Please park before the walk or beyond the tree. Thank you.

Here’s another example of a home owner posting a sign on a tree to police the parking in front of their home:

Please park before the walk or before the tree. Thank you.

In this case, it looks like they’re protecting the front crosswalk of their house from people who indiscriminately park on public streets. Here’s a close-up of the sign:

Please park before the walk or before the tree. Thank you.

That’s pretty sun bleached. If only we could roll back time? Well, we can, because I took this pic of that sign last September:

Please park before the walk or beyond the tree. Thank you.

Their hammering has proven to be more effective than the ink used to create the sign:

Please park before the walk or before the tree. Thank you.

This one entertains me for a variety of reasons.

1. The request to park “beyond the tree” would put a car within 30 feet of the stop sign, so they’re requesting that people park illegally rather than legally in front of their crosswalk. Here’s an example of someone following the sign’s advice, thanks to Google Streetview:

Please park before the walk or beyond the tree. Thank you.

Note that the sign was already there in Aug 2011 during Google’s drive-by.

Flipping back to 2009, perhaps this red car was the inspiration for the sign?

Please park before the walk or beyond the tree. Thank you.

2. It’s a corner house with a corner curb cut and a driveway off the cross street, so the house if quite accessible with or without the front crosswalk.

3. This is not a high density area. It’s not near apartments, commercial buildings or businesses that bring a lot of cars to the neighborhood. Because of that, I can’t imagine there being many parking problems. However, maybe that’s what causes the issue? Do people living in places where one can realistically park in front of their own property 99% of the time have a greater false sense of ownership than people in higher density areas?

4. I like the contrast between the sign nailed into the tree and the watershed friendly yard sign:

Please park before the walk or before the tree. Thank you.

Why hug a tree when you can hammer it?

Update on the Private Parking Sign on Public Streets Scene

The sign is down! More deets below:

It turns out that I’m not the only person who has strong feelings about people sinking nails into trees to make private claims to public property. Urban homesteading for cars, if you will. Here are a few examples:

While I don’t think there are many legitimate reasons for sinking nails into trees to claim parking places one does not own, I did receive some more information about this particular situation in emails.

The person living in this home is not a right-wing nut job dude who chose to live in an urban area the like example Rat described in the comments on the previous post. It turns out that the property is owned by an elderly woman who’s been getting some help from her family.

I was scolded for not researching why someone chose to hammer nails into a boulevard tree to claim a public parking place. Knowing what I know now, I did some research to figure out what the age threshold is for nailing signs to boulevard trees in Minneapolis. There doesn’t appear to be one.

Assuming this is an accessibility issue (perhaps elderly people come and go at the same hours of the day when the Blue Door Pub is busy enough to have cars parked nearly a block away?), the city has ways of addressing this kind of situation that don’t involve nailing “Private Parking” signs into trees. Two different types of restricted parking can be requested depending on needs. I’m all for people aging in place. In fact, I do it every day.

Here’s one other hammer and nail-free solution: The neighbor to the north has a driveway that runs along its south property line. I don’t know how neighborly the neighbors are on that block, but I think 99% of neighbors would be cool with their driveway being used for pickups and dropoffs of elderly neighbors.

Private Parking Signs on Public Streets

I find people who claim ownership of the public street in front of their private home entertaining. Here’s an example from 42nd Ave S near the Blue Door Pub:

Private Parking? Please.

Even more ridiculous, they’ve hammered nails into the public’s tree on the public boulevard to hang their “Private Parking” sign:

Parking must be pretty bad around there, eh? Not exactly. It’s possible that a few members of the public may park their private cars on the public street in front of that private house for a few hours on evenings where the BDP is particularly busy. Does this force this homeowner to park blocks away from their home if they arrive home during peak BDP hours? Well, maybe for their third car:

The “Longfellow was better before it had businesses people were willing to drive across town to visit” crowd has hammers and knows how to use them.

Vikings Stadium Fans Still Haven’t Found Their Checkbooks #wilfare

A guy who thinks that it’s the state and city’s responsibility to heavily subsidize his entertainment – John G. Morgan, of Burnsville – wrote an op-ed for the StarTribune that the StarTribune published. Morgan writes a counterpoint to the anti-stadium (ah-hem, pro-Vikings fans finding their checkbooks) arguments he’s heard.

