Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pittsburgh to Add Three More Areas to Its Plan for Nightlife Hospitality

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pittsburgh to Add Three More Areas to Its Plan for Nightlife Hospitality

Article excerpt

Pittsburgh expects to roll out a strategy for improving the impact of nightlife on four neighborhoods in the coming weeks, the result of a contract with the Responsible Hospitality Institute.

The Sociable City Plan is a blueprint for protecting quality of life without squelching the economic and social benefits of nightlife. The institute has helped more than 50 U.S. and Canadian cities develop hospitality plans, said Jim Peters, its founder and president.

The goal is a focused response by teams of building and health inspectors, police, business and neighborhood organizations to help restaurant and bar owners minimize liability, damage and the need for enforcement.

Mr. Peters said "it has all come together," at a time when a more youth-driven scene is emerging in Pittsburgh neighborhoods, making them ripe for intervention.

The organization has been testing the program on the South Side, where early last year police and building inspectors began a series of weekend blitzes to gain control of the streets and review capacity and safety features in bars and restaurants.

Many of those ideas used on the South Side will be rolled out as a pilot in Lawrenceville, Oakland and Market Square, Downtown, but the lessons learned can be tweaked or replicated across the city, Mr. Peters said.

City council President Bruce Kraus, who represents the South Side, said the emphasis will be on helping new business owners "plan their successes, to help them get into compliance on the front end. There will need to be more tailored approaches to problems that exist, and there are going to be times when enforcement is the only option."

The South Side has been notorious for more than a decade as numbers of young drinkers and abusive behaviors have escalated. To address that scene, Mr. Kraus sponsored a national workshop that brought Mr. Peters to the city in 2010.

In 2011, Mr. Kraus conducted a council session with District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr., police Commander Paul Donaldson and Cristopher Hoel, an attorney whom local public officials had beckoned. At the time, Mr. Hoel spoke of "a growing understanding that there is going to be enforcement. …

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