October 30, 2020
Congratulations to Mandy Miller, whose whimsical Halloween decor at 1603 Fernwood was the runaway winner in voting during the Como Community Council's Spooky Decoration Celebration. The friendly competition is over, but you can still take a look at the two dozen houses that entered. We’ll keep the map and addresses on our website through the weekend.
It's Time to Vote Early -- or the Traditional Way
You already know that federal and state elections are this Tuesday, Nov. 3. Our website has all the details on voting on Election Day or beforehand. Here’s a quick summary:

Early voting: In-person voting remains available at seven locations in Ramsey County today, Friday Oct. 30; Saturday, Oct. 31; and Monday, Nov. 1. The locations: Frogtown Community Center; the County Library in Roseville; the County Elections Office on Plato Blvd.; Arlington Hills Community Center; Highland National Golf Course; New Brighton Community Center; and the County Library in White Bear Lake.

Voting from home: If you’ve already requested and received an absentee ballot, it’s basically too late to mail it back to guarantee your vote counts. If you have mailed back your ballot, you can track it here. If you have not mailed it yet, you still have options:
  • Personal delivery: Take your completed absentee ballot directly to a secure county drop box. This ain't Texas, so there are plenty of options. Days and hours differ at each site, but the map also tells you the estimated wait times to get in.
  • Have someone do you a favor: It is also legal to have someone else to return your ballot for you, if they take it directly to the Ramsey County Elections Office on Plato Blvd.

Voting on Election Day: Polls in Ramsey County are open from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. on Tuesday Nov. 3. You must vote at your local polling place. Find your voting location (And wear a mask!)

Who can vote: In Minnesota, you can vote if you are a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years old on Nov. 3, and a Minnesota resident for at least 20 days before Nov. 3. If you have a felony conviction, you can vote if your record is discharged, expired, or completed. If you are not registered, you can show up at your polling place on Nov. 3, register, and vote immediately. Here is the documentation you can use to register.
Meeting is All about Family
What does it mean if Saint Paul redefines “family” in the city’s zoning code? City planner Michael Wade will explain why the city would do that, and the options under consideration, when he presents to the Como Community Council’s Land Use meeting this Wednesday, Nov. 4.

Any revision would change how many related adults and unrelated adults could legally constitute a household in Saint Paul. The intent, in theory, is to better accommodate multi-generational families, extended families, and families sharing living space in order to afford housing. The question is whether this is the best way to regulate occupancy limits. You can download a summary of the proposals (or a more in-depth study).

Details: The Land Use meeting begins Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. All renters, homeowners, and other District 10 community members are welcome to participate remotely by telephone or using Zoom video conferencing. If you want to join the discussion, email the District 10 office; we will email you access information.

Avoiding conflict: The Como Community Council's Neighborhood Relations Committee is delaying its November meeting by one week, so it doesn't overlap with elections. The online meeting is now scheduled for Tuesday Nov. 10 at 7 p.m.
Testing Sites for Coronavirus Expand
With cases of Covid-19 soaring, the state and county are rolling out more free testing sites. A rundown:
  • Today, Friday Oct. 30: Minnesota Department of Health opens free saliva testing at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium downtown; enter at 175 Kellogg Blvd. The site will be open seven days a week: noon-7 p.m. weekdays; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekends. Register in advance
  • Today, Friday Oct. 30, 2-6 p.m. United Church of God in Christ, 277 N. Lafayette Frontage Road. Register
  • This Saturday, Oct. 31, 1-6 p.m. Aldrich Arena, 1850 White Bear Ave., Maplewood. Register

To find other testing locations in Saint Paul or nearby, use the state Department of Health's interactive map. These locations might not be free, and they might offer testing only to certain categories of residents.
Say Goodbye to Daylight Savings Time
Daylight Savings Time ends this Sunday, Nov. 1, at 2 a.m. Turn your clocks back one hour. Enjoy the extra sleep -- or extra hour of darkness at the end of the day.
Is Covid Scaring Off Your Halloween Plans?
Trying to figure out how to deal with trick-or-treating during a pandemic? The Centers for Disease Control has all kinds of advice. Some highlights:

  • The basics. Stay at least 6 feet apart. Stay outdoors. Wear masks – protective masks, not flimsy costume masks. Wash or sanitize your hands a lot, especially before and after handling treats.
  • Avoid typical Halloween activities. No door-to-door, no big parties, no trunk-or-treating, no haunted houses, no hayrides. In other words, nothing where you’re in close contact or proximity to others, especially strangers.
  • Treats. If you are handing out treats, avoid any direct contact. Line up individual goodie packs for youngsters to grab and go outdoors, such as from the end of your walkway or driveway.
  • Stick to low-risk activities. Carve pumpkins within your household, or outdoors as a block or building activity. Create your own neighborhood scavenger hunt: Walk around looking for specific Halloween themes – skeletons, jack-o-lanterns, witches, black cats, tombstones, and so on.
  • Screaming. Covid is a respiratory disease. Screaming can spread it. So be careful when watching that horror flick with others.
Explore the Covenants of Exclusion
The next installment of the Como Community Council’s Sunday Series highlights the Mapping Prejudice Project in Saint Paul. Find out how white people created and promoted racial covenants to legally reserve homes and land exclusively for white people, and how these covenants continue to shape structural racism in our community today. Also, you’ll learn how you can volunteer to research where those covenants exist in our city, in our neighborhood, and in the property deed of your own home.

