The City Planning Commission said no to the proposed Strip District tower in the background of this rendering submitted by developer JMC Holdings on Sept. 15, 2020. (Screenshot)

Develop PGH Bulletins: No 20-story box between Downtown and Strip, commission rules

Develop PGH Bulletins will update you on the Pittsburgh region's economy, including close coverage of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, City Planning Commission and other important agencies. Please bookmark, check back frequently, sign up for the Develop PGH newsletter and email rich@publicsource.org with questions, tips or story ideas. 9/15/20: ‘Disappointing’ Strip tower proposal nixed by city planners
There will be no “Lego office building” in the Strip District, the City Planning Commission decided after hours of discussion on a proposal to build a 20-story office tower on the 1500 block of Penn Avenue. Commissioners voted to deny the proposal without prejudice, meaning New York-based developer JMC Holdings can revise it and bring it back. One commissioner, Dina Blackwell, abstained.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

Behavioral crisis responses and police are focus of new, unannounced Allegheny County panel

As incidents both local and national continue to raise questions about policing and mental health, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services [DHS] has quietly convened a panel that appears to be reviewing the public safety and social services response to behavioral health crises. The 28-member Allegheny County Crisis Response Stakeholder Group held its first full meeting, virtually, on Friday. The meeting included remarks by DHS staff including Director Marc Cherna, plus county Emergency Services Chief Matt Brown, Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert, and representatives of The Pittsburgh Foundation* and the Council of State Governments Justice Center. Its formation does not appear to have been heralded by any public announcement. It comes as the city sees near-daily protests demanding changes in policing, sometimes including calls to “defund” police, which some describe as the shift of law enforcement resources to human services or community building.

Robert Aldred flips through photos on his phone showing injuries sustained when a police dog bit him in June 2017. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

Nearly $9.8 million paid in police use-of-force cases in Allegheny County. Reforms are limited.

PublicSource reviewed the cases because federal court is typically the referee of last resort in disputes between citizens and police. Officials sometimes portray the court as a backstop against other systems’ shortcomings. Scholars of law enforcement, though, view federal court as an uneven playing field on which results have little to do with the severity of a constitutional violation or the injuries caused.

Police in Penn Hills enter the last occupied building in Valmar Gardens, asking residents to leave, on June 19, 2020. The residents were eventually given more time to prepare to move. Some advocates fear that large-scale displacement will follow the expiration, after July 10, of a statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures. (Photo by Rich Lord/PublicSource)

Eviction Day: Between the state moratorium and the CDC order, landlords file flurry of cases

Update (9/4/20): Allegheny County President Judge Kim Berkeley Clark issued an order instructing district judges on the handling of eviction filings in the wake of an order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If a landlord attempts to file an eviction against a tenant who has declared that he or she falls under the income limits and income loss guidelines in the CDC order, the judge may hold an initial status conference to “give the parties an opportunity to also consider available rental assistance,” according to Clark’s order. Other than that, the judge is instructed to stay the case until the expiration of the CDC order, set for Dec. 31. In such cases, judges are not to issue writs or orders of possession — which tell the tenant to get out or be removed by a sheriff — until after the CDC order expires.

Fair or ineffective? Police say Pittsburgh’s internal affairs arm is thorough. Activists see little result.

Last year, Pittsburgh police reported that subjects resisted arrest 549 times, prompting officers to engage in hundreds of forced handcuffings and takedowns, 100 Taser shocks, 59 punchings and 31 knee strikes. They used pepper spray 25 times, impact weapons seven times, police dogs six times and their guns four times. Meanwhile, the city’s internal affairs unit, the Office of Municipal Investigations [OMI], handled 27 complaints related to use of force.

In January 2016, the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh announced that St. John Vianney parish would be dissolved. Now the diocese opposes a bid to give the building historic designation. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

Develop PGH Bulletins: City of Pittsburgh, Diocese square off on church’s historic designation

Develop PGH Bulletins will update you on the Pittsburgh region's economy, including close coverage of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, City Planning Commission and other important agencies. Please bookmark, check back frequently, sign up for the Develop PGH newsletter and email rich@publicsource.org with questions, tips or story ideas. 7/28/20: Separation of church and city? Pittsburgh’s City Planning Commission is expected to vote next month on whether a church in Allentown should be designated historic, possibly against the wishes of its owner, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh. The St.