Monday, October 02, 2006

Pittsburgh city hall lacks old hands, has fresh faces

Zoning. As is the case when there are private developers at odds with citizens, the matter generally goes past zoning and wiggles onto the agenda of city council.
Pittsburgh city hall lacks old hands, has fresh faces The lack of tenure has manifested itself in small ways, such as open struggles over zoning issues and bitterness over council machinations. It remains to be seen whether it will affect the city's just-started budget process and how it will play out next year in a potentially wild election season.
Zoning has always been a sore spot in the city with the way it does its business.

There was a big blow up in recent weeks from a situation in Park Place. Park Place is a neighborhood in the city's east side. I stand with the citizens in Park Place. We don't need to tear down homes in the city -- good houses that have residents and still work as designed -- to put up a Walgreens with its highway styled, drive-by formed operation.

Dozens of citizens stormed into city council chambers on a few different instances in the past months. This past week, a two week extension was granted and a deal seems to have been struck. Twanda Carlisle on city council was patting herself on the back for getting a two-week delay. Go figure.

The devil is in the details. We'll wait and see.

But this saga is nothing new. The zoning board is worthless when it comes to hard decisions. Worthless. The fights always spill over to city council's domain anyway.

I think that the zoning board is a waste, a sink, another un-elected group of cronies that often has its logic rooted in nothing but cracks in the pavement. Zoning, its enforcement and most matters of the red tape that it binds is good for corruption and special case treatments.

The overhaul shouldn't stop at the zoning board. The slogan, 'When you fail to plan you plan to fail' fits too. I have no faith in the city's planning department. None.

In the times of Tom Murphy, the planning department was often used as a tool to help advance his agenda. And they didn't even try to give value to citizens and taxpayers.

How else can you explain a city planning department that fires its lone traffic engineer. Planning, zoning and the URA have been tools for re-elections.

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