Pittsburgh City Council Members Air Doubts About Land Bank Legislation

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A letter that four Pittsburgh City Council members sent to 30,000 Pittsburgh residents called a land bank proposal “predatory” and promoted a meeting set for Tuesday evening to discuss potential alternatives.

The letter, dated March 18, is signed by council members R. Daniel Lavelle of the Hill District, Darlene Harris of Spring Garden, Theresa Kail-Smith of Westwood and Ricky Burgess of North Point Breeze. It went to residents of their council districts.

A proposal from Councilwoman Deb Gross of Highland Park would establish a city land bank as a way to transfer vacant city-owned or tax delinquent properties to homebuyers and developers.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/5823332-74/council-bank-community#ixzz2wvfQp8P8
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Brian O’Neill: Blight-Ridding Bill In Pittsburgh Shows Plenty Of Potential

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Drive down Hamilton Avenue or its side streets in Homewood and you’ll see a whole lot of not there anymore.

City Council is trying to hash out a plan to “land bank” the acres of vacant and boarded-up properties the city controls so they can be cleared for sale. That would take in about half of Homewood and almost half the Hill District.

When I asked Councilman Ricky Burgess, who represents Homewood, if he could give me a quick tour of the problem sites, he said, “You don’t need me. I’m dead serious. Drive down Hamilton Avenue and drive around at your leisure. It’s so bad … it’s breathtaking.”

He was right. It came as advertised.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/brian-oneill/2014/01/26/Brian-O-Neill-Blight-ridding-bill-in-Pittsburgh-shows-plenty-of-potential/stories/201401260059#ixzz2reCwstxI

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Pittsburgh Councilwoman Deb Gross Proposes Land Bank

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Deb Gross is proposing the creation of a land bank for the city of Pittsburgh, a mechanism that could streamline the process of redeveloping tax-delinquent land.

Ms. Gross today introduced a bill today creating the legal framework for the land bank, which would be an entity separate from the city. The legislation is a work in progress because Ms. Gross wants to get community input on many of the program’s details.

In 2012, the Pennsylvania Legislature passed the State Land Bank Act, which allowed for the creation of land banks. Since the passage of the law, Westmoreland County, Dauphin County and Philadelphia have created land banks.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/01/14/Pittsburgh-councilwoman-Deb-Gross-proposes-land-bank/stories/2014011401450000000#ixzz2qQ6pSLFH

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Pittsburgh’s Parking Kiosk System Pays Off

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Pittsburgh Parking Authority doubled its daily parking meter take despite a few speed bumps in converting from the city’s coin-operated machines to solar-powered kiosks that take credit cards and require license plate numbers.

“I do think technology is the way to go, and we are looking to expand what we have,” said David Onorato, Pittsburgh Parking Authority’s executive director.

His agency has had to upgrade the system and educate customers about higher rates and new technology, an effort he said could continue this year as the authority rolls out a pay-by-smartphone application; it would allow customers to pay for their parking from anywhere. Parking officials in a few years could use handheld license plate scanners to log numbers instead of punching them in manually.

“Who doesn’t have a cellphone or smartphone these days?” said Dave Webb, 31, an information technology specialist who lives in the North Side and uses the kiosks. “In terms of technology, I’m glad the Parking Authority is embracing it. I hope they continue that trend.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/5004713-74/parking-authority-plate#ixzz2q6xTCIt2
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New Pittsburgh Government Set To Launch As Peduto Has Laid Out Some Lofty Goals

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Saturday, incoming Mayor Bill Peduto began his move into the mayoral wing on the fifth floor of the City-County Building in advance of today’s inauguration, when he will officially take the reins of city government.

The Rev. Terry O’Connor, son of the late Mayor Bob O’Connor and brother to Councilman Corey O’Connor, blessed the space with a sprinkling of holy water. The floors were mopped.

For a man who has pledged to “clean up city hall” and who gave his victory speech while clutching a broom, it was an apropos entrance.

Mr. Peduto has expounded on that theme for more than a year, calling the administration of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl corrupt and saying that the city needs to move away from the old-style politics if it wants to progress. And if he holds to his campaign pledges, he will represent a monumental shift in both style and substance in the mayor’s office.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/01/06/New-Pittsburgh-government-set-to-launch-as-Peduto-has-laid-out-some-lofty-goals/stories/2014010601030000000#ixzz2pdpIux3L

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3 Pittsburgh Construction Projects Hang In The Balance in 2014

Mellon Arena in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Mellon Arena in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This year could be a pivotal one in the development of the former Civic Arena site in the lower Hill District, the LTV Coke Works in Hazelwood and the Strip District produce terminal.

Both the arena redevelopment and the Buncher Co.’s plans for the produce terminal not only have the potential to generate drama but could pose the first development-related challenges for Mayor-elect Bill Peduto, who takes office Monday.

Nearly two years after the Civic Arena came down, 2014 could bring the first wave of new development to the site, which is considered among the most valuable pieces of real estate in the region.

