St. Louis County Council could consider overriding veto on pedestrian bill

The bill initially passed with a vote of 4 to 3 among the county council, but it takes five votes to override the county executive’s veto.
Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 7:51 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - One week since the St. Louis County Executive vetoed a controversial pedestrian road bill, one council member is set to issue a vote with the hopes of overriding it.

Bill 86, a legislation that would prohibit the public from walking, standing, sitting or jogging on roadways in the unincorporated parts of St. Louis County, was criticized by both advocates for the unhoused population and disability groups. They argue this bill would directly target those who are panhandling on the street or even those who struggle to move through the city’s broken sidewalks.

“It should’ve never been introduced. It should’ve been voted down when they got to the board,” said Charles Bryson, Policy Catalyst at Trailnet. “We see in a number of occasions both in north and south, but particularly in south St. Louis County, where there are no sidewalks.”

Trailnet, the nonprofit group that advocates for safer streets and roads in the region, argues far too many parts of the county do not have good sidewalks for people to use. Bryson says it can be the reason some are forced to use the street and put themselves at risk. More needs to be done to improve that infrastructure rather than criminalize walking on the road.

This idea has also been the focal point of County Executive Sam Page’s ultimate decision to veto the bill and instead suggest county council work towards providing a system of comprehensive sidewalks all residents can use.

“Sam Page sound be pointing the finger at himself because that’s the first time I’ve ever heard him express any concern about sidewalks in St. Louis County,” said District 6 Council member Ernie Trakas.

Trakas, who authored the bill, shared his frustrations with the County Executive’s veto with News 4 last week. He reiterated his same frustrations in a letter ahead of tonight’s meeting.

He questions why, with 16 municipalities in the county that already have a similar pedestrian road bill in the books, the County Executive has not raised similar concerns about fixing the county’s sidewalks.

“I’m not dismissing the concerns of the disabled community with respect to sidewalks,” he said. “Any court is going to look at whether the legitimate government purpose of the law, in this case, the ordinance, if it does have an impact on any specific group if it’s reasonable, and I think it is.”

The bill initially passed with a vote of 4 to 3 among the county council, but it takes five votes to override the county executive’s veto. This means anyone who initially did not support would have to flip.

“This touches a lot of different groups who say no, let’s veto this bill, then let’s sustain the veto and then let’s come back to the table, see how we can work together to improve the sidewalks,” said Bryson.