Community Benefits vs. BUILD BABY BUILD! *

Sounds like we had a lively discussion today:

Pittsburgh City Council may wade into a worsening dispute between several labor and community groups and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s administration by considering a living wage requirement for publicly backed development, Council President Doug Shields said today. (P-G, Rich Lord)

A worsening dispute? I thought it was a bettering dispute.

First, if you have not done so already, go listen to Undermayor Yarone Zober. His comments are remarkably well in-line with those previously made by Rob Stephany, Director of the URA, in response to hesitancy on City Council to approve state subsidies for a Bakery Square parking garage. Stephany even led off with, “Economic Development Equals Community Benefits”, so this is all the Administration’s very well-considered argument against CBA’s.

Now, a chart of where city tax revenues actually go is right here. Notice that there is no large circle for “Job Training”, although I suppose that endeavor could fall somewhere into the tiny $3.8 million lime-green bubble for “miscellaneous”. Note also that although sizable bubbles for “Police” and “Public Works” do exist, even those are humbled by immutable totals for “Debt Service” and “Pension, Health Benefits, and Workers Compensation”. These will only be growing in coming years, demanding more of our resources. So this means that it’s not particularly rational to believe that a significant portion of tax revenue generated by these new developments are going to go towards beat cops and improved infrastructure in our poverty-stricken communities — let alone whatever the residents in them are actually fighting for.

As to the jobs generated by these developments — I don’t think I can make a better argument than was made by Janice Parks HERE. Many of the sorts of jobs we are creating, particularly those in the hotel, restaurant and hospitality businesses, simply don’t seem to pay the kind of wages necessary to sustain a family — not even if you have two such jobs at the same time.

“Really, it comes down to creating jobs that pay the bills,” [Doug Shields] said, adding that people working in subsidized office buildings shouldn’t have to live in subsidized housing. (ibid)

How is a City supposed to thrive if even hard-working parents can’t keep their children safe, and provide them with hope and opportunity? Does the City realize how many of its neighborhoods and parts of neighborhoods are beat down and on the downswing?

Now, if you haven’t seen it already, Infinonymous annotated Zober’s performance and critiqued parts of it at length. Here is one portion I enjoyed, in response to Zober fretting over the “fairness” of seeking a CBA to benefit just one part of town:

Seems at least as fair as expecting the North Side to bear the brunt of parking, vandalism, public urination, and similar problems associated with venues developed on the North Side. Perhaps residents recall the manner in which the Heinz Field liquor license was ramrodded to issuance overriding standard Liquor Control Board practices, or the recurring sound issues, or have little faith in the assurances of a family whose appraisal of the situation included an apparently sober claim their fans do not become intoxicated at Steelers games.

You have to start somewhere, so why not start on the North Side in light of this unavoidably divisive North “Shore” development plan.

Of course, we already started experiments with CBA’s in the Hill District, which reminds me: Zober frequently referenced the unity of opinion among himself, the Mayor and the County Executive as evidence that CBA’s are a poor idea.

It should be pointed out that Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato was the first public official that I know of to take a strong public stand in favor of specific community benefits for the Hill District — including something very much like the $10 million development fund that the Hill District ministers originally demanded. Were it not for Onorato going on television and lending support to those strident demands, likening them to what he himself accomplished as a Pittsburgh City Council Member for his North Side, the One Hill CBA likely would never have come close to a reality. In addition, though Onorato later retreated so far behind the scenes he may have been in another zip code, he stuck by those Hill District ministers through the bitter end in nominating Rev. Johnny Monroe to the Steering Committee, which is to produce a community-oriented Master Plan.

In spite of everything else, Dan Onorato demonstrated some major empathy, major willingness to innovate, and major loyalty for his role in producing the Hill CBA. I’m not entirely sure where he stands on the “One Time Only Special Situation” question so I’m not going to speak for him — but I’m not positive City leaders can rely on him to buttress a position against Community Benefits packages.

Then again Mr. Zober was obviously at his very happiest when he was able to say the Governor supports his boss’s stance on economic development, so maybe this is all a much larger subject.

More from today:

That’s why it’s troubling to hear that this Mayor’s policy now seems to be that all Community Benefit Agreements are dead on arrival. CBAs can be a valuable tool to attract private investments that benefit the entire community. They can provide good union jobs, help alleviate poverty, and help solidify the middle class in their communities.

