“Neighborhood” identifies designated areas in the City of Pittsburgh that coincide with census tracts or larger areas with a spatially or community-defined geography. This guide uses the latter definition when discussing the geography of the plan area. Also, “community” includes the largest possible group of stakeholder types in a geographic area (e.g. residents, employers, employees, property owners, community organizations).”
A neighborhood plan is a strategy for the future of a community including proposals for the built and natural environment as well as the programs and activities that sustain a place and its people. That strategy can look very different depending on the needs and focus of the community. This guide defines neighborhood plans as having a vision statement, goals that break the vision into more achievable parts, and projects and programs that each organization will complete to meet the goals and realize the vision. The process to create a neighborhood plan typically takes two years, during which the activities of community organizations and developers continue to occur. The elements of a neighborhood plan are briefly described below, with more information and examples for each found in the Resources chapter.
Provide a shared description of what the neighborhood will be in 10 years if the plan is successful.
Are long-term outcomes the plan will achieve by implementing programs, policies, and projects.
Set a preferred direction and describe what must be done to achieve the goals.
Are a set of activities that seek to realize a particular long-term aim
Are discrete actions for a list of implementation partners to take on and complete.
Are commitments by organizations to work together to advance an outcome.
Informational sessions coordinated by DCP to build up knowledge for the upcoming neighborhood plan process. Each session focuses on a different topic area. Most often, the series will be held in the neighborhood where there is a neighborhood planning process about to begin.
Establish a set of standards for community-based organizations. If an organization meets these standards, it can create a neighborhood plan that may be adopted by the City’s Planning Commission
Outlines a framework for how the City should conduct engagement efforts for many different types of projects. The guide was developed in partnership with a committee of residents and community organization staff.
Many neighborhood organizations were established in the mid-20th century due to many factors such as the Civil Rights movement and federal spending on community advocacy organizations. The City of Pittsburgh views the Neighborhood Planning program and this guide as building on this well-established foundation by adding a set of standards and best practices to ensure the next generation of plans are consistent and comparable in order to lead to adoption by the Planning Commission.
The profession of city planning focuses on the social and physical health of the city by creating healthy and safe living conditions, efficient transportation systems, sustainable communities, and adequate public facilities. Planners address a broad range of topics such as land use, transportation, economic development, energy, housing, and stormwater management to create holistic and responsive plans that are mutually beneficial.
Additional program elements will be developed as needed to support the efficient creation and implementation of neighborhood plans.
Examples: transportation system plans, land use plans
Cover all topics citywide at a high level. More detailed planning occurs at smaller scales.
Cover a narrow number of topics necessary to achieve a specific end for a discrete location.
Examples: park plans, transit station plans
Cover a large number of topics at a high level of detail for a specific district or area.
Prioritize neighborhoods where plans can leverage the largest influence, either because there is a high amount of development occurring or a major infrastructure investment is forthcoming.
Prioritize neighborhoods that need a catalyst for change.
This is a series of informational sessions coordinated by DCP to build up knowledge for the upcoming neighborhood plan process. Each session focuses on a different topic area. Most often, the series will be held in the neighborhood where there is a neighborhood planning process about to begin.
Adopt plans for all areas of the city.
Prioritize neighborhoods where existing plans are outdated (over ten years old) or there is no plan.
Planning processes should be driven by data and a quantitative understanding of the conditions and issues facing a community in addition to more qualitative information. During the planning process, indicators should be identified for each topic that allow the tracking of progress against specific goals (e.g., tracking percentage of residents within a 20-minute walk to an open space as a measure of a goal around improving access to nature). These indicators should be tracked during the implementation phase of the plan as well as the completion of projects and programs. There are a large number of resources where this data already exists or where guidance on collecting data is available to project teams. These include:
This resource was created in 2020 as part of ForgingPGH, the City’s Comprehensive Plan process in coordination with the creation of this guide. It provides a large and interactive dataset at the census track level. It should be used as the first source of data for all neighborhood plans.
This resource was created in 2017 as a baseline to assess annual progress toward equitable opportunities and outcomes for Pittsburghers of all races, genders, and incomes. The first annual report against the baseline was published in 2018. Note: Some of this data exists only at the citywide scale.
This open data resource was created by a partnership between the University of Pittsburgh Center for Urban and Social Research, Allegheny County, and the City of Pittsburgh. Data is updated by all partners and organized into 16 commonsense categories from Arts and Culture to Housing and Properties.
Burgh’s Eye View is a repository of data continually updated and curated by many City of Pittsburgh departments on a wide range of topics from 311 requests and public safety reports to public works projects. Pittsburgh CivicCentral includes data from the Department of City Planning and Permits, Licensing, and Inspections specific to development activities and enforcement.
