Overview and Guidance
City of Pittsburgh Department of City Planning Seal


How to Use This Guide

This guide explains how public agencies, RCOs, and the public work together to create neighborhood plans throughout the city. It walks through the phases needed to make sure neighborhood plans can be adopted by the Planning Commission. This guide is divided into three sections: Neighborhood Plan Goals and Topics, The Planning Process, and Resources.

Neighborhood Plan Goals and Topics

The guide starts by identifying goals that should be at the forefront of neighborhood planning processes. The pages that follow concisely outline the ideas these plans will cover, as well as the public agencies that will partner with the community to address them.

The Planning Process

An overview that explains the basic process and more detailed guidance for the entire planning process.


Resources and templates to support planning teams throughout the process. The information in these resources provide more detail for items in The Planning Process Phases.




Glossary and Templates

Penn Ave

Strip District

About the Department of City Planning

The Department of City Planning (DCP) establishes and sustains an orderly and consistent approach to land use in the City of Pittsburgh that incorporates sustainability, city design, resilience, equity, and opportunity into ongoing practice and long-range planning. To achieve this end, DCP works with communities, civic institutions, and non-profits as well as public departments, agencies, and authorities to ensure the effective and efficient implementation of City policy. The overriding goal is to sustain and enhance a thriving city of neighborhoods for people who live, work, learn, and visit here.

The Builders

North Shore

DCP consists of approximately 40 people organized into five divisions:

Strategic and Neighborhood Planning

Leads long-range planning projects including the Comprehensive Plan and Neighborhood Plans, manages implementation of City plans; Creates new Zoning Code tools and other regulations; Serves as community liaison for City projects.

Zoning and Development Review

Implements Pittsburgh’s Zoning Code; Staffs the Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, and Historic Resources Commission; Advises Strategic Planning on the development of new Zoning Code tools.

Sustainability and Resilience

Sets citywide goals and policies for topics related to sustainability and resilience including energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, water use, transportation emissions, and waste reuse.

Public Art and Civic Design

Author and lead implementer of the City’s Art Plan; Integrates art, culture, and civic design into all DCP projects; Staffs the Art Commission; Manages the City’s extensive collection of public art and monuments.

Community Affairs

Quality of life issues for residents and connects them with the appropriate city services, resources and initiatives and advocates on behalf of constituents; provides programs, services, communication and processes.

Banksville Ave Mosaic

2750 Banksville Ave


Intended Audience

This guide creates a standard for the development of neighborhood plans that can be formally adopted by the City Planning Commission. The City of Pittsburgh will initiate these planning processes in most instances and will use this document to guide this work. Registered Community Organizations (RCOs) can also initiate a neighborhood planning process and work with public agencies to follow these standards to adopt a plan. The key audiences for this guide are DCP planners and RCOs who initiate the planning process and must follow this guide to achieve formal adoption of the plan, and the community organizations and stakeholders who will work with them throughout the planning process.

General Public and Community Stakeholders

This guide explains how DCP and RCOs will conduct neighborhood plans throughout the city. If the City is leading a neighborhood planning effort in your neighborhood, the planners who lead the process will use the framework in this guide for that process. The guide was designed to increase transparency and allow you to better understand each phase of the process. Communities can also utilize this guide to understand whether an adopted neighborhood plan would resolve their needs and whether they should advocate to their RCO to initiate a plan. It is important to know that projects and development will continue to take place during the planning process. The process does not slow or halt activities of communities groups or developers, although there are Zoning Code tools available such as Interim Planning Overlay Districts that can limit certain aspects of development if necessary.

Registered Community Organizations (RCOs) and Their Consultants

RCOs are able to initiate neighborhood planning processes that will result in plans that can be adopted by the City’s Planning Commission. This guide lists the standards by which such planning processes and products will be reviewed to ensure the City is adopting cohesive and complete plans. This guide includes resources and tools designed to aid RCOs in a variety of tasks from hiring consultants, to undertaking public engagement, to conducting research and formulating plan content. RCOs should consult with planners from DCP prior to the planning process and incorporate planners and other public agency staff into the process as outlined in this guide.

Public Agencies

Professional planners at the City of Pittsburgh and partner agencies will follow this guide to develop neighborhood plans and use the materials in this packet to explain the program to stakeholders before, during, and after the planning process. The use of the guide ensures all neighborhood plans are consistent with each other and citywide initiatives.

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