Details: The free online presentation is Sunday Nov. 8 from 1-2:30 p.m. To take part, register in advance; we’ll send you access information shortly beforehand.

Another chance: Did you play hooky during the Oct. 25 presentation by Richard McLemore II, “Our Justice System and Race Equity”? View a recording on your own time.
Every Neighborhood Has a Story: Let’s Discover Ours Together
Are you good at sharing good stories? Can you take photos that even the people in the picture like? Do you like talking with interesting people?

Then you could be exactly who we are looking for to help unleash our new project: Know Your Como.

At the Como Community Council, we want to highlight neighbors who do things (or who bring the kinds of energy) that make this a better place. We plan to share their stories in our newsletter, on social media, and on our website. The goal of this project is to celebrate and appreciate the large and small contributions of our neighbors, and the diversity that makes Como a special place for all of us.

But first, we need the people who can collect the stories. So, if you can:
  • Interview
  • Write
  • Photograph
  • Draw
  • Bring another creative or practical skill that can bring these neighbors to light…

Email us. We’ll help you assemble a team and turn you loose.
Help Seniors Have a Thanksgiving
The Como Community Council is working to make sure neighborhood seniors are not totally on their own this Thanksgiving. So, in partnership with the North End South Como Block Nurse Program and with TST Catering, we have a goal of providing meals for 100 seniors who are in isolation because of the pandemic. How you can help is simple:

  • Make a financial donation. Every $10 you contribute buys one Thanksgiving meal: turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, vegetables, a roll and, of course, dessert.
  • Volunteer to deliver meals.

Get all the details on how to join us.
Kids, Need a Winter Coat? Now’s the Time
A couple of weeks ago, Como residents donated scores of coats and other winter gear for kids. Now the Salvation Army is distributing those donations from you and others. To request clothing for children in your circle, call 651-776-2653. Distribution will be Thursdays and Fridays from 9-11:30 a.m. by appointment only, while supplies last.
A Time and Place for Everything
Yes, we encourage you to rake leaves. But do not rake your leaves in the street (it’s illegal, in case you didn’t know). And if you bag your leaves instead of composting them at home, please take them to a Ramsey County yard waste site. Please do not leave your leaves at the neighborhood organics recycling site on Beulah Lane. The site is set up to handle food scraps (and pizza boxes), not yard waste.

What about pumpkins? Regardless of how many pies, muffins, and other delectables you make with your pumpkins, do not leave them at the Beulah Lane site, either. Instead, take them to a county yard waste site, too. Give pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns, etc. a proper burial in a mountain of leaves, not in a food scraps bin. (Don’t forget to take out candles and decorations before you do so.) Yard waste sites are open Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

Oops, sorry about that: The city updated its schedule after last week’s newsletter got sent. Public Works is indeed sweeping leaves in Como this week. There’s a bunch more streets scheduled for today, Friday Oct. 30. Check the map to see when you’re on the list … and let’s hope the leaves are thawed when the sweepers swoop in.
Free Computer Project Can Give You a Boost
This is the week to register for TechPak, which can supply computers, internet, and digital literacy training for Ramsey County residents who are experiencing economic hardships due to Covid-19. The packs include a refurbished laptop, a hotspot for internet access, and quick start guides. To apply, sign up this Monday-Wednesday, Nov. 2-4. TechPak is a partnership among the county, Saint Paul Public Library, Tech Dump, and Literacy Minnesota.
Big Plastics are a Big Problem
You can recycle a lot of plastics – but big plastics do not belong in your blue cart. Forbidden: items such as laundry baskets, plastic lawn furniture, storage bins, plastic toys, and buckets.

Recycle Smart: If you buy high-quality items, they should last so long that you won't have to get rid of them. If you no longer need them for their normal use, repurpose them for something else. Or give them away if they're still in good shape. Unfortunately, if they're not in good shape, you will have to trash them.
Need Health Insurance? MNsure Enrollment Opens
Open enrollment for MNsure, Minnesota's health insurance marketplace, begins this Sunday, Nov. 1. You can compare plan options now for 2021, based on where you live. If you need help enrolling, more than 30 organizations in Saint Paul provide free navigator services by phone, many in multiple languages.
The Latest Dirt
Como Ave.: The good news: Now that February has more or less departed, construction crews are back at work, including on Saturdays. The bad news: They don’t expect to open Como between Hamline and Arona until Nov. 13.

