Diamonte Walker, the deputy executive director of Pittsburgh's Urban Redevelopment Authority, said the unveiling of the Avenues of Hope initiative comes at "a pivotal moment in our country, and a pivotal moment in our city" during a press conference in Larimer on Oct. 14, 2020. (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

Develop PGH Bulletins: 7 streets, in Black neighborhoods, prioritized for redevelopment

Develop PGH Bulletins updates you on the Pittsburgh region's economy, including close coverage of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, City Planning Commission and other important agencies. Please check back frequently, sign up for the Develop PGH newsletter and email rich@publicsource.org with questions, tips or story ideas. 10/14/20: Seven “Avenues of Hope” will be Pittsburgh’s development priorities
Main streets in seven mostly-Black neighborhoods will be prioritized for investment in infrastructure and housing under an initiative unveiled with a show of political and community support, but without a specific commitment of funds. The target streets are Larimer Avenue, Homewood Avenue, Centre Avenue in the Hill District, Irvine Street in Hazelwood, Warrington Avenue in the Hilltop, Chartiers Avenue in the western neighborhoods and Perrysville Avenue in the North Side. As officials took to the podium to praise the plan Thursday, easels holding maps of the “Avenues of Hope” repeatedly blew down in the breezes that crossed the dusty space that will soon become the Village Green in Larimer.

(Photo via Shutterstock)

Allegheny County Council considers bill regulating facial recognition and other surveillance technologies

A new bill could regulate Allegheny County’s use of facial recognition and other surveillance technology. Legislation introduced to Allegheny County Council Tuesday would require county officials to obtain council’s approval before soliciting, acquiring or using facial recognition or other surveillance technologies, except in extreme circumstances. It would also require a public policy detailing how each technology can be used. “The public use of facial surveillance can chill the exercise of constitutionally protected free speech,” the bill states, also noting the technology is less accurate in identifying the faces of women and people of color. “...The benefits of using face surveillance, which are few and speculative, are greatly outweighed by its harms, which are substantial.” 

Councilwoman at-large Bethany Hallam, a Democrat who is sponsoring the bill, told PublicSource: “We’re trying to bring transparency and accountability to one of the least transparent and accountable facets of law enforcement, and that’s surveillance.” The bill is co-sponsored by Democratic Councilwoman Olivia Bennett whose district includes Downtown, North Side and Bellevue Borough.

A rendering of the proposed Uptown Tech building, slated for the corner of Jumonville Street and the Boulevard of the Allies, presented to Pittsburgh's City Planning Commission on Sept. 29, 2020.

September Develop PGH Bulletins: City planners weigh their role in pushing minority business inclusion

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. 9/29/20: Planners delay Uptown rehab project, citing Hill group’s concerns
A proposal to convert an abandoned industrial laundry facility in Uptown into technology space failed to win the Pittsburgh City Planning Commission’s approval, after the Hill Community Development Corporation [CDC] said that the developers did not detail plans to use minority- and women-owned businesses. The commission said that developer Westrise Capital can come back before it Oct. 13, and encouraged negotiation between that firm and the Hill CDC.

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)

Police chase settlement would push lawsuit payouts beyond $12 million since 2009

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.

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.

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.