St. Paul landlord closes skyway early because people go to the bathroom in it

It's one of the many reported problems in St. Paul's skyway system.

Jaunae Brooks is sick of people pooping in the skyway of her building. So she's locked the doors.

Brooks runs the Railroader Printing Building at 235 E. 6th St. in St. Paul, which she says is "isolated" at the end of the skyway system. Because of that, homeless people flock to the area to sleep, leaving behind urine, poop, graffiti, needles, trash, and other personal items, she said at a city council meeting Wednesday.

She says she's had no help from the city or police with these problems. So she took matters into her own hands for the safety of her tenants and locked the doors at 8 p.m. Since doing that, these incidents have stopped.

But city rules require skyways be open until 2 a.m. – so she was cited and could be charged if she doesn't comply.

That's why she went to the St. Paul City Council meeting Wednesday, to ask for an exemption to allow her to close her doors early.

"We're in need of immediate help, not six months down the road," Brooks said. She noted she can't wait for the city council to address the ongoing issues in the city's skyways (more on this below).

Although the city council isn't letting Brooks lock her doors at 8 p.m. for good (they're worried other building owners will just lock their doors early, too), it did vote to not enforce the rule for the next three weeks while they try and come up with a way to help Brooks.

"I'll take a mini victory when I can get it," Brooks told KARE 11.

The city council will take up the issue again on June 7.

Problems in St. Paul's skyways

The issues Brooks is seeing in her skyway are nothing new.

Discussions about people using skyways as a bathroom, loitering in them or committing crime there have been going on for months. (For more on the ongoing problems, check out this MinnPost story from February.)

That's why the Skyway Governance Advisory Committee, which reports to the City of St. Paul on everything involving the city's skyways, has been working on some recommendations to help with these ongoing issues.

But there's no set timeline for when these recommendations will go into place.

Council member Rebecca Noecker said at Wednesday's meeting she expects proposed ordinance changes to skyway conduct and building owners' expectations for security to be in effect by mid-summer.

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