Wednesday, October 06, 2004

If I were running things...

I stumbled upon the Pittsburgy city government channel while watching TV last night, and they were showing the news conference in which Ed Rendell played Santa Claus and announced the state was giving $73 million for redevelopment projects in Allegheny County, including $4 million for the Steelers' North Shore amphitheater. Then I recalled the RAND Corp. op-ed that ran in Sunday's PG, which called for the city to shift its redevelopment efforts from Downtown to the city's other neighborhoods. What would $4 million buy in the city's neighborhoods? How many sidewalks could it repair? How many sets of sidewalk steps, which the RAND writer noted are a unique and detiorating Pittsburgh feature? How many building facades? How many vacant lots could it clear and prepare for development?

I'd prefer not to dwell on it. I'd hate for you to see a grown man cry.


Blogger Mark Rauterkus said...

Fix sidewalks. That happens after a disability conference visits the city. They file suit, then we get 200 curb cuts.

Sidewalks are also, mostly, the responsibility of the property owner. That's why it is such an issue when the catering trucks, UPS, Postal, etc., drive up on the sidewalks. The cement cracks and crumbles. The property owners have to fix it. Good bye Hawaii vacation.

And, the street paving happens right before a close election. That's been one of the ways to keep the mayor in office. Spend public money to buy votes.

Then the year after the election it is time to fix the less flashy sewers, ripping up the new pavement on the roads.


7:21 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The biggest problem a deteriorating Pittsburgh and most other depressed local communities have faced is the scourge of abandoned buildings.

While there are federal funds (and free labor) available to help out, Pittsburgh has been loathe to use them. Despite creating a "snaggle-tooth" appearance of our cityscapes, abandoned buildings and weed- and rat-infested vacant lots breed vermin, gang violence, arson (and rising fire costs) and drug activity.

These attendant social ills lower property values and speed the exodus of middle income residents from city neighborhoods and school districts, a problem that sparks rising tax rates for those left behind.

Because of administrative mismanagement, it takes more than two years for a Pittsburgh neighbor to gain title to an abandoned lot (which he or she voluntarily will tend, at no cost to taxpayers). While city demolition funds rose after a series of stories in the Pittsburgh Trib (I think they were by Copeland, Ritchie, Bello, Prine and Conti), city managers grumbled that the pittance was deserting money from inane schemes to bulldoze neighborhoods in the far future for bigger and better projects.

As I said in an earlier post, the voters of Pittsburgh sanctioned this urban development policy in the previous primary runoff. They chose Murphy. I don't feel sorry for any of them.

4:44 PM


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