A successful CBA requires a Mayor willing and able to bring all parties together to work for a fair outcome for everyone.

That was Independent mayoral candidate Kevin Acklin at today’s hearing.

Notice he didn’t say anything about “giving those groups whatever they want”. He also implies that if there is a question over which groups should be a party to a CBA (Zober suggested some potential friction between the NSLC and NU for example) and what issues should be on table, it should be a Mayor’s job to make sure everyone is treated fairly. It’s an opportunity to exhibit mayorship is what it sounds like.


Now finally.

I see there is legislation on the table, and it has to do with establishing a minimum wage for publicly-subsidized developments, and perhaps maybe some other things or some other things shortly.

I want to point this out. It seems most CBA movements are coalitions among three kinds of concerns:

1) LABOR CONCERNS who really seem only to want to add muchly-needed steroids to the trickle-down theory of economics — making sure those jobs which are generated are good-paying union jobs that provide health benefits and other protections, to a diversity of workers.

2) ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS who are sort of the green-headed stepchildren of the coalition at times, but who also may have the best chance of succeeding in Pittsburgh right now, since Mayor Ravenstahl is actually pretty good on environmental issues. (Read Thomas Hoffman’s FB note, Why Environmentalists Should Support the Northside United Campaign)

3) GRASSROOTS CONCERNS whose priorities are idiosyncratic — the best (most innovative) ideas and the worst (least well-researched) ideas are likely to be generated by these sources. Matters of history and culture, of education and recreation, of the neighborhoods’ building stock, of funding for entrepreneurial non-profits, and perhaps most importantly City and Neighborhood Planning — these things can be found here.

Most of the organizing talent and resources do seem to tend to stem from Universe #1 and to an extent Universe #2. When I reflect on this legislation, on the Hill CBA experience, and the passion with which trade unionists subscribe to trade union principles, I worry that the Grassroots category can so easily get lost in the shuffle — or cast aside due to PR concerns — or evaporate once the labor concerns are sufficiently addressed and a “win” can be racked up.

I personally think that would be a huge shame because some of these neighborhoods require direct investment by either developers aiming to win public confidence, or by an Urban Redevelopment Authority which should be … well, redeveloping our urban fabric with all the State and Federal money it does receive precisely due to Pittsburgh’s high poverty rates.

In other words, I don’t think any particular legislation, as good as it may be, can ever reduce or eliminate the need for community-specific innovation and engagement with city government and the private sector together. That doesn’t mean I think the new legislation is bad, I just think it’s beside some of the points — I don’t want to replace a negotiative, participatory model with a formulaic one.

*-NOTE: None of the above, it must be admitted, actually addresses the core of the real argument against CBA’s, which is, as they say: “The developers aren’t keen to it”. Call that a discussion topic for until I return — though commenter “n’at” already had something relevant to say along those lines in this post.

50 thoughts on “Community Benefits vs. BUILD BABY BUILD! *

  1. monk

    You'll get what the powers to be say you deserve to get..!

    James A. Michner in a novel Titled “Poland”…

    The 'Poles' saw their Nation divided by those that had power to draw boundaries…the wealthy draw Countries, the poor build Nations.

    The Poor should be exempt from War…as they have nothing to gain compared to those that draw lines in sand…and in maps.

    The poor will always believe the advantaged hear…

    The advantaged know not their pain, but only feel…themselves…

    …and fingers on pens that will dictate, future of those…less in stature, without pen in grasp.

  2. Infinonymous

    If the mayor and his right-hand boy oppose CBAs and living wage arrangements because they increase the cost of (and/or peeve the chosen developers for) construction projects, how can they justify support of prevailing wage . . . oops, I already covered that.

    The incongruence is so illogical that I guess I just keep forgetting how this works. Maybe I should just paste the campaign finance reports to the wall, so I stop forgetting how the dots connect . . .

  3. monk

    Connect 'all' the dots…corporate and union money…

    Common denominator? Political coffers….

    Pays for green fees…while we caddy!

  4. Mark Rauterkus

    For the record, we've had CBAs in the South Side for years. The South Side Works is under the realm of a CBA — but called by a different name.

    And, UPMC gave promises when it built its sports performance center on the South Side too. There was a CBA as UPMC had plans to build four dwarf football fields. The bargained for pledge is to let locals have access to the sports facilities 24 times a year. Never happened thanks to the spineless Brashear weenies. Oh, and some cash came too — but they jacked the rules so only orgs that were around when dirt was invented can get the money.

