South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Austin Vaught
Contributing Writer 

Residents briefed on disruptive property legislation

Police investigate increase in burglaries

 

March 13, 2018

Zone 3 police are investigating 20 burglaries in Carrick since the first of the year with many taking place in the 1000 block of Brownsville Road, along with Minooka and Parkfield streets.

Carrick residents were educated on the City of Pittsburgh's disruptive property legislation and its consequences for local property owners at last week's meeting of the Carrick/Overbrook Block Watch.

The ordinance, which went into effect December 1, 2008, gives the city the ability to charge property owners for costs of public safety services following three notices of "disruptive" activity that results in an arrest, citation, or summons over a 12-month period.

Maria Bethel from the city's Department of Public Safety gave a short presentation on the ordinance.

Violations of about 45 city and state laws constitute as "disruptive activity" and among those laws are drug activity, disorderly conduct, loitering, noise control, underage drinking, and dangerous dogs.

"Loud parties, drug activity, prostitution," Ms. Bethel said. "Those are some of the things I've been getting over the years in this area."

According to Ms. Bethel, a benefit of the ordinance is to hold out-of-state landlords accountable for their properties in Pittsburgh and penalize those who fail to maintain city standards. Conversely, the ordinance also enables landlords to use a notice of disruptive activity to aid them in the eviction process at magistrate hearings.

"If you have property in a landlord-tenant situation, you have a responsibility for your neighbors here," Ms. Bethel said. "If you don't know who is residing at your property or what they're involved in, it's the neighbors next door who are affected by it."

During the presentation there were several questions from those in attendance about what qualifies as disruptive activity.

Substance overdoses no longer count as disruptive activity due to the Pennsylvania Good Samaritan Act which eliminates penalties for anyone who contacts emergency services to seek assistance due to an overdose.

Furthermore, abandoned buildings do not count as disruptive properties, but instead fall under building code violations and are handled by the department of permits, licenses, and inspection.

Individual rental units within a larger building are able to be declared disruptive only if the property contains six or more units. If the building contains fewer than six units, the whole building is eligible for disruptive status.

Ms. Bethel said the ordinance applies to both residential and commercial properties. Residents who wish to contact her with questions regarding disruptive property eligibility can call the Department of Public Safety at 412-255-4789 or email her at maria.bethel@pittsburghpa.gov.

In addition to Ms. Bethel's presentation, community relations officer Christine Luffey reported that Pittsburgh police are investigating a string of 20 burglaries which occurred throughout Carrick since the beginning of the year.

Officer Luffey distributed a map of Carrick containing the block address, burglary dates, and possible hours the crime occurred.

The majority of the burglaries occurred in the 1000 block of Brownsville Road, Minooka Street, and Parkfield Street. Police do not have a suspect at the moment, but believe a white male is involved.

Officer Luffey said suspects who commit burglaries typically watch a house for a number of days prior to committing a crime. She encouraged all residents to lock their doors and windows.

"If something doesn't feel right and your instincts tell you that something is wrong, I'm asking you to make the call," she said.

Zone 3 overdose statistics were also distributed at the meeting. According to the report, 36 percent of the city's overdoses between January 1 and March 5 occurred in Zone 3 neighborhoods.

Of the 33 total overdoses that occurred in Zone 3 neighborhoods, Mount Washington had the most with ten and Carrick had the second most with six. The majority of the overdoses were white males between the ages of 31 and 35. Seven of the 33 overdoses were fatal.

Two community events were also announced at the meeting.

A spaghetti dinner fundraiser benefitting the victims of last month's fire on Westmont Avenue will be held Saturday, March 24 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Carrick High School cafeteria.

Friends of Phillips Park will host a "Nonprofit & Arts Fair" on Saturday, March 24 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Phillips Park Recreation Center. The event will include performances by local theater and choir groups.

The next Carrick/Overbrook Block Watch meeting will be on Monday, April 2 at 6:30 p.m. in the Concord K5 auditorium.

 

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