Thursday, May 14, 2009

CBA's: What are you, Chicken? BAWK? *

This week's top story, aside from politics:

Several City Council members said they would be more comfortable if the development came with a community benefit, such as a buffer-zone park and recreation area. (P-G, Diana Nelson Jones)

Councilman William Peduto* said the city owns land at Parkway Center and could create a buffer for Ridgemont residents. "I support the people who have stuck it out all these years," he said of Ridgemont residents. "Sometimes the best development is the one that never happens." (ibid; see also Trib, Jeremy Boren)

It's amazing how progressive this city can be about forcefully demanding that benefits for surrounding communities arrive in tandem with new development, when...

A) The developers have nothing to do with sports teams,
B) The community resistance has a cute name,
C) It employs adorable spokespeople, and...
D) Is white.

Think I'm going too far there?

The "lazy, greedy, asking-for-handouts, you-all-should-be-more-concerned-about-parents-who-don't-care-about-their-childrens'-education" position has been an indispensable part of the counterargument against seriously considering community benefits for the Hill District and the North Side. It used to be more explicit on the local Internet, until this post, but it's still being made equally explicit just about everywhere else.

I'm not begrudging Chicken Hill and its small town America / Bruce Springsteen vibe its victory. I'm just encouraging everybody involved to take this inspiration and apply it elsewhere -- perhaps where it would actually bring the maximum, um, benefit.

The point was made what an impact an 8-story building has on a single city street in Ridgemont. How much more impact does a master plan including stadiums, hotels, restaurants, offices and carnival tents have on directly adjoining neighborhoods, and how much more carefulness and community benefit must be employed? The residents of Manchester for example have been "sticking it out" all these years in their own Pittsburgh community, too.

*-CLARIFICATION: My juxtaposition of Councilman Peduto's quote and my editorial on the record of the City as a whole unintentionally may have left impressions that I was calling Peduto himself onto the carpet for inconsistency.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Mr. Peduto has been most consistent of all in supporting CBAs for developments anywhere, as evidenced by the fact that he took an early stand for a CBA in conjunction with Steelers / Continental developments -- and for that very reason got himself ejected from the Stadium Authority. My sincere apologies for being unclear.


  1. Look at the article. Smith is completely absent from the article.

    I thought she was a community organizer?

  2. D) White
    Is totally racist!

    Also, after Ridgemont's fight is done we will help other communities that need help with
    development that is not detrimental in theor neighborhood.

  3. Oops, I misspelled the word "their"!

  4. I do not appreciate your white comment! Do I have to put on my wooden dutch shoes and kick some sense into you? That was not fair!
    We worked so hard and because I was born white, does not mean I am given special treatment. By saying this statement, you allow others to use race as a card.

  5. This article reminds me why I don't help out "community organizations"

    "Though ALDI’s addition of fresh meat would fulfill a requirement community residents and leaders demanded for a Hill grocer, and even though its core product line covers 90 percent of household needs, state Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Hill District, told the audience"

    And here comes the good part.....

    "they might still do better"

    Tell me again - Where is the grocery store on the hill again?

    This is another reason why Theresa Smith is not the person you want on council.

  6. Anons 5:57 and 11:33 -

    1. I went too far here and I'm sorry.

    2. I went to far because I was angry, and I believe I was angry for good reason. As I wrote, but perhaps should have made more clear, I congratulate the people of Ridgemont for their well-deserved victory thus far.

    However, I have been observing closely for some time now communities in Pittsburgh struggle hard simply to convince fellow citizens of the basic idea that WHEN YOU BUILD THINGS IN A NEIGHBORHOOD, THE CITY MUST LOOK OUT FOR THE NEIGHBORS and make sure life is enhanced for them, not made worse.

    You folks from Ridgemont realize this well, but I have seen others with less direct experience have a really hard time understanding this when it applies to certain other communities: poor communities in general and African-American communities very much in particular. And I've heard what gets said about them, and how the developer and their allies fight back against giving them any consideration, and it makes me angry.

    You are right -- you are receiving NO special treatment or privileges because you are white. Others are being DENIED ordinary fair treatment in part because they are black.

    Developers, contractors and consultants who profit from executing projects can be very willing to tap into and exploit prejudices that exist in all people in order to make those residents seem less deserving of consideration. Again, I've seen it happen, and it's infuriating, and that's why I used the news this week in Ridgemont to demonstrate a larger point about Pittsburgh.

    3. Although I'm sorry I was glib, unclear, and a little insensitive, I'm not apologizing for being racist. I was not being racist. It is possible to talk about issues having to do with race -- and even to be wrong about them -- without being racist. Let's not intimidate people away from necessary topics of discussion.

    4. One of you say: "Also, after Ridgemont's fight is done we will help other communities that need help with development that is not detrimental in theor neighborhood."

    WHY WAIT? You've obviously successfully tapped into something. Strike while the iron is hot! There is so much going on right now -- go help out Northside United at the Planning Commission this week, and go help out One Hill the next time they need something! Maybe they will join you for Chicken Hill's next battle!

  7. Thanks for apologizing!

    You hit it on the nose about communities helping out each other.
    Everyone is valuable with different resources and ideas to
    make not only their neighborhood
    better but others as well.
    I will look into the issues of the Hill district and the others you noted, and see if I can help.

  8. Interestingly this project was entirely funded with private money, absolutely zero public dollars. That CBA's that I am aware of included public financing which would scream for a CBA. But is someone is willing to spend his/her own money on a project does the city, neighborhood or anyone have the right to tell them how to spend it?