Making Pittsburgh Sustainable: Your Move.

There a meeting of the ICA at 2:30 today.

Here is a timely background piece:

Pittsburgh’s shortfall, like those of other cities, has been developing for decades. Until 1984, Pennsylvania didn’t require municipalities to prefund benefits, so Pittsburgh paid them from general revenue. Rebuilding the local economy around nonprofit medical and educational institutions removed property from tax rolls. The 200,000 commuters filling many of the new jobs don’t pay city income levies. Then the 2008 financial crisis shrank pension assets as retirements were mounting. (Bloomberg, Jeff Green)

Broadly speaking:

“It’s going to be the story over the next 5 to 10 years,” [Mayor Luke] Ravenstahl says. “You’re going to see local governments going bankrupt. You’re going to see pension plans going bankrupt. You’re going to see bond obligations defaulted on. It’s that serious. It’s that dire.” (ibid)

Local firefighters union head Joe King and City Controller Michael Lamb are faced off over the 401(k) issue. Former mayor Tom Murphy argues that changes to state law “from the 50s” would be sensible. The article contains nothing explicit about this year’s capital budget, though 30 miles of annual paving, crumbling city steps, “drying up” investment resources and the likelihood of “stalled” projects around the new Target are noted.

Now the better news:

Never mind that it’s half empty — of all the half-empty Rust Belt cities, none wear diminished status as comfortably as Pittsburgh. It is the master of keeping up appearances. The downtown, known as the Golden Triangle, remains one of the country’s best-planned and most walkable, with one pleasant streetscape after another. In some ways, it is like a mini-New York, streets filled with people on sunny weekdays, pouring off buses and a little subway in the mornings and back on at night. Pittsburgh feels busy, alive. Industry has given way to research, health care, education, the arts. Smart people are moving in or moving home. The city feels young again, promising, like a place that has a future, one brighter than just about any of its contemporaries.

In short, Pittsburgh is just a little bit of a miracle. It is springtime, now — a good time to go take a look. Here are just a few reasons why. (New York Post, David Landsel)

Let’s do this thing.

33 thoughts on “Making Pittsburgh Sustainable: Your Move.

  1. Bram Reichbaum

    Talkin' bout Briem … this post has been on my mind more and more these days. “It just does not work that way.” Of course what other way was it supposed to work? It was one way or the highway and they took the highway.

  2. rich10e

    The City is grossly under-promoted!! Oakland alone is small city within a city surrounded by Shadyside and Sq. Hill.All that's needed is a good steak and seafood restaurant in the East End!!

  3. MH

    There's nothing wrong with Oakland that couldn't be fixed with several thousand littering citations, several hundred “Fix that exterior you cheap bastard” citations, and giving me a magic wand that can make stupidly parked cars disappear.

  4. BrianTH

    That magic wand is called “an urban gondola system”.

    Seriously, Oakland is in dire need to be placed within a robust rapid transit network. I do think the topographic challenges make urban gondolas an attractive technology, but SOMETHING needs to be done.

  5. MH

    Unless urban gondolas can magically make a 20 year old put his garbage into a container before he brings it to the curb, I don't think it will work.

  6. BrianTH

    The magic wand just needed to “make stupidly parked cars disappear.” A lot of stupid parking in Oakland happens because there isn't enough parking to go around. And a partial solution to that problem is to give people a viable alternative to driving to Oakland.

  7. MH

    The people who live close enough to Oakland that a gondola could get them there are mostly already taking the bus. Also, the stupid parking mostly comes from people with the residence tags. The stupid “stopping in the worst place possible to drop somebody off and hanging out for 5 minutes while they find something in the backseat” is an issue that might be solved by transit or paintball guns.

  8. Bram Reichbaum

    MH – Sir Loin was a steakhouse on Murray Ave. that had a sign like a bloated cartoon Duke or something. I'm not old enough to remember the movie special but it sounds like a slice o' heaven.

    The ICA meeting is over. Ball's back in the other court you could say; more later.

  9. Anonymous

    If I'm not mistaken, Sir Loin was on Forbes in Squirrel Hill, where Charles Spiegel is now, in the days when Sq. Hill had 4 or 5 theaters.

    Dang, I'm feeling old. I even remember Bubbles & Sherman's! Which was in Uptown.

  10. Anonymous

    And don't forget, there used to be a Red Bull Inn in the ground floor of the Kenmawr Apartment building, on Shady near Walnut.

  11. Anonymous

    Why does Peduto keep touting the street light program when the contract is with Zappala and Verbanic and company? Is he now on their payroll?

