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Loop SBD Responds to Mayor's Blog

Local business owners have a difference of opinion.

Editor's Note: The following is a letter from the Loop Special Business District. It was written by the organization's president, Jessica Bueler, and was mailed to Loop business owners.

Mayor Shelley Welsch published her latest blog on July 8. Please take the time to review her blog .

Many University City business owners, property owners, and residents are outraged by the Blog’s divisive tone and reckless disregard for the truth. 

We deserve more from our civic leadership. Mayor Welsch ran for office promising “transparency” but her campaign promises have proven to be inconsistent with her actions in office, particularly the way she has maneuvered her way around and thru our continuing opposition to any changes in the status quo of the large surface parking lot north of Delmar, between Leland and Kingsland.  

Please take the time to share your feelings on this very important matter with our Mayor and elected city officials.  

Misrepresented Information Provided in the Mayor's Blog:

  • “…One portion of this plan is under attack by a small group of vocal business owners, many who are not residents of University City.”

The Loop Special Business District sent two letters to the Planning Commission on May 21, 2012 and June 20, 2012 stating our opposition to any plan which reduces the number of free surface parking spaces on the North Surface Lot (the parking lot that extends behind all the way down to ). Our membership includes 145+ businesses and our organization has been in existence since 1981.  

The Loop Special Business District members have universally opposed similar assaults on the North Lot in 2000, 2004 and 2011. Unfortunately, fighting this battle is nothing new to The Loop’s merchants and property owners. Why does the Mayor trivialize our organization by calling it “small” and why does she imply that our views on this issue (maintaining the vitality of the Loop) are less important than her own views and the supposed views of City residents? 

Each and every one of us contribute to the growth and improvement of our City by paying property taxes, sales taxes, the ¼ cent economic sales tax, the 1 percent Loop Trolley Tax, and license and permit fees. The Mayor’s statement suggests that she does not view The Loop businesses and property owners as legitimate stakeholders.

  • “They want to have this plan censored so that U City residents who helped pay for the plan do not get into a discussion on what’s best for University City. This is wrong.”

Why is the Mayor telling the residents of the City that the LSBD’s expression of opposition to aspects of a planning document rises to the level of “censorship?” Does she need a civic lesson? Or perhaps a vocabulary lesson? We simply asked to be included as stakeholders in the discussion regarding an extremely important issue that directly the affects the success of the entire Delmar Loop. 

  • “Again- there is no ‘live’ proposal to do anything on this lot.”

The Parview Gardens plan cost $600,000 to create, and lays the groundwork for future development. If the plan doesn’t mean anything, then why was $600,000 spent to create it? And if there are no “live plans” to develop on this parking lot, why does she oppose removing this section from the plan? 

  • “Finally, I would like to put out a call to civility.  Since I was out of town I was unable to attend the Plan Commission meeting where this Parkview Gardens plan was one item on the agenda. But I received comments from a number of University City residents who were very upset with how some in the audience spoke to members of our staff…I encourage everyone, no matter your thoughts about a certain person on their actions, to remember that civil behavior is the foundation of a civil society. In my mind I know that was the vision of our forefathers and mothers. Let that vision be a reality.”

Please feel free to listen to the audio recording of the Planning Commission meeting which the Mayor is referring to here (click on “Plan Commission: Additional Comments on Park View Gardens Neighborhood Sustainable Development Plan- June 27, 2012, 7 pm @ City Hall fifth floor” located on the right hand side).  

Many of us attended the entire meeting and did not hear any “rude and boorish” comments from our members or from any audience member during the meeting. The only thing we heard were reasonable and passionate objections from many audience members who had legitimate concerns about the Parkview Gardens Plan. If the Mayor is alluding to the fact that the City was the victim here because they were forced to listen to public comments at a public comment meeting, it might be time for her to seek employment elsewhere.   

The Mayor’s assertions are not consistent with the audio recording made of the meeting. You will hear that. But her falsehood, or should we say fantasy, is just one among many, and certainly not the most dangerous of her many fantasies. The most dangerous fantasy is the one where several hundred people choose to live on top of a parking lot and that in accommodating that demand nothing of The Loop’s vitality is ever risked or sacrificed.    