    But these CBAs are not new. Nor are broken promises from politicians.

  5. TheTruth


    The whole premise of this local uprising seems to be the fact that the city sold land to continental/the Steelers for approx. 1/10 of its actual value.

    How did we come up with that $10 million + market value? Who was going to pay full value for it? Merrill Stabile, a significant Ravenstahl campaign donor? If so, the city would see significant revenue from the parking tax. Something Yarone Zober is looking for. I'd like to see a comparison of the revenue generated from a MS owned parking lot vs. a new Rooney music venue.

    I know that request is more null space than comet, but the point is as follows -> would you rather see a parking lot or a music venue? I'm just trying to understand Yarone Zober's reasoning in this mess.

  6. Anonymous

    I think that no one argues the music venue, as you have stated. I cannot get a grasp on the fact that these were the only two choices of developers.

    I guess I am left wondering if a different entity would have built a music venue and paid a fair and decent price for the land? I am having trouble buying the argument that this “land” was not going to be developed, more specifically made more valuable because of the other development in the area, sports stadiums, casino, science center, warhol museum?

    Isn't the cry, location, location, location? What is the Location worth and tell me again how unattractive that is for development and paying for it without subsidy?

    One step further, any development brought into an area historically brings the scrutiny of its neighbors who will have to deal with it on a living, everyday basis. It is a quality of life issue. One can make allowances in one area or another if tolerating, noise,crime, traffic, pollution is what also provides me with a good paying job with benefits or average, safe and reasonably priced housing. More poignant especially when we handed millions to developers who have just altered my “quality of life” as miserable as that may be, no decent job, or decent housing but I can't afford to leave and they have added noise, crime,traffic and pollution to my jobless, improperly housed life.

  7. Anonymous

    Very little of this discussion is rooted in fact, Bram. You assert that large-scale development projects fail to deliver the promise of improvement within the community socially or economically. It's the blame game: the developers are evil, the government is evil, TIFs don't work, and other claims that are without supporting evidence. Consider this:

    In 1990, the municipalities of Homestead, West Homestead and Munhall – the communities where the Waterfront mixed use development is situated – reported a median household income of $20,900. In 2009 – a decade after the Waterfront began operating – median household income is $40,200. That is a 92% increase. During that same period, income increased 103% on a per capita basis, and average incomes increased 97%.

    None of this is to suggest that the tide has turned in the Mon Valley, and the 8th Avenue corridor in Homestead could still use a major lift. It is impossible to know what the income statistics would look like today without the Waterfront, but none of the communities in the Mon Valley have seen 90%+ increases in income during the last 20 years.

  8. Anonymous

    Anon 12:10 – I would guess that those income numbers have more to do with the new housing that went in near the river. Like the development on the North Shore, it appears that the impact generated by the waterfront has not spread to the portion of the community on the other side of the train tracks. Or maybe it is just a slow process.

  9. n'at

    Anon 12:10, part of that “mixed use” development were +230 apartments situated a mile from 8th Avenue that rent for $950 to $1800 /mo.

    Beyond the Waterfront, there aren't too many upper or middle class inmigrants on 8th avenue and in the neighborhoods applying for building permits to fix up their dream homes, or open locally owned and operated stores.

    Perhaps now Homestead can shore up their operating budget, but poor planning and insufficient infrastructure has limited the organic growth of capitalism to within the Waterfront, only. This model, I believe, is the basis for North Shore development. Whereas, poor planning and insufficient linkage to the neighborhoods will stifle long term organic growth.

  10. C. Briem

    I would be curious the reference that has an accurate 2009 median household income in Homestead. and that 1990 number quoted is nominal. So say 60-70% inflation over that time if you want to make the comparison. I concur that the new units along the river more than account for any residual difference that we really don't know right now.

  11. Bram Reichbaum

    Anon 12:10 – “It's the blame game: the developers are evil, the government is evil…

    I don't believe I've heard anyone state anything remotely like that, 12:10, although that is a nice way to infantalize the position.

    The position, I believe, is that densely populated urban areas like our own have serious problems, worsening problems, that local governments by themselves are in no position to address.

    Local governments like ours now have histories that make it nearly impossible for them to pay off their debts and obligations, police their streets and keep bridges from falling down all at the same time. There aren't any tax resources left over to rehabilitate ailing neighborhoods and alleviate poverty. Yet, these things have to happen or the the whole applecart becomes unsustainable for folks actually living here.