  12. Bram Reichbaum

    “Fairy-tale policymaking and voodoo economics”! (LINK)

    For the record I did not catch any employment of Reagan-era supply-side economic theory in the defense of Council's plan for the parking assets. I did note a few modest differences in math or background assumptions, including how scrupulously to take projections in the FSG study. It was noted that the fellow who managed that study was a former chief economist of the SEC!!!!!

  13. Bram Reichbaum

    No idea. It seemed to be a point of pride. There'll be a document dump at some point on all this.

    I'm more concerned about the long-term viability of 2011's enacted pensions strategy rather than the very short-term implications of such. Or rather, the short-term problems aren't related to this, they are related to debates regarding the city's capital/operating cash flow, and have been mitigated a bit by the successful capture of casino revenue (dating back to 2007? Did I get that right?). The questions are A) what happens to the pension payments in years 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and B) what happens if we don't hit the magic number and PMRS initiates major combat operations for takeover in September.

  14. Anonymous

    Am I the only one that remembers Peduto sputtering about parking rate increases ruining neighborhood commerce? Now he's pressuring the PPA to enact them as soon as possible?

  15. Bram Reichbaum

    If I were on the PPA, I'd introduce and move to hold a resolution authorizing the implementation of Council's suggested rate increases and meter upgrades, and introduce and push to an immediate vote a resolution authorizing expedited PPA increase-and-upgrade analyses. Of course I'd wish to have done so back January (if in fact it wasn't done).

    Anon 12:56 – Peduto said the enacted rate hikes are less steep, but there is ample room for cherry-picking data on both sides. And if you're also Anon 9:05, yeah you're right, those are network LED streetlights. Maybe we need to toilet paper them?

  16. MH

    It takes a good arm to TP a street light. It isn't like a tree. You've got a smaller target without anything to “hook” to the TP.

  17. Mark Rauterkus

    Thumbs down on the idea of TPing a street light.

    But, from an urban gondola system, hope gets restored on many fronts, even the putting of garbage into cans by 20-year-olds.

    Riders of the urban gondola system could also ride the bus from time to time. But the upside is the extra 30,000 that would move to the vicinity and the 3M additional visitors each year.

  18. Anonymous

    Did Peduto jump the shark? I watch the meetings and he never mentions the state of his East End didtrict. The Jack Ass Mayor punishes us for personal reasons between them and Peduto is all poor me. Oakland has slid further down because Widdle Wukie has a hard on with Peduto and we are treated like the red headed step child.
    Bill needs to learn where his bread is buttered and fight for us like all the other coucil members do. The Rev is making off with the whole Enchillata and Peduto is embarrased by our wealth in his district. He will shift it all to Homewood if he and Widdle Wukie could.
    Screw Oakland.

  19. Bram Reichbaum

    According to the authority:

    Jumping The Shark is the moment when an established show changes in a significant manner in an attempt to stay fresh. Ironically, that moment makes the viewers realize that the show has finally run out of ideas. It has reached its peak, it will never be the same again, and from now on it's all downhill.”

    If anything, to me that's either when they went boldly forth on Dec 31 to attempt to seize and reallocate parking tax revenue, or even earlier when FSG's net present assets valuation came in $50 million under the lease offer after all. The first lease offer. These things shake confidence in accusations like “hiding money” for example, or “all adding up”.

    In fact you could say the steady accusatory affect is the shark and the anger the water skis. For many, the visceral resistance to affiliation comes down to things like tone, language, nonverbal cues and a lack of empathy for differences in culture. Presumption simply follows as one symptom.

  20. MH

    If anger is the water skis, then whoever drives the anger is the Fonz. The mayor is obviously Chachi and Zober is either Potsie or Ralph.

  21. Anonymous

    Bill Peduto'd “jump the shark” moment was the
    day he decided to withdraw from the Democrat
    primary against the Mayor. At that moment,
    he went from being an aggressive, and viable
    challenger to the guy who didn't have the guts
    to run.Peduto ran well against Oconnor in what
    seemed to be a whimsical run for Mayor!!He
    was the darling of the progressive anti establishment
    Dems. unlike Oconnor Bill Peduto was not willing
    to run and lose! Last mayoral election, he sat in
    the sidelines again cheering for two relative unknowns.
    The Bill Peduto show is now the series you'll watch sometimes cause he will make jokes and amuse you, but it's not a hit series anymore, his viewers are disappointed and those not watching grew tired of him playing the Fonz
    to Shield's Ralph!!! the show has run too long and the city
    needs leadership from both council and the mayors office.

  22. Bram Reichbaum

    And we're glad to again be getting read by you. If your “H-bomb” tirade doesn't get the job done, be sure to volunteer also that you're a big fan of this blog, you should have no worries.


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