Here’s a counterpoint to his counterpoints:

“The NFL is a dying league.”

Wrong. The NFL is the most popular sport for at least the 30th year in a row.

If it’s such a popular sport, why does it need to rely on billions in public subsidies every year?

“Exorbitant ticket costs.”

While there certainly will be expensive seats, many will be $50 or less, about midrange for entertainment options. Many concerts cost well more than $100 to attend these days. It costs more than $30 just to see a small production at the Ames Center for the performing arts in Burnsville, where I live.

I totally agree with this one. The tickets are far too cheap. They should include a $100/ticket fee on top of today’s prices to allow fans to cover the public’s stadium obligations.

“Nonprofits, charities, cities and otherwise worthwhile causes lost funding due to the stadium.”

Just flat-out false. There is not, nor has there ever been, a connection between funding a stadium and not funding roads, schools, hospitals, charities, etc. By the way, how many millions do the team and players contribute to charities every year?

It has been brought to my attention that public money collected to subsidize Vikings fans is not fungible. Yes, this makes no sense, but don’t let that stop a StarTribune op-ed from being published.

How many millions do the team donate to charity every year? Millions? The Vikings don’t even contribute a million to their primary charity per year. Seriously. We’re converting $30 million in taxpayer dollars per year into less than $1 million for sick kids. You know what would work better than that? Devoting more tax dollars to sick kids rather than subsidizing Vikings fans in Burnsville.

“The Super Bowl won’t bring anything to our city other than headaches.”

Again, saying it or believing it doesn’t make it true. A Super Bowl would bring tens of millions to the local economy.

Superbowls have costs and benefits. Just look at what the last Superbowl did for Minnesota’s economy! Wait a second. We didn’t hear much about what it did for our economy during the last stadium debate. Strange, eh? By the way, have you watched that halftime show?

“Neighbors of the new stadium, who will live near an empty, hulking behemoth for about 350 days a year.”

I’m pretty sure of two things: (1) These people knew about the stadium before moving across from it and (2) no one forced them to do so.

At least he’s willing to admit that NFL stadiums do nothing for a neighborhood.

“Rich out-of-staters like the Wilfs don’t deserve to be further enriched on the public spigot.”

Yes, because they’re the first out-of-state entity ever to receive a subsidy. Sheesh. At least the public will get a return on this one.

I saw a lot of “The government wastes money on all kinds of things, so us Vikings fans deserve our share of waste too!” arguments during the stadium debate. As you can imagine, they normally came from people who consider helping people with nothing wasteful government spending.

Again, it’s amazing that the StarTribune would publish an op-ed with an unsubstantiated claim like “At least the public will get a return on this one.” That doesn’t seem to pass the reality check. Perhaps the StarTribune was thinking of their own return when they read that?

“Most Minnesotans didn’t want this stadium.”

Again, simply not true. A vast majority didn’t want to lose the Vikings. The issue was how to pay for the stadium, not whether it was needed or wanted. The majority favored a penny-a-drink tax or some other common-sense, statewide solution.

The vast majority of of Minnesotans didn’t want to lose the Vikings until asked to pay to keep them. Were Vikings fans knocking on doors at the state capital offering to help pay for it? Nope. They were lobbying to have other people cover the costs for something they claimed to value.

I, like most Minnesotans, would probably support a penny-a-drink tax if it went toward improving the education of young Vikings fans so they don’t grow up to think that subsidizing the NFL is the government’s role.

“I’ll remember that stadium when I spend my money and when I vote.”

The same thing was said about the gutsy people who made Target Field happen, and they subsequently were re-elected. Target Field is a gem and a smashing success, regardless of whether the same can be said of the team that plays there.

A case can be made that some Minneapolis city council members lost their seats due to the stadium vote. RT Rybak said that, rather than holding a referendum on the Vikings stadium – as required by the Minneapolis city charter – voters should use the next mayoral election as their referendum. Then he decided not to run again for mayor. And, the city voted for a candidate who voted against the stadium while a candidate who voted for the stadium finished way back.

As was suggested by the comment by US Bancorp President and CEO Richard Davis that led to Friday’s letter, it’s time to get over it. Or at least bring facts to the argument.

