Meeting date: March 10, 2020
Location: St. Paul of the Cross Monastery
The SSSNA’s March meeting started with board elections. One new board member was elected, Lucia Sanchez Madrigal, who has lived in the Slopes since 2014. Dawn Lorincy stepped down after most recently serving as the organization’s treasurer and chair of the Beautification Committee.
U.S. Census workers needed
The representative announced the need for Census workers for the 2020 Census. The wage for Census takers is $23.50 per hour, with mileage reimbursement of 57 cents a mile. Census takers go no further than front doors and ask simple questions like how many residents and their ages. There are no income or Social Security number questions. Apply online at: 2020census.gov/jobs. Applicants must be over 18, a citizen, and have an email address.
Update from a community partner: Ron Brown, The Brashear Association
Ron Brown, the new Director of Programs and Services for the Brashear Association, spoke about the organization’s programming. He talked about Brashear’s additional sites besides the Brashear Center at 2005 Sarah St. Other sites include: The Henry Kaufmann Neighborhood House, 2201 Salisbury St .; The Neighborhood Employment Center, 730 E. Warrington Ave .; The Allentown Learning and Engagement Center, 827 E. Warrington Ave .; and the Brashear Association at The Pet Shop, 212 Brownsville Rd.
The organization operates a food pantry providing food and other items to low-income individuals/families on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3-4:30 p.m., at the Brashear Center and the Henry Kaufmann Neighborhood House.
The Brashear Association also operates utility, housing, holiday, and economic stability assistance programs. It provides job training and college readiness help.
Updates from Councilman Bruce Kraus and Zone 3 Police Commander Karen Dixon
Kraus reported about complaints his office receives about Airbnb’s in the Slopes used as party locations. Many of these parties charge admission and sell alcohol. Often, there is damage done to the property and those surrounding it, in addition to the loud disturbances that often go on into the early morning hours.
Commander Dixon said in late February officers were called to a location where shots were fired by two shooters. The incident was connected to an Airbnb house rented by a woman for her birthday. Officers found a stolen firearm in the home, and another gun present. It is the third incident in the past year in the area with Airbnb venues.
An attendee asked if there are any Airbnb regulations in Pittsburgh, Kraus answered no.
Commander Dixon said if there are three complaints in specific categories in a year, the property is put on the disruptive property list.
An attendee said in the Hillside zoned district a bed and breakfast (B&B) is not permitted. He feels an Airbnb is a B&B. He also reported an Airbnb was opened on his Slopes street, which is a Hillside district. Kraus said he would examine existing zoning and how it relates to Airbnbs.
An attendee commented there are good Airbnbs for people coming to the city for sporting events, museum visits, and more. Kraus said a balance must be struck between lawful Airbnbs and those which promote disruptiveness. For problem properties, the commander said to call 911 when there is a disturbance.
The commander reported crime statistics in the Slopes this year, saying there has been an uptick in vehicle break-ins, likely due to the mild weather.
Kraus said there may be more house parties during this year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration due to the coronavirus.
18th St. steps lighting
Brad Palmisiano discussed new lighting options for the 18th St. steps. He said the steps were repaired in 2008 with a $100,000 grant from Duquesne Light. Half of the funding went toward the steps, with the other half for the lighting. The lighting has since failed, and most of the step lighting is out.
The issue today is whether to spend $100,000 for new LED lighting. The SSSNA will contribute $20,000, with the rest needing to come from fundraising or other sources. The new lighting must also be sustainable. Safety overhead lighting repairs are being made, funded by the SSSNA.
Kraus stated the city owns the steps and suggested a public art project and city funds, and possible a partnership with the city to improve and maintain the lighting. Attendees agreed a partnership with the city made a lot of sense.
Next, a Pius St. resident said his grandparents left money for public art in the area. Some of the ideas he shared was painting the 18 St. steps, or having murals to complement the steps. He will take the matter to the Beautification Committee.
Next general meeting: May 12.