It is obvious to me that the Mayor has now charted a course that includes the suppression of honest discourse, as well as a strategy to create divisions between Loop merchants and City residents. This follows on the heels of her fine work in hi-jacking what was supposed to have been an open and honest planning process. Please find time to email the Mayor and other Council Members to share your views.

Kathy Leahy July 13, 2012 at 12:21 PM
It is stated that this is from the Loop Special Business District, but appears to be written by one person. Who would that be?
Kim July 13, 2012 at 01:06 PM
So are you actually suggesting that this was written and submitted by a rogue business owner, and not the appointed media representative of the Loop SBD? Is it that hard for Welsch's supporters to accept criticism of her? If this response does not in fact reflect the views of the SBD, then I'm sure we'll be seeing comments pour in from the SBD members who love the mayor and think she's doing a great job promoting, supporting, and attracting Loop businesses.
Cindy July 13, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Do voters remember that that the mayor proposed these condos on the parking lot during the 2010 mayoral debate? When Joe Edwards opposed her on this idea in a letter mailed to U. City residents, Ms. Welsch responded with her own mailed letter and denied ever proposing such a development. Funny how her condo idea has found its way into the Parkview Garden plans.
George Lenard July 13, 2012 at 01:41 PM
I had exactly the same thought as Kathy. Whether objections pour in or not, I don't understand why this is unsigned. If it was written by Jessica B. in her capacity as President of the Loop District, it should say so. Otherwise, it is an anonymous attack. Moreover, it is one that completely fails to discuss the merits of the possibility of some day making a (gasp) change, a change that could improve, not harm, the Loop. It fails to explain why it is a "dangerous fantasy [that]e several hundred people [might] choose to live on top of a parking lot." How many people have offices "on top of a parking lot" (garage)? Aren't these enclosed parking spaces seen as assets to the buildings, not liabilities? How many high rise condos are "on top of a parking lot" (garage)? Aren't these enclosed parking spaces seen as assets to the buildings, not liabilities? Is there evidence the garages built in the Eager/Brentwood area (behind Best Buy and behind the development across from Galleria and in Galleria itself) have been abject failures, discouraging shoppers from visiting? Does the Loop Special District have an aesthetic preference for an ocean of cars rather than an enclosed parking garage? Is that preference supported by any city planning organization or expert? Does the District not believe people would learn ample free parking is available, albeit enclosed? As to "censorship," was there not a proposal to eliminate this reference from the plan before it was even up for approval?
Cindy July 13, 2012 at 01:44 PM
George, the city says they can't afford to maintain the surface parking lot. How are they going to afford to build a parking garage?
George Lenard July 13, 2012 at 01:54 PM
"If the Mayor is alluding to the fact that the City was the victim here because they were forced to listen to public comments at a public comment meeting,..." No, of course not. Read her words: "I received comments from a number of University City residents who were very upset with how some in the audience spoke to members of our staff" She is talking about what others said to her, others just as entitled to their opinions as the Loop District is. Is the anonymous author who claims to represent the Loop District accusing the Mayor of lying about receiving complaints? That there might be something to such complaints from citizens is evident from the term "passionate objections." One person's passion can be another person's rudeness; we simply don't all operate at the same level of discourse. Some people are more inclined than others to raise their voices, interrupt, gesture vigorously with their hands, etc. (and to accept it when others do so). Others find such "passion" troubling...
Caryn St.Clair July 13, 2012 at 02:25 PM
I have no horse in this race one way or the other as I do not think the world will come to an end if we have to pay for parking on the lot, even though I truly appreciate not paying.... but I'd like to know who authored the above letter. We can't comment without making ourselves known, so shouldn't someone who has an entire article be identified?
George Lenard July 13, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Maybe a private developer will... Maybe the Loop merchants will kick in...
