October 15, 2013 | Vol. 74 No. 12

S.S. Bar Association, Duquesne University at Planning Forum

Presentations by representatives of the South Side Bar and Restaurant Association (SSB&RA), and Duquesne University, headlined the Oct. 8 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum.

In the first talk, Adam DeSimone said the SSB&RA has more than 30 paid members, 80 percent of whom own property in South Side. It has been in existence for eight months, with meetings held bi-weekly.

Treasurer Pat Joyce said while it has taken some time to get people on board, the effort is moving forward.

Mr. DeSimone unveiled a draft membership code of conduct the SSB&RA would like to see have widespread adoption among all South Side bars and restaurants.

The code of conduct includes: provide a clean, safe, and social environment by maintaining the property, including sweeping the sidewalks at opening and closing; comply with all the rules and regulations and assure proper identification of patrons by checking; intervene with anyone whose behavior is disruptive or appears to

be intoxicated; provide safe alternative transportation in the event someone is over their limit and poses a threat to their own or others safety; and more.

Mr. DeSimone said he would like to see the organization become part of the planning forum someday.

“We are delighted to see you. Keep up the good work.

“This is a consensus forum. Tough process,” forum member Tom Barry said.

To a question from forum member Wanda Jankoski of whether all occupancy limits are posted, Mr. DeSimone said they are to his knowledge.

To another question of whether visibly intoxicated patrons are checked to ensure they are not driving, Mr. DeSimone said he will pull money from his pocket to pay for a cab for someone.

Questioned about valet parking, Mr. DeSimone said the master plan is to have shuttle service and taxi stands on weekends. Similar to the service offered on St. Patrick’s Day when bar patrons could park on Second Avenue and take a shuttle back and forth to E. Carson Street.

Mr. Joyce added to call 311, the city’s phone number for non-emergency services, if residents spot valet parking in illegal areas.

The SSB&RA spent about $250,000 for off-duty officers to patrol East Carson St. and its parallel areas.

SSB&RA member John DeMauro said safety is the number one issue.

Forum Chair Hugh Brannan said he would share with the SSB&RA the criteria document for membership, and said representatives are always welcome to attend forum meetings.

Next, Mary Ellen Solomon introduced herself as the new director of government relations at Duquesne University. She has already met with representatives of the South Side Chamber of Commerce and the Community Council.

Ms. Solomon said the university has a new law clinic, a psychology clinic, and a small business development center.

The university also has a student code of conduct, and students are reminded about respecting South Side residents and property, she said. For issues with students, residents should contact Tim Lewis, director of commuter affairs, at 412-396-6660 or lewis@duq.edu.

Students are called in and put on notice for the first offense. For the second or a serious offense, the matter goes to the Office of Student Conduct, and the process begins.

Over the years, there have been suspensions and expulsions, Ms. Solomon said.

“We want a vibrant community around our university,” she said.

Forum member Peter Kreuthmeier informed her of the five years of discussion with Duquesne about the lights at Arthur J. Rooney Athletic Field which shine onto the South Side Slopes, and are regarded by many residents as overpowering.

Their long-running complaints include: lights are on when the field is not in use; lights are too intense; spillage of light into the neighborhood is causing sleep interruption; and lights are so glaring as to cause shadows inside homes.

Ms. Solomon said the university looked into ideas/options, and the cost would be over $300,000, which is not in the budget.

Mr. Kreuthmeier said the issue is not going away.

“For us, it’s a quality of life issue,” he said.

She said she would take his comments back to Duquesne.

“I can’t make any promises,” she said.

In the report of the Development Review Committee (DRC), Mr. Kreuthmeier said developer Dan Spanovich’s proposed development at 2933 Mary St. is before the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) due to a zoning error: half of the parcel is zoned urban industrial, while the other half is zoned hillside.

As it is currently zoned and with an occupancy permit, it does not need additional parking; it could have 100 plus employees for industrial use.

If used as residential, it needs much less parking.

The DRC supports the change of use as applying the existing zoned use would have a much higher parking impact on the immediate surrounding area.

In other news, the DRC supports the signage for a temporary Penguins store to sell gear at the SouthSide Works.

Also, the DRC will be sending a letter to the planning forum regarding public meetings. The issue is organization members speaking at, say, ZBA meetings, and saying they represent the forum or another organization.

If they are speaking on behalf of an organization, they should have a board motion behind them, according to what the letter will propose.

In her city news update, Candice Gonzalez, neighborhood initiatives coordinator in the Mayor’s Office, said Pittsburgh has more public steps than any other city. Preserving those steps is being explored.

The city is also developing a map of the sets of stairs. She wants the city to look at the stairs being used as each has its own needs: for instance, some have good lighting while others are dark.

Ms. Gonzalez noted 14 sets of stairs were repaired recently for StepTrek which, she noted, was a well-attended event on Oct. 5.

The next forum meeting will be on Nov. 12, at which City Planning’s neighborhood planner, Ashley Holloway, is expected to discuss permit parking.

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