South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Parking revenue from South Side PED recovering

 


The May 11 Zoom meeting of the South Side Planning Forum began with news of a 25 percent increase in Parking Enhancement District (PED) revenue in April compared to a month earlier.

The PED is the enforcement of South Side Flats parking meters from 6 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. The funds must be invested back in the neighborhood for public safety, cleanliness, and infrastructure improvements

City nighttime economy coordinator Allison Harnden reported while March PED revenue totaled $9,252.82, April PED revenue totaled $12,956.84.

 The 2021 revenue to date is $39,136.59.  The total revenue since the PED began in April, 2017, is $714,692.08. 

In South Side alcohol license changes, a placard was posted on April 25 at the Loft Lounge, 1602 East Carson St.  Controversy, located at 1635 West Carson St., surrendered its license to safekeeping.

Block by Block, or the Clean Team which is paid by PED funds, returned to a two-person crew on April 2.

During April, 9,330 pounds of trash was removed.  Two hundred fifty-three graffiti/stickers were also removed, and hospitality assistance was lent 12 times.

A graffiti audit completed in April revealed many of the buildings along East Carson St. are being tagged.  Property owners will need to reach out to receive service, or complete the removal themselves.

Ms. Harnden said graffiti on private buildings requires waivers from the owners for the city to remove the graffiti.

City Councilman Bruce Kraus said a particularly troublesome graffiti site is the big brick wall between S. 17th and 18th streets.

South Side Community Council (SSCC) President Barbara Rudiak said as it is located in the Historic District, general guidelines on properties are to keep the original brick.

However, if the wall is painted, a mural should be considered being put there as otherwise the site will be tagged over and over.  A mural would also look better than a painted wall, she said.

Mr. Kraus said it would take one to one-and-a-half years for the process to go through the Arts Commission and acquire a mural/artist.

Candice Gonzalez, executive director of the South Side Chamber of Commerce, said business owners and visitors complain to her about the filth at the site.   

She encourages them to call 311 or 911 with graffiti complaints.

Mr. Kraus said the last few weekends in the entertainment district have been “rough,” and he is concerned when everything opens up later this month. 

“People are going to be out,” he said.

On the topic of the East Carson St. construction project, he said PennDOT is running into “hiccups” as can be expected when you dig up 120-year-old streets.

The project upgrades include: milling and resurfacing; signage and signal updates; sidewalk improvements; ADA ramp and guiderail installations; high visibility crosswalks; and more.

The 18-month project will extend from the Smithfield St. Bridge to 33rd St.

Next, in the Development Activities Meeting (DAM) update, Ms. Rudiak reported there wasn’t a DAM at the SSCC in April. 

A DAM provides an opportunity for citizens, property owners, business owners, and stakeholders to learn about the proposals that affect them and to resolve concerns at an early stage of the application process.

But two proposals will be presented at the May 27 DAM, beginning at 6 p.m.

The first is the Oliver Bath House.  The work will include the completion of the preservation and renovation of the building to include windows, ingress/egress, code compliance, new MEP systems, new roof/roof structures, and the removal of the non-contributing penthouse.

The second presentation is for 2400 E. Carson St, the former Goodwill building.  

The project will go before the Historic Review Commission because of changes to the building’s exterior.  It will also go before the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) as there are plans to use a vacant lot at S. 24th and Sarah streets as a parking lot and playground.  

Currently it is zoned residential, and the proposed uses are not permitted in a residential district. The lot is also in the Historic District.  

In a recent decision, the ZBA denied the variance requests for 90 S. 12th Street. The property owner requested to build five townhouses at the vacant lot at 12th and Sarah streets.  

In 2017, the ZBA approved the request to build a single-family home.  The decision indicated the developer was unable to show evidence that the change to five townhouses was necessary.  

Next, in the South Side Neighborhood Plan update, Tom Smith reported the neighborhood plan committee continues to meet. A recent focus was “Who else should be at the table?”

South Side’s new neighborhood planner, Stephanie Joy Everett, who was in attendance at the Planning Forum meeting, co-created the city’s neighborhood plan guide.

The document lays out the process for establishing a neighborhood plan, and includes an involved public process.  Grant opportunities are available to fund plan initiatives.

When the guide is completed in three weeks, she will share it with the Neighborhood Plan Committee, she said.

In organization reports, Blake McLaren, president of the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA), said the 18th St. steps lighting project is completed.

“They did a wonderful job,” he said.

Next, Ms. Rudiak reported the SSCC completed another successful flower sale in time for Mother’s Day.

The SSCC received a grant from the Commonwealth Financing Authority for a Greenways, Trails, and Recreation Program through the state Dept. of Community & Economic Development on April 21 in the amount of $129,392.  

State Sen. Costa provided $100,000, and State Rep. Benham provided the remainder of $29,392.  

Ms. Rudiak also reported the April 24 “Battle of the Block Watches” to clean up neighborhoods, and conducted through Rep. Benham, drew participation from six of the neighborhood’s eight block watches.

Gift cards were awarded.

In the report for the Chamber of Commerce, Ms. Gonzalez, said $2,500 was donated by the South Side GetGo to help rebuild the chamber.

On Feb. 8, the historic four-story building in the 1100 block of East Carson St. was destroyed by a massive fire.  It housed the chamber offices (including Welcome Center), barber shop, and six apartments. Everyone escaped safely.

The chamber has relocated into temporary office space across the street from its former site.

In the UPMC report, Lynn Kurhan reported UPMC continues to administer COVID-19 vaccines, although the number of people seeking the vaccine is dropping.

She also said the urgent care center is not closed and is accepting walk-ins.    

Next, Kathy Hamilton-Vargo, pastor of South Side Presbyterian Church, said interior spaces are available in the church building for short-term or long-term use.

The hope is that people, groups, businesses, and more will want to use the space as another community center option.

Email kathysspc@aol.com for more information.

The final report was from Gisele Betances of the Mayor’s Office.

She said the city has a temporary eviction moratorium designed to protect renters from being evicted due to hardships caused by the pandemic. However, landlords can evict for health or safety issues.

Decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.

To contact Ms. Betances, email:  gisele.betances@pittsburghpa.gov .

Mr. Kraus asked her if the contract had been awarded for the federally-funded 18th St. signals upgrade project for pedestrian safety.

She said it is her belief they are in the final weeks before the bid goes out.

Mr. Kraus said that means we are right on schedule.

“I cannot stress enough how much they [residents] want to see this happen,” he said.

The project will result in new signals at Sarah St., Jane St., Josephine St., Mission St., Arlington Ave., and Bausman St.

Upgrades will also feature gloss black signal poles; audible countdown pedestrian signals; and more.

 

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