South Side Planning Forum reviews special events procedure
November 21, 2017
Brian Katze, the city’s special events manager, presented an overview of the permitting process at the Nov. 14 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum.
He said, according to city code, a “special event” is defined as a parade, public assembly, performance, meeting, contest, exhibit, athletic competition or presentation, community event, block party, or ceremony, and which is to be held on city property, or on a street or sidewalk within the city, or on private property requiring city services specific to the event.
Block party permits are issued to residents of a city block for social purposes to be held upon a city right-of-way. Block party permits are limited to residential districts. The permit allows the city to close the street to traffic.
Block party permits are also exempt from the city’s “open container” law, thus allowing consumption of alcohol. They are also exempt from any noise ordinance.
First Amendment activity on city property, like protesting a government action, and which will not likely result in public safety obstructions does not require a special event permit.
To apply for a permit, visit: pittsburghpa.gov/special-events/permitting/index.html.
Applications for special events permits must be received at least 14 business days in advance of the start of the event. The fee is $125.
Block party applications must be received at least seven days in advance. The fee is $25.
Any city services that an event may request or are required to obtain would be an additional fee.
Mr. Katze said once an application is received, it moves on to the vetting process via the Special Events Committee comprised of representatives from various city departments. The committee determines if a proposed event is viable; if the dates and locations are available; and that needed city resources are property allocated.
About 600 applications are submitted annually.
To a question if an approval can be overruled, Mr. Katze said he is not aware of that ever happening.
When asked the most common reasons for rejection, he said only one request was denied in 10 years, and that was for safety reasons. Instead of rejection, the committee will ask an applicant to alter plans, such as moving the hours or the street of an event.
As for costs, Mr. Katze said $125 covers the review process. An event holder must pay for police officers, EMS, and any other personnel required for safety reasons.
“We will work with them to make it work,” he said of event holders.
To a question of what happens if there is public opposition to an event, Mr. Katze said opposition is usually expressed after an event is approved, such as when the public sees street barriers being erected. In that case, the 311 calls are kept for next year’s event, which may only require a change of time and place to ease concerns.
Next, forum Chair Hugh Brannan spoke about former forum member Virginia Carik, who died earlier this month.
“She went the extra mile for the community,” Mr. Brannan said of the South Side woman, 92.
Tracy Myers, chair of the Development Review Committee (DRC), said the DRC did not meet last month.
On another topic, she reported she is 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.
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.
Ms. Myers said four presentations were made, and that details of the consultant who was selected will be available soon.
Regarding the South Side Neighborhood Plan and its historic preservations policies, Barbara Rudiak, of the South Side Community Council (SSCC), presented an update of the SSCC’s South Side oral history project.
She said that working with CORO Pittsburgh, the SSCC found a fit with its oral history project that ties in with the 25th anniversary of the Carson St. historic designation.
The mission statement of the non-profit CORO is to advance ethical leaders and build leadership capacity in order to create a more connected and inclusive community.
Ms. Rudiak said Juliette Rihl, a CORO Fellow in public affairs, has been researching information and talking with longtime residents. She will also help with the writing. Funding for her is from Heinz.
“We’ve enjoyed working with her,” Ms. Rudiak said.
Ms. Rihl said she is currently working on archives, and is looking at successful models here and elsewhere. She is also interested in talking with community members “with stories to tell.”
Anyone interested in sharing stories and information with her should email her: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In announcements, Candice Gonzalez, of the South Side Chamber of Commerce, reported that from January to October, the Welcome Center had 323 clean-up volunteers for 2,382 hours of donated cleanup community service work. There were 3,336 Center visitors from around the world.
On Oct. 25, the annual get-together between Duquesne University students and residents was held at the Market House. The Duquesne University – South Side Neighborhood Social was hosted by the university with the Chamber.
The annual Small Business Saturday will be held all day Nov. 25.
The annual Chamber Mittens & Mingles holiday fundraiser for the Welcome Center will be held on Dec. 7 from 6-10 p.m. at Clear Story Studio, 1931 Sidney at S. 20th streets. Tickets may be purchased on-line at: https://www.southsidechamber.org/mingle/
Ms. Rudiak reported the new South Watch meetings have been “very successful,” with meeting minutes available on the SSCC website: http://www.southsidecommunitycouncil.org/ .
The meeting concluded with the Dept. of City Planning’s new neighborhood planner, Felipe Palomo, reporting the Muriel St. corridor is in need of improvements for pedestrians and for its intersections. A community process will begin, most likely in January, to address proposed improvements.
The next forum meeting will be on Dec. 12.