But there’s a potential fight brewing.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/01/03/3-city-construction-projects-hang-in-the-balance-in-2014/stories/201401030104#ixzz2pMlbpeNL

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Pittsburgh Officials Hope Gunshot Detection System Will Aid Police

Locator map with the Homewood South neighborho...

Locator map with the Homewood South neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania highlighted. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Shirley Wheaton, 73, says gunshots are regular background noise on Rosedale Street in Homewood, where she shares a home with her son, who is disabled.

But when she calls 911 to report it, emergency center operators often ask a question she can’t answer: Where is it coming from?

“Frankly, do you think I’m going outside to see where it’s coming from?” she said. “No one’s going to go outside to see where it’s coming from.”

Ms. Wheaton’s neighborhood will soon become the site of a $1.15 million pilot project to install a surveillance camera and gunshot detection system in a 3 square-mile area centered on Homewood.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/pittsburgh-officials-hope-gunshot-detection-system-will-aid-police-687074/#ixzz2Sv8Buz6K

Pittsburgh City Council Approves Security Cameras For Homewood

Locator map with the Homewood West neighborhoo...

Locator map with the Homewood West neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania highlighted. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After heated discussion, Pittsburgh City Council passed two bills to install surveillance cameras and a gunshot detection system in a three square mile area in Homewood at a cost of $1.15 million.

The bills were sponsored by Councilman Ricky Burgess, who said recent violence in the East End underscores the need for the surveillance cameras and the gunshot detection system, which has the ability to pinpoint the location of gunshots and notify authorities.

Councilman Patrick Dowd and Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak opposed the package of bills.  Ms. Rudiak said she was concerned about how the project was proposed and funded.  The money for the project will come from the 2014 capital budget, banking on the fact the city will likely run a surplus this year.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/pittsburgh-city-council-approves-security-cameras-for-homewood-685652/#ixzz2Rz6U5M4S

Pittsburgh City Council Unanimously Approves Ravenstahl’s Property Tax Plan

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pittsburgh City Council this morning unanimously approved Mayor Luke Ravenstahl‘s property tax proposal, which increases the homestead exemption and the low-income senior discount in addition to dropping the millage rate to comply with Pennsylvania law.

Although the rate will drop 30 percent — from 10.8 to 7.56 mills — the vast majority of homeowners will not see a corresponding drop in their taxes because of a reassessment that dramatically increased official home values.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/pittsburgh-city-council-unanimously-approves-ravenstahls-property-tax-plan-672491/#ixzz2JPup3Jxn

Pittsburgh School Board OKs 30 Percent Drop In Tax Rate

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As required by state law because of an overall increase in property values, both Pittsburgh Public Schools and the city of Pittsburgh are on course to reduce property tax rates by about 30 percent for calendar 2013.

The school board Wednesday night unanimously approved reducing the rate from 13.92 mills to 9.65 mills.

Pittsburgh City Council Wednesday gave preliminary approval on a unanimous voice vote to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl‘s tax proposal that will drop the millage rate from 10.8 mills to 7.56 mills.  A final vote is set for Tuesday.

Whether the taxes of an individual property owner will go up depends on how the property fared in the countywide reassessment.  Overall, property values in the city went up 48 percent.  If the value of a particular property went up more than that, taxes will increase.  Taxes will decrease if the value went up less than that.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/education/pittsburgh-school-board-oks-30-drop-in-tax-rate-671734/#ixzz2Ix0Ud4So

Pittsburgh Targets Ending Financial Oversight (Act 47)

English: Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) meets with P...

English: Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) meets with Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After eight years of austerity, the city of Pittsburgh today will argue before a state panel that it has clawed its way to financial recovery and needs fewer mentors looking over its shoulder.

A public hearing on ending the city’s financially distressed status, and disbanding one of its oversight groups, begins at 4 p.m. in the city council chamber.

As of Friday, officials hadn’t decided whether to televise the hearing.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and his team will have 20 minutes to argue that establishing a trust fund for retiree health care, improvements to the capital budget process and bond rating upgrades, among other factors, warrant the city’s exit from Act 47, the law that imposes monitoring and financial restrictions on distressed municipalities.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/state/pittsburgh-targets-ending-financial-oversight-659655/#ixzz2AjL63Hnp

Pittsburgh Expects To Build Revenue Through Advertising

Editor’s note:  Great “outside the box” thinking to create additional revenue!

Companies would be allowed to buy naming rights to city buildings and advertise on city vehicles and employee uniforms, at swimming pools and recreation centers, in city mailings and on benches and parking meters under legislation to be introduced today in Pittsburgh City Council.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said in a statement that the policy is intended to generate additional revenue in a “responsible and community-minded” way. This year’s city budget projects $500,000 in revenue from advertising.

“We have worked closely with council members and the community to craft the best possible policy,” he said. Councilman Bill Peduto, who will introduce the bill, said officials have been studying the issue for years.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/pittsburgh-expects-to-build-revenue-through-advertising-645943/#ixzz21aP3g8ZF