A presentation on the public outreach process to be utilized in the search for the city’s next police chief headlined the June 10 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum.
Community forums to solicit public input will be held in all six of the city police zones, beginning June 26.
About 70 residents are expected at each five-hour forum, with seating at 10 round tables.
The structure of the forums will follow that of Deliberative Democracy, an initiative housed at Carnegie Mellon University, and which seeks to discover what people think about an issue after they have had the opportunity to engage alternative perspectives.
Robert Cavalier, co-director of the program, said the specific elements of a deliberative forum include:
• Organizers recruit a diverse group of participants;
• Participants complete a pre-survey responding to questions about the focus issue;
• Participants receive background materials with basic information and a balanced overview of various perspectives on the issue;
• Participants engage in small-group discussions, which are facilitated by trained moderators and note-takers;
• Participants have their questions addressed by a panel of experts;
• Participants return to their small groups for further discussion;
• Participants complete an exit survey.
Mr. Cavalier said among the benefits for participants of such forums are: developing an opinion informed by facts and information, and an understanding of how issues and policies affect others; and developing a more comprehensive collective knowledge of the issues.
The information residents provide will be relayed to the search committee, which will eventually develop a list of police chief candidates for consideration by Mayor Bill Peduto and acting Public Safety Director Stephen Bucar.
Next, Peter Kreuthmeier of the Development Review Committee (DRC) said he had no report as there was no meeting of the committee.
But he did report that the Wall Street Journal published a story on June 9 on the Pittsburgh steps and the South Side Slopes. The article can be found at: online.wsj.com . Type in “Pittsburgh steps” in the search box.
Next, discussion ensued about residential permit parking (RPP), the resident-driven permit parking program which is a way to give residents of a designated area a better chance to park near their homes.
However, it will not guarantee anyone a parking space. Its main purpose is to help alleviate non-residents from parking on residential streets.
A proposed RPP zone from South 22nd St. to South 29th St. on the South Side of Carson St. is in the public input stage.
A public hearing before the City Planning Commission on the proposal will be held at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, July 22 on the first floor of 200 Ross St. Residents and others may sign up and speak for three minutes.
The first meeting on the proposed RPP zone, called an enforcement management meeting, will be held at 6:30 p.m. on June 26 at the Emmaus Community of Pittsburgh (formerly St. Peter Church), 2810 Carey Way.
The information compiled at that meeting, such as days/hours of enforcement, will be presented to the Planning Commission.
If the Planning Commission approves the new zone, it goes to city council and to the mayor for final approval.
To a question of whether the Planning Forum has any input on RPP applications in light of the South Side Neighborhood Plan, Christine Gaus of the Brashear Association said the forum has no say-so as it is resident-driven and defined by ordinance.
City Councilman Bruce Kraus, who was in attendance, said the process for starting a permit parking area begins with a door-to-door petition drive by residents.
Changing the program requires a majority of council. However, residents in areas in which a RPP zone is working will have no desire for change.
Mr. Kraus said residents’ opinions can be voiced as it is an open process.
Attendee Barbara Rudiak of the South Side Community Council said the issue is parking. A solution needs to be found instead of telling residents they cannot park in front of their houses.
She said a comprehensive parking plan is needed.
Mr. Kraus said the demographics of the South Side has gotten younger over the past 15 years, and those residents see benefits in permit parking. Lessees and property owners have the say-so when it comes to RPP.
“This was a vehicle in which they could do something about it,” Ms. Rudiak said of the parking challenges of home owners and young professionals in South Side.
She said she knocked on hundreds of doors regarding the proposed RPP.
Mr. Kraus said there is no “entertainment district” in the city zoning code. That makes it problematic to determine transportation needs, like parking and public transportation.
Thom Barry of the South Side Chamber of Commerce asked forum groups be polled about testimony regarding RPP, especially in light of the neighborhood plan.
Forum chair Hugh Brannan asked forum members to report back on their views on permit parking by July 15. If there is consensus, a public statement will be issued.
Mr. Barry asked each group consider that the program is largely being driven by renters in the neighborhood.
In announcements, Rev. Kathy Hamilton-Vargo, of the South Side Presbyterian Church, said the church will conduct the free “Youth for a Future: Pathway to Your Career” from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on July 21-25 at the church, South 20th and Sarah streets.
The program for finding one’s ideal career is for grades 8 through 10. Enrollment is limited, so interested participants should call 412-431-0118 immediately to apply for admission.
In Brashear Association news, the organization’s “Christmas in July” toy drive will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on July 17 at the Rowdy Buck, 1321 E. Carson St.
Attendees are urged to bring a new, unwrapped toy and a $10 cash donation. The donation also covers food and entry in drawings at the Rowdy Buck.
The annual food drive begins in the summer so as not to run short of toys in December for Christmas.
The next forum meeting will be a combined July-August meeting on July 29.