April 2, 2021
Racial Covenants are a Secret No More
The extent of racially restrictive covenants in Como, Falcon Heights, and other parts of Ramsey County will be unveiled this week by the University of Minnesota's Mapping Prejudice project and the Welcoming the Dear Neighbor? project at St. Catherine University.

Similar to earlier work done in Hennepin County, the projects examined thousands of property deeds in Ramsey County. Volunteers unearthed racist language that existed legally for decades to prevent Blacks, Asians, and other non-white people from buying or owning property in block after block of Saint Paul and subdivision after subdivision in the suburbs. Many prevented people of color from even living there (unless they were domestic servants).

For example, advertising for “Frankson’s Como Park Addition” near Midway Parkway boasted that “the grantee cannot sell or lease said real estate to a colored person” and that the restrictions would be “enforced to the fullest extent of the law.” The racial covenants were a form of redlining that contributed to the segregation, wealth disparities, and racial inequities that continue to exist in the city and county.

The Como Community Council hosted a preview of the projects’ findings in November; the official unveiling takes place this Thursday, April 8, from 6-8 p.m. To watch the presentation via Zoom, register in advance.

Bringing it to light: The Como Community Council’s Anti-Racism Work Group is pursuing a public art project that will examine the historic and continuing challenges of home and belonging in a racially diverse community. If you want to help shape the project, join the discussion on Monday April 12 at 7 p.m. Email the District 10 office; we’ll get you access information.
Sunday is the Deadline to Get on the Ballot
This Sunday, April 4, is the deadline to get on the ballot for the District 10 Como Community Council board. Nine seats are up for election this month.

The board is volunteers like you, elected by neighbors like you. Simple truth: We do better as a community when the board reflects the full strength of Como: renters, homeowners, local institutions, businesses, and neighbors of all kinds – regardless of color, age, ethnicity, income, gender, faith, or how deep your roots are in the neighborhood or in Saint Paul. It could be you; it could be a neighbor or friend you encourage to step forward. Apply to become a candidate

Your choices: Under Como Community Council bylaws, these board seats are up for election automatically this year:

These positions serve two-year terms, through April 2023. Any community member in District 10, age 16 or older, is eligible to run. Voting begins next Friday, April 9, and ends April 20.
You’re Invited to Join the Conversation This Week
The Como Community Council's Neighborhood Relations and Land Use Committees meet this week.
  • Neighborhood Relations meets Tuesday, April 6. Discussion includes the potential of reviving the annual Ice Cream Social this July, philanthropy partnerships for 2021, and an update on priorities from District 10’s Anti-Racism Work Group.
  • Land Use meets Wednesday, April 7. The main topic will be a request to rezone 1053 N. Dale from R4 single-family to T2 traditional neighborhood. T2 allows a range of residential and commercial uses that are not allowed in residential districts. These potential uses include multiple-family residential dwellings, or businesses such as general retail stores, specialty services, offices, and professional studios. Other types of businesses could be allowed with a conditional-use permit. The committee also will discuss a beer-and-wine license for Bole Ethiopian Cuisine, 1341 Pascal. In addition, expect updates on development projects, license issues, and more.

