Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday: Rack 'em Up.

The North Shore Master Plan was approved at the Planning Commission, minus the specifics on the amphitheater for now.

There is coverage at WTAE and the Tribune-Review, which skipped over from what I hear were possibly a few interesting items (the full text and scope of the Law Department's letter to the Commission, the fact of City Solicitor George Specter's significant degree of participation during the meeting, and the spectacle of having to involve the police at one point) but the news was what it was.

I'd like to call your attention just to this:

"I appreciate the community group's frustration, but I think it's inappropriate to ask a project developer to meet with private groups and help resolve their problems," said Barry Ford, president of development for Continental Real Estate Cos. (Trib, Chris Togneri)

Inappropriate to expect someone to meet -- MEET -- with new neighbors.

And how do you like "help resolve their problems". Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I think of those as Pittsburgh's problems, all of our problems, Continental's problems or in actuality the Steelers' problems as well.

No they don't have to accede to all or even half of the community coalition's specific demands, if you ask me. No they don't have to install weather stripping on area roofs for example. But let's not stand on ceremony and make some kind of ideological statement ("No more CBA's! No more Communism!") by refusing to go through a couple pots of coffee with concerned neighbors. Not only are the developers inviting wrath, but they're probably passing up a few opportunities to do some things they could be really proud of.

No I'm not enamoured of some of Northside United's rowdier tactics -- at least not all the time -- but that rowdiness itself is partially a function of the regimen of religious avoidance and non-engagement served up by the developer. My guess is if the community folks were directly engaged, the labor organizers wouldn't have to do or be able to do as much of what they're trained to do.

NU included this in a press release of yesterday:

Today, a delegation of Northside community members and Clergy went to the Steelers corporate headquarters to deliver an invitation to the Rooney family to attend the bus tour we are hosting next week.


Next Wednesday, June 17th from 10am-Noon, we are hosting a bus tour through Northside neighborhoods. In addition to the Rooney family, we have invited politicians, members of the Planning Commission, members of the Stadium Authority, the media and allied organizations from across the city. We plan to show both the positive and negative aspects of life in Northside neighborhoods to help make our case that real investment and accountable development is needed in our community.

This strikes me as exactly the right tactic. No I do not expect the Rooney family will clear their schedules on June 17th at 10:00 am to ride on this bus. But it's probably high time to cut out-of-town Continental out of the loop. If one of the Rooneys can help foster peace within Ireland and generally around the globe, surely somebody from the Rooneys' organization can be tasked with attempting at least to make peace with some downtrodden neighbors on the North Side of Pittsburgh.

Jeez, if even their buddy the President was a community organizer, it can't be all worthless.


There will be another Alpark Terrace trailer park post soon, but for now a quick update is necessary: turns out the hearing before the city's Zoning Board of Adjustment was not a useful forum to help residents who would like to find a way to remain.

It is an unfortunate circumstance for those directly affected, but the Boilermakers union, which purchased the property, has every right to alter a use from light manufacturing to office and event-holding in one building, and more to the point, to change a nonconforming residential rental use to a nonconforming parking use ... so long as other nearby stakeholders aren't adversely affected.

The actual folks getting kicked out, oddly but unarguably properly, do not count from a zoning perspective.

It doesn't look good if you're a resident, but there are at least three avenues yet to be fully explored, in no particular order:

1. Tenants Rights law (got to check up on everything)
2. Historic Designation (long shot but utterly plausible)
3. Moral appeals / Political grandstanding / "Could you please not get rid of us?"


Well the Housing Authority thing got officially interesting. Will it turn compelling? We all wouldn't be doing our due diligence if we didn't specifically examine the "several unique challenges" to a merger, but hopefully this will spark a bevy of fruitful talks on ordinary collaboration across the County. There is a lot we can learn from folks right next door, no need to travel great distances. (P-G, Team Effort)

Infinonymous, the Pittsburgh Hoagie and Null Space all seem to think the Iron City thing is a more salient and more outrageous a story than it appears at first glimpse.

This strikes me
as good thinking. Maybe not in regards to converting buses (pursuant to a highly authoritative-sounding anonymous commenter) but the principle of Advanced Redd-Up sounds solid enough to jump on.

Peaks and Gutters has a balanced look at the City's latest international plaudits and what should be our posture towards these. For that matter, so does the Post-Gazette Edit Board.

Tune in later -- I'm thinking 4:00? soon -- for more thoughts our city budget situation. The blog is about to get lousy with that material for the next 18 days. We're already in the showdown before the showdown.

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