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Oakwatch: The Oakland Code Enforcement Project Meeting Minutes June 20th, 2012

Mission: Oakwatch: The Oakland Code Enforcement Project seeks to improve the quality of life for residents, employees and visitors by enforcing codes on negligent property owners, housing violations, parking violations, disruptive behavior, excessive noise and underage drinking in the Oakland neighborhood. I.

Introductions; In attendance: Janice Lorenz; Dan Gilman; Henry Cianciosi; Carol Mitchell; Mary Ballerini; Kathy Boykowycz; Ron Jardini; Liz Gray; Ron Bennett; Sophia Koss; David Manthei; Mark Oleniacz; Liz Style; Maria Bethel; Adam Butkus; Ethel DeIuliis; Dorothy Wysoczewski; Tara Sherry-Torres; Peg Sedlack; Mary Mallampalli; Brian Hill; John Wilds; Ian Everhart; Matt White; Rebekkah Ranallo; Hanson Kappelman; Bryant Andrews-Nino; Blair Kossis; Wanda Wilson


Oakland residents’ proactive response to the yearly turnover of off-campus student housing: Review community initiatives, assign team leaders, and review expectations. There are six main aspects to the initiative, each directed by a committee. Residents are invited to join one of the six committees. 1. Common Sense Flier • Creation of a handout to inform students about community expectations and possible consequences. • Currently working with a “party foul” theme. We hope to discourage bad behavior by listing bad consequences/outcomes. • Suggestion to use Scenable platform to get these messages out. We will include information on Scenable in the welcome packets. • We are comparing our materials to those developed at Penn State. • Should it include information about the disruptive property ordinance? Or save that for magnet? Maria Bethel will get that info to us to include. • Suggestion to include an element of rights as well as responsibilities, such as being allowed to let BBI in to inspect the property, and information about recycling and trash policies, but this will most likely go on magnet instead. 2. “Welcome to the neighborhood” block parties • The idea is to have students get to know permanent residents. Some areas have had them in the past to welcome students to the neighborhood. Parties would serve as a forum to introduce students to permanent residents on the theory that since they know who their neighbors are, they will be less disruptive. • Target locations for Pitt are Dithridge and Parkview—there are lots of complaints on those two streets. • Pitt is contemplating some financial support for these block parties. The Student Government Board may sponsor some but there is uncertainty as to funding. There could be a theme of Pitt Pride for some of these events or perhaps tie-in to football





season. Both the SGB and administration are supportive of the idea, but don’t have any commitments from their budgets. • Perhaps Oakcliffe will also continue its tradition of having a block party but this is uncertain. • Good neighbor requirements will be added to the freshman orientation seminars and to the code of conduct. • Some residents fear that students living on campus may be more problematic than the residents of these houses—there might be targeting of “good visitor” policies for people attending parties off-campus. • RAs will distribute information to students at the residence hall level. • The ultimate goal is to expand the mindset of a student as being a member not only of the university community to the broader neighborhood as well. • Developing a message is difficult, but with Pitt and residents’ input it will be easier. • Lots of details on the six committees will be resolved once membership stabilizes. Problem properties blitz list • Certain properties are problematic year after year. Developing a list of these properties would allow for focus of resources on the most fruitful targets for this August’s blitz activities. RA training program • Pitt is working with OPDC intern to develop curriculum that targets educating freshmen living on campus about the expectations Oakland community has for them before they move in. • Community can train the RAs who are, in turn, equipped to provide information to residents in the dormitories. Ideally this will help transform the mindset of these students to appreciate Oakland as a true community, not just a location for students. All this information is to be communicated during resident floor meetings. Resident student liaison/ block contacts • Certain people would be designated “block contacts” for linking between students and long-term residents. One permanent resident could assume this responsibility to facilitate information in all directions. • We are recruiting volunteers for this. • Some people have been somewhat involved in an informal manner as a natural predisposition to facilitate communications, and we want to institutionalize and formalize this. Educational Magnet • Inspired by the “Trash Talk” magnets of 2008-09, this would list important information to be put in a conspicuous place in a student’s house to remind them of key dates and phone numbers. • It would include some information but also have a QR code to be scanned that links through to more details, rather than having a large magnet with tiny type.

• • •


Tenants may or may not read or follow the information given out, but there is a need and desire at least to make the effort. Other non-student residents are also far out of compliance with trash requirements. This magnet is to go beyond trash and go into all aspects of the broad vision of being a good neighbor.

Track, Add, Reposition, and Remove Oakland’s 10 Most Wanted properties (Liz Style; Brian Hill, 15 minutes) a. Teris – At the June 7 hearing, the case was continued for 120 days. There is a progress report due in July, halfway through to the 120 day deadline. An inspector met with the contractor June 11 and reviewed what the city is going to require. We are waiting for the July report. b. 53 Lawn – BBI has incorrect info on this. It’s a vacant property but Top 10 list at meeting had last report from BBI saying elderly couple inhabit the building. This is actually the case at 319 Lawn St, which Oakwatch has since removed from the list because CHS and ODPC have collaborated to work with the couple. Will touch base with BBI to get accurate info on 53 Lawn before next meeting. c. 3109 Forbes Ave parking lot – This case is in front of the magistrate tomorrow, June 21. The owners called BBI June 20, in advance of a hearing June 21, to ask what expectations are. d. 3101 Niagara/Slomnicki – Judge Riccardi fined the owner of the property $100,000 at a hearing June 7, but the owner plans to appeal it to the Court of Common Pleas. CHS is working with OPDC to try and purchase the building and form relationship with Slomnicki. e. 3203 Joe Hammer – Some debris has been cleared but other debris remains. BBI is sayinn this is an Environmental Services issue. OPDC asked Liz Style to get Environmental Services rep at monthly meetings. f. VA Hospital traffic in West Oakland– Liz Style is still trying to figure out which department has jurisdiction of this and how to enforce it. She has reached out to Pgh Police for help. g. 20 Mackey – The property is still boarded and secured and appears to remain vacant for now. h. Oakland Avenue restaurants’ trash – The County Health Department is looking into this, and OBID is monitoring it. BBI does not have jurisdiction over this issue. i. 3717 Parkview – A legal action has been filed, but the landlord has a history of noncompliance and stonewalling. He likes to appeal to CCP and bring his elderly family to garner sympathy from the judge. j. 3421 Parkview/Solic – BBI is in the process of submitting these violations to Judge Ricciardi. Habitat for Humanity is also getting involved in this. Wrapping up other properties: 4512 Centre – appealed to Judge Gallo, paid $5,000 fine, the violations are remedied for now. Keith Bailey owns properties on Beeler and elsewhere and was involved in a six-hour hearing. That case will be appealed to Commonwealth Court, per report from Peduto’s office. IV.

Housing Court schedule (Rebekkah Ranallo, 5 minutes)


• See Attachment • 9 properties in housing court for June 21. Residents are encouraged to go. Announcements, (Rebekkah Ranallo, 5 minutes) • Schenley High School Community Meetings a. Schedule as posted on the flier • Mayor’s Office Announcements a. Block watch in a box – for community groups. Steps to go beyond simple crime reporting, when crime is no longer such a salient problem, to turn to code enforcement. • Oakland Farmer’s Market, starting June 29th a. 3:30 to 6:30 time slot, Friday afternoons


Next meeting- July 18, 6:00 pm, Location TBD


Meeting Adjournment

Remember to keep flooding 311 with calls about the nuisance properties in your neighborhood, and let Oakwatch know when you do! You can submit reports to our email account at or call us at 412.621.7863 ext. 27. Thanks for keeping us in the loop!