The meetings begin at 7 p.m. As usual, we invite all renters, homeowners, and other District 10 community members to participate. In order to abide by pandemic restrictions on public gatherings, the meetings take place via video conferencing or telephone, rather than in-person. If you want to join the discussion, email the District 10 office before 6 p.m. on the day of the meeting; staff will send you access information. 
Never Underestimate the Power of Sidewalks
Moving a family 1,100 miles during a pandemic might be a recipe for disaster. When the Maierhofers moved to Como, however, it was quite the opposite. Sure, the usual amenities helped make their transition smoother. But what really made the difference: the sidewalk life, yard culture – and Little Free Libraries? The Maierhofers’ journey is the latest in our “Know Your Como” series.
Photo: The Maierhofers
Read Brave Events Examine Immigration
As part of the Saint Paul Public Library’s 2021 Read Brave program, the Como Community Council is partnering on two events tied to one of the featured books: the memior “Children of the Land” by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo. 
  • Read the book: The Como Community Council has 15 copies of the book available to distribute for free (first-come, first-served). Email us and we’ll set one aside while supplies last. Or, read the e-book using the library’s Libby app, or download the audiobook.
  • Sunday Series: Local immigration attorney Gloria Contreras Edin will present and answer questions about constantly changing U.S. immigration policies and their impacts on families and communities. Sunday April 18, 2:30 p.m. Participation is free through Zoom, but advance registration is required.
  • Author Visit: The Saint Anthony Park Branch Library Association is co-sponsoring an online discussion with Hernandez Castillo on Thursday April 22 from 7-8 p.m. Participation is free through Zoom, but advance registration is required.
You Can Request Your Ballot Now
District 10 community members can vote from home this month in board elections for the Como Community Council. You'll be able to vote online, or by returning a paper ballot through the mail. (Because of restrictions on public gatherings, we still can’t schedule in-person voting.)

The first step in voting is to request a ballot. To get your ballot, fill out this application. We’ll send ballots beginning next Friday, April 9.

Who is eligible to vote: Renters, homeowners, and other residents of District 10 who are at least 16 years old can vote. So can representatives from business, nonprofits, or other organizations with a physical presence in District 10.
Help City Crews Make a Clean Sweep
As some of us have discovered, spring street sweeping is underway early this year in Como. Track when your block is scheduled. Remember:
  • Keep an eye out for the temporary “no parking” signs. On sweeping days, parking is banned from 8 a.m. until the signs are yanked.
  • Keep garbage and recycling carts off the street if it is a sweeping day; place them on your lawn or driveway instead.
  • Do not, do not, do not sweep leaves, thatch, or other yard waste into the street. It is illegal, and property owners can be ticketed. The city’s street sweepers are not intended to pick up large piles of leaves and debris. Excessive debris in the street slows down the pace and quality of work.
Get $20 Off a Compost Bin
Ramsey County residents can get a plastic, backyard compost bin for the discounted price of $46, while supplies last. You’ll have to pick up your bin May 1 in Maplewood or June 5 in Saint Paul. Get the details
Yard Waste Sites Open More Often
Now that it’s April, Ramsey County’s yard waste sites are open five days a week:
  • Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays: 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Saturdays: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Sundays: 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

The closest site, at 1943 Pierce Butler Route, collects leaves, grass, garden waste, shrubs, trees, branches, and food scraps. It often has compost and mulch you can haul away for your personal use.
Recycle Smart: Plastics, Yes. Plastic Bags, No.
When you dump recycling into your blue cart, keep it loose. Do not put recyclables in bags – especially in plastic bags. If you do, things don’t get sorted properly at the recycling facility. As a result, “recyclables” often end up in the garbage – which defeats the purpose. 

Remember: No plastic bags of any kind in your recycling cart. However – you can take plastic bags and plastic film to retail stores that have a community drop-off bin outside. Around here, most Cub Foods, Target, Lunds & Byerlys, Kowalski’s, and Kohl’s stores collect clean and dry bags. For other options, search by ZIP Code.
Dock & Paddle Adds Festivities Easter Morning
Dock & Paddle, the restaurant in Como Lakeside Pavilion, is hosting special events Easter morning, this Sunday April 4.
  • 9 a.m.-noon: Pancake breakfast. Free for children age 3 or younger, $3.99 for children ages 4-9, $6.99 for everybody else.
  • 11 a.m.: Outdoor egg hunt for children age 8 or younger.

