Oakwatch: The Oakland Code Enforcement Project Meeting Minutes December 5th, 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.
In Attendance: Tara Sherry-Torres; Patricia Richards; Hanson Kappelman; Henry Cianciosi; Ethel DiIuliis; David Manthei; Carol Mitchell; Liz Gray; Lawrence Robinson; Alex Coyne; Peg Sedlack; Maria Bethel; Nathan Hart; Geof Becker; Rebekkah Ranallo; Blair Kossis; Bryant Andrews-Nino; Officer Matt White; Kevin Kerr. Introductions; Brief new members (Geof Becker, 5 minutes) Geof made introductions. Introduced 2013 focus of over occupancy, explained why over occupancy is a big concern in Oakland—what the overcrowding of a neighborhood can do (traffic/parking and pollution issues, safety hazards in homes, etc). The Pittsburgh Sociable City Plan Responsible Hospitality Institute initiative to manage the city’s night life. (Hanson Kappelman & Nathan Hart, 15 minutes) Hanson explained the history of the RHI project in Pittsburgh. It’s an initiative of Councilman Bruce Kraus in partnership with Mayor Ravenstahl. The group has been working for about 6 months now. There are various components of the initiatives and four focus neighborhoods that are in different stages of nightlife development—the South Side, Oakland, Lawrenceville, and Downtown. One early action item that’s already in the works is the creation of a new barrestaurant association in South Side who are coordinating with police. They will be reporting on progress made and recommendations to the Mayor and to City Council on December 12th at 1pm—commmunity is encouraged to attend. Key issues include: a. District Management: Updates to zoning codes by creating a "hospitality zone overlay". Transportation: Strategies to enhance parking, taxi service, pedicabs and transit in the nighttime economy. c. Public Safety: Interagency collaborative to improve compliance and reduce risk and harm. d. Hospitality Practices: Efficient process for new businesses and risk management of current businesses e. Personal Accountability: Social marketing for harm reduction. Good neighbor agreement
Another key part of the plan is to develop a tighter intercollegiate communications system and code of conduct. Hanson found it interesting to learn that the number of college students in Pgh/Allegheny County is 135,000 and that one of the 5 top reasons why people choose new cities to move to is opportunity for socializing. More info can be found here www.rhiweb.org/city/pittsburgh. Geof noted that Oakwatch will be sure to distribute website and City Council announcement in follow up email. Ethel asked if businesses have to reapply every year for their liquor license. Officer White says no unless there are problems/complaints.
Oakland Data Snapshot: Tracking a night in the life of Oakland, verifying 911 calls vs. University of Pittsburgh and City Police records (Bryant Andrews-Nino, Community Q&A, 20 minutes) Bryant Andrews-Nino explained some research he’s been doing on police public data and records. He cross-reference University of Pgh police records with some specific party instances on specific weekends in Oakland. Officer White explained that University of Pitt Police dept can only respond to calls within 1500 feet of any of their buildings, which is why we often don’t see these calls on university police records—the call goes into City Police first. The Pitt Police only respond to issues outside of this jurisdiction if called upon to provide additional support by the City Police. Officer White also explained the new City Community Safety website, where you can sign up for community alerts for the precinct you want. The link is here http://communitysafety.pittsburghpa.gov/Home.aspx There are 7 days of records on this site. Shows any calls for service. May not show exact address. Officer White explained how important it is for the complainant to be present because of issues with “Swatting” (when people send in fake police alerts anonymously). Officer White explained what Incident Reports are—developed with the Freedom of Information act. Police complete two different reports: the Investigate Report and the Supplemental Report. The private information, such as sensitive victim information, is on the Supplemental Report. Incident Reports include the info from the Investigative Report— the most basic level of information, has specific address but no victim names. He says these are very length and would be way too much info to take to a meeting. Geof asked group about these efforts, and if they want us to continue looking into tracking data like this. Group unanimously agreed yes. Ethel and Liz cited examples of new positive student relations.
