Mayor’s Forum Cancelled

Tonight’s “Mayor’s Neighborhood Forum,” featuring the South Pittsburgh neighborhoods of Banksville, Beechview, Bon Air, Brookline, Carrick and Overbrook, has just been cancelled due to the snow.

It has been rescheduled for Wednesday, January 9, 2008. The time and location will remain the same: 6:30 p.m. at St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (933 Brookline Boulevard).

Advertisements

December 2007 Community Update

Beechview

Zoning Hearing
On December 6th, 1552 Beechview Avenue will be under consideration at the Pittsburgh Zoning Board of Adjustment because of an application to operate a check-cashing business there. In order for a check-cashing business to operate there, a variance must be granted as the current ordinance states that check-cashing establishments are not permitted within 500 feet of residential property.

Check-cashing establishments are often viewed as predatory lenders, engaging in payday lending that extends very high interest rates to customers under the assumption that loans will be short-term (until the next payday).

Citizens interested in taking action on this issue can speak at the zoning hearing; contact the Zoning Board at 412-255-2231 to sign up. Alternatively, citizens can submit written testimony to:
Wrenna Watson
Chairwoman, Zoning Board of Adjustment
c/o Dolores Hanna
4th Floor
200 Ross Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Community Plan
A steering committee comprised of community stakeholders, and directed by the Pittsburgh Department of City Planning, has reviewed the 15 proposals submitted for a consultant to help Beechview conduct a neighborhood-wide planning process. The Beechview Community Planning Steering Committee has narrowed the field to four consultant teams, which it will interview in January. The steering committee will then select one consultant and the real work will begin. The resulting plan will be a comprehensive look at the neighborhood and identify key projects that will improve the quality of life for residents.

Business District Development (from Don Bell’s comment on “Progress in Beechview!“)
In the ongoing story of Bernardo Katz and Beechview: At the latest meeting of CLUB (Community Leaders United for Beechview) we had a surprise guest, Holly Katz. Ms Katz is the estranged wife of Bernardo Katz. She apologized to the community for the problems created by her husband in the Beechview Business District and indicated if anyone in the community was interested in any of the properties to please contact her attorney, Joseph Lawrence. His number is 412-281-5423.

Upcoming events in Beechview:

12/06/07 – Zoning Board of Adjustment Hearing @ 200 Ross Street (8:50 a.m.)

12/15/07 – Christmas Cookie Sale @ Beechview United Presbyterian Church (10 a.m. – 12 p.m.)

Brookline

Useful Information
At its November meeting, the Brookline Area Community Council hosted guest speaker Joyce Miller from the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh. She provided useful information about Section 8 and public housing. More information on this topic can be found under “Building Conditions.” The BACC January meeting will feature a speaker on predatory lending.

Clean Up Brookline
A representative from South Pittsburgh Development Corporation recently attended a PA Cleanways lunch at which PALS (People Against Litter) provided SPDC with pickers and vests to help it clean up Brookline. SPDC is seeking volunteers for weekend clean-ups. Interested persons should contact Keith Knecht at 412-561-4482.

Upcoming events in Brookline:

12/04/07 – SPDC meeting and Christmas gathering

12/10/07 – Brookline Chamber of Commerce meeting @ McLaughlin’s Office (6 p.m.)

12/11/07 – Brookline Block Watch Christmas gathering @ McLaughlin’s Office (6:30 p.m.)

12/31/07 – no BACC meeting (usually the last Monday of the month)

01/28/07 – Brookline Area Community Council meeting @ St. Mark’s (7 p.m.)

Carrick

Upcoming events in Carrick:

12/09/07 – Pancake & Sausage Breakfast @ St. Norbert Parish, 2413 St. Norbert Street (9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.)

12/13/07 – Carrick Business Association meeting @ Michael’s Restaurant, 3052 Churchview Avenue (6:30 p.m. networking, 7:30 dinner, 8:00 meeting). Please RSVP to Carla Dieterle at 412-881-7932.

12/15/07 – 29th Ward Democratic Committee Holiday Party @ St. Pius Church, 2336 Brownsville Road (7:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.)

Every Wednesday Evening – Bingo @ St. Sylvester Roman Catholic Church, 3754 Brownsville Road (7:00 p.m.)

