Thursday, December 30, 2004

Don't TIF Deer Creek for another shopping mall

I hate TIFs. I would put an end to them in the city if I'm elected mayor. I'd help to re-write new rules for TIFs in Harrisburg if elected to the PA Senate.

TIFs (Tax Increment Finance) are deals that were used to great measure by the creative and visionary Tom Murphy in Pittsburgh. They got us new retail at the expense of old retail. They churn developement, and that isn't real development. And, as the churn occurs, the one's who build get to pay less in taxes. Then the loosers who lost out leave and pay less in taxes. So, we're stuck with new low-paying tax avoiders and empty buildings elsewhere in a serious decline.

This TIF effort is all about 'corporate welfare.' Any progressive city or progressive politician should be against corporate welfare. However, in Pittsburgh we've got corporate welfare deals going to Giant Eagle, going to Lunar Square in Shadyside, going to places where the marketplace should be doing deals alone.

Bill Peduto has never met a corporate welfare deal he has not embraced. Bill Peduto calls himself progressive. I call that ineffective. Some think Bill is going to be like Murphy light. I think it is more like Murphy HEAVY.

If you want to join with me and others to fight against a TIF, for whatever your reasons, an opportunity is knocking.

Help protect Deer Creek, one of Allegheny County’s best trout and bass streams, and a possible site for a new mall, with tax favors.

PennFuture has represented and assisted local residents opposed to the proposed Deer Creek Crossing shopping mall development since its inception, including a long court battle to demand the current amendment process. On at 6 pm on Wednesday, January 5, 2005, Allegheny County residents can give public comment for or against a tax-increment financing (TIF) plan that would clear the way for the mall.

TIFs are supposed to be used for blighted (mostly urban) areas only. Please take action to protect this undeveloped green space, stream, and surrounding wetlands.

Attend the hearing, and sign up to speak by contacting County Clerk John Mascio at or at 412-350-6495 no later than noon, January 4, 2005. Each speaker gets up to five minutes.

Allegheny County’s Office of Economic Development will make a presentation of the existing Deer Creek Crossing project in Harmar Township, Allegheny County, with proposed amendments by the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County at the hearing. There will also be opportunities for comments by the other taxing bodies (Allegheny Valley School District and Harmar Township) and by the proposed developer that will be participating in the tax-increment financing plan.

The hearing allows for comments on tax-increment financing, and on the Deer Creek TIF in particular.

Local residents, PennFuture and other organizations including the Sierra Club, Tri-County Trout Club, Clean Water Action, Pennsylvania Environmental Council and the Rachel Carson Council have been opposing the project for more than four years. Deer Creek is one of Allegheny County’s best (and perhaps only) trout and high-quality bass streams, and the network of habitats supporting and supported by it, including nearly six acres of wetlands, will be replaced by 200 acres of parking lots and buildings. The plans for the mall, even as revised, will eliminate the riparian zone (the vegetated, forested areas bordering the streams), confine the stream to a deep, narrow valley; produce large amounts of runoff from the parking lots (containing many contaminants); and remove productive habitat by creating several culverts. The results, at the very least, will reduce Deer Creek to an average or below average urban stream, with little quality or function.

Tax-increment financing (TIF) is a form of public subsidy intended for blighted, previously-developed areas. TIFs are quite simply not appropriate or meant to be applied to green, undeveloped areas. This development will draw jobs and businesses away from existing developments, resulting in no net increase in tax revenues or jobs, and creating blight elsewhere. Allegheny County cannot continue to subsidize retail developments on our last, best green spaces.

Public Hearing is slated for 6 pm on Wednesday, January 5, 2005, at the Allegheny County Courthouse, 435 Grant Street, 4th Floor, Gold Room, Pittsburgh, PA, 15219.

To contact members of County Council to voice your concerns, visit

For more information, contact Heather Sage, Outreach Coordinator for PennFuture, at 412-258-6681 or sage - at - pennfuture - dot - org.

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