St. Louis is a rare “independent city”—not located within a county, that is, but existing as its own separate entity. The impact of urban violence on its survivors is incalculable. And the rhetoric of growth is a mismatch with reality. While state and federal investigations found the shooting justified, the resulting attention revealed many serious problems with how St. Louis suburbs were conducting business. With nearly 1 million residents, the fortunes of the County and its ability and willingness to address decline may hold the key to the future of the St. Louis region. The solution seems to be: Give people more big box store options a place to park their car, and we’ll be okay (see Kirkwood, Clayton, Richmond Heights). The Post-Dispatch reports Rainford as “convinced that once the housing market gets back on its feet, the influx of empty nesters who were making their way into the city from the suburbs will begin again.” Yet whatever influx may have been happening—and there certainly are people seeking a more urban lifestyle in St. Louis—was more than offset by those leaving. Better Together, a plan created by local leaders and heavily funded by local billionaire Rex Sinquefield, would have recombined St. Louis city and county and merged their governments. 2020 Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Inc. All rights reserved. The ‘Airbnb for Returning Citizens’ Gives People More Than Just a Second Chance. “…the city wants to grow, (Rainford) said, but it will not until there is a better choice of quality schools.” That’s a big chunk to bite off. Its land area of 62 square miles exceeds those of San Francisco and the District of Columbia. More detailed message would go here to provide context for the user and how to proceed. The existing St. Louis municipalities would have continued to exist as “municipal districts” but would lose authority over police, courts, roads, and economic development, as well as chunks of their revenue streams. The projected savings were almost certainly a mirage. Is it ultimately smart for the city to focus its political power on schools as the bogeyman of decline? In the City of St. Louis, we’re apparently no longer allowed to say that further population decline is bad news. No big deal. The highly visible downtown residential community increased by 359 percent. The merger wouldn’t save money. Knowing that any kind of government merger is always hugely controversial, the planners took a light hand with their changes, not attempting to abolish existing municipalities completely. In other areas, we bulldoze entire neighborhoods for parking, or a new healthcare facility. So far, some of the most prosperous towns have addressed growth concerns with demolition and de-densification. In fact, the opposite is more likely—that wages and benefits would increase. We like to look at the Central West End, Soulard and Lafayette Square as shining examples of revitalized neighborhoods and ignore the city, the places that most people only see on TV with police tape strung between trees. Do we simply assume the city will continue to lose residents unless and until the schools improve? But after 1950, St. Louis fell into steep decline. The St. Louis metropolitan area’s overall population has grown little since 2010, … In the City of St. Louis, we’re apparently no longer allowed to say that further population decline is bad news. We won’t have another official count until 2020, but one computer program estimates a bigger loss: 6,000 since 2010. The plan was touted as a money-saver that would generate significant efficiencies, allowing the elimination of the local earnings tax, a long-time Sinquefield priority.
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