He brings up a good point. Bring facts to the argument. That could have been done in that op-ed but he through out easily challenged statements instead.

Some Minneapolis Snow Emergency Car Towing Stats

Eric Roper has an article in the StarTribune that looks at which areas of the town see the most cars towed during snow emergencies. And, more interestingly, which areas see the least tows. It seems to correlate quite well with distance from the impound lots.

The data behind the map included some other variables that are kind of neat too. Here’s a spreadsheet with some tabs breaking down a few of those variables such as the age, make, model, and state where the towed cars are licensed.

Cars between 10-15 years old top the list for trips to the impound lot. Hondas and Civic are high among car models, which may say something about both their popularity and lifespan. Thirty states and two Canadian provinces were represented in the towing data.

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11 Nuggets on Minneapolis Car2Go / @car2goMPLS?

I’ve been using Car2Go for a few months now, but haven’t written about it yet, so I guess now is as good a time as any. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Car2Go is a car rental service that distributes cars throughout a city, let’s you check a car out using a card + PIN, then park the car somewhere else within the boundaries of their rental territory. You only pay for the time you use the car.

The big difference between this, door mall right on cars, and things like HourCar or ZipCar, is most rental services require you to return a car to where you got it. Car2Go, on the other hand, works well for short-term rentals (even a few minutes), 1-way trips, and trips where you plan to be somewhere for a while because you can check the car in when you get there, then take that (or a different) Car2Go home when you’re ready to return.

When I tell people about it, they tend to come up with a lot of “whatabouts”. Here are some common ones:

1. Whatabout the keys? It’s in the car. You unlock the car using a card. You put the key in a dock on the dash when you’re done with your trip.

2. Whatabout gas? That’s built into the price. If a car is low on fuel, you can earn credits (currently 20 minutes of driving time) for topping off the tank using a car card that’s in the car. You can also find cars low on fuel using this site I created.

3. Whatabout the size of those cars? Yep. They’re all SmartCar cars, which are 2-door cars with very little storage. They’re not ideal for every type of trip. It’s not the ideal car for a 60-minute daily commute, but it works fine for bopping around town.

4. How do you find them? There’s an app for that. And the website.

5. How much does it cost? You pay by the minute. Here’s an invoice for a trip I took from near Loring Park to the Crooked Pint. Five minutes of driving cost $2.32.

I didn’t have to pay that $2.32 due to credits I’ve received from topping off the gas tank on previous rentals, but that’s what it would normally cost. With tax, that’s 46.4 cents/minute. 38 cents per minute to Car2Go and 8.4 cents per minute to the Governor.

6. Whatabout taxes? The sales taxes are ridiculously high (something like 22%) because the service is taxed like a traditional rental car (a portion goes to subsidize Vikings fans who were too cheap to help pay for a new stadium). Politicians love taxation without representation, so often jack up taxes on car rentals. But, the vast majority of Car2Go users actually live in the city/county/state where they use them. A politician who thinks we’re better off encouraging car micro-rentals since they’re better for the environment in a variety of ways should consider figuring out how to carve out an exemption for car rentals below a certain duration to straighten this out.

7. Whatabout meters? Car2Go has permits on the cars that allow them to be parked at meters. Not ALL meters, but most. The cutoff is based on the meter’s time limit. If it’s a 2-hour meter or longer (so not a super high intensity zone) you can park the car there. Downtown, a lot of this parking is available near Gold Medal Park, Loring Park, Elliot Park and the North Loop. Looking at where Car2Go cars are parked downtown right now gives a pretty good sense of where works:

8. How do I get one of these magical permits? Seriously. I wondered the same thing. It would be awesome if I could ditch my own car at a meter without having to deal with meters. But, I think the cost would be tough to justify for the casual user. I don’t have an exact figure, but I’m pretty sure you can get quality contract parking downtown for cheaper than the permits. Which also suggests that the City of Minneapolis is collecting some significant revenue from those permits.

9. What if I want a car to be available for me when I leave what I’m doing? The app allows you to reserve a car for up to 30 minutes. If you don’t make it there in under 30, the reservation is cancelled and you can’t re-reserve the same car. Otherwise, I bet someone would create a macro on their computer to reserve the car in front of their house every 31 minutes to keep that thing locked down. You can also put the cars in standby mode while running errands, but the meter keeps running. If you plan to be out for a long time, the costs switches from a per minute to hourly at a lower rate.