    Fortunately, the flip side of being a densely populated urban area is that it is very attractive to enter our marketplace. The advantage of being PGH specifically is that we have a concentration of education, affluence and diversity; of universities, cultural institutions, major league sports teams — for better or for worse we built all those stadiums in order to make ourselves a MAJOR LEAGUE CITY, and I think we've actually been successful in seeming that way to the world — we are a supremely exciting marketplace. Although it was a surprise to land the G-20 Summit, there is a reason it is not being held in Steubenville, OH or Morgantown, WV. None of those places are Pittsburgh Huggermugging Pennsylvania.

    We ought to be leveraging who we are in order to attract developers open to finding ways — selecting from an near-infinite menu of ways — to partner with and support our communities, for their own sake as well as ours. We ought to be waiting for, and encouraging, progressive developers. I'm sure the folks attending the G-20, for example, don't even look up from their cigars when local politicos say things like, “Oh, we have low taxes and no regulations! We're so business friendly!” How about trying, “We are a successful, sustainable community that cares how it develops and we only select from the best of the best!” Now that is something.

    This is where Mayor Ravenstahl and I differ, it seems — he stresses that there aren't an infinite number of developers out there, whereas I'd like to stress there is more than two developers but there is only one PITTSBURGH. As long as we have this many consumers, this much stature and this much real estate for this cheap, people are going to want to exploit us. Let's work it.

  12. n'at

    Yeah, I'm not buying what the Ravenstahl Admin is selling in regards to the limited number of developers who want to “play ball” with the city. What is this fascination mayors have with the instant “success” of multi-block developments, anywho?

    Anyone been to Garfield lately? The businesses and community involvement are there, but the city right-of-way looks like hell… The state has been sitting on grant funding to rehab the corridor for the better part of a decade, but the city – for whatever reason – cannot pony up the matching funds.


    Bram, which part of my rant from last week was relevant? The “semi-hot girlfriend” part, right?

  13. Anonymous

    In reference to my 12:10 post and the comments that have followed, ALL the data presented before is from the U.S. Census. It is the most accurate information available. Also, the assertion that the luxury waterfront apartments are almost entirely responsible for the statistical jump in income over the last 20 years, I can disprove that:

    The apartments are situated in Homestead and Munhall (more of them are in Munhall). If you believe Anon 1:01, that the luxury apartments caused the spike in income for the three communities combined, then the incease in income should only be in Homestead and Munhall and not in West Homestead, where the apartments are not. In fact, median income in West Homestead increased 108% since 1990, per capita increased 103%, and average income incrased 95%. One could conclude that prosperity did indeed spread to the immediate area.

    The point of this is not to prove that the Waterfront was a good developmoent. It is to disprove the argument that large scale development – the kind the north side kooks are so hostile about – are, when carefully considered, a benefit to the community. The Waterfront cannot, by itself, reverse the misfortunes of the Mon Valley. In the same way, the North Shore development cannot restore Manchester or any other north side neighborhood to its former glory. In both cases, there are many working parts.

  14. Anonymous

    One thing about 3 Rivers Stadium other than 1971 and 1979 Championship seasons for Pie-rats…and, Bob Gibson’s No-Hitter (stuck out Stargell for last out), 4 Super Bowls….

    …was ample parking for suburbanites.

    Zober, rocks…with his explination.

    Increased revenue should benefit entire City…buy water for MT pools, open closed rec centers…

    Give Ratakus Parks and Rec. Position!


  15. Infinonymous

    A 100% increase in income — or consumer prices, or many other things — over two decades is not a “spike.” It is a gentle curve, of the type commonly expected in many long-term economic contexts.

    What are the corresponding figures for other communities? The county? The nation?

  16. monk

    Yunz miss point…

    Reality Check: Paste Email to Friends here.


    New Zip Code may as well be from planetary designation unknown to Urban Dwellers…

    Kids, still acknowledge age as experiences yet untold…tossed my first baseball, in over 12 years…as always was right on mark, kids notice, old guy in decline. Reliving past…

    It exists in Urban America…but acknowledgment is forbidden, yet here…they grasp.


    Restoring patio to past prominence, Colonial Red awning trim, acid washed aluminum and Hunter Green for concrete slab…looking like the 70's.

