Monitor In A Minute November 2018



Petitions persist in trash fight

One of St. Paul’s two ordinances setting up the residential organized trash collection program is being withdrawn. But the program will remain in place, as the fight to force a public vote on it continues.

The council Oct. 17 accepted the first of two petitions calling for a referendum on the organized trash collection plan after Ramsey County Elections staff found that the petition was valid. On the advice of the city attorney’s office, the council accepted the petition. But a vote on it won’t be necessary.

“We plan to repeal the ordinance,” said Council President Amy Brendmoen. She called the ordinance “procedural” and indicated that its repeal wouldn’t affect the program.

The second petition signature total was at 6,458. It was turned in to county officials Oct. 16. Two groups, St. Paul Trash and CARTless, have worked on the ballot measures. They circulated petitions and held signing events throughout the late summer and fall.

The trash collection program began Oct. 1. While the program is touted by proponents as ensuring that all owners of single-family homes, duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes have trash service, some people who shared trash carts or practiced “zero waste” have found themselves with dramatically higher bills. Multi-family buildings were forced to take one cart per dwelling unit.

“We’ve gone through a huge system change in the last month,” said Brendmoen. While saying the program launch was successful, she added that the council wants to look at ways to address the issue of cart sharing and other concerns.

The City Council voted in November 2017 to set up an organized collection system, working with 15 residential trash haulers. The city is split into zones, and each of the haulers was able to keep its company’s market share. But since then about half of the companies have turned over their market share to the remaining businesses.

Pedestrian crosswalk for Como

St. Paul and Ramsey County officials are working on a crosswalk plan for Como Park. The project won approvals in October from the City Council and the city’s Long-Range Capital Improvement Budget Committee.

The approved plan allows the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation to enter into an agreement with county officials to build a new pedestrian crosswalk on Lexington Pkwy. between Como Park’s Lakeside Pavilion parking lot and the Como Golf Course parking lot.

The project is identified in a transportation plan for Como Park.

The county’s share of the project is $49,120, and the city’s is $52,609. The county is involved because Lexington is a county road.

The project includes new concrete sidewalk, pedestrian curb ramps, median, signage including a rectangular rapid flash beacon, and turf establishment. The project has been eyed for several years. City officials are drawing on capital funding from 2014.

Accessory units OK’d citywide

The long effort to allow accessory dwelling units on a citywide basis ended Oct. 17 with a 6-1 St. Paul City Council vote approving the units on single-family zoned lots of 5,000 square feet or more. Ordinance adoption was repeatedly delayed this fall as the Council sought stronger language on the need for properties to be owner-occupied, and to make sure that the city’s Department of Safety and Inspections and code enforcement staff could weigh in on building code, sewer and water line, and other regulatory concerns.

The lone vote against the measure was Ward Six Council Member Dan Bostrom, who fears that the properties will be converted to all-rental. “The long-term unintended consequences are significant as we put additional dwelling units on single-family lots,” he said.

Other council members said they believe the ordinance has been strengthened, and that it will allow people to have more housing options. An accessory dwelling unit can be added in or to an existing home. Units can also be built in a backyard or above a garage. The added units need to meet several requirements.

The units are currently only allowed in neighborhoods from Lexington Pkwy. to the west city limits, within one-half mile of Green Line light rail. Only one has been built along the Green Line since those were allowed two years ago.

The units are also allowed where carriage houses were historically located. A handful of those units have been added throughout the city in recent years.

The latest push to add the units began last year when residents of several neighborhoods sought permission to add them. The Planning Commission recommended allowing the units on a citywide basis. While several district councils support the accessory dwelling unit proposal, others raised concerns.

O’Gara’s to fall to wrecking ball

The 77-year home of O’Gara’s Bar and Grill at Snelling and Selby avenues is expected to come down on or around Nov. 12. Union Park District Council’s land use committee heard an update on the project Oct. 15. Ryan Companies is working with the longtime business owners to demolish the iconic bar-restaurant and replace it with a mixed-use development.

O’Gara’s closed at the end of September. Dan O’Gara said his family is busily getting things out of the building. Some items will be repurposed in a new O’Gara’s. Others are being sold in an online auction. “We’ve got 77 years of stuff we’re sorting there,” he said.

The nonprofit Better Futures Network is removing salvageable items from O’Gara’s properties including three houses on Hague Ave. which will make way for the development. The salvage efforts will continue for the next two weeks.

Traffic management plans during construction will be released to neighbors soon. Barricades will go up on affected streets. Motorists of Snelling and Hague avenues should watch for lane shifts. Pedestrians should watch for signs on sidewalks redirecting them at times.

District council members asked that plans for demolition and construction be shared with neighbors. Ryan will have an email list neighbors can sign up for, through the district council website.

The new development is expected to open in early 2020.


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