Tuesday, October 05, 2010
By Joe Smydo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Some of the communities making the most blight complaints to Pittsburgh’s 311 line in 2008 and 2009 received the least attention from the city’s Redd-Up crew during that period, city Controller Michael Lamb said Monday in an audit recommending that the high-profile cleanup crew better apportion its resources.

Carrick residents and business people made 626 blight complaints to 311 during the two-year period, more than any other neighborhood. Allentown, Mount Washington, Brookline, Beechview and Knoxville also were among the 12 neighborhoods with the most 311 blight complaints.

“Yet in 2008 none of those communities were among the top 10 neighborhoods serviced by Redd Up, and in 2009, none of them were among the top 20,” the audit said.

Other communities with high numbers of 311 complaints did receive significant Redd-Up attention.
For example, Hazelwood residents and business people logged 577 complaints during the two years, representing a second-place tie with Allentown. Sheraden residents and business people logged 566 complaints, the fourth highest number citywide.

In 2008, Hazelwood received 682 hours of Redd-Up help, seventh most among city neighborhoods. Last year, Hazelwood received 569 hours of help. It did not make the list of 10 most-helped neighborhoods.
In 2008, Sheraden received 581 hours of help, ninth-most citywide. Last year, it received 1,326.5 hours, the fifth-most.

Marshall-Shadeland received the biggest Redd-Up investments in 2008–1,421.5 hours of help and spending of about $41,000. Downtown received the biggest investments last year –2,659.5 hours of help and about $85,000 in spending.

Neither Marshall-Shadeland nor Downtown made the list of neighborhoods with the most 311 complaints in 2008 and 2009.

“Redd-Up must find an equitable way to serve our neighborhoods,” Mr. Lamb said in a statement. He said residents must be better educated about calling 311 “so their neighborhoods are better served and so city government can improve services.”

In a letter included in the audit, city public works director Robert Kaczorowski said he concurred with the audit’s findings.

Calls to 311 aren’t the only way the Redd-Up crew gets assignments.
Referrals also come from city officials, and events such as the G-20 summit held Downtown last year sometimes drive Redd-Up priorities.

Citywide in 2008 and 2009, the clean-up crew boarded up more than 2,600 properties, cleared about 1,200 lots and removed about 13,600 tons of debris, the audit said.

The city budgeted $328,382 for Redd-Up in 2008 and $526,799 in 2009. The crew was about $24,000 over budget in 2008 and about $6,800 over budget last year.