    Blue Spruce, Norwegian Pine, Pin Oak and Silver Maple all betray my age…

    Kitchen floor, straight out of Brady Bunch…public swimming pool is full of people that wish they weren't seen…

    More fat people than in 70's.

    Arab, runs 'Little Tex-Supperette'…old Texaco Station 3 doors down. No gas pumps, very Un-Arab like…

    Kids, everywhere you look…still cutting through yards on path I blazed.

    …all of same community, no North-side Boundaries, here… Bram…


  17. monk

    Bram, 🙂


    Playing on my Ukraine sympathies.

    R U ?

    Squeezing blood from beet?

    …Of-Borsht you are!

    CBA, should benefit all of Pittsburgh Community…

    Just a thought…

  18. C. Briem

    It is a curious statement to say “It is the most accurate information available.” I actually wonder if I am being baited.

    Nonetheless, just so nobody gets confused. There really is no 2009 median household income data from the census on what is happening in Homestead and environs. It may be the case that median household income has gone up, or it may not be. We just don’t know. Even for zip codes there is no such data actually collected. Some folks may project out some statistics based on what is known from 2000, but that isn’t really based on any new primary data at all and so it isn’t telling you what is happening in a given municipality of late.. just what some think ought to happen in the future. Not something you want to draw conclusions from.

    The only time series based on data collected annually that could even come close to measuring that is from the IRS which produces a metric for average adjusted gross income by zip code. So for zip 15120 which has at least parts of Homestead, Munhall, W. Homestead and Whitaker… and when you adjust that number for inflation into 2000$ you get this time series from 2000 onward (too lazy to do this myself, but I found this source:

    2000: $30,551
    2001: $29,798
    2002: $30,026
    2003: $29,857
    2004: $30,232
    2005: $30,340
    2006: $30,289

    and if you go and look at that source, it has a metric for how those numbers compare to the US and it looks like Homestead has moved down from 36% of the US number to 31%.

    Another source has a more recent nominal number of $35,510 which if you adjust back to $2000 dollars to put into that series would work out to be a decline from 2006 in real terms.

    So since the Waterfront opened in 1999, 2000 would be a good baseline to measure the change from. There has effectively been no real change in the income levels of nearby residents. Looks to me like a fairly small absolute decline and bigger relative decline. Not quite sure where the idea of a big income jump in nearby residents is coming from but it is not reflective of fairly hard data from the IRS at the very least. In fact, if you think about it and net out what must be marginally higher incomes among those living in the new units at the Waterfront itself, it may be the case that the remainder of the zip must have declining incomes.

  19. Anonymous

    Tww points — the first is that job training is not really a City of Pittsburgh function — it is something that the state and county have responsibility for, similar to how services for the aging are handled by the county and state, not the city. So, not seeing job training in the budget matrix is not surprising. I would think it surprising if it was in there.

    Second, if I am a developer, perhaps the grass is greener in Greentree or any number of suburbs that are literally 5 or 10 minutes from downtown. Keep hitching up carts to the same old broken-down horse and the horse will not be able to pull the load.

    Just imagine you are a developer trying to do a project in the City. First, if State or federal dollars are used, I probably have to pay Davis Bacon wages — not a big deal in itself, but it is a TON of administrative work and I am more likely to hire only the most efficient and highly trained workers, as I am paying a premium for the labor and don't want to pay for 'learning on the job'. So I am not interested in hiring local neighborhood residents unless they are highly proficient and productive if my labor cost is at a premium.

    Next, I must incorporate energy star standards in my project. Again, by itself, a laudable goal, but something that adds to my development cost, even though I might save money in the long haul.

    Next, I have to be LEED certified building. Again, a laudable thing — but it adds significantly to my up front costs.

    Next, if I receive funds or buy land from the City, I have to prepare and implement a 'disadvantaged business plan' to set goals for using minority and woman-owned businesses. Again, something that, by many, is considered a laudable goal, but is another cost in time and administration to get the plan approved and fulfilled.

    Next, I might be required to enter into a CBA — which could cost another significant sum, although it may not be an 'upfront' cost.

    Finally, if the City passes the living wage amendment, not only am I making sure that my workers and contractors' workers are paid a living wage, any tenants also have to comply with this stipulation.

    Or, I can go to Greentree, or the airport, or another suburban greenfield location and not deal with most of these items and probably have lower taxes, to boot.

    Which would you choose?

