South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Zone 3 council considers summer festival, asks about progress on abandonded cars


September 25, 2018

Abandoned vehicles, animal neglect, and a potential Zone 3 summer festival were among the topics at the Sept. 17 meeting of the Zone 3 Public Safety Council, held in the Knoxville Library on Brownsville Rd.

At last month’s meeting, the question arose as to when abandoned vehicles would be removed in the Mt. Oliver City area. The attendee said, in March, she gave city Councilman Bruce Kraus a list of 22 cars needing towed.

Zone 3 Commander Karen Dixon responded at that time she would talk to the officer in charge of abandoned vehicles and go over the list with him.

At the Sept. 17 meeting, Lt. Julie Stoops, who was standing in for Commander Dixon, said the officer in charge of abandoned vehicles told her he saw the list, and certified letters were sent to the owners.

To a question if cars out of inspection and parked on the street can be tagged, Lt. Stoops said after 90 days a car can be towed if it is both out of inspection and registration, and parked on public property.

As for such vehicles parked on private property, Mr. Kraus said his chief of staff took the matter to the city Law Department. Mr. Kraus said officers want to remove vehicles but the law “ties their hands.”

He said he would bring a representative from the Law Dept. to a future Zone 3 Public Safety Council meeting, preferably at the November 12 annual meeting. It will be held at this earlier date instead of during Thanksgiving week.

“They’re everywhere, and a form of litter,” Mr. Kraus said of abandoned vehicles throughout the zone.

The attendee who raised the issue initially said she emails the police and Law Dept. and others about these cars, but receives no response, and would like follow-up calls.

“Just follow through,” she said. Compounding the problem is that the cars are parked on city streets with tight parking, she said.

An attendee next complained about a condemned Arlington Ave. house with squatters and numerous cats. She has trapped five cats, but seven others are loose on the property, she said.

Zone 3 community relations Officer Christine Luffey said she has received many complaints about the cats and the house being in horrible condition.

“The house is unfit for humans,” she said.

The concern is that if the city boards up the house the cats will die inside, so the plan is to leave one window open. But the cats must be trapped to keep them from reproducing.

Next, there was discussion about a dog on the roof of an Orchard Place home. The Fire Department brought the dog down, and the animal was eventually returned to its owner.

Officer Luffey said there were numerous calls for months about this dog, which barks at children from the roof.

“That dog is a victim of neglect, and should not have been returned,” she said.

Mr. Kraus said the city offers free spaying and neutering for pets of city residents.

To a question about dog licenses, Officer Luffey said, according to city ordinance, dogs residing in the city must have a license. Owners may receive a citation if their pet does not have a rabies vaccination.

Zone 3 Public Safety Council President Liz Style next distributed a report from South Watch, a code enforcement project of the South Side Slopes and Flats.

South Watch educates residents and landlords on city refuse and other ordinances; monitors properties persistently out of compliance; and refers properties, such as to Environmental Services and the police, for follow-up to ensure resolution.

Meetings are held on the second Wednesdays at the Brashear Association. Times alternate between afternoon and evening. Everyone is welcome.

Ms. Style next reported that the tentative plan for the Nov. 12 annual meeting is to review 2018 successes and 2019 goals. There will be no December meeting.

She also reported Commander Dixon was impressed with the open house the Zone 5 Public Safety Council has been holding for a few years.

Ms. Style said she would be interested in turning an open house into a Zone 3 summer festival in June. The purpose would be to have the community, especially youth, interact with the police, firefighters, and EMS.

Another goal would be to make youth comfortable with uniformed personnel, thereby making it a public safety issue, she said.

She asked attendees if any would like to volunteer, including to help find a site for the festival.

Next, an attendee said she is helping compile a list of schools, churches, community groups, businesses, and more which can benefit from attending a Zone 3 Public Safety Council meeting. She is encouraging them to attend the Nov. 12 meeting.

Regarding the prior day’s incident in which a camel at a Shrine Circus show at PPG Paints Arena injured six children and an adult after it became spooked, Mr. Kraus said council passed an ordinance regulating the use of animals for entertainment, and that the Shriners were challenging it in court.

He said the camel did not have a choice to participate as people do.

He said the ordinance is on the books and he is standing behind it and defending it.

In announcements, the Third Annual National Coffee with a Cop Day will be on Oct. 3. Celebrating the day locally will be Breakfast at Shelly’s Restaurant, 740 E. Warrington Ave. There will be free coffee from 9 to 11 a.m. on Oct. 3.

The Black Forge Coffee House, 1206 Arlington Ave., will also celebrate the event from 12 to 2 p.m. on Oct. 3.

A new play space will open at Jucunda St. and Knox Ave. on Oct. 24. The project has been on-going for more than a year. Volunteers are sought on Sept. 29 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The fall City Wide Public Safety Meeting will be held on Oct. 17 at the Pittsburgh Project, 2801 N. Charles St., Pittsburgh 15214. A light dinner will be available at 6 p.m., followed by the meeting at 6:30 p.m.

The topic will be “The State of Human Trafficking: The Pittsburgh Region.” Law enforcement personnel who work in that area will be present.

The event is sponsored by the city’s Public Safety Zone councils and the Dept. of Public Safety.

Pittsburgh’s Fall 2018 Student Police Academy will begin Oct. 10 from 6 to 9 p.m. The program will be held each Wednesday for 10 weeks at Point Park University, 201 Wood Street, Downtown.

High school youth will train, learn, and experience what it is like to be a police officer in a simulated police academy. The program is free.

Students must complete an application/permission slip and send their application to: John Tokarski, City of Pittsburgh, Dept of Public Safety, Suite 400, City-County Bldg., 414 Grant St., Pittsburgh PA 15219. The deadline for receipt is Oct. 6.

The next Zone 3 Public Safety Council meeting will be the annual meeting on Nov. 12 at Knoxville Library. There will be no October Zone 3 Public Safety Council meeting in light of the Fall City Wide Public Safety Meeting on Oct. 17.


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