Creating Safe & Welcoming Neighborhoods
Our neighborhoods should be safe, healthy place where you can get around easily on foot or on wheels, where you can walk to local stores, parks and entertainment, and where police are responsible to citizens for respectful service. To combat gun violence, Rebecca worked with Moms Demand Action and the Police Department to pass an ordinance requiring that guns be locked and safely stored. Rebecca has advocated for more consistent police staffing and preventative approaches to crime through the Office of Neighborhood Safety. Under Rebecca’s leadership, the City has invested in security systems at Linwood Recreation Center, installed new sidewalks along Cesar Chavez and Annapolis, improved playgrounds at Parque Castillo and Cherokee Park, and committed to finally expanding Pedro Park. Rebecca led the effort to make downtown skyways safer and cleaner and to implement a customer-service survey to hold police officers accountable for the quality and courtesy of their interactions with residents. Rebecca is an advocate for transit investments, such as the Riverview Corridor streetcar project, and for expanded bike lanes throughout the Ward, including completion of the Capital City Bikeway.
- – Safe Storage Ordinance – Guns are the leading cause of death for children and they are responsible for untold pain and loss in our communities. Keeping guns out of the hands of kids and those who would use them to harm others must be our highest priority. Rebecca worked with Moms Demand Action and the St. Paul Police Department to pass an ordinance requiring that guns be locked and stored safely when unattended, to limit the number of guns accessed by children or stolen out of vehicles.
- – Pedro Park – Rebecca worked with a coalition of downtown residents and business owners on a vision for an expanded Pedro Park. Recently, the City demolished the Public Safety Annex, clearing the way for a larger park, and the City Council allocated $6 million to make this long-held neighborhood dream a reality.
– Skyway Safety – As co-chair of the Skyway Vitality Work Group, Rebecca led the effort to update and clarify the downtown skyway code of conduct to ensure safety and security for everyone using the skyway system. She is now working with downtown stakeholders on new tactics to keep the skyways safe and clean.– Capital City Bikeway – Biking around town with her kids has made Rebecca very aware of the challenges of biking safely in many parts of St. Paul, especially downtown. Rebecca has been an avid supporter of the Capital City Bikeway and has been advocating for its completion since the first leg was opened on Jackson Street in 2017. The second leg is being completed on Wabasha and work on Kellogg Boulevard will begin soon.– Pedestrian Safety – In response to constituent concerns, Rebecca coauthored and passed a resolution lowering speed limits on portions of Cesar Chavez and Wabasha Streets, and she worked with MnDOT and Public Works to install bump-outs on Robert and W. 7th Streets. These changes make it easier for pedestrians to safely cross these busy roads.– Police Academies – Rebecca helped increase funding to the Police Department to allow for two police training academies each year. This keeps staffing more consistent year-round, allowing police to be more present in neighborhoods and respond more quickly to 911 calls.– Police Customer Service Survey – To hold police officers accountable for respectful service to community members, Rebecca worked with former Police Chief Todd Axtell to design a customer service survey to be completed by St. Paul residents after they interact with police. The survey allows respondents to rate their interactions with a specific officer and give feedback that is used in training and performance evaluations.
Growing Great Jobs
Saint Paul’s vibrant and diverse businesses make our community great. Rebecca believes in supporting and celebrating our businesses and in making it easier for entrepreneurs to create jobs in Saint Paul. She launched the Open for Business initiative, which has streamlined and clarified city permitting processes, and helped start the Saint Paul Business Awards program which recognizes exemplary businesses of all sizes in a variety of categories, including new businesses and woman- or minority-owned businesses. Rebecca eased restrictions on commercial signage so business owners can more easily advertise and bring needed vibrancy to commercial streets, and she led the effort to streamline city licensing processes, cutting in half the time it takes to receive many types of licenses.
- Business Awards – Businesses are at the heart of our communities but we often forget to recognize them for all that they contribute to Saint Paul. In 2017, Rebecca led the creation of the St. Paul Business Awards as a way to appreciate businesses of all sizes that are committed to equity, employee growth and their communities.
- Class N Licensing Overhaul – Rebecca worked with the Department of Safety and Inspections to streamline its licensing processes. Businesses can now receive sidewalk patio, liquor and many other types of licenses in half the time it took before.
- Right Track – Rebecca is a strong supporter of the City’s youth employment program, Right Track, which provides high-school youth with high-powered summer jobs that help young people learn career skills and build their personal network.
Investing in our Youth
Rebecca is deeply invested in creating opportunities for young people. She is leading the charge to make child care and early learning more affordable for St. Paul families, and she consistently supported increased funding for Parks and Recreation programs that are free to all kids in the City. To keep kids tobacco-free, Rebecca and her colleagues on the Council restricted sales of menthol and flavored tobacco to liquor stores and adult-only tobacco shops and capped the number of tobacco licenses in the city.
- Early Learning – Ensuring that every child gets off to a strong start is one of the smartest investments we can make in the future of our city. Today, high-quality, affordable child care and early learning is out of reach for many Saint Paul families. This means many children are unprepared for kindergarten and many parents struggle to enter the workforce. Rebecca has worked for years with parents, child care providers, early childhood educators and community members to create a dedicated early learning fund that will create more high-quality child care spots in St. Paul and help families afford the cost of quality care.
- Downtown Teen Tech Center – Rebecca worked with Best Buy and the YMCA to launch the city’s downtown Teen Tech Center where young people can express themselves creatively- recording music, creating art, learning photography, 3D printing, and more.
