More than 9,000 enraged citizens have shown their support of the Del Taco on South Grand by clicking the "Like" button on the "Save St. Louis Del Taco" Facebook page. Democracy in action! The people are speaking! As the Arab Spring has taught us, social media can topple power structures. And clearly, 19th Ward Alderwoman Marlene Davis' bill that would allow demolition of the Del Taco building has rallied the youth of St. Louis into a furor.
Just not enough to get them to show up at an Alderman Meeting.
The calls on Facebook to protest the bill at City Hall this morning went mostly unanswered. The aldermanic chambers were as serene as always, with the usual public attendance of six or seven citizens, who may or may not have been there for the Del Taco cause.
Not that there was anything to see anyway. Board Bill #105, which would create a community improvement district for the acreage including the Del Taco at South Grand and Forest Park, was simply introduced and then immediately sent to committee. (It's now on the agenda for the housing, urban development and zoning subcommittee meeting set for Wednesday at 10 a.m.) With summer recess coming in two weeks, it will likely not reach the floor for a vote until September. So it'll be interesting to see if the passion against the bill survives the next two months.
Much of the support for the Del Taco at 212 South Grand Avenue stems from the building's flying saucer shape. Originally a Phillips 66 gas station, the landmark is part of a complex that was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. That's why any decision to demolish it has to be approved by the city's board of aldermen. The bill sent to committee today declares the building to be in a "blighted area," which would ultimately allow developer Rick Yackey to bring in the wrecking ball -- and build a strip mall instead.
What did get voted on today? Well, the city's budget was passed -- as expected, virtually every city department took a hit. O'Fallon Park will get those speed bumps we reported on last week. And the board approved a twelve percent water rate increase and advanced a bill for a new trash fee, which will be voted on next week.
Exciting stuff, surely. Too bad there were so few citizens there to see it.