Overbrook

New, Old Quarters
The Overbrook Community Council, which has had its office on the second floor of the Overbrook Firehouse for years, will be moving in 2008 to a newly renovated first floor of the same building. The Firehouse is a beautiful, historic building and many are glad to see it continue to be used.

The Overbrook Community Council continues to seek members. Please contact Carol Anthony at 412-884-2462 to find out more.

All South Pittsburgh Neighborhoods

Mayor’s Neighborhood Forum
“Join Mayor Luke Ravenstahl for a Mayor’s Neighborhood Forum – one of a series of ten community conversations throughout Pittsburgh neighborhoods. The Mayor will report back on initiatives such as his Neighborhoods First Agenda and solicit input on the state and future of the communities of Banksville, Beechview, Bon Air, Brookline, Carrick and Overbrook.”

Upcoming events in South Pittsburgh:

12/05/07 – Mayor’s Neighborhood Forum @ St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 933 Brookline Boulevard (6:30 p.m.)

Public Safety

Safe neighborhoods are a joint effort between citizens and police. Neighborhood residents are an important part of the process because they notify police when illegal activity occurs. It is important for neighbors to call 9-1-1 anytime that they suspect illegal activity. It is acceptable to call 9-1-1 even if it is not a life or death situation or other emergency.Police prefer to intervene before a situation gets out of hand; prevention is the best cure. Reporting illegal behavior to the police builds a history for a given person, address or area. The more calls the police receive regarding a given area, the more police attention that area is likely to get. Therefore, it is important to report everything. See something, say something.

It is common for people to feel uncomfortable calling the police on their neighbors. Often this is because of a fear of identification or retaliation. First of all, 9-1-1 calls can be anonymous if you choose. If you still prefer not to call, the City of Pittsburgh Police Bureau provides an online tip form, which can also be anonymous.

Collective neighborhood action is the most effective deterrent for crime. Residents have been known to organize their reporting efforts, establishing captains that distribute and collect tip forms from residents. This is a coordinated approach that demonstrates the aggregate need in the neighborhood for police protection.

Beyond organized reporting, active residents are the best protection. Neighbors keeping an eye on each other’s houses and children is a great security system. People sitting on their porches, with their eyes on the street, is a simple deterrent. Block watches are an organized form of this.

Another resource for active residents and groups concerned with public safety is Citizen Observer. This website makes local crime information accessible and connects citizens taking an active interest in crime prevention.

Building Conditions

If properties in your neighborhood are in substandard condition, you have several options for action.

It is easiest to report the property to the City of Pittsburgh’s 3-1-1 line. Simply dial 3-1-1 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and a representative will take down your concern. 3-1-1 is convenient because it will route your issue to the appropriate department, including the Bureau of Building Inspection and the Housing Authority. There is also a 3-1-1 form available online. When working with 3-1-1, it is helpful to ask for a reference number so that you can follow-up on your request if desired.

Concerns regarding property conditions should generally be reported to the City’s Bureau of Building Inspection, which regulates the construction, demolition and occupancy of all buildings in the city. BBI has inspectors that review property conditions and cite those owners whose properties are in violation of the building code. You can contact BBI directly by calling 412-255-2621 or emailing wendy.urbanic@city.pittsburgh.pa.us.

Some residential properties in your neighborhood might contain public or Section 8 units. Public housing is property owned by the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh that is rented to low-income tenants. Section 8 housing is privately-owned property, the owner of which chooses to accept publicly-funded Section 8 vouchers from low-income tenants as a rent subsidy. HACP is responsible for regulating the Section 8 program locally.

If a problem property in your neighborhood is owned by HACP, you can call 412-201-4227 to report it. If you suspect that a problem property participates in the Section 8 program, you can report it to HACP’s Section 8 Division at 412-456-5090 or section8@hacp.org. It is not public information whether a given property participates in the Section 8 program.

Joyce Miller of HACP attended a recent Brookline Community Council meeting and provided the following contact information:

Complaints: 412-456-5058
Tips: 412-471-2275
pekar-miller@hacp.org (her email)

Again, 3-1-1 will take your concern and, whether the property is privately-owned, Section 8, or public housing, forward it to the appropriate City department for follow-up.

It is important to note that illegal activity, such as drug activity, is not permitted in publicly-funded housing. This means that tenants who take advantage of these programs can lose their subsidy if they break the law. To report illegal activity, call 9-1-1 first. You may also choose to notify HACP.