NIMBYs are organizing to oppose the proposed 60-unit apartment building at Waterman and Clara. In a letter from Catherine Geyer president of the Waterman Condominium Association, she encourages neighbors to oppose the development.
In the letter President Geyer cites the reasons for opposition are that the neighborhood is over-developed noting the new buildings recently built and under construction, lack of parking, difficulty entering and exiting the neighborhood by car, street sweeping and trash pickup are negatively impacted by over-occupied street parking, the proposed building is taller than others nearby, would exacerbate storm water runoff by the addition of hardscape, additional light pollution, lack of adequate parking within, added air pollution due to cars, and additional trash and dog waste.
She then outlines what would be acceptable- a three story building that follows the zoning code in set back and the parking mandate of 1 per unit.
She points out that trends or statistics from other cities regarding parking use, transit use, parking ratios, and the use of green space don’t apply here because they feel it is so. And finally they “want to preserve the neighborhood residential feel of Waterman Blvd., as well as its charm, architecture, and quietness.”
Given that a building of some sort here is acceptable I suppose the concerns about hardscape, green space, and wildlife are minor and set aside if the other concerns are met.
With two fewer floors, the proposed building would have 26 fewer apartments. It would still need two floors of underground parking to meet the one-space-per-nit mandate (the current plan has 48 spaces- a ratio of 1.41:1 would result). The development would likely need a substantial tax abatement to cover the gap between renters’ willingness to pay for all that thneeded parking and its cost.
We’re to believe the difference of 26 (maybe a few more) people to a neighborhood of nearly 4,000 would lead to an unacceptable level of air and light pollution, dog excrement, car traffic congestion, and a degradation of street sweeping and trash pickup services. If a less than 1% increase in population is catastrophic, we have much bigger problems. Just about every parcel in the neighborhood that now doesn’t have a building on it once did, for decades. The parking lots contribute to noise and air pollution by encouraging car ownership and the vacant and parking lots collect a lot of trash, leaves, and snow especially on sidewalks with less likelihood that they will be dealt with. The low productivity lots also strain the city’s budget as it is obligated to provide services and infrastructure no matter whether there’s a building there or not.
Seems to me the problem is cars, not people or domiciles. Creating walkable places with transit and places to go nearby via means other than automobile and reducing the incentives and subsidies encouraging car ownership is how a community mitigates the negative effects of cars, not excluding people and spreading them out rendering non-car transportation options impractical thus coercing more car ownership, trips by car, and vehicle miles traveled.
Also if the neighborhood is concerned with the difficulty of egress and entry via automobile they have within their power to open Clara at Delmar and Kingsbury and/or Waterman at DeBaliviere. This proposed apartment building has nothing to do with the decision to keep those blockages and forcing the use of Pershing leading to higher VMT and its deleterious effects.
Regarding the parking mandate, the proposal has a parking ratio of 0.8:1. The car ownership rates among the two census tracts that cover DeBaliviere Place according to the Census ACS 2019 5-year estimate are-
|Census Tract||0 Vehicle HH||Margin of Error||1 Vehicle HH||Margin of Error|
|1121||12.4%||+/- 5.1%||47.6%||+/- 7.4%|
Let’s assume no household living in the proposed edifice will have more than one vehicle. The proposed ratio of 0.8:1 would be typical or better than the current single car household rates in the two census tracts of 75.4% (52.7/(17.2 +52.7)) and 79.3% (47.6/(12.4 + 47.6)).
I’d argue it will be better given the target demographics and proximity to Metrolink, the 1, 90, and 97 bus routes, and Washington University’s shuttle service. It would help if the property owner would charge lessees for parking separately instead of rolling it into the rent, so that car-free tenants don’t subsidize those with one.
Noteworthy is that studies show that parking begets cars and traffic, not people. But then again things like this just don’t apply here. #Parkingsmartstl
Sightline Institute – Verified: More Parking Puts More Cars On The Road
The loudest voices may not represent the majority. If you support the proposal, speak up to Alderwoman Navarro and to the Board of Adjustment. Nextstl contributor Greg Johnson happens to live on this very block. Find his letter of support below.
Update 3/2/2021 – Opposition Petition
Update 3/3/2021- The Board of Adjustment was informed that the developer of Waterman/Clara will be resubmitting a revised proposal at a later date.Waterman-Clara-Opposition-Letter-Waterman-Condo-Association