Holston Black Jr. July 13, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Some persons in this community would rather hide behind pseudonyms are aliases, even though the Patch's policy is you must not submit comments in this fashion. Why people insist on hiding this way is beyond reason. I was told, at the unveiling of the "new" logo, software was on the way to rectify this however it seems to have gotten waylaid. I guess we as a community will have to rely on fellow citizens to follow policy or written procedures, to be civil!!! That is if they expect us to listen to their viewpoints. I won't comment, as I have in the past, about what this hiding reminds many in this community of!!!
Kim July 13, 2012 at 04:51 PM
This statement was issued not as an individual response to the mayor's blog, but as response from the Loop Special Business District as a whole. Who actually wrote the statement is irrelevant, as long as it accurately expresses the sentiment of the group. The person who penned the statment may not, for all we know, even agree 100% with what was written, but rather is presenting the organization's consensus. When the city (or a corporation, or other such organization) issues a statement written by an employee or PR firm we do not demand to know the individual who wrote the statement, we simply accept it as the position of the organization issuing the statement. Until someone comes forward with evidence that this is not, in fact, the official position of the Loop SBD we have no cause to believe otherwise. Seeking to relegate this to an individual only serves to perpetuate the idea that opposition to the mayor and her policies comes from a "small disgruntled minority" rather than an established and respected organization like the SBD.
Kim July 13, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Furthermore, the whole issue of authorship is a red herring. The important issue, in my opinion, is that the mayor seems to have fostered an antagonistic relationship with our business community. No matter what our views on free parking or the development of condos on the loop are, I think we would all agree that city government needs to work closely with local business in a supportive and productive manner. This letter would seem to indicate that this is not, at the moment, happening,
George Lenard July 13, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Kim: the byline has now been revised to read: "It was written by the organization's president, Jessica Bueler, and was mailed to Loop business owners." That is consistent with the use of first person that Kathy Leahy observed. It is not consistent with it having been approved by the Loop District as expressing the consensus views of a majority of its members, though, as you say, if we do not hear complaints about it we may presume it does. It starts by asking the recipients to review the Mayor's blog, which suggests there has not been an organizational conversation yet.
Steve July 13, 2012 at 05:55 PM
With all due respect to those who seek the full name of anyone who posts here(for what purpose I can only assume it is to send a kind note expressing their gratitude for commenting so eloquently and thoughtfully on the issues of the day), I will walk you on a short journey. Go with me to the bottom left of this screen. That’s it. All the way down- keep going. There, do you see it? A magical doorway to the place called TERMS OF USE. Go ahead. Click on it. You will be mysteriously transported a new and marvelous place. As you move past “Our Terms of Use” and “Use of this Service” you will stumble upon a beautiful place called “Registration” . Look closely. Remember this? Think back. Do you recall you placed your electronic checkmark in a box agreeing to terms of use? Of course not, who reads that stuff. For all I know Apple will have employees living in my house next week. There it is the mystical inscription. WE ENCOURAGE, BUT DO NOT REQUIRE, THAT THE USER NAME YOU PROVIDE BE YOUR REAL NAME.
Brian Colón July 13, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Jessica Bueler, the Loop SBD president authored this letter. I know because I received it a few days ago and it's written at the top of the article. It's scary reading the earlier comments and how you feed on each other's negativity. What the Mayor did was wrong . Jessica works tirelessly on making the Loop a better place for visitors, residents and merchants. The parking that's the center of this debate has several negative possible outcomes with the plan. First, during construction (and likely after) the loss of parking will push visitors and workers of the loop to park in the surrounding residential areas. Second, as it stands now two patrol cars monitor the lot in an effort to keep those parked there safe and their cars safe as well. Now imagine a covered parking lot with plenty of shadows and places for bad people to do bad things . Would you feel safe walking to your car at night or leaving it there while you go shopping or eat dinner. Even with the open lot we still walk employees out at night (I work for Cicero's). Third, it's cost $600,000 already. I could elaborate on this but the dollar amount and what it has produced in the way of community division is scary enough.
