City rejects a plan to limit bars; South Siders upset
Share with others:
The city planning commission disappointed nearly half of the standing-room crowd yesterday -- those from the South Side -- by rejecting a zoning change that would limit liquor licenses in Pittsburgh neighborhoods with commercial districts.
The commission, however, clearly sympathized with the pleas from residents desperate for help with the bar scene on the South Side, which commission member Kyra Straussman called "clearly in crisis."
City Councilman Jeffrey Koch's proposal would have placed a 150-foot restriction between an existing liquor license establishment and any new one.
That measure might stall the South Side's bar growth, but it also would limit bars in every city neighborhood, some opponents said, potentially freezing the opportunity for smaller commercial strips to change the dynamics of their street scenes.
Ms. Straussman proposed, and the commission requested, that planning Director Pat Ford meet with city officials and report back in two weeks on possible solutions for the South Side problem, including the possible creation of a special task force.
Long lines of South Side residents and merchants pled for the zoning change.
In recent years, they have testified before numerous panels, including the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, that the growth of East Carson Street's entertainment district over the past decade has taken its toll on their quality of life, especially along side streets, where crime swells on the weekends.
Many report their properties are damaged and their sleep deferred. They described themselves as desperate in a dense neighborhood of about 100 liquor licenses.
Almost an equal number of people, and the South Side Chamber of Commerce, spoke against Mr. Koch's legislation. Most of the opposition came from people in the West End and North Side, neither of which would have many chances for development with 150 feet limits.
"The passing of this ordinance would do nothing to improve the South Side's problem," said John Graf, speaking for the North Side Chamber of Commerce. "But it would inhibit development in other" neighborhoods.
First Published January 24, 2007 12:00 am