The Feb. 20 Zone 3 Public Safety Council meeting began with news the traveling road show is back: the monthly committee meetings will be held in different communities on the third Wednesdays, starting in March.
Crime prevention Officer Christine Luffey announced news of the 15th annual “Biscuits Bingo,” a fundraiser for local animal welfare organizations presented by the Pittsburgh Police.
The family-friendly event will be held on Saturday, April 6, at Guardian Angels, 1030 Logue St, West End. Doors open at 10 a.m., with bingo starting at noon. No smoking is permitted.
The cost is $20, and tickets can be purchased at the door with cash only.
Anyone who brings a food item for the shelter pets will receive a special prize from Officer Luffey.
For more information, call Theresa Sekely at 412-901-4771, or Officer Luffey at 412-488-8425.
Last year, Biscuits Bingo netted $19,223, its highest total yet.
Next, Officer Luffey asked committee members to send her a “wish list” of three solvable problems in their respective communities.
Ken Wolfe, public safety council president, asked members to compile their lists for the next meeting.
“Once they’re solved,” Officer Luffey said of the problems, “we can get three more things.”
The evening’s discussion began with Tom Brady of Mt. Washington expressing his anger about the illegal parking on both sides of Kambach and Judicial streets, and which poses a public safety danger, he said.
The previous Sunday a fire on Kambach St. damaged three houses. Due to the illegal parking, the fire trucks could not pass through, and the nearest three fire hydrants could not be utilized.
City Councilman Bruce Kraus said there is a need for regular enforcement and clear signage in the area.
Building inspection also needs to be involved for cases in which an excessive number of people reside in single-family residences, thereby taking up multiple parking spots.
Mr. Brady asked why the illegally parked cars are not towed.
Mr. Wolfe said with a Second Class designation, Pittsburgh does not have the powers of a First Class city like Philadelphia.
“If there are 500 calls something will be done,” he said.
Mr. Brady said the vehicles parked between Kambach and Judicial streets are sometimes one-to-two feet from the curb, which compounds the problem.
He is concerned about fires as large fire trucks cannot fit down the streets.
“There is room for fire and other public safety officials at these meetings once in a while,” he said.
He also said to call 911 and respond “yes” when asked if he wants to speak with an officer. For illegal parking, give the color, make, address and any other details about the vehicle.
When Commander McNeilly joined the meeting, Mr. Brady asked what will happen if there is another fire and fire trucks cannot reach the site?
“If there is a fire, it will take a life.
“It’s got to stop,” he said.
The commander said every street in the city has a parking problem “as we have outgrown the space.”
There are not enough officers, and they do not have the time, to tag illegally parked cars, which does not solve the problem anyway, she said.
Instead, a plan must be designed, such as permit parking.
In Key West, for instance, every house has one spot that goes with the home, and is numbered. The owner must find somewhere else to park a second or third car.
Mr. Brady said motorists often park on yellow lines, in front of hydrants, near stop signs, and other such infractions.
Mr. Kraus said without clear signage, citations for those violations are often thrown out in court.
Commander McNeilly said her complaint is that parking enforcement should be the job of the parking authority, and not the police.
Mr. Kraus said, at best, there are 11 to 13 police officers on a shift, and the commander must prioritize.
“We are not discounting what’s important to you,” the commander said.
On another topic, Mr. Kraus said the so-called “Florida loophole” has been closed which allowed Pennsylvania residents who were rejected for gun carry permits because of their character or criminal background to apply in Florida. If Florida granted the permit, Pennsylvania had to accept that judgment.
He called it “a step forward on responsible gun ownership.”
He recently attended a town hall meeting to discuss guns. He said there appears to be “ample willingness” within the state to consider lost-and-stolen handgun legislation.
A “lost or stolen firearms” ordinance the city passed a few years ago requires an owner to report a lost or stolen firearm after discovery of its loss or theft.
Its aim is to crack down on “straw purchasing” in which people who pass criminal background checks buy handguns for criminals who are legally prohibited from possessing them.
But the state, whose rules supersede, rejected adopting such a proposal.
The next public safety meeting will be on March 20 in, tentatively, the Overbrook fire hall on Route 51.