South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

 
 

By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

Planning Forum asked to take on permit parking

 

September 18, 2012



A request for the South Side Planning Forum to become involved in a proposed residential permit parking district plan was the focus of the organization's Sept. 11 meeting.

The proposed district is the South Side Flats from 10th St. to 17th St. along East Carson, and extending to Breed, Mary Ann, and Freyburg streets. Portions of 14th and 16th streets are excluded, as is East Carson St.

Permit parking is a way to give residents of a designated area a better chance to park near their homes as it helps alleviate non-residents from parking on residential streets.

It is resident-driven program, as at least 70 percent of the households in a proposed district must sign a petition to qualify, as well as 70 percent of the households on each block in the proposed district.

"We feel it will be very detrimental to our businesses," architect David Morgan said, noting public meetings on the topic have been contentious between business owners and residents.

"We'd like to see it taken under the wing of the Planning Forum," he said.

The Pittsburgh Planning Commission is expected to render its recommendation on Sept. 18. No public comment will be taken at the meeting that begins at 2 p.m.

The recommendation will next go to city council. A public hearing may be petitioned prior to a vote by council.

Under the plan, there would be noon to midnight enforcement hours on Monday through Saturday, with a two-hour grace period. The grace period is the amount of time a non-permit holder would be allowed to park in the zone during enforcement hours.

Except for metered parking, all the parking spaces would be for residential permit holders except during the two-hour grace period.

Mr. Morgan said many of his clients spend more than two hours at his architectural firm, and they are not going to ride a bus to get there.

Another attendee read a list of daytime businesses, none of which involves alcohol. He said the city requires a minimum number of parking spaces, based on the size of the business, to operate, and he was concerned that no one had considered the stipulation.

Pittsburgh City Planning's neighborhood planner, Ashley Holloway, said it is a resident-based program, and the city had no role in the proposed designation.

"The residents have the legal right through the City of Pittsburgh for this program," Mr. Holloway said. His job is to answer requests, see if the request qualifies, and move the request along.

To the question of whether businesses, churches, schools, and other facilities can get permit parking under the program, he said no. Those entities also cannot sign the petition for the program.

Business owner Mike Healey said the law does not take into account the voices of businesses, or that there is a Planning Forum.

"All history has been cast aside," he said.

Wanda Jankoski, who represents the South Side Community Council on the forum, said the organization is working on a parking solution for the entire South Side, such as pointing out under-utilized parking spaces.

Mr. Brannan said as of yet, the Planning Forum has not been involved in this matter.

He asked Ms. Jankoski if there is a willingness to inform the Planning Commission of concern about the lack of involvement.

Ms. Jankoski, who attended the raucous Aug. 30 public meeting on the issue, said she was concerned that if the Planning Forum became involved, attendees would be screaming at its meetings who do not reside in the proposed permit parking area.

Mr. Brannan said the issue has implications for the entire area.

Christine Gaus, of the Brashear Association, said when a block makes a decision it impacts businesses and the surrounding areas, fueling "frustration with the system."

"Maybe the program doesn't quite work anymore," she said.

In the end, Mr. Brannan said he would tell the forum's member organizations of this meeting, and they should be encouraged to focus on this issue.

He will also send a letter to the Planning Commission and to Councilman Bruce Kraus reminding them the Planning Forum is here; that its neighborhood plan deals with parking issues; and that the Community Council is working on a parking study.

The meeting began with Mr. Brannan introducing the newest forum member: Lynn Kurhan, the director of ambulatory services at UPMC Mercy.

She will represent the health sector on the forum. Like the religious and education sectors, she will not have a vote.

Next, Peter Kreuthmeier delivered his report of the new Development Review Committee (DRC), formed as a merger of the LTV Steering Committee and the former South Side Local Development Company's Design Review Committee.

Among the highlights:

A seasonal Halloween store will be going in to the former Joseph Beth space.

McCormick and Schmick's is pursuing an outdoor seating/sidewalk dining permit.

CSX tunnel park work is coming along well; all three phases are being done simultaneously with less construction nuisance than anticipated.

The project involves rebuilding the railroad tunnel under Tunnel Park to make the line more accessible to all freight. Currently, the tunnel is not tall enough to allow double stacked freight to pass through.

In other DRC news, Ed Pope presented the preliminary design plans for a new apartment building at 24th and Sarah streets. The proposal is for a five-story building with 18 units, each unit with 800-square-feet. All units will be one bedroom with one designated parking spot below.

Another proposal is for 25 apartment units, with dedicated parking on the first floor, for a new residential structure at 2139 Wharton St. The presentation was by John Martine (Strada) and developer Ernie Sota.

The forum's only presentation was by attorney Andrew Withers of the Fair Housing Partnership of Greater Pittsburgh.

He said allegations of housing discrimination against someone with multiple housing properties -- including one in South Side -- brought him to the forum to remind everyone of the law.

The Fair Housing Act is a set of federal, state, and local civil rights laws that protect people from discrimination in all housing transactions. There are seven federal protected categories: race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability.

The state law includes all the federal protections plus age, use of a support animal, and ancestry.

The city's Fair Housing Laws provide the additional protections of sexual orientation, including perceived, assumed or presumed gender; and completed or ongoing change of gender identification.

Examples of discriminatory housing practices, based on a protected class, include: refusal to rent or sell housing; refusing to make reasonable accommodations/modifications; providing different housing services of facilities; and falsely stating that housing is unavailable for inspections, sale, or rental.

Common ways in which families with children are discriminated against include: a no children policy; requiring families to live in specific buildings of an apartment complex; and charging extra for children. For more information, visit: http://www.pittsburghfairhousing.org.

The next forum meeting will be on Oct. 9, and will feature presentations on the neighborhood plan update and by Eat ‘n Park on its proposed Hello Bistro restaurant on Carson St.

 

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