April 18, 2017 | Vol. 77 No 42

Parking Enforcement District going as expected, could generate $250,000 a year for South Side

By Margaret L. Smykla

Contributing Writer

The April 11 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum began with the introduction of the Dept. of City Planning’s new neighborhood planner, Felipe Palomo, an architect. He is the replacement for the former planner, Ashley Holloway, who left City Planning.

Next, Councilman Bruce Kraus gave an update on the Parking Enforcement District (PED), of which the Flats is the first neighborhood with the designation. The enforcement of South Side parking meters from 6 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays began March 17.

“Revenue is what we expected,” he said of revenue from the increased hours in relation to projections.

The projected annual revenue from the roughly 670 meters for 6 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays is $250,000. All of the funds will go to public safety and public works improvements in South Side.

The educational campaign for the new PED included a 28-day grace period from 6 p.m. to midnight on weekends, ending April 14.

During the grace period, instead of a getting a ticket for violations, the violators received an “Oops Card.”

The Oops Card outlined the new hours, costs, and a free option for parking: The Pittsburgh Parking Authority’s Second Ave. lot and free shuttle service.

“People appreciated that educational campaign,” Mr. Kraus said.

The free Friday shuttle runs from 6 p.m. - 4 a.m., and on Saturdays from 4 p.m. - 4 a.m. There is no cost to the city.

When it was learned City Theatre’s best attended shows are Saturdays at 5:30 p.m., the shuttle was rescheduled to begin at 4 p.m. those days. It is also a convenient time for employees of the bars and restaurants.

To a question if the Friday shuttles could also begin at 4 p.m., Mr. Kraus said 6 p.m. is contractual.

“I don’t know how to adjust that at this time,” he said.

He also said businesses are encouraged to promote the shuttles with their employees as it frees up meters on weekends, which is beneficial to businesses. It is also safer for employees who leave work in the early hours with cash tips.

The Nite Rider shuttle originates at the Second Ave. parking plaza (Second Ave. and 10th St. Bridge) with stops at: Bedford Square, S. 18th at Sidney St., and S. 21st at East Carson St. For more information, visit ssniterider.com.

To a comment that residents like the billboards promoting the shuttle, he said Lamar did all of the advertising at no cost to the city.

In other public safety news, Mr. Kraus said the Bureau of Public Safety requested a pullover lane between 12th and 17th streets on East Carson St. The reason is that congestion there makes it difficult, if not impossible, for police and public safety vehicles to make quick passage if an emergency arises.

When public safety vehicles need to get by, motorists are supposed to pull into the pullover lane until the emergency vehicle passes.

But on Friday and Saturday evenings, it is solely a safety lane. While there are meters, motorists may not park on the South Side of East Carson St. from 12th to 17th streets on Friday and Saturday evenings. Violators will be ticketed. Vehicles may be towed.

He also reported the city and the URA are interested in funding a position for someone to search for occupants for vacant commercial properties. He said he is interested in a more pro-active approach to filling empty properties.

He cited the case of Mother Fletcher’s, an underage dance club on East Carson St. that attempted to open last year. It was shut down by the city as its occupancy permit was for restaurant use.

The owners of Mother Fletcher’s took the matter to federal court on the grounds that their right to due process was violated. Their contention is that they were harmed by the city by shutting them down.

Mr. Kraus said they could be laying the groundwork for claiming the city is liable for their losses. To avoid these situations in the future, he favors a more pro-active approach.

In her report of the Development Review Committee (DRC), chair Tracy Myers said a project is proposed for the vacant site at 700 East Carson St.: 120,000-square-feet storage facilities.

No variances are required. While the view of the nearby church will not be obscured, the DRC suggested communicating with the church, to which the developer is sensitive.

“It has a very nice design quality,” she said of the facilities.

In the South Side Neighborhood Plan update, Ms. Myers said a permanent committee was established that meets monthly to ensure all of the organizations are doing what they agreed to, which is in line with its being a “living document.”

“It is easy to ignore a plan. We really don’t want to do that,” she said.

At last month’s meeting, Duquesne University’s application to become a forum board member was reviewed.

The application was spurred by the South Side Neighborhood Plan, 9th update, which included recommendations that Duquesne University and the South Side Bar & Restaurant Association (SSB&RA) become members of the planning forum. Duquesne would be non-voting, while the SSB&RA would be a voting member.

While two board members approved the application, another was not able to meet to do so. The hope is that it will be accomplished by the April 20 meeting.

Also at that meeting, the committee will discuss a proposed format of taking a concept from the plan, and having each group tell what their respective organization is doing regarding that concept.

In new business, forum Chair Hugh Brannan thanked Duquesne University sororities for their recent collection of thousands of canned goods for the Brashear Association’s community food pantry.

Next, Barbara Rudiak, of the South Side Community Council, said she was talking with six Duquesne University students in her neighborhood. They told her all there is to do in South Side is drink. A bowling alley would be welcomed, they said.

In time, the conversation veered to their landlord problems, of which she was able to assist with advice.

“It was nice that simple things led to important things,” she said.

She also reported the annual South Side Home Tour will be held on May 20.

In other news, Thom Barry of the South Side Chamber of Commerce reported during January-March, the Welcome Center had 105 volunteers for 828 volunteer hours worked, and 997 visitors.

On April 19, the Pittsburgh Social Exchange Spring Networking Reception with the Chamber will be held from 6 - 8 p.m. at Highmark Stadium, 510 West Station Square Dr.

A plan is in progress for OpenStreetsPGH, which will be held from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 28.

This will be the third year for the event in which three miles of city streets, including part of East Carson St., will be closed to traffic from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. for joggers, bicyclists, walkers, runners, dancers, and skaters to use the streets for fun in a car-free environment.

Along the route there will be health offerings, like Zumba workouts, children’s activities, informational tents for businesses/nonprofits, and more.

Mr. Barry also reported the South Side Summer Golf Classic, co-hosted by the Chamber and the SSB&RA will be held on July 31 at the South Hills Country Club.

“It is very fun and very competitive,” Mr. Barry said.

For information on any Chamber events, email Candice Gonzalez at info@southsidechamber.org.

Next, Dawn Lorincy of the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA), said there was a Slopes cleanup recently with Carnegie Mellon University student volunteers. She also reported the next SSSNA general meeting will be at 7 p.m. on May 9 at the Henry Kaufman Neighborhood House.

Next, Mr. Kraus said legislation is being prepared regarding the city’s plan to register volunteer community organizations. He has been asked to talk about it before various community organizations.

To a question about its purpose, Ms. Myers said if someone, for example, goes before the Zoning Board of Adjustment and says he/she is representing a group, the city can recognize the group.

Mr. Barry said it was his understanding the neighborhood plan was supposed to be submitted to the city in November. Ms. Myers said it is part of what the city is working on as there is currently no mechanism to deal with neighborhood plans.

“We are way ahead of the game,” Mr. Brannan said about having a neighborhood plan, putting one together, and establishing a neighborhood plan committee.

The next forum meeting will be on May 9.

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