Who is ‘the community?’ Penn Plaza group challenges early stages of East Liberty URA project

The Urban Redevelopment Authority [URA] presented three potential designs Thursday night for an East Liberty development meant in part to bring some former residents of the demolished Penn Plaza back to their neighborhood. But some attendees raised pointed questions about the community input process, which they felt excluded them. “The problem is ‘the community’ is the Village Collaborative,” said Celeste Scott, housing organizer at Pittsburgh United, referring to a community group that has had early involvement in the URA’s vetting process. “That is the problem that they’re not giving an answer to.”

A group of former Penn Plaza residents and community activists questioned why the URA had chosen Village Collaborative, a community group unveiled last year by the HELP Initiative. The collaborative is made up of faith leaders in the East End.

In cities like Philly, wheelchair users can easily hail an Uber or Lyft. Not in Pittsburgh.

In the Pittsburgh region, neither Uber nor Lyft, its competitor in the ride-share industry, accommodate passengers who use non-folding or motorized wheelchairs. Although Uber said its drivers are expected to accommodate riders with folding wheelchairs, walkers or canes, the company does not offer WAVs for passengers who remain in their wheelchairs for the ride.

So while Pittsburgh is a proving ground for autonomous cars — the next leap ahead in the ride-sharing industry — wheelchair-using customers who try to call a driver with their smartphone apps are left waiting on the curb.