- Youth Fund – Saint Paul’s “Youth Fund” directs 10% of all charitable gambling proceeds to non-profits serving young people in Saint Paul. Rebecca worked with the young people in St. Paul Youth Services’ Youth Power program on redesigning the Youth Fund to prioritize organizations that serve low-income young people and young people of color. The new program guidelines also require organizations to reduce barriers to access for young people, such as transportation, and demonstrate results in order to continue to receive funding.
- Menthol and Flavored Tobacco – Keeping young people safe and healthy is our first priority as a community, and tobacco is a leading health threat to young and old alike. . The tobacco industry has been preying on young people, especially young people of color, for generations and has used flavored tobacco products to make it easier to start smoking. Working with the Association of Non-Smokers Minnesota and other allies, Rebecca supported an ordinance restricting menthol and flavored tobacco products to tobacco shops and liquor stores with tobacco licenses, and she led the Council’s effort to cap the number of tobacco licenses citywide.
- Youth Programming – Rebecca supports free recreational programming citywide so that all kids can participate in Parks and Rec activities regardless of income. Rebecca has consistently supported additional funding for the Parks and Rec Department to provide free recreational activities. .
Building a Just City
Saint Paul is an incredible place – but not everyone is sharing in the wealth. Too many of our residents struggle every day against the burdens of poverty, inequality and discrimination. Rebecca advocates for progressive policies that will lift up all families. She co-sponsored Saint Paul’s Earned Sick and Safe Time ordinance, helped raise the minimum wage, and authored a resolution requiring all new City buildings to install gender-neutral bathrooms.
- Earned Sick and Safe Time – Shortly after taking office in 2016, Rebecca cast one of her first votes to support the City’s Earned Sick and Safe Time ordinance. The ordinance, one of the strongest in the country, ensures all Saint Paul employees receive paid time off to take care of themselves or a sick relative or to escape domestic violence.
- $15 Minimum Wage – Rebecca has consistently championed a higher minimum wage that helps lift families out of poverty. She supported the City’s $15 minimum wage ordinance and introduced amendments that ensured a faster implementation for the largest businesses and strong enforcement and anti-retaliation measures.
- Gender-Neutral Bathrooms – In an effort to ensure that everyone feels comfortable at City Hall. Rebecca sponsored a resolution that commits the City to installing gender-neutral bathrooms in all new buildings and redesigning existing bathrooms to be gender-neutral at the earliest opportunity. The City can and should lead the way on progressive initiatives like this one, and set an example for other public and private entities to follow.
- Humane Pet Stores – St. Paul is a caring and humane community and its ordinances should reflect those values. Rebecca introduced a Humane Pet Store Ordinance that cuts off revenue to puppy and kitten mills that treat animals with cruelty and neglect by banning the sale of dogs and cats in Saint Paul pet shops. Under the ordinance, pet stores can still host adoption events to encourage consumers to adopt animals from rescue and shelter organizations. Saint Paul is the largest city in Minnesota to adopt this ordinance.
Accessible and Responsive Government
sCity Hall should be accessible to the people it serves and elected leaders should be easy to reach and accountable for results. Rebecca gets out of the office and into the community regularly to connect with constituents through Community Conversations and she pushes for transparent processes and results-oriented decisions on the Council.
- Community Conversations– Rebecca holds informal conversations monthly where community members are invited to drop in and share their ideas and concerns for the ward. She makes herself accessible to constituents, whether it is responding to emails or scheduling meetings in her office. She welcomes opportunities to hear from residents at organizational meetings, resident councils or informal gatherings of neighbors. Information about her upcoming conversation can be found here.
- Transparent Voting – Rebecca’s first resolution, two months after taking office, changed the Council’s former voting method of a silent unanimous vote, to the traditional “aye” and “nay” used in most meetings – a small step toward greater transparency. She continues working to make Council meetings more accessible, by creating an easy-to-understand videos that welcome a diverse and younger audience to City Hall.
- Audit Committee – Rebecca co-chairs the City Council’s Audit Committee, which she launched with Councilmember Jane Prince. The Audit Committee reviews the performance of city departments and recommends ways to provide better, more efficient public services.
Housing for All
Rebecca is a fierce champion of affordable housing. She has worked to expand the supply of affordable housing and shelter, allocate more funding to affordable housing development, hold developers to longer terms of affordability, and allow additional housing options such as Accessory Dwelling Units.
Affordable housing – Housing is one of our city’s greatest challenges. Rebecca has been a strong supporter of affordable housing, fighting for new affordable units in the former Pioneer Press Building and on the West Side Flats, advocating for a permanent Housing Trust Fund and supporting policy changes such as inclusionary zoning and community land trusts that will allow more people to afford their own homes. Rebecca voted to allocate $37 million of American Rescue Plan funds for deeply affordable housing, and helped make it possible to open a new community of tiny homes for formerly unsheltered individuals.
Safe Space – The number of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness in our community is on the rise. Recognizing that our current shelter capacity was not enough to meet the need, Rebecca convened colleagues from Ramsey County, Catholic Charities and the St. Paul Foundation to create the Winter Safe Space (now the year-round Safe Space), an emergency shelter for men and women who would otherwise spend the night in the skyway or on buses and trains. Opened in 2017 with 50 beds, the Safe Space now includes 64 beds and includes case management to help clients connect with longer-term housing.
Heading Home Ramsey – Homelessness is a complex problem and solving it will require cooperation between governments at many levels, social service providers, the business and philanthropic communities, transit providers and more. Heading Home Ramsey is a collaboration of those parties that seeks to end unsheltered homelessness in Saint Paul. Rebecca serves on the governance committee of Heading Home Ramsey and has supported the group in its efforts to add street outreach workers and to involve the State of Minnesota in developing a regional strategy to prevent and end homelessness, since no one city can do it alone.