South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Trash cans with sensors coming soon to So. Side


September 19, 2017

Coming to the South Side are trash cans with sensors to inform city workers when a can needs emptied.

Details were presented as the Sept. 12 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum by Bill Crean, streets superintendent with the city’s Dept. of Public Works.

The curbside trash cans, which were rolled out in the West End, are equipped with sensors that inform workers when a can needs to be emptied. The system would thereby save time by directing workers only to those cans filled with trash.

Staff time would then be freed up for other tasks.

The cans, built by the Victor Stanley company, cost $1100 apiece.

Mr. Crean said South Side will become the third city district for the cans. There is no timeframe for their deployment.

Current cans in good shape will remain, with a sensor added. Underutilized cans will be moved to a better location. Broken cans will be rehabbed or replaced with a new can.

City Councilman Bruce Kraus said the city mentality is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. But the South Side is very busy on weekends. He said if a can is full, and there is no one on duty to empty it, the sensors are irrelevant.

He wanted Mr. Crean to know South Side needs weekend service, and 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays is the best time for a crew.

Mr. Kraus said revenue from the new Parking Enforcement District (PED) -- the enforcement of South Side Flats parking meters from 6 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays -- will go to public safety and public works improvements in the South Side.

Some of the funds, which will not be available until February-March 2018, could go to weekend cleanups, such as to power wash sidewalks, he said.

He is also interested in exploring business partnerships, such as with a convenience store. He pointed out purchases there, such as a single-use container, frequently end up in the street as litter on weekends.

Mr. Kraus said the number one call/complaint he receives is about managing waste as there are thousands of college students in the Flats and Slopes, many of whom do not follow regulations.

In the so-called Knocks and Talks Program, police officers knock on doors and tell the students they are in a residential neighborhood, and must comply with its rules.

He said he would like to do such a program through Public Works.

“I suspect that would go a very long way,” he said.

Barbara Rudiak, of the South Side Community Council (SSCC), said with the new South Watch, houses with trash outside at all times receive an orange placard on their door about the problem, followed by a walk-by the next week to see if the problem has been corrected. If not, a 311 request is made to Environmental Services, followed by knocks and talks. 

Mr. Kraus said he is looking to supplement what they are doing.

In related news, there is a new city application (app) that beeps on the days when garbage should be put curbside.

“Good. That will clearly get twenty-somethings’ attention,” Mr. Kraus said.

Forum Chair Hugh Brannan reminded everyone that forum members Ms. Rudiak and Candice Gonzalez, of the South Side Chamber of Commerce, will be part of the process to review submissions for a consultant who, working with the community, will devise a business district plan for East Carson St. Proposals are due Sept. 22.

At past forum meetings, Josette Fitzgibbons, neighborhood business district manager for the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA), said the project will include: working with URA staff and others to collect data for the corridor; surveying businesses and customers to determine the current retail and hospitality market; and developing recommendations for the implementation of the plan.

She hopes there is a plan in place by mid-2018.

Tracy Myers, chair of the Development Review Committee (DRC) and of the South Side Neighborhood Plan committee, presented an overview of historic preservation policies in the neighborhood plan.

The stated expectations are: the preservation of the architectural, historic and social character of the Flats and Slopes should continue to play a prominent role in development; compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) impacts the preservation of historic buildings and needs to be carefully monitored; and the neighborhood must work to ensure that zoning, historic district, and building codes are consistently enforced.

She said the neighborhood decided in 1993 it wanted East Carson St. on the National Historic Register. Once it became a reality, the street became part of the Main Street Program, the goal of which is “economic revitalization through historic designation.”

Legally, property owners must secure approval for changes on buildings in an historic district, such as painting murals on walls.

“Once a historic building changes, it cannot be changed back,” she said.

Ms. Myers said the DRC will offer support for “good design that is in the interest of the neighborhood and its historic fabric.”

The DRC would also like to conduct future workshops for local residents on the obligations and constraints of living in an historic district.

Forum members next conveyed what their respective organizations are doing in regards to historic preservation.

Ms. Gonzalez said, among other activities, the chamber works with the Brashear Association, SSCC, South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA), South Side Bar and Restaurant Association, and other local nonprofits, universities, residents, and others to preserve the East Carson St. Historic Business District and other public areas by participating in their community initiatives and events.

The chamber also serves as an official information center for VisitPittsburgh, which actively promotes the historic business district in its programs and activities.

The chamber’s Welcome Center also promotes East Carson St.

For the SSSNA, Betty Kripp said the organization preserves the history of the Slopes through is annual StepTrek, and maintaining the gateways.

The group also has a very active zoning group, she said, which gets involved in Zoning Board of Adjustment cases, and supports the enforcement of all zoning and building codes.

“It’s great to see how we’re all working together,” Ms. Myers said.

Mr. Brannan said the DRC, the majority of whose members are architects, provide guidance on the historic preservation issue.

“It’s a strong resource we have available to us,” he said.

In announcements, the 100th Anniversary of the Brashear Association will be celebrated as “The Night of a Thousand Stars” on October 19 at the Heinz History Center. A reception begins at 5:30pm, with dinner at 7:00. Details are available at, or calling 412-431-2236.

From 6-8 p.m. on Sept. 19, a meeting to unveil the final streetscape and green infrastructure designs for South 21st St. will be held at the Brashear Center, 2005 Sarah St.

The annual StepTrek, a non-competitive, self-guided walking tour of the Slopes, will be held on Oct. 7.

Ms. Gonzalez reported from January to August, the Welcome Center had 269 volunteers for 1,948 volunteer-hours, with most involving cleanups. There were 2,719 center visitors.

Ms. Rudiak reported that Edwards Communities Development Corp.’s request to construct a multi-unit residential structure (320-340 dwelling units) with integral parking on Wharton St. near the Birmingham Bridge was approved by the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

The proposal will next go before the Planning Commission. She said the SSCC, with whom the developer met to present plans, will write a letter of support as many changes were made based on residents’ input.

Mr. Kraus reported the so-called rooftop legislation he sponsored was passed by council. It gives police the authorization to order people down from rooftop parties as there have been numerous injuries – and even deaths -- from falls in recent years.

The next forum meeting will be on Oct. 10. Mr. Brannan said he hopes to have a representative from the city’s special events and permits as a guest speaker.


Reader Comments


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2019