ST. LOUIS – Three bills that could have significant impacts for the area are before the St. Louis City Board of Aldermen Friday morning. The bills deal with the homeless, ownership of a historic downtown building, and short-term rentals.
Final votes are not scheduled for any of the bills on Friday, but they are all focused on high-profile issues. The Board of Aldermen started at 10:00 a.m. at City Hall.
The legislation known as the ‘unhoused Bill of Rights’ is one of the bills being introduced Friday. It comes after the drama earlier this week concerning the homeless encampment that was on the City Hall lawn. City workers dismantled the camp and relocated those who were living there. Supporters of the bill say it would decriminalize homelessness.
The legislation would create a pathway for safe camping areas and would remove barriers to establishing shelters that provide much-needed resources for the unhoused. Under the bill, the city would provide showers, toilets, access to services, and 24-hour security in the camping areas.
Another bill being introduced Friday would begin eminent domain proceedings against the owners of the vacant Railway Exchange Building downtown, also known as the former ‘Famous Barr’ building. The building has been the site of many problems, including people breaking into it.
It’s understood that the owners, ‘Hudson Holdings of Florida,’ stopped paying for security two weeks ago, allowing vandals to return. The legislation would allow the city to take possession of the condemned property.
Also on Friday, there’s a second reading of two bills dealing with short-term rentals. Concerns about short-term rentals were raised after huge parties in the rentals led to fights and the open carrying of guns on downtown streets. The bills would require a minimum two-night stay in short-term rentals with no parties or events.
Owners would be limited to four properties and must have a permit to operate. They also must be available 24 hours a day to address concerns. Short-term rental owners who violate the new rules would have their permits revoked and could face $500 fines for every violation.