  20. C. Briem

    So given all of that, why aren't they choosing to leave the city? Is there some evidence I am unaware of that jobs located in the city proper are declining or moving to Greentree? City employment (~300K) is roughly where it was a decade ago, or 5 decades ago for that matter. This whole debate on all sides seems to be based on some premises that are not true.

    and all that you say is true and then some. If jobs have not been fleeing the city, what does it say about the competitiveness of the city to attract and retain jobs. Certainly no lack of Leed-certified, Davis-Bacon constrained hotels going up using either public land or public money. Why do they put up with all the costs you itemize?

    and while it is mostly true these days that job training is not really a city function, that is a recent thing. Not long ago city ran it's own JTPA office which was active.

  21. TheTruth

    Or, I can go to Greentree, or the airport, or another suburban greenfield location and not deal with most of these items and probably have lower taxes, to boot.

    Which would you choose?

    Go to Greentree then. Parkway Center Mall was a success, right? Good Luck charging the same rates you could on the North Shore.

    Last time I checked Greentree doesn't have the Steelers, the Casino, the Science Center, the Pirates, The Warhol, bars, restaurants, access to the “T” combined with a short walk to the cultural district, the convention center and everything else downtown Pittsburgh has to offer.

    Now does it?

  22. InsideAgitator

    thanks again, Bram, for getting my blood boiling.

    For a salient Dan O. quote (“Never Again!”) look to an AM 1410 or 1020 radio interview on a Sunday afternoon sometime in August of last year. Please pull that out for us in time for the 2010 gube race.

    Bait and Switch is the modus here, kids. “Community Input” is touted as a reality in the funding applications. Give Ernie Hogan, or Rob Stephany, a jingle on that.

    A city-full of decontextualized LEED-certified buildings, built with heavy state and federal subsidies in places that upset the neighborhood is our sad, hypocritical and abusive future.

  23. Anonymous

    Allow me to come clean for those conspiracy theorists who believe that the income data presented in my 4:05 post was fabricated or manufactured out of thin air. The 2009 data is from a company that provides GIS data. The incomes are developed using a model. Estimates are based on historical demographic trends and other public information. The basis for these estimates is from U.S. Census data. This data is extermely reliable and is used for a variety of purposes including for market, household and income profiles.

    The IRS data C. Briem spoke about is indeed based on reported incomes. However, he adjusted for inflation, which undermines any kind of apples-to-apples comparison of my numbers to his. The numbers I presented are in actual 2009 dollars.

    Anon 11:25 correctly identified the practical issue with development in the region, specifically as it relates to the unnecessary and systemic development issues that are present because there are hundreds of government and quasi-government bodies in Allegheny County alone. When entrepreneurs talk about Pittsburgh not being a “development friendly” environment, they are talking about the layers upon layers of beauracracy and having to dance just to get anything done. Cities competing for development projects (Cleveland, Cincinnatti, Lousiville, Buffalo, Indanapolis, etc) employ more coordinated and streamlined development processes. Developers understand that government will always be involved with development, but here, it is too often more cumbersome than helpful.

    I am not suggesting that developers should have their way with government. I do think that government needs to be working smarter. That means reducing layers. It involves adopting a customer-oriented approach rather than a top-down, highly bureaucratic process.

  24. Bram Reichbaum

    If its based on US census data, doesn't that mean its based on data that's now 9 years old? Even if the data WAS accurate its now a projection.

    The least you can do is provide a link to where to get this data, or provide us with your identity so we know whom to hold accountable for it. You seem plenty concerned and invested. Step right up!

    And how is it a “conspiracy theory” to believe that people in control money don't like to give it away? Sounds like you are just casting random aspersions on people who are advocating a more compassionate, pro-neighborhood social policy.

  25. C. Briem

    Not a conspiracy theory, just bad use of data. And conclusions being drawn from data that can't support them. That it's being used badly elsewhere is not really a great standard to justify it.

    So you realize the 2009 data in question is not based on any recent primary data. It can't be used to infer changes since 2000. It is based on past census data for sure. But the whole issue here is what has happened since 2000. The IRS data is pretty clear in what the trends are in Homestead.

    In fact the conclusion you should draw is kind of the opposite being implied. What the models say is should be happening in Homestead regardless of Waterfront or any other such large new project is what the numbers are telling you. That could be defined as a baseline. That there is no evidence of it happening leads to the question of why. Staying even would represent falling behind the projection then. Has the Waterfront impeded the income dynamics expected if it had not been built?

