The Pittsburgh Post Gazette ran this story in the Sunday edition concerning the drinking problem on Pittsburgh’s South Side. This August 1, 2010 article looked at how some bar owners are trying to “solve” the problem. Owners are aware that patrons and non patrons alike are causing problems for residents who are at their whit’s end. Mr. Adam DeSimone, owner of Diesel Club Lounge was interviewed by Joe Smydo of the Post and was quoted several times for the story. I would like to add me 2 shots to the discussion.
The South Side
The South Side is a residential area that has a large business and commercial district that has co-existed for decades. In the 1980’s after the mills shut down the stores on Carson Street closed and we became a dust bowl community. Efforts were made to revitalize the area and it was successful, depending on your point of view. The old furniture stores, grocers and butchers never came back but bars and restaurants did. With them came people from outside the community who brought their cars. Parking became a problem and although there were some other problems this was the major concern in the 1980’s.
This has manifested into epic proportions as the older residents moved or died and their home sold to developers. As property values were inexpensive at the time homes became apartments. This attracted students who now make a major component of residents. With them came their cars and what was a big problem became even bigger. Still, the South Side has long-term families with children and an assortment of multi-legged pets.
The List of Problems
Mr. DeSimone acknowledged that there are problems, BUT (are you reading this Jim Quinn?) "I think there are fewer problems than what has been reported." Retort from Ed: Bull Shit. There are many problems that never make it to the papers. Parking not withstanding, there is the breaking of car windows and mirrors, Keying of cars, breaking of house windows, electric meters pulled from walls, trees and plants being up-rooted, blocking driveways, fire hydrants and stop signs crosswalks. Men and women doing No. 1 and No. 2 in the streets is probably equal the purging of stomach contents. I can see this in the gutter but why would you do this on somebody’s front steps? Steps are a favorite spot to place empty bottles and broken glass, by-the-way. The list can go one and I have not even touched the noise made at three in the morning. But my favorite social activity is watching girls change tampons in the street. Yes Mr. DeSimone, this is not reported because it is not supposed to be. Note to Post Gazette; why not publish the name and offence of those arrested in your “police blotter” that you have done in the past?
Many people, including some police officers have said it residents who obey the law (we) do not like what those who disobey the law (them) do in their (we = our) community then we should move. That is morally and intellectually empty. If a meth lab opens for business next to an elementary school, should (a) the neighbors move, (b) try and get rid of the lab or (c) not report it in the news and pretend it is not a big problem? Do I really need to give you the correct answer?
I can’t say that I hold bar owners responsible for our problems. They don’t want problems in their bars and they can’t control people outside on public ways. I also think it is unfair to blame others for the actions of people actually doing something wrong. Who is responsible when people get drunk at sports events and do damage on their way home? Who is responsible when a fleeing bank robber crashes into parked cars? Actually the police did tell me it was my responsibility. People should be held accountable for their own actions. But getting back to bar owners. Despite the fact that they no longer live here they do have to contend with us and it is better to work on friendly terms. The story in the paper said that eleven bars and clubs are putting in $60,000 for added police presence and weekend clean-up duty. This is good. There are other bars currently cleaning beyond their front door and many other shop owners clean their property as well. The problem is that there is just too much litter and not all of it from the night crowd. I see people at all hours of the day simply toss trash on the street like yesterday’s news. Sorry about that Post; figure of speech. So no, not all of the problems are bar-generated. This brings us to the students.
Many of the people causing problems here are not students. Many of the students living here are respectful people and are trying to fit in to the community in which they live. As renters they do not have pride of ownership and that could be a problem but by and large I think students may be taking a bigger hit than they should. They have added to the population of the South Side and they brought a lot more cars than we had in the past BUT (forgive me Mr. Quinn) they have that right. Some young people do indeed cause problems but just like everyone they need to be held accountable.
Mr. DeSimone said in the Post article that if the neighborhood isn't safe, no one's going to come. What does this have to do with the story about cleanup? It is still perceived that the South Side is safe. To some degree it is but late at night the crime rate has changed since I was a young lad. It was the low crime rate and the ease of walking Carson Street that made bar hopping popular in the first place. People could park and walk for blocks with little to fear. It is still this way for small groups of people but single people do make an easy target. As the popularity of the nightlife brings in more people with spending money so follows the rouges with raccoon masks.
For whatever reason it is a known fact that you cannot get a ticket for parking next to fire hydrants, stop signs, crosswalks, fire breaks or on sidewalks on a weekend or Monday thru Thursday night. One solution that may be illegal in Arizona is to just ticket cars until the city runs out of them. Then maybe people will begin to play nice and actually respect the law and others. They may also stay away, but I know that is heresy to a bar owner. I am glad that DeSimone and others like him are try to help. The problems are many and solutions are not easy to come by. Aggressively going after the problem people and the illegal activity is a good step to take. When people know that they can get away with funny business they lose fear of authority. The overall solution may require small steps but we need to enforce the rules more. They cleaned-up Times Square we should be able to do the same to Carson Street and the South Side.