Pittsburgh City Council

Margaret J. Krauss / Keystone Crossroads

 

"Are you registered to vote?" Dave Tessitor asked a man as he walked past the library in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood.

"Yes," the man said, not stopping.

Tessitor fell in step. "We're collecting signatures to put a referendum on the November ballot," he said, walking up the street with the man. He only turned back several blocks later, the cargo pocket of his shorts one pamphlet lighter. He shrugged and smiled. And then a young couple came out of the library. "Excuse me, are you registered to vote?"

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Two proposed trust funds would allow real estate developers to pay the city of Pittsburgh to build green spaces and stormwater management infrastructure if they’re not able to include those elements on the sites of new projects in Downtown or North Shore.

Pittsburgh City Council approved the creation of an Open Space Trust Fund and a Stormwater Management Trust Fund in two unanimous preliminary votes Wednesday.

Tianming Chen / Flickr

Sixteen student conservationists will work as rangers in city parks this summer if Pittsburgh City Council votes to accept a $700,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation today.

Pittsburgh Parks Director Jim Griffin said members of the Student Conservation Association have volunteered at city parks for years, but now they could get paid for their work.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council is set to give final approval Tuesday to a $125,000 settlement in the Jordan Miles case, potentially ending a six-year legal battle between the city and the young black man who accused three white city police officers of attacking him in 2010.

There’s been no public discussion of the deal reached between Miles’ attorney, Joel Sansone, and the city Law Department; City Council held a closed-door executive session on the matter before unanimously approving the deal in a committee vote last Wednesday.

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council members heard testimony from local residents Tuesday on a bill that would ban the use of exotic animals in performances within city limits.

Ron Gongaware, 57, of White Oak is a member of the local Syria Shriners group based in Cheswick. He said the legislation would effectively end his organization’s Shrine Circus, which has been raising money locally for free children’s hospital services since about 1950. 

“And that circus is our biggest fundraiser we have, so the ban of those exotic animals would be a tragedy for us,” Gongaware said.

Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA

At a hearing Thursday, the Affordable Housing Task Force presented its recommendations to protect low-income housing options in Pittsburgh to City Council members.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County’s Hispanic population has increased in recent years, while the U.S. Census Bureau estimates the overall population has decreased

Pittsburgh city councilors and leaders in the local Latino community celebrated that growth Tuesday, as the city recognized Latino Day.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

East Liberty residents hoping to keep a public park out of the hands of a private developer have scored a victory.

The city released a statement Tuesday evening saying Enright Parklet would remain publicly owned, and would not become part of the redevelopment of Penn Plaza.

The announcement came shortly after a public hearing in City Council, in which neighbors spoke out against the rezoning of the park.

Infrogmation / Wikimedia Commons

Homeowners would no longer need to have Pittsburgh City Council approve reimbursements for damage to sidewalks from city tree roots under new legislation introduced Tuesday.

Sponsoring Councilman Dan Gilman said his bill could reduce the time of the reimbursement process by about two months through a special exception to the rule that requires council approval for any spending greater than $2,500.

tanjila ahmed / Flickr

Possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana would be reduced from a civil offense to a summary offense under new legislation proposed to Pittsburgh City Council on Tuesday.

Fines for possessing or smoking a “small amount of marijuana" would remain at $25 and $100, respectively.

Sponsoring Councilman Daniel Lavelle said the hope is that a summary offense, which does not explicitly state that the fine was imposed for cannabis use, would have less of a negative impact than a civil offense when an offender is applying for jobs or seeking a new residence.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

A small herd of voracious baby goats may be the savior for city parks long-plagued by nettlesome weeds and unsightly flora.

Pittsburgh City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to advance legislation that would invite an all-goat landscaping crew and their guardian donkey, Hobo, to graze sections of Emerald View, Highland and West Penn parks this summer.

Urban Redevelopment Authority

Pittsburgh changed street names in East Liberty almost two years ago to distance itself from the 1960s urban renewal project "Penn Circle," which displaced thousands of residents in favor of a pedestrian mall.  

Daveynin / Flickr

City Councilman Dan Gilman wants to change the way Pittsburgh does property assessment appeals, to ensure property owners are taxed fairly -- even at the expense of the city.  

He said the city will target homeowners with an appeal letter within just a month or two of closing on their home, and said the city wins 90 percent of the appeals attempting to increase property taxes. Gilman said, that’s because the city has the expertise, but a homeowner in most cases needs to hire an attorney.

Daniel X. O'Neil / Flickr

In the 1980s, city officials took steps to set aside strips of undeveloped hillsides as greenways that could never be developed. 

Over the years, some of those lands have become the sites of illegal dumping, hunting and dirt bike racetracks. Now, the Department of City Planning is hoping to get more value from those parcels.