In general, Dock & Paddle is now open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
We Invite Fuzzy Thinking
This Sunday, April 4, is the last day to suggest an idea for a neighborhood mascot: a recognizable symbol we can identify with, call our own, and use to promote and enliven District 10 events. Email your suggestions; District 10 board members will compile and cull the list. Then we, as a community, will vote for the winner.
We're Still Handing Out Food on Fridays
The Como Community Council and Sanneh Foundation will continue to distribute free food boxes today, Friday April 2, and every Friday afternoon this month. The food boxes are available to Ramsey County residents dealing with financial hardships because of Covid-19. 

Details: The fresh food boxes will be available in the north parking lot of Niem Phat Buddhist Temple, at Dale and Front. Distribution will be 1:30-3:30 p.m. (or until supplies run out). Reservations are highly recommended; to reserve your box, fill out this form before noon on distribution day. The boxes typically include fresh meat, dairy, and produce, plus gallons of milk.

Free food for pets, too: The Animal Humane Society will provide a month’s worth of dry Purina Dog Chow or Purina Cat Chow on Sundays April 11 and May 9 in Golden Valley, and Sundays April 25 and May 23 at its new Saint Paul location, 1159 University Ave. W. Find out more, including how to register in advance.
Coronavirus Vaccine and Testing Resources
Minnesota has extended Covid-19 vaccine eligibility to any state resident age 16 or older. Some resources to get a vaccine:
  • Use the state’s Vaccine Locator, which is a searchable map and database that identifies pharmacies, clinics, and other vaccine providers.
  • Contact your health-care provider and employer.
  • Sign up for the state's Vaccine Connector. Once you register, the online tool notifies you when there are vaccines available nearby, and how to schedule a vaccine appointment. 

Meanwhile, new cases of Covid-19 are rising again. if you think you’ve been exposed:
  • Order a free saliva test for Covid-19, which you can administer at home.
  • Get tested nearby – or anywhere in the state. Free saliva testing is available at Roy Wilkins Auditorium; enter at 175 Kellogg Blvd. The site is open seven days a week: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekends (however, the site is closed this Sunday, April 4). Register in advance 
Rec Centers Gear Up for Spring, Summer
North Dale Recreation Center offers a full week of full-day programs for children in grades 1-5 during this week’s spring break, April 5-9. “Spring Blast” is $50 for the week; it runs each day 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Space is limited; register in advance. Eighteen other rec centers have full- or half-day programming that week; the half-day programs are free.

Plan ahead: Registration for youth summer camps and classes opens on Monday April 12 for North Dale, Northwest Como, and the city’s 25 other rec centers. They promise you’ll be able to browse what’s available when and where beginning this Monday, April 5.

For those with a few more years on them, North Dale offers:
  • Senior Fitness (in person), every Thursday beginning this week from 9:30-10:30 a.m. Free for those age 50 or higher. April is booked, but there is still room to register for May.
  • Spring into Summer Gardening (online), Saturday April 17, 10-11 a.m. Free for adults. Register
Tell 'Em How the River is Doing
Saint Paul, Saint Louis, and Baton Rouge are part of a partnership that has launched a smartphone app for residents to track and report plastic pollution in the Mississippi River. Download the Marine Debris Tracker. (Note: The deadline to fill in your observations is Sunday April 25.)

Neighborhood topics of note:
  • 975 Montana Ave. W: The resident has applied for a backyard chicken permit. Typically, these receive routine administrative approval. 
  • H&M Auto Body: The auto repair and paint shop licenses for this body shop at 867 Dale are up for renewal on April 18. Anyone with concerns should email District 10 or contact the office of Ward 1 Council Member Dai Thao.
  • Como Park Golf Course: The liquor, Sunday liquor, and entertainment licenses are up for renewal on April 18. Anyone with concerns should email District 10 or contact the office of Ward 4 Council Member Mitra Jalali.
  • Gabe’s By The Park: The liquor, Sunday liquor, entertainment, 2 a.m. closing, patio, and gambling licenses for the restaurant at Lexington and Energy Park Drive are up for renewal on May 5. Anyone with concerns should email District 10 or contact the office of Ward 4 Council Member Mitra Jalali.
  • Como Lakeside Pavilion: The liquor, Sunday liquor, outdoor liquor, and entertainment licenses for the restaurant now known as Dock & Paddle are up for renewal on June 4. Anyone with concerns should email District 10 or contact the office of Ward 5 Council Member Amy Brendmoen.
  • Pope Automotive: The auto repair shop license for this business at 991 Front is up for renewal on June 13. Anyone with concerns should email District 10 or contact the office of Ward 5 Council Member Amy Brendmoen.

