Projects’ updates comprised most of the Jan. 14 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum as there were no presentations.
In the report of the Development Review Committee (DRC), Peter Kreuthmeier reported South Water St. will soon be connected to 26th St., at which time ownership will be transferred from the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) to the city.
The connection point is where Tunnel Blvd. and 26th St. meet, or about 100-feet of street.
Other updates from the committee include, the PNC Bank branch at 26th and East Carson streets is closing on March 21. The Soffer Organization is seeking a replacement tenant.
Kayak Pittsburgh, a project of the nonprofit Venture Outdoors, wants to locate a kayak rental set up (storage and small trailer) next to the new public dock area. Signage is needed for the project.
The Village Green (garage and apartments) is still on track, but now delayed because construction costs from Mascaro were too high. Village Green is now going to open it up to bid again.
The Oxford - Hot Metal apartments are on hold because a funding partner was lost for the project.
The 18th Street residential project, Oxbridge Development, will need three zoning variances: H-hillside/single family to multi-family/rental apartments; parking variance because there will be no loading zone; and roof decks (which will be half enclosed).
The 21 rental units will be deeded to allow future conversion to condos for sale.
The last item of the DRC report related to parking, as the committee was asked by the South Side Community Council to weigh in on parking.
DRC chair Tracy Myers said whether or not the DRC will weigh in on parking issues as a matter of policy will be discussed at the next meeting. She noted parking has been a big problem in South Side for years, which is why she opposes a policy of no parking comments.
Forum Chair Hugh Brannan said a transition is occurring in light of the South Side Local Development Company (SSLDC) going out of business, and “which is a little bumpy.” As a result, some issues are not getting the attention people might like, he said.
The DRC was formed as a merger of the LTV Steering Committee and the former South Side Local Development Company’s Design Review Committee.
Regarding the neighborhood plan, Ms. Myers said it is time to get the committee together and discuss what should be conveyed in terms of greatest concerns to the new city administration.
City councilman Bruce Kraus should be viewed as an ally as the new president of council, she said.
It is also advantageous Mayor Bill Peduto is already aware of the neighborhood plan, as he told a community member.
In new business, attendee Ashley Holloway, Pittsburgh City Planning’s neighborhood planner, said he is finishing up the three-hour parking survey for a proposed enlargement of an existing residential permit parking in the neighborhood.
The resident-driven permit parking program is a way to give people living in a designated area a better chance to park near their homes.
The district’s current boundaries are 17th St. to 20th St., and from Jane St. to Edwards Way.
The streets being proposed for inclusion are: S. 18th St. to S. 22nd St. from Carson St. to the railroad tracks. Also, all of Jane St. between 17th St. and 22nd St., and Sarah St. from 19th St. to 22nd St. would be included.
Mr. Holloway visited the proposed area, and wrote down the license plate numbers of cars parked on the street.
Once he receives registration information back from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles on where the owners live, he will determine how many cars belong to residents in the proposed extension, and how many belong to commuters.
If 15 percent or more of parked vehicles are commuters parked two or more hours, it signifies a parking problem.
If that is confirmed, Mr. Holloway will go before the City Planning Commission, followed by city council, and then the mayor for final approval for the extension.
Next, Candice Gonzalez, the former Neighborhood Initiatives Coordinator for former Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, said she will be attending South Side meetings simply as a South Side resident. As Jan. 6 was her last day on the job, she is not present in any official capacity.
She thanked the forum for its letter of support for her that was sent to Mayor Peduto.
Next, Mary Ellen Solomon, Duquesne University’s new director of government relations, said to let her know if there is anything the community would like the school to become involved in.
In December, she told students about Mr. Kraus’ new “social host ordinance,” and what it could mean to them.
The ordinance’s purpose is to reduce underage possession and consumption of alcohol by imposing penalties on those who host parties which include underage drinkers. Any such host will be subject to a fine not to exceed $500 and, in the event of nonpayment, imprisonment not exceeding 72 hours.
Ms. Myers said she would like to see a positive spin put on students’ getting involved in the community. For instance, she would like to see an inexpensive event held to introduce students to residents.
“We should try to foster casual interaction as well as more formal events,” she said.
The next forum meeting will be on Feb. 11.