Jan Adams July 13, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Yes, George. The public comments at the Plan Commission meeting included suggestions that the "offending language" be deleted from the plan proposal before it is sent to Council. That would constitute censorship of the plan. If the Commission votes to recommend certain proposals but not recommend other proposals, it should report that it recommends A, B & C, but not X, Y and Z. It should not "delete offending language". Council should be given all of the details provided by the planners, along with the recommendations and the rationale of the Commission.
Jan Adams July 13, 2012 at 06:15 PM
The crime data submitted at the last meeting states that there has been more crime on the surface lot than at the parking garage.
Caryn St.Clair July 13, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Kim, I see that it has now been clarified who the author is and what her affiliation w/ the group is (President). When someone is speaking for a group, I think it is as important for that person's identity and position within the group to be known.
George Lenard July 13, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Steve, FYI, like Holston, I was told that Patch intended to change this policy to require verifiable full names. I think he and I would agree that "encourage" indicates a policy favoring disclosure. This particular instance seems an excellent example of why disclosure is desirable, as it does make a difference whether this was written by someone speaking for an entire group as its President or one individual writing using first person. One does not need to spend much time online reading comments to various news sites and blogs to see that anonymous comments are most often of poor quality and very often degrade to name-calling, so I know many sites are changing their policies or considering doing so.
Steve July 13, 2012 at 07:18 PM
. FYI George, that is what I posted, encouraged but not required. Seriously, the insult that not using my last name makes me somehow the equivalent of a Klan member is repulsive and vile. This is compounded when the premises of the argument is that the policy of the Patch says I can't use just my first name, when that is untrue. But I suppose if you use your full name you won’t call someone a Klan member or post inaccurate information.
Lisa K July 14, 2012 at 01:52 PM
How many people use the surface lot compared to the parking garage? One could certainly argue that the crime rate per person is much lower for the surface lot. This was also mentioned at the plan commission meeting.
Johnathan R. July 15, 2012 at 06:23 AM
Holston- Can you read? WE ENCOURAGE, BUT DO NOT REQUIRE, THAT THE USER NAME YOU PROVIDE BE YOUR REAL NAME. Why do you post this nonsense about hiding and Klansman anytime someone disagrees with you on the Patch and does not use their full name? Now I will sit back and wait for you to call me a racist or Klansman for asking "Can you read?"
Holston Black Jr. July 15, 2012 at 04:31 PM
To Jonathan R???????? if you can read you would note that I acknowledge the change in The Patch's policy, even though I disagree, it's their right. They do leave a place for CIVILITY which you don't seem to won't to acknowledge and again that's your right. Again, if you could read you would note I didn't mention the KKK in this article, you are. I deliberately asked for CIVIL DISCOURSE as most adults recognize this as being the only way to get things resolved!! In today's world we have way too many problems to dwell in the cellar casting stones!! I hope you can agree to this logical approach, I DO!!
Kathy Leahy August 13, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Kim, I don't understand how my question about authorship can be interpreted as suggesting the authorship of anyone, rogue or not. There is no reason to assume I am supporting any person in the political realm of University City. I wanted to know who wrote this piece, and that is all. I do think, that people who publish critical statements about our elected officials should not omit identifying themselves. It's just my opinion.
Kathy Leahy August 13, 2012 at 12:36 AM
George wrote: "...the byline has now been revised to read: "It was written by the organization's president, Jessica Bueler, and was mailed to Loop business owners." That is consistent with the use of first person that Kathy Leahy observed. It is not consistent with it having been approved by the Loop District as expressing the consensus views of a majority of its members, though, as you say, if we do not hear complaints about it we may presume it does. …" We may also wonder if the Loop District members read this Patch, which would be a pre-requisite for them to respond. I think their lack of response here tells us nothing about their endorsement of the author's statements. While it is interesting to know how the author feels about the issues discussed, we don't really know that the author's article is endorsed by the Loop Business District, which lessens the impact of the ideas expressed considerably. Because an article was mailed to the members, does not mean that they have approved it's message, or even read it!

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