Don’t miss your chance:
  • Today, Friday April 2, is the last day for residents to review and rate projects and express their priorities on how and where the city invests in physical infrastructure in 2022.
  • The Civilian Internal Affairs Review Commission holds a youth town hall on Thursday April 22 from 4:30-5:30 p.m. The virtual event will explain how citizen complaints about police conduct are filed and handled, and invite youth participation and ideas about improving the process The event is free but advance registration is required.
  • The Saint Paul City Council is accepting applications to its Legislative Advisory Committee on Reparations. The committee will meet from July 2021 through June 2022 and set the groundwork for establishing a permanent reparations commission. Members will receive a stipend of $50 per meeting. The last day to apply is Friday April 30.

Coming up:
  • The mayor’s Community First Public Safety Commission plans two more town halls (online) to collect public feedback about draft recommendations on responding to what are now non-emergency police calls. The town halls are Wednesday April 14 from 7-9 p.m., and Saturday April 17 from 2-4 p.m.
  • The city plans two webinars and a public hearing on draft proposals that would reduce or eliminate off-street parking requirements in many situations. The webinars are Thursday April 15 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. and Tuesday April 20 from noon-1 p.m. (content is identical). The Planning Commission holds a public hearing on the parking study Friday April 30 at 8:30 a.m.
  • The city is accepting new submissions from Saint Paul residents for the next round of sidewalk poetry. Up to 8 winners will be selected. The deadline for inspiration is April 25.
  • Comments on Saint Paul’s Homeless Services Zoning Study must be submitted in writing by Sunday May 2 at 5 p.m. Find details here
The Week Ahead on the Fairgrounds
USA Gymnastics Levels 3-5 Minnesota State Championship: Next Friday-Sunday, April 9-11, Warner Coliseum. Friday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 8 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Admission: adults $15, students $10 (with masking and physical distancing required). 
Got a Problem with the County's Valuation of Your Property?
  • This Monday, April 5, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Ramsey County open book meeting to question your property valuation for 2022 property taxes. Call 651-266-2131.
  • This Tuesday, April 6, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Ramsey County open book meeting to question your property valuation for 2022 property taxes. Call 651-266-2131.
Improving Your Odds Against Converter Theft
As many of us know too well, theft of catalytic converters is a plague locally and nationwide. It is driven by the immensely high prices for the precious metals found in the converters. Experienced thieves can cut out the converters in as little as 30 seconds.

Saint Paul has an ordinance forbidding scrap dealers in the city from purchasing converters, unless the seller has an auto dealer license. But it is easy for thieves to sell in other communities. Our neighborhood’s state senator, John Marty, has legislation to expand St. Paul-style restrictions statewide. But until or if that happens, some context and tips from police:
  • SUVs, trucks, and other vehicles that sit high off the ground make easier targets.
  • Hybrid vehicles seem to be hit more frequently because the metals don't degrade as quickly.
  • Vigilance and video are key in trying to identify thieves and theft rings.
  • When possible, park near a light.
  • When possible, back into a parking space; that makes it harder for thieves to access the converter.

These steps will cost you money, but not as much as replacing a converter:
  • Paint the converter with a high-visibility, heat-resistant paint.
  • Etch your vehicle's VIN into the converter.
  • Buy and install a "Cat Cage" or similar after-market product. These devices surround the converter; they are not fool-proof, but they do require thieves to cut through an additional layer, which buys you time.

The latest Como community crime reports: For one week, it was relatively quiet.
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.