Pittsburgh City Council rightfully designated Oakland Square an Historic District in a vote today, creating a powerful tool for local residents to combat over 30 years of neighborhood disintegration at the hands of filthy, drunken Pitt students. Historic designation, fiercely advocated for by long-term residents and fiercely opposed by slum landlords, will help create a bulwark against further deterioriation in a desperate neighborhood.
Slum landlords are apopletic, and they should be. Gone are the days they could buy a widow's house for $14,000, cut it up into 10 bedrooms, and rent each out at $550/mo. Gone are the days of ripping off historic porches, dumping tar down the front of the building, boarding over half the windows and painting "Slum-Lord Creme" with brown trim. In the Oakland Square historic district, buildings must receive tender loving care that includes wood windows ($ching$), historically appropriate slat-board siding ($cha-ching$), and appropriate density levels. Such things make profitiable slumlording an impossibility. Community groups in Oakland will be able to challenge non-historic renovations in court, stopping slumlords dead in their tracks.
An April 28th Pittsburgh City Paper feature story by Melissa Meinzer interviewed the leader of the fight against historic designation: local resident cum slumlord Frank DeLuliis. "This neighborhood is over," he crooned, as small winged demons crawled in and out of every orifice of his body. "Let’s come down to reality - it’s a college campus, you can’t change that." As he reviewed a realm of his own making, the sagging houses, smashed beer bottles and vomit-puddles of South Oakland, Deluliis recognizes his filth drives down the cost of the single-family housing he chops up into student slums. Oddly enough, unlike slumlords like Jeffrey Weisband (who lives under a rock in Fox Chapel, far from his realm), DeLuliis is still a resident of South Oakland.
'Hey, pigs swim in their own shit and piss, and they don't mind,' snorts DeLuliis.