Residents from the South Side Flats and Slopes have been working on a public safety/code compliance initiative that is patterned after Oakwatch and whose mission is to improve the quality of life by bringing people and institutions together to identify code violations, advocate for their remediation and monitor the outcomes. The South Watch initiative is scheduled for the second Wednesday of each month and takes place at the Brashear Association located at 2005 Sarah Street. The meetings alternate monthly between noon and 6 PM.
The agenda begins with South Watch mission statement and introductions. A 15-minute presentation follows on a topic related to the South Watch mission. It is followed by a property progress report. Properties on the report are those that have been referred to 311 because of persistent code violations. On hand are city representatives from Environmental Services and Permits, Licenses and Inspections (PLI) who provide updates on the properties that are listed on the reports. Zone 3 police officers share monthly trend data and any safety concerns they may have. Since parking is a persistent issue on South Side, the Pittsburgh Parking Authority (PPA) shares data relative to residential permit parking and the parking enhancement district. Representatives from Duquesne University, the Mayor’s office, city council and state offices are also in attendance and share pertinent information.
An important component of the meetings will be the property progress report. As these meetings unfold, the focus will be on properties in the residential areas that are persistently in violation of the refuse regulations outlined by the city’s Environmental Services Division. At the South Watch meetings, these properties will be discussed to determine the best way to reach compliance before issuing a citation. Repeated refuse violations contribute to a negative perception of South Side and lead to other quality of life violations. The property progress report also includes properties with permits, licenses and inspections violations.
Residents are invited to attend so as to develop an understanding of the process but it should not be considered an open meeting at which they can introduce a problem they are having in the community. (Time constraints prevent these from becoming open forums.) Resident concerns that are not related to the agenda will be vetted through an incident report that the resident will be asked to complete. The South Watch committee will review the information and talk with the resident in order to determine how the issue might be resolved. If resolution is difficult, it may become part of the property progress report in the future. This information is important to the South Watch process as it evolves.