10. Whatabout snow? Car2Go currently has around 250 cars on the road in Minneapolis with more on the way. That creates a bit of a logistical nightmare for them when there’s a snow emergency. They offer a time credit for people who help keep the cars from being towed as a way to crowdsource the work. I’ve put together a script to identify cars on snow emergency routes. So far it only works for Day 1. The reverse geocoding used to decide which side of a street a car is on isn’t perfect, so I’m working on ways to solve that for the Day 2 & Day 3 snow emergency routines.

11. What’s a good use for this? Whatever you’d like, as long as your destination is within Car2Go’s boundaries (currently Minneapolis’ city limits). For creative uses, you could drive one somewhere then run home. Or drive one somewhere that you plan on drinking, then use another form of transportation to get home. Or, drive them to the LRT down by the VA to catch the train to the airport (faster and cheaper than a cab or pure public transit in most situations). Drive on to the city limit, then catch a bus to shorten your commute. Drive one between points transit poorly serves.

Now I have something I can point people to when they ask me about this. Have any other questions or comments on the service? By the way, I’m not affiliated with the service. I’m just a bit of a power user.

Did Minneapolis’ Kids Lose Out to Vikings Stadium Subsidies? #wilfare

Curtis Gilbert at MPR reported on Governor Dayton’s choice to go against the recommendations of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, by NOT funding top priorities in the 2012 Capital Projects Grant program and instead kicking $2 million toward Southwest LRT.

Gilbert explained that Minneapolis public schools were on the list to receive funding for some projects up until two days before the list was changed and announced to the public. Among the losers:

Minneapolis Public Schools asked for almost $2.8 million from the $47.5 million fund. It planned to use the money pay for improvements at three athletics facilities on the city’s north side: Artificial turf at Patrick Henry High School, an updated the swimming pool at Olson Junior High and renovations to Victory Memorial Ice Arena.

Now, why would Dayton do something like that? Who benefits from putting the SW LRT ahead of Minneapolis public schools?

Then, I remembered the Vikings stadium. During speeches from the house floor, at least one member of the legislature explained that he was going to vote for the Vikings stadium bill – despite it being a seriously flawed bill – because it would be reachable by the soon to be built SW LRT line. At the time, I thought “ah, that explains that vote. Dayton promised him money for LRT.” And, now we see where Dayton found the money. By taking it from Minneapolis public schools. (If someone knows how to pull transcripts from those hearings, I’d love to remind myself who made those statements.)

Here’s a look at the map of Senate and House votes (via Elevated GIS) for/against the stadium. Note that Minneapolis’s legislatures generally voted against the stadium while legislators along the new SW LRT line voted in favor of the bill:

MN Senate Vikings Stadium Votes along SWLRT Route

MN House Vikings Stadium Votes along SWLRT Route

And, of course, to the east of Minneapolis, we saw St Paul’s legislators receive state funding to publicly subsidize the Saints and Wild in exchange for subsidizing the Vikings and Timberwolves.

A “Reasonable Liberal” on Publicly Financing the NFL #wilfare cc @LiberalPolitico

A Twitter user who goes by the name “Reasonable Liberal” broke down a justification for subsidizing the Wilf Family of Fraudsters in New Jersey rather than investing Minnesota tax payers money in Minnesotans.

True. And, the people and businesses who appreciate that additional value the most are perfectly capable of finding their wallets to support the entertainment they appreciate. The MN Orchestra, unlike the MN Vikings, exposes kids to music rather than how to create concussions between arrests.

According to the Pioneer Press, the MN Orchestra received $962,000 in subsidies for a year, and the Minneapolis Convention & Visitors bureau claims that the MN Orchestra had 215,000 paid attendees. That’s an average subsidy of $4.47/ticket. Compare that to the Vikings subsidies of closer to $70/ticket per game for 30 years. And, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen an orchestra attendee buy beer by the case, then park in an empty lot to pre-orchestra.

The NFL puts you on the map for sure. Just look at what it’s done for Buffalo, Cleveland, and Detroit.

You’re right. Warren Buffett’s wrong. Case closed.

