Pittsburgh Council Chews on Bill to Ease Food Truck Restrictions

Dan Gilman’s proposal could also have a big impact on underserved communities.


Pittsburgh councilman Dan Gilman this week introduced a bill (co-sponsored by councilman Corey O’Connor) that will update regulations on city ordinance in order to ease restrictions on Pittsburgh’s budding food truck industry. Gilman believes that these updates are necessary to create a framework for the food trucks to operate legally within city limits, ending the de facto “blind eye” approach that the city has taken recently.

“The city has a booming food scene. Food trucks are an integral part of that. They add to the culinary culture of the city. We need a law that says you’re welcome and you’re wanted here,” Gilman says.

The law as written prohibits food trucks from setting up shop at metered parking — or parking anywhere else for more than 30 minutes — and from vending within 500 feet of a “competing business.”

Under the new law, trucks would be able to park legally at meters as long as they pay the required fee and obey all other restrictions; food trucks would also have a four-hour parking window at non-metered locations. The competing business restriction would be lowered to 100 feet. (“Competing business” is still a hazy term. Gilman says that he spoke with both food truck and brick-and-mortar restaurant owners and that “It comes down to common sense, self regulation and respect for your fellow business owner.”)

Another update to the ordinance is something that Gilman is passionate about and an idea that I think could make a big impact on underserved communities. When vendors receive a permit they will be given information encouraging the use of:

  • sustainable and environmentally friendly practices
  • charitable components to the business of operation
  • school nutrition programs or healthy food choices
  • programs for children or the homeless
  • other socially responsible practices and programs
  • routes that provide access to underserved neighborhoods of the city

“We want everybody to be included and to enjoy the benefits of having a food truck in their neighborhood,” he says.

The vote on the ordinance is scheduled for Tuesday, November 10.

––Hal B. Klein


photos courtesy of National Museum of Broadcasting

#MuseumProject: Saving broadcasting's birthplace

The next time you watch the Steelers on TV, thank Frank Conrad. Next time you use your cell phone, thank Frank Conrad. Just enjoyed your favorite song on the radio? Thank Frank Conrad. 

Tinkering in a small red-brick garage behind his home on the border of Pittsburgh and Wilkinsburg, Conrad developed the technology that gave birth to wireless communication 95 years ago this week, when KDKA Radio broadcast the 1920 election returns. Conrad's later work in shortwave radio enabled instant worldwide communications for the first time in human history. His experiments in television also helped to get that industry on its feet. 

With the 100th birthday of broadcasting now less that five years away, a group of Pittsburghers, led by Steelers and University of Pittsburgh play-by-play man Bill Hillgrove, is trying to establish a home for the National Museum of Broadcasting. The centerpiece of that museum would be the Conrad garage, which was taken apart brick-by-brick — after extensive measurements, photographs, videotape and 3D laser scanning — when new owners threatened to demolish it in 2000. The garage's bricks, joists, rafters, doors and windows now sit in storage at the former Westinghouse East Pittsburgh Works, just a few hundred feet from the spot where KDKA’s first broadcast was made.

Hillgrove heads the board of the non-profit organization that's raising money and awareness for the project. He learned of it from his mother-in-law, Alice Sapienza-Donnelly, then a student at the University of Pittsburgh, who toured the garage and forcefully argued for its preservation back in 1972. 

The group's secretary/treasurer, Rick Harris, says the museum would be highly interactive and educational.

"We want to preserve the history of broadcasting by using the technology of today and the future," he said. "Our elected officials are behind it. Right now we are working to raise $1.5 million, which the state has said it will match, for seed money." 

––Richard Cook




#Rescued: PAART reaches milestone in number of dogs saved

It’s a bird; it’s a plane; no, it’s planes savings dogs!

2,000 dogs, in fact. The Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team (PAART) saved its 2,000th canine Monday after becoming a certified nonprofit organization in 2013.

PAART founders Brad Childs and Jonathan Plesset fly their single-engine Diamond DA40 — and enlist volunteer pilots — to rescue dogs across the United States in dire situations — most often pups about to be euthanized by a shelter, involved in fight rings or living in natural-disaster zones. Thanks to a donation from television personality Rachel Ray, the group this year expanded its mission to include ground rescue with the purchase of its first rescue Landplane (rescue van). Organizations such as the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society line up “furever homes” for the dogs.

To allow them to rescue even more pups, PAART launched a $50,000 Match Challenge. An anonymous donor has agreed to donate $50,000 if another $50,000 can be raised by the end of the year. Want to donate? Click here.  

With the funds, the organization would be able to purchase a second Landplane, along with a mobile-animal rescue and command post trailer.

“This means that PAART would no longer have to pass up air missions, because it would afford them the opportunity to deploy and team up with other shelters to respond to natural disasters and lead the charge to provide help to animals affected by dire situations,” says Inna Shamis Lapin of AvantGarde Communications Group, a PAART spokeswoman.

––Lauren Davidson


Categories: The 412