There has been a lot of talk lately from a few members of Bellevue council that the members of LiB are saying “negative” things about Bellevue. Many of the opinions expressed by LiB members may be shining light on things (good OR bad) that happen within the walls of Bellevue Borough Hall. The members of council seem to think that they ARE Bellevue. Kinda strange when you think of the psychology of that, don’t ya think? If someone says something negative about a public servant such as a council member, the council members interpret that as saying something “negative” about the borough. What an interesting way to twist things.
I, for one, absolutely love this town. In my opinion, it’s the best location in Pittsburgh. It’s 5 minutes from downtown, 2 minutes to 279 and 65, 10-15 minutes to a major mall with shopping and restaurants, 12 minutes to Lawrenceville, and you can get to the other side of the city in around 20 minutes. We also have a flat, walkable business district, with near infinite parking spaces. Never once have I seen every parking space filled between on-street parking and the three public lots. Homes in Bellevue are beautiful and you get a lot of bang for your buck. Bellevue has all of the good bones to have a fantastic and prosperous business district that will attract new blood to town, as well as give the locals something to do to encourage them to spend their money in the borough instead of going elsewhere.
While the decline of the borough and the borough’s business district cannot entirely be accredited to those on council, they’ve certainly not helped in moving it forward. In 2011, nearly every business within the Bellevue business district was in support of the alcohol referendum. You might ask why a nail salon would really care or support such a thing that doesn’t directly affect sales? Any good entrepreneur knows that the busier a town is, the more likely that the business that you own will also reap the benefits of having a busy town. Many members of council have very little business sense (in my opinion). They believe that they’re educated on economics, but in fact many of them know very little. One Bellevue council person is a landlord with nearly $2M worth of rental properties in Bellevue. This doesn’t make them good at understanding how a business district works. It should give them a good background, but in this instance, it has not proven to be the case. Why not give the business district the puzzle pieces that it desperately needs to compete in the current market? Why use scare tactics like the “No Bars in Bellevue” group did to scare people into thinking that Bellevue would become the next Southside?
I’m a firm believer in the political process being swift and speedy, especially on such a small, local level such as Bellevue. It took nearly 4 months of debate on council to decline a 45 day trial of allowing patrons at designated outdoor seating areas to enjoy their BYOB libations. Within that 4 month time period, council was presented with a proposed ordinance that would allow the outdoor BYOB, the literature on that section was about one paragraph long. It took them nearly 2 months to look over that document and come to their decision. I think that 4 months on such a simple issue is absolutely absurd. They were clearly stonewalling me in the hopes that I would simply give up. On Thursday, August 2nd, members of council received a proposed ordinance to finally enact an ‘open container’ law in Bellevue. Surprisingly, Bellevue does not have one, and it wasn’t until the outdoor BYOB was proposed that council found that there was not one in place. The police chief said that it would be a good idea to have a law in place like the majority of other cities and boroughs. I completely agree. There should be laws in place that make it illegal to sit in your car and drink, or walk down the street drinking, etc… It became very clear to me that they were going to vote down the outdoor BYOB, and immediately move on to voting an open container law into place. Within the proposed open container law, there are exceptions such as block parties, special licensed events, etc… So under this new proposed law, it will be considered OK by council to have an entire block of people drinking outside, in the streets and on the public sidewalks. According to council members, it is NOT OK for patrons at a restaurant to sit at the restaurants designated outdoor tables and enjoy their beverages. The hypocrisy gets better…
Like I had mentioned above, the council received the copy of the proposed open container law on Thursday, August 2nd 2012, it was 2 ½ pages long. On Wednesday, August 8th, Jane Braunlich motioned to have the first reading of the open container law. It will only need to be read two more times before it can go to a vote. Likely, the 2nd and 3rd reading will be done at next week’s meeting and the vote will take place at the August 14th council meeting. If not, it will be moved to the next available day to vote. Do I disagree with the swift and speedy push to get the ordinance read and voted on? Absolutely not! I think it should be required that things like that be done swiftly. I do, however, think that it shows that childish, controlling, and immature nature of the current “regime” that is in office. Apparently, it takes them 2 months to read a paragraph of information about outdoor BYOB, but only takes them 6 days to read 2 ½ pages for an open container law. They’re very good at making decisions to INCREASE regulations. When it comes to giving the businesses what they need or want, or DECREASING regulations, they have trouble wrapping their minds around it.
Needless to say, it was a direct slap in the face to me, my family and anyone else in the borough that has fought so hard to try to keep the business district at a prosperous level. Under the current rule, it will be difficult to try to attract many entrepreneurs to town, as they hear about the ridiculous hoops that they must jump through to even get their foot in the door, or their business off the ground. I’ve spoken to many entrepreneurs and have tried to convince them to come to Bellevue, and every time I mention the word “Bellevue”, they turn their noses up. The word is spreading that this town and the people that make the decisions around here are very hard to work with. It’s not worth the headache to these people to deal with it. Why would they open here when there are towns all over the city that will accept them with open arms, facilitate them with what they need, and support them by frequenting their establishment? If the powers that be don’t get their heads on straight, and start to re-think their way of governing, this town will continue on the steady decline that it’s on. Unfortunately, we have at least another 18 months until quite a few seats are up for election on council. I suggest you all begin doing research on the voting records of these people, and be ready to make an informed decision about what you want for Bellevue’s future. The current “old guard” has had the same agenda for nearly 15 years, and it has not worked (clearly). It’s time for a change, if it’s not done soon, we’ll be the next Wilkinsburg (a dry, declining town with high taxes, and little to no business district). Bellevue, its residents, and its business district deserve better!