And, Kiplinger was wrong when they named Omaha the 3rd best place to live in the USA. And, was wrong when they named Omaha the 8th best place to live in America for families. Granted, Kiplinger’s overlooked having an NFL team in their ranking criteria. Instead, they used:

Population Growth Since 2000: 6.6%
Percentage of Workforce in Creative Class: 30%
Cost-of-Living Index: 89.4 (100 being national average)
Median Household Income: $51,627
Income Growth Since 2000: 15.1%

Different strokes.

Totally. No Minnesotan is proud of the local bands they’ve seen at First Avenue or Triple Rock. None take any pride in the orchestra, our local arts scene, or local beers. If you’ve ever seen a Minnesotan talking to someone from another state, there’s simply NOTHING they can bring up about Minnesota that they take pride in outside of our publicly subsidized NFL team. You’ll never hear a single mention of Target, General Mills, the Mayo Clinic, Surly or Summit beer, Spam, the State Fair, Lake Minnetonka, cabins, Bob Dylan, the Jucy Lucy, or the Coen Brothers. When it comes to sports references, you’ll never hear a single mention of the Timberwolves, Twins, Wild, Lynx, or any Gopher sports. None. Actually, one would have to have a very narrow obsession with a single sport that plays 10 home games per year to overlook this reality.

Personally, I’d like to see an “allegiance with my neighbor” built around this: what’s the best we can do for our kids? I don’t think the answer would be “subsidize the Wilf Family of Fraudsters” for many people who ask their neighbors that question.

Without four pro sports teams in Minneapolis and St Paul, what could people from the lakes region talk to people from the Twin Cities about? Would they have to cave to talking about subsidized baseball? Subsidized hockey? Subsidized basketball? Subsidized college football? What kind of world is that?

Do you honestly believe that America is healthiest if “the national conversation” revolves around alliances to each person’s publicly subsidized private NFL franchise?

Prove it. Not anecdotally. Prove that Minnesota and Minneapolis see actual net gains in population that justifies sending subsidizing a the Wilf Family of Fraudsters rather than spending that money investing in the kinds of things that tend to drive real estate prices (quality schools, low crime).

Haven’t you noticed that Minnesota pops up on nearly every list put out by publications ranking cities based on positive attributes? Best places to live, healthiest cities, fittest places, longest life spans, most educated populations. Where does having a publicly subsidized NFL team compare to things that have a significant impact on people’s lives rank? Have you not noticed that Minnesotans go outside in the winter? Ice fishing, hunting, snowmobiling, and XC Skiing don’t rely upon the level of subsidies we’ve given to the Wilf Family of Fraudsters.

The “no big loss” theory assumes that people may spend their weekends and entertainment dollars differently, but still largely within the State of Minnesota if we didn’t publicly subsidize an NFL team with $1.66 million PER GAME for 30 years BEFORE interest, and WITHOUT considering operating costs and the obvious future demands from the NFL to upgrade the stadium to make it “competitive”.

Those are all local non-profits that receive FAR LESS public subsidized than the for profit NFL team that’s owned by the Wilf Family of Fraudsters.

I’ve been to all. They’re assets to the community. As I’ve mentioned before, “The Guthrie’s per seat subsidy over 30 years comes to $1.67, compared to the Wilf’s current demand of $77.” Even with the Vikings being owned by the Wilf Family of Fraudsters who’ll suck money out of the State of Minnesota, I could see subsidizing a new Vikings stadium to the same per-seat rate as the Guthrie. That comes to $10.8 million.

It declares that we’re not Bridgeport, not Madison, not Raleigh, and not Austin, who all have higher numbers of college educated residents, but no NFL team.

Minneapolis is optimistic about its future. And Minneapolis residents just voted overwhelmingly in favor of a new mayor who voted against subsidizing the NFL.

Agreed. When the Building Trades lied to people on push poll phone calls, they didn’t do it out of love for the Vikings. They did it to influence people into supporting public subsidies for a bad project that would put them to work. Greed is a good motivator.


No. That’s a huge difference for a very small number of recruits who happen to be into music AND the Red Sox.

Many of the most elite schools in the United States are in communities that don’t have NFL teams. Perhaps we should focus on being more elite than providing entertainment to college students?