Over Occupancy Worksheet (Blair Kossis, Community Q&A, 10 minutes) a. Blair recapped Dan Gilman’s advice on how to tackle over occupancy, introduced flyer. b. One resident suggested defining a residential unit—perhaps provide hyperlink to definition. c. Nate explained that majority of properties in Pgh do not have occupancy permit— they are designated as single family homes. d. Peggy asked about a specific example on her street where the dining room is being converted to fourth bedroom and no permit is up. e. If construction is already done, is it too late? Blair says no. Neighbors can testify about what they’ve witnessed in the past. In some cases, owner is required to re-do construction and return to original state. f. Nate suggested pursuing multi-bedroom ads in Pitt News as a more proactive approach for those who are interested. g. Geof summarizes first paragraph—should add how to determine what occupancy permit is for a particular property. Asked if we can use Allegheny County real estate
website for preliminary info, noting “Use Code” line, though Nate noted this is not always accurate and has specifically been advised to not use this as a credible source for occupancy information. Most accurate way to get info is to go to BBI downtown and look in building permits files or occupancy permit files. h. Blair reviewed second paragraph. Liz asked about legality of “No Name No Mail” sticker, Blair confirmed he’s already spoken with postal carrier and it is legal. i. Dave Manthei asked about Bouquet Gardens variance. Geof explained that any landlord can request a variance and they must display it on the property to give community fair chance to ask questions, etc. j. Nate explained that over-occupancy is driving property value unfairly in Oakland. k. Geof argued that we’re asking too much of residents. Blair noted that we need to show that you don’t have to do ALL these things, but these are some options for the steps you can take. Blair added that we should note that if someone feels uncomfortable, they should ask OPDC/Oakwatch for help. l. Liz Style suggested we gather forum of people from BBI, Council, Pitt to have a targeted strategy to combat over occupancy on a specific area to help alleviate pressure on residents. VI.
Oakland Property Progress Report (Rebekkah Ranallo, 15 minutes) a. 301 Coltart: still awaiting Disruptive Properties Ordinance process, no further updates from group b. 3728-3746 Dawson: Case was continued in court on 11/29/12 as owner is showing slow signs of progress; no further updates from group c. 3109 Forbes Avenue: Owners have filed an appeal but we don’t know court date yet. Bernelle Wood of Councilman Lavelle’s office has pledged to keep us informed. Other updates from group: one resident heard a rumor that the University of Pittsburgh is moving offices into this building. Oakwatch could not confirm or deny these. d. 253 North Dithridge: Has been cited by both ACHD and BBI for multiple building, garbage and occupancy issues. Other updates from group: Larry from ACHD noted that building has new management that has subpar reputation in city. Management has pledged to abate violations. e. 3101 Niagara Street: OPDC is working with URA to place property in Property Reserve. This is a long process that could have many potential obstacles. OPDC will keep group informed. No further updates from group. f. West Oakland truck traffic: At previous meetings, residents said problem had increased again and requested to keep item on Top 10 list. No further updates from group. g. 100 block Oakland Ave: OBID has seen trash violations continue. Further updates from group: Residents agreed to keep calling Bill Klimovich of Environmental Services at 412-255-2773 about Szechuan Palace garbage issues. h. 3421 Parkview Avenue: Owner did not show for appeal hearing on 12/4/12. Judge Gallo will send to higher court if he no-shows again. Residents continue to document ongoing violations and are coordinating with ACHD on safety/health hazard issues. No further updates from group.
2852 Blvd. of the Allies: ZBA found nothing in files. OPDC is checking into old files with BBI since address is on file with Ophelia Street address. Further updates from group: Liz Grey added that she thinks they may use a Hamlet street address as well. Will look into it for group. Overoccupancy focus: The Oakwatch over occupancy focus will have a permanent spot on the Top 10 list going into 2013. The properties currently being targeted are: 234, 235, 241 and 263 Dunseith Street and 3431-3433 Parkview Avenue. If you live near these homes, please give Oakwatch a call if youâ€™re willing to help document evidence. Thank you!
Add, Reposition, and Remove properties (Blair Kossis, 10 minutes) No new properties mentioned by group for Top 10 list.
Community Announcements & Events (Community, 5 minutes) Liz Style announced the Cityâ€™s Snow Angels program is looking for need volunteers. Go to this website to learn more or sign up. www.pittsburghpa.gov/servicepgh She also announced that Feb 14th is the deadline for the next Love Your Block program.
Next meeting- January 16, 12:00 pm, Location TBD
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 email@example.com or call us at 412.621.7863 ext. 27. Thanks for keeping us in the loop!