Delayed PED expansion hampers adding members to Clean Team
March 22, 2022
The February report of the Parking Enhancement District (PED) kicked off the March meeting of the South Side Planning Forum.
The PED, or the enforcement of South Side Flats parking meters from 6 p.m. to midnight, is in effect on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
PED funds must be invested back in the neighborhood for public safety, cleanliness, and infrastructure improvements. For the St. Patrick's celebration on March 12, the PED paid for portable toilets placed in three Pittsburgh Parking Authority (PPA) lots.
Nighttime economy manager Allison Harnden delivered the report.
February PED revenue totaled $12,132.51. The enforcement costs were $2,441.85. The 2022 PED revenue to date is $23,141.88.
The total revenue since the PED began in April, 2017, is $855,763.64.
In the liquor license changes update, PRVCI, which is closed, surrendered its license to safekeeping. The same happened with Tres Rios SS, Inc., which never opened.
Regarding the Clean Team, or Block by Block which maintains the E. Carson St. corridor, the initiatives for February include preparing for spring: spray cleaning of trash receptacles, sweeping under cars, finish sweeping curblines, and graffiti removal.
Ms. Harnden said trash removal for February totaled 7,747 pounds.
The Clean Team removes trash and graffiti/stickers, lends hospitality assistance, and more.
Barbara Rudiak, president of the South Side Community Council (SSCC), commented she walked to S. 13th St. one morning, and East Carson St. was already very clean, so it is money well spent.
City Councilman Bruce Kraus said he and Ms. Harnden met with a Block by Block official to discuss the Clean Team and the St. Patrick's Day celebration on March 12.
The plan was to bring in more staff on the Sunday following the event to "polish and shine," Mr. Kraus said, after Public Works completes their work. The focus was to be on side streets.
Also discussed was adding another Clean Team member in May. Unfortunately, the idea of Sunday enforcement is showing no movement. Mr. Kraus said he wanted to use the additional revenue to help finance a third person for the Clean Team.
He said he will be meeting with city officials on this issue as each weekend that goes by equates to a loss of about $1300, or projected Sunday enforcement revenue.
Updating the PennDOT Carson St. safety improvement project, Mr. Kraus said signals are being installed. Once the bump outs and signals are in, the street will be milled and a new road surface and signage will be installed.
The contract has been awarded for the 18th St. signals upgrade project for pedestrian safety. The plan is to begin construction in the spring while Carson St. is still under construction.
"In the long run it's going to be great," Mr. Kraus said of the signals upgrades.
He also reported the old 18th and Mary streets police station is under construction. The police will be able to use the Zone 3 substation space for breaks, paperwork, and to respond more efficiently to calls.
The Clean Team is already utilizing its break room, and as a place to keep warm in cold weather.
Next, Mike Clark, of the SSCC, asked about cigarette waste containers. Ms. Harnden said she just received a grant from "Keep America Beautiful," and is working with Environmental Services on this.
She was also able to ask for wall-mounted cigarette dispensers, but it will take months to put them up. She said she will reach out to the business district managers to learn how many they want.
Candice Gonzalez, executive director of the South Side Chamber of Commerce, said the Chamber had a supply of cigarette ash receptacles that were being held pending the completion of the East Carson St. construction work.
However, they were completely destroyed in the fire of the Chamber's headquarters and welcome center.
Mr. Clark next asked about PED parking enforcement.
Mr. Kraus said the problem is being unable to get police escorts on many weekends.
As PPA agents are frequently accosted, the plan was for police officers to accompany them. Officers are not signing up to do so which would be in addition to their regular shifts.
The end result is that while agents are on the scene, paid from PED funds, tickets are not being given out.
State Rep. Jessica Benham said she explored whether tickets may be mailed, and state law states that is fine.
To a question from Mr. Kraus of whether the state differentiates between a police ticket and a Parking Authority ticket, she said there is no distinction in state law, so it can be done.
To a question if the PED is recouping funds for lack of enforcement, Mr. Kraus said it has been discussed all along.
To a question from Mr. Clark about scooters parking, Mr. Kraus said the forum should bring in a company official to explain the regulations. He added the user's account will be terminated if they park a scooter in a prohibited area: it cannot be left on lawns or sidewalks.
Ms. Harnden said she will ask an official to come to an upcoming forum meeting.
Next, in the SSCC report of the Development Activities Meeting (DAM), Ms. Rudiak said at the February 17 DAM there were three presentations, with all of the proposed projects to go before the Historic Review Commission (HRC).
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.
The properties were 601, 603, and 605 East Carson St., 1500 Bingham St .; and the Urban Tap façade changes. The latter is about having two exits at the request of the Dept. of Permits, Licenses, and Inspections (PLI).
In March month, the DAM reviewed one project that will be going before the HRC: minimal façade work on 2303-2315 East Carson St. The proposal is to change the building from offices to apartments.
She next reported the annual meeting of the SSSNA would be held that evening with board member elections. A proposed by-law change is broadening eligibility for joining the board to include attendance at other events, such as DAM meetings and cleanups, and not just the general meetings.
In her report, Ms. Gonzalez said that during the last week of February the Chamber hand delivered 250 copies of a Chamber letter to South Side businesses to remind them that they are responsible to keep their properties clean of litter, ice, and snow.
The letter included the city's municipal code provision that specifies these responsibilities and invited businesses and property owners to encourage other businesses and neighbors nearby to keep their blocks clean and welcoming.
In the report of the SSCC, Ms. Rudiak said a general meeting will be held on March 29.
The meeting concluded with Rep. Benham reporting that a blood drive at the IBEW building on South Side on March 2 drew 25 donors, which could save up to 75 lives.
She also reported PennDot expects work to begin in April on the Fern Hollow Bridge which collapsed in January. It is expected to be completed in a year or a year-and-a-half.
In related news, Mayor Gainey announced he is having 22 city bridges double checked that are in poor condition.
The final information from Rep. Benham was that a senior fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 6 in the Brentwood Civic Center parking lot.
The next Planning Forum Zoom meeting will be on April 12.