No, that’s not why the city and state did what they did. The DFL voted to support the unions who support them. Country club GOP members voted to subsidize the entertainment expenses of large corporations. Deciding votes among Minneapolis city council members justified their votes based on threats of money being taken from them by the state by union member legislators.

We didn’t invest. We subsidized. Los Angeles somehow survives just fine without pro football. I have no interest in living in Chicago and have many well paid friends who feel the same. If you need an NFL team to sell the benefits of Minneapolis over Chicago, you really should spend more time getting to know Minneapolis.

Honestly, the recruiting angle doesn’t do it for me. If local businesses thought that having an NFL team was critical to their success they could invest in it. In fact, that actually happened when the Metrodome was built. There was even money from a company called Dayton’s. Now, we have a Dayton redistributing money from Minnesota and Minneapolis taxpayers to the Wilf Family of Fraudsters in New Jersey.

Speaking of “reasonable liberals”, when the vote on the Vikings stadium took place, the reasonable liberals voted against the stadium. Reasonable liberals like Karen Clark, Jim Davnie, Frank Hornstein, Erin Murphy, Michael Paymar, and Jean Wagenius voted against the Vikings stadium corporate Wilfare bill in the house, and Scott Dibble, Kari Dziedzic, John Marty, and Patricia Torres Ray in the senate. These are reasonable people. I’m curious to find out who “Reasonable Liberal” considers to be reasonable liberals considering the opposition to the stadium subsidies by reasonable liberals.

Who are taxpayers paying to store Vikings stadium construction dirt? #wilfare

Building a “People’s Stadium” to the NFL’s specs involves moving a lot of dirt. The upside of building a stadium where an NFL stadium already exists is that it’s easy to find empty lots to store that dirt on since NFL stadiums don’t spur development.

Tim Nelson reported that the MSFA has found a temporary home for some of the dirt from the construction site. Nelson quotes Ted Mondale:

We worked out a lease with the property next door.

That’s convenient.

Who owns that property?

The Wilf Family.

Wait a second.

We’re leasing land from the Wilf’s?


Aren’t taxpayers buying this same piece of land from the Wilf Family for an undisclosed sum to incorporate it into the new stadium?


Then why are we leasing it? Why not just buy it now?

Who’s side is Ted Mondale on?

Vikings Stadium Tailgaters Sold Out By the Wilf Family of Fraudsters #wilfare

The MSFA (Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority) has an interesting video illustrating how the Metrodome, with it’s new roof and turf, will be destroyed to make way for a new parking lot, VIP suite bathrooms, and stadium restaurants to compete with existing downtown restaurants.

Another thing the video shows is the loss of tailgating lots. The tailgating crowd spent a lot of energy lobbying for a new Vikings stadium, and it looks like their reward for their efforts will be the destruction of their tailgating lots. I’m not sure if they fully considered how a stadium that serves the same purpose but takes up twice the space could be built without doing so.

And, since Minneapolis wants to pretend NFL stadiums drive development (didn’t they learn anything from the Metrodome?) they’ve handed the public’s money to Wells Fargo to build a new facility on tailgating lots.

But, what interests me the most about this are the two lots between the existing Metrodome and 3rd Street / Chicago & 10th Ave.

I ran past those lots back on October 13th in the middle of a 22-miler. The lots were packed with tailgaters preparing themselves for the Vikings’ 35-10 loss to the Panthers.

Wilf Family of Fraudsters Tailgating Lot

Here’s what’s happening to those two lots. If you click the image and watch the video, you can watch those lots disappear at around 38 seconds in:

Metrodome with Tailgating Lots

People's Stadium with Fewer Tailgating Lots

Who owns those two lots? The Wilf Family of Fraudsters:

Property Parcels for New Vikings Stadium

The Wilf Family of Fraudsters have far more important plans for that land than to host tailgaters. They’re planning an easy-on/easy-off VIP-parking lot for suite holders that allows them to enter and exit games without having to interact with the tailgating crowd. Nothing personal. It’s just about money.

But, would the Wilf Family of Fraudsters be in a position to build their publicly subsidized VIP parking ramp for suite holders without the help of the tailgaters who camped out at the Capitol to lobby on behalf of the civil racketeer owners? Isn’t that a strange relationship?