We deserve better
In December, the Responsible Hospitality Institute (RHI) will be reporting back to Mayor Ravenstahl recommendations for a “Pittsburgh Sociable City Plan.”
The RHI engagement has been administered by the Mayor’s Planning Department and paid for by $100,000 of your tax money after approval by City Council. Recommendations coming from consultants are the easy part in guiding public discourse and achieving a balanced approach to planning for people, assuring safety, and enhancing vibrancy.
The South Side, from the RHI perspective, is the primary learning laboratory for implementing both short term and long term city and PA interagency collaborations. There will need to be some significant legislative “will” emerging from city council, to come together with Mayor Ravenstahl for workable solutions to be measurable and accountable.
Mayor Ravenstahl’s objective is to reduce risk and negative impacts often associated with nightlife. The mayor focuses on supporting residential quality of life and commercial investment for day and night economies that ensure socializing attaches people to the South Side with a responsible sense of community.
Downtown with its extensions to the North Shore, Consol Arena, and South Shore make this geography the “living room” of the Pittsburgh region. This is a very good thing, and does not happen by accident! Effective balancing requires leadership; not eyes partially shut, legislation.
What confuses me about city council from time-to-time is the flip flop nature and tunnel vision of their legislative responsibilities. Balance, collaboration, and improvement districts are key words in an August 2009 Responsible Hospitality report from Councilman Kraus’ Office as well as every RHI publication.
Yet when the South Side Planning Forum submitted a petition to Councilman Kraus in June 2012 to allow two public hearings in front of city council to discuss balance, collaboration, and improvement districts, he refused.
Parking and transportation issues are key components of residential quality of life and commercial investment for day and night economies. Yet City Council, in late November, shoved a narrow minded, selective, residential parking permit (RPP) request into law without even waiting for the RHI recommendations for a balanced best practice approach to plan for people, assure safety, and enhance vibrancy given South Side’s realities.
What was the rush to legislate a piece of parking? Has this become another low road pretend point solution of what Councilman Peduto means in his letter of “I commend the efforts”? Where is the high ground vision among the nine council persons to put in context what is best for the city? Even their flip-flop positions about parking revenues, free parking benefits, pension obligations, etc. was, and is still, appearing to be accidental. We deserve better!
Permit parking may have its place. A neighborhood that wants a tax to improve itself, as in Oakland and Downtown, may, or may not, have its place in the South Side.
Does as Councilman Peduto says, “balancing economic growth and quality of life will have my full support” mean without allowing petitioned public hearings? And certainly the kind of “resolve and attention” that the South Side requires is not having his non-interest in getting all the facts together before voting yes for partial parking.
Commendable leaders know that a balanced approach does not happen by accident; planning and listening are part of the democratic process to bridge the gap between what the city can provide and what the South Side wants.
(Mr. Half is a former board member of the South Side Local Development Co. and South Side Community Council and is the Liaison to South Side and Squirrel Hill Communities from the Office of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.)