    There was a good paper from some folks at Penn State a couple years ago on how big box development impacts poverty in nearby communities. It bears on this whole debate. I will need to go dig it up if I can.

  26. monk

    How about Rich Lord article about City Officals heavy handiness of Paul McCarthy…citations for gathering trash illegaly!

    As Paul likes to tell it “Revolt With A Rake”…remark, not included in article but in email to me.

    Thinking couple of old guys will rock G-20…

    You guys are going to wonk yourselves to death…old guys drink beer together and laugh at world.

    Enjoying the ride…

  27. Monk

    Could use CBA for Monkville! How does one 'apply'?

    I should write a survival book for guys going through divorce….

    New recipe: Chili Mac

    Fire up side burner on outside gas grill, because attempted rewiring of electric stove tripped breaker. (new stove on order)

    Fill up pot with water from garden hose because plumbing went way of rewiring. (see above)

    Boil small amount of Macaroni from 15 lb inventory for 10 min using cell phone for timer.

    Drain in backyard and rinse with garden hose…

    Add following ingredients:

    1) can Cheddar Cheese Soup
    2) cans diced tomatoes w green chilies
    1) can beef chili w/o beans


    Total cost $2.50 (Cheddar Cheese was free, property of previous occupant)

    Bon Appetite!

    Enjoy the ride…! Wonkers!

  28. Bram Reichbaum

    Having returned to PGH, I see that except for the usual, Prof. Briem's fisking of Anonymous 12:10etc's line of argument quieted things down pretty definitively.

    However, Briem also wrote at one point, “This whole debate on all sides seems to be based on some premises that are not true.” If I could beg his indulgence to critique the popular or particular premises of the “community benefits” side of the discussion, I would be grateful. It is of great importance to bring a tight game to the table.

  29. deegazette

    Monk, please think about cooking on an open fire,far better than a grill. Best baked potatoes and beer can chicken ever. Takes a while but kid's friends say unforgettable. Can beer can chicken be made with bud light w/lime?

  30. Monk


    Beer can chicken? Of course it can be made with Bud Light W Lime…tangy!

    Just watched a kid ride down a hill I once sledded on…in July one takes trip on bright emerald green bike…(no baseball cards in spokes)

    Good thing for him that fence no longer exists…I eliminated with my head in late 60's or early 70's.

    Never fully recovered from concussion!

    So cool is the ride that is life…enjoy!

  31. InsideAgitator

    I agree w/ Bram. Those of us in favor of – at least the idea of – CBAs don't dispute the costs; Good work costs good money. People are messy but cheaper is not better. This is Jane Jacobs circa 1965 stuff here. Perhaps this is more about the Community taking a lot of time to build consensus and come up with The List. The leverage of a Slow Down – and the risk of running out the clock on a fat wad of earmarked dough- must make some anxious. So why do a deal with such a thinly capitalized developer?

    Chris Briem – MY Moment of Geek – do please help us get the math. You, at least, don't offend with bad data and name-calling.

  32. Monk

    For what it is worth…conceptually I agree with CBA's.

    Where I disagree is in implementation…

    Pitting one neighborhood against another only divides the greater community.

    Location, location, location…the North Shore is a destination…

    South Hills Communities pay City Taxes and are impart investors in land development on Northside…

    CBA's need to be uniformly distributed amongst those that invest tax dollars.

    Why should tax dollar from Beechview yield less return than one contributed from Manchester?

    It is akin to “taxation without representation”.

  33. Bram Reichbaum

    Monk, *I* would not object to contributions to some kind of city-wide resource pool as being a legit component to any “community” benefits package.

    But I think part of the argument is that developments do occur all over the City — often with particular community consequences which cry out for particular consideration. So that's a point in favor of replicating of the neighborhood-by-neighborhood model all over. Also — and this just occurred to me — a lot of the “big box” style development does seem to occur in or near especially depressed neighborhoods. Then again you could say that's increasingly everywhere.

  34. Monk

    You said:

    “to me — a lot of the “big box” style development does seem to occur in or near especially depressed neighborhoods.”

    Alpark Terrace, comes to my mind.

    Why not a CBA between the International Union of Boilermakers Local 154 and those that lost homes because of Unionist Expansion. (Stimulus money 'tax-dollars' plays role in filling Union Coffers)

    Why don't I see SEIU and CFWA pushing for CBA for Alpark Terrace Community?


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