can start by visiting the state poll finder page.

Start by going to the Minnesota Secretary of State website.  Get a sample ballot  Look it over and make sure that you know who you want to vote for. It is hard to get unbiased information about the candidates but it is better to do your own research than to believe what one candidate says about another.

The MPR website is an excellent source of information, see the voters guide. You can listen to the candidates talk and debate each other. You might also find information by doing a google search on a candidates name.

Many of the judges on the ballot are incumbents and running uncontested. I have been researching the contested races. The positions are important. Local judges can work their way up to the US supreme court.

On the state level, we will be voting for representatives and senators and for a governor. How we vote matters as we elect our 41st male governor.  If you don’t know who represents you in the Minnesota senate and house of representatives you can look it up here on the MN district finder page.

There is a school referendum on the ballot in St. Paul. As always the wording is confusing. Voting yes means more money for the schools and yes that means a tax increase.

I vote in every election which is why you should too. Local elections are democracy in action. There is no electoral college. Each of our votes is counted and the candidate with the most votes wins.

Please vote on Tuesday, November 6th and take some time on Monday, November 5th to do your homework.