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East Carson Street gets a make-under

After a long week of grueling problem sets or headaches on the job, many a college student or local Pittsburgher seeks respite in the cool comfort of a couple of drinks at a local bar. On East Carson Street, in Pittsburgh’s popular South Side neighborhood, there are plenty of bars to choose from.

In fact, the Pennsylvania Tourism Office says that on East Carson “there are more bars per capita than almost any other place on earth.” To many college students and Pittsburgh enthusiasts, the billions of bars crowding the South Side seem more like a bragging right than a civic problem. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh’s City Planning Commission doesn’t feel the same way.

The commission has voted unanimously to recommend that the City Council pass a bill that would prohibit the distribution of new liquor licenses for establishments that are within 150 feet of two existing licensed bars on East Carson Street.

The proposed bill comes in the wake of growing complaints among South Side residents that bar patrons’ rowdy behavior is a disruptive force within the neighborhood. Also cited among residents’ complaints was the apparent lack of available parking in the area.

Arresting the growth of one of Pittsburgh’s most attractive and vibrant neighborhoods does not bode well for the future of the city, nor will it solve the existing problems of raucous behavior and an absence of parking.

Especially with the city’s “brain drain” — talented youth bleeding out of the city at an alarming pace — it seems as though Pittsburgh should be doing all it can to keep itself attractive to a younger demographic. In competing for smart young things against metropolises like New York City, Chicago, or Los Angeles, Pittsburgh has a long way to go before it can even begin to stack up against their efficient public transportation or humming social scenes.

Most importantly, South Side residents’ complaints could be addressed without implementing drastic policy changes. Crowd control could be managed by upping the number of security guards at bars or the amount of police presence in the area at nighttime. In regards to the parking problems in the neighborhood, passing the proposed bill to limit new liquor licenses is an incredibly roundabout way of decreasing traffic in the region. Furthermore, parking is always difficult to find in cities and is still far easier in Pittsburgh than in many other urban meccas that are more populated.

Let’s keep the lawmakers out of this situation. The South Side is an important part of Pittsburgh’s economy and character, and certainly provides a fun and interesting atmosphere worth preserving. In a city overwhelmed by snow and rain showers, East Carson Street is certainly a ray of sunshine. We’ll drink to that.