Otherwise, Como remains essentially one lane in each direction from Arona west to Raymond. Sidewalks are mostly finished; the bike trail is not. A reminder to residents: Salt can damage new concrete, so shovel your snow this winter, don’t melt it.

On the city's western border, Como remains closed at Brompton – though that could change as soon as this afternoon, Friday Oct. 30. If crews finish paving as planned, Como and Eustis both could reopen to traffic this weekend (though the Como/Eustis intersection will have a four-way stop sign until a new traffic signal is working). The project expects to wrap up this week.

Dale St.: Phase 2 is still on schedule to finish in November, but the road remains restricted to one lane in each direction between University and Carroll, as Ramsey County continues to build a new bridge over Interstate 94. Ramps to and from I-94 are still closed. Access from Dale to some nearby east-west streets is loosening up, and there is some access to sidewalks.
We Read the Paperwork So You Don’t Have To
City Council holds public hearings this Wednesday, Nov. 4, on proposed trash rates, water rates, and sewer rates for 2021. You can submit comments before noon on Tuesday, Nov. 3, by email or by voicemail at 651-266-6805.

Winners of the 2020 Saint Paul Business Awards:
  • People’s Choice: Jandrich Floral, 976 W. 7th St.
  • Good Neighbor: Flannery Construction, 1375 St. Anthony Ave.
  • New Kid on the Block: Karibu Grocery and Deli, 719 Payne Ave.
  • Traditions: Candyland, 435 N. Wabasha Ave.

They will be honored at the City Council meeting this Wednesday, Nov. 4. Speaking of: You can still have your say on license renewals for these District 10 businesses:
  • Speedway: The gas station and liquor licenses for this convenience store at 950 Lexington Parkway N are up for renewal on Dec. 1. Anyone with concerns should email District 10 or contact the office of Ward 1 Council Member Dai Thao. 
  • Carter’s BP: The gas station license for this convenience store at 623 Como Ave. is up for renewal on Dec. 29. Anyone with concerns should email District 10 or contact the office of Ward 5 Council Member Amy Brendmoen.
The Final Weekend is Packed
  • Today, Friday Oct. 30: Last day to take Ramsey County’s survey to help it prioritize plans for pedestrian and bicycle corridors, specific parts of corridors, or new corridors. Be prepared to share, among other things, where you travel, and what could be done to improve connections, safety, accessibility, and convenience. (They do have maps you can reference.)
  • Today, Friday Oct. 30: Halloween Hi, 6-7 p.m. Northwest Como Rec Center, 1550 N. Hamline. A walk-by trick-or-treat opportunity (and a chance to “say hi” to rec center staff). Wear a mask, get a treat. Register in advance
  • This Sunday, Nov. 1: Deadline to apply for a Partner Grant from Capitol Region Watershed District. Grants range from $1,000-$20,000; they help individuals, homeowners, businesses, schools, and community organizations carry out educational initiatives, or actual projects that improve water quality or fight stormwater pollution.
  • Next Saturday, Nov. 7: Cyber Seed Crawl, hosted by Como Community Seed Library. Swap seeds in a socially distanced way. Make your requests and get other details through the library’s Facebook event page.
  • Monday Nov. 9: Ramsey County holds an online “town hall” to talk about its housing stability plans for unsheltered residents, 5-6:30 p.m. (On Oct. 20, County Commissioner Trista MatasCastillo gave the Como Community Council an extensive overview of county efforts to find housing for residents living on the streets. Watch her presentation)
  • Thursday Nov. 19: Board Representation Leadership Training for People of Color and Indigenous, 5:30-8:30 p.m. The free online training, led by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, prepares people of color to join their local neighborhood board -- such as the Como Community Council -- to create change by bringing diverse voices and leadership to neighborhood groups. Register
Now This Makes Sense
Looking for a safe place to close the deal on a one-to-one sale you set up on Craig’s List, Facebook Marketplace, or some other e-commerce site? Saint Paul Police have set aside an “exchange zone” in the visitor parking lot at Western District headquarters, 389 N. Hamline. The spot is outside police HQ and is in range of surveillance cameras.

Spread the word
You are receiving this email because you expressed interest in District 10 activities.

District 10 is one of Saint Paul's 17 citizen participation districts. The District 10 Como Community Council is a nonprofit organization, governed by a volunteer Board of Directors who are elected directly by members of the community. As a district council, we work to improve and enjoy life where we live. We provide the glue behind neighborhood action, and combine the voices of renters, homeowners, businesses, and nonprofits who want to accomplish things.