The department is applying for a $50,000 state grant to hire a consultant to look specifically at how the city can better use its 12 designated greenways, which cover about 600 acres. 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A committee tasked by city council to look at wages of Pittsburgh's hospital service workers recommended they get a $15 minimum wage during a post-agenda meeting on Tuesday.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Many of the region's officials kicked off a new administration with their new year Monday.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald took his second oath of office alongside several Allegheny County Council members, Pittsburgh City Council members and Pittsburgh Controller Michael Lamb.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council has given preliminary approval to a measure that would establish the Office of Early Childhood within the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment and Equal Opportunity, and hire an early childhood manager.

The ultimate goal is to ensure every child in the City of Pittsburgh has access to quality pre-K programs. During about an hour of public testimony, speakers voiced overwhelming support for an office dedicated to the education of some of the city’s youngest residents.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council’s Wage Review Committee, spearheaded by Councilman Ricky Burgess, is recommending some of the region’s biggest employers increase their minimum wage.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

City Councilman Ricky Burgess is pushing a pair of bills that he said would empower people in some of the city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods to guide economic and community development.

Pittsburgh City Council is one step closer to prohibiting large trucks from parking on residential streets overnight.

“In a residential community you shouldn’t be able to leave you large trucks. A – it’s a public safety concern on many of our narrow streets, B – residential community is meant for residential parking,” said Councilman Dan Gilman. 

Johnny Lucus / Flickr

Pittsburgh City Council on Tuesday introduced a bill that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, defined as 30 grams, or about an ounce.

cgkinla / Flickr

It’s become something of a routine in Pittsburgh City Council’s weekly committee meetings: when legislation to create a registry of rental properties in the city comes up for discussion, Public Safety Chair Councilman Daniel Lavelle asks that the bill be held for another week — or two, or three.

A May 2015 investigation into why the bill wasn’t moving forward in council garnered few solid answers, but it now appears that Mayor Bill Peduto’s administration is prepared to revive the long-dormant proposal.

Courtesy Mac & Gold

The laws that govern food trucks in Pittsburgh were written in an era when ice cream trucks were the only food vendors on wheels, well before mobile pierogi and taco vendors took to the streets, councilman Dan Gilman said.

For example, city code requires food trucks to move every 30 minutes.

City of Pittsburgh

 

Councilman Dan Gilman’s campaign finance and ethics reform bills received final approval from City Council Tuesday morning.

He said the bills are part of a “new era of transparency” in city government.

One of the bills revives the city’s defunct Ethics Hearing Board, which Gilman said hasn’t met in at least five years. It also puts whistleblower protections in place for those who report misconduct.

Michael Khor / Flickr

City Council members are expected to vote on a bill next week that would clarify where drones are allowed as they become more affordable and available in the Pittsburgh market.

“Historically, unmanned aircraft, including model airplanes, have been barred from our city parks,” said Jim Griffin, director of Parks and Recreation for the city. “That, we now extend to drones.”

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Two parts of Councilman Ricky Burgess’s “City for All Agenda” received unanimous preliminary approval in Pittsburgh City Council on Wednesday.

If the bills are formally approved next week, the city will establish a Wage Review Commission and the HELP Initiative, which would create a strategy for preserving and increasing affordable housing in the East End.

Flickr user camera_obscura [busy]

Following in the footsteps of New Haven, Conn., San Francisco, and New York City, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto’s administration is floating a proposal to issue municipal identification cards to city residents.

In August 2011, heavy rains triggered a flash flood on Washington Boulevard in the Highland Park neighborhood, killing four. Kimberly Griffith, 46, and her two daughters, Breanna, 12, and Mikaela, 8, died as the water rose above their car roof. Mary Saflin, 72, was swept away by rising water. City Council is expected Tuesday to approve a settlement for the victims' estates.

The payments total $375,000 for the two families. Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority reached a settlement with the families in July 2014.

KOMUnews / Flickr

  City officials aren’t collecting fines for false burglar and fire alarms despite state laws and city codes that require penalties after at least the fourth and second respective false alarm is received from the same building.

Providing Paid Sick Leave For Pittsburgh Workers

Aug 5, 2015
Daniel X. O'Neil / flickr

  Earlier this week, Pittsburgh City Council received a standing ovation from activists and workers when it gave final approval to a bill requiring employers to provide paid sick days to workers. The  Paid Sick Days Act requires employers with 15 or more employees to accrue one hour of paid sick time for every 35 hours worked. But not everyone is applauding. The Allegheny Institute calls the ordinance anti-free market and anti-business. We'll discuss the pro and cons of paid sick leave with Allegheny Institute President Jake Haulk and Stephen Herzenberg, Executive Director of the Keystone Research Center.

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