ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The mayor of St. Paul is hoping some new policies will help improve the city’s skyway system. Mayor Chris Coleman announced proposals Wednesday to make the skyways cleaner and safer.
The City of St. Paul has around five miles of skyways that go throughout the city. Residents and business owners have complained in recent years about people sleeping in the skyways and using them as bathrooms.
Mayor Coleman says he is committed to helping homeless people find the resources they need, but that the downtown skyways cannot be a shelter.
“They can’t live in our skyway system,” Coleman said. “That’s the difference, and we need to do everything we can to help them.”
The City of St. Paul also requested 12 million dollars in state funding to help provide supportive housing for the homeless.
Now, there are two new proposed ordinances to keep the skyways cleaner and safer. The first will address exceptions for people who use the skyways to give police clearer guidelines of what’s acceptable.
“We added another seven officers assigned to the force unit downtown, temporarily, to get through the winter months, because we saw an additional homeless population occupying the skyway system,” St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell said.
The second proposed ordinance would address building owner responsibilities. Things like new skyway hours, video surveillance and patrolling guidelines.
“We’re looking at building owners committing to one hour of frequency in inspecting or reviewing the activities in their skyway,” DPS Inspections Director Ricardo Cervantes said.
Mayor Coleman says it will take a partnership among city leaders, the police, the department of safety, business owners, and residents to make this work.
“The St. Paul Police Department will do its job,” he said. “We want business owners and residents to do theirs.”
If you live or work in downtown St. Paul, you have 30 days to give suggestions about improving the skyways until the city attorney will draft a final proposal, which will go before City Council.