Pittsburgh’s leaders have long learned from their communities, which has informed the creation of citywide goals and now a new generation from neighborhood plans. Through collective action in neighborhoods citywide, Pittsburgh can work towards building a more sustainable and equitable future. Neighborhood plans implement City goals using processes that integrate Pittsburgh’s best practices with other recognized tools such as the EcoDistricts Protocol and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are explained in sections below.
The Planning Commission will review all neighborhood plans as part of the adoption process to ensure they are forwarding formally adopted City goals. Neighborhood planners for both City- and RCO-led plans will be responsible for submitting a memo to the Planning Commission that includes the plan and identifies the elements that align with City goals and policies. See the Resources section for examples of how neighborhood plans can meaningfully address City goals.
Through its different departments and partner agencies, Pittsburgh is working to improve living conditions and prosperity for all residents. While each agency has its own set of principles, goals, or core values that organize their work, three topic areas tend to be consistent:
Ensuring all groups have access to the resources and opportunities necessary to improve their quality of life.
Ensuring that we can meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Ensuring that the city is prepared to thrive in the face of social, environmental, and economic shocks and stresses.
These three goals are best addressed through a combination of crosscutting efforts from how neighborhoods are physically constructed to the programs and supportive services that keep them vibrant, healthy, and safe. This guide recommends these goals be considered in all planning work with specific recommendations included in the Example Goals and Indicators Resource. The Resource section also includes recommendations for incorporating inclusion and equity into the planning process including the Steering Committee and Action Teams. The City’s Public Engagement Guide provides additional guidance on these topics as they relate to developing activities so that they ensure participation from “hard to reach” groups that have been historically left out of planning discussions.
The City of Pittsburgh takes direction and targets from goal areas in citywide plans that are recognized by Planning Commission and/or City Council. These are described briefly below. In addition to these formal policy documents, the City continues to engage in partnerships with other governmental bodies, foundations, and non-profit organizations to better understand the challenges and opportunities the city needs to address moving forward. These efforts include the P4 Initiative, All In Pittsburgh, Age-Friendly Greater Pittsburgh, among many others. The Neighborhood Plan Guide has been designed to implement adopted policy documents at the local level and includes guidance and direction from these other efforts, particularly as some goals require solutions across neighborhood boundaries. The Resources chapter includes the goals from each adopted citywide plan as well as helpful examples of how neighborhood plans can address them.
A Comprehensive Plan, informed and guided by public engagement, provides the opportunity to set a long-term, implementable framework for shaping the future of a city. The City of Pittsburgh’s first Comprehensive Plan was led by city leaders and completed in 1921. Nearly 100 years later in 2012, the City began a new Comprehensive Plan process, this one focused on community needs and started with topics close to Pittsburgher’s hearts – historic preservation and open space. ForgingPGH finalizes the plan with chapters focused on land use, jobs and economic development, mobility, energy, and other key aspects of the city’s development.
The third edition of the City of Pittsburgh’s Climate Action Plan, approved by City Council in 2018, sets the citywide goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 20% by 2023, 50% by 2030, 80% by 2050 from levels measured in the 2003 baseline year. Getting to these goals will require efforts across a broad spectrum of activities including buildings, energy and utilities, transportation, food systems, and urban forest and natural systems
The OnePGH Resilience Strategy identifies the near-term shocks and long-term stresses the city faces and provides a framework for how to overcome them through collective action. Actions that make the city more sustainable and resilient should be prioritized.
The Pittsburgh region is a test bed and national leader for ecodistricts activity and sustainable development. Ecodistricts combine best practices in smart growth and urban design, community participation and institutional alignment, modeling and visualization tools, rating and evaluation systems, zoning and building codes, financial models, technologies, and practices for infrastructure and building retrofits. A diverse set of the Pittsburgh region’s communities–including Uptown, Larimer, Homewood, Millvale, Etna, and Sharpsburg – are actively incorporating the EcoDistricts Protocol and ideas into their own plans and activities. Building on this foundation, the City partnered with the EcoDistricts Organization to incorporate the protocol into this guide. “This integration will ensure that plans meet the standards laid out in this guide and share common features, objectives, and indicators with EcoDistrict plans throughout the state, region, and country. Also, Pittsburgh communities can share resources, partner with, and compare outcomes with a national network of ecodistricts. More information and a library of projects and programs can be found on the EcoDistricts website.
The Protocol starts with an unwavering commitment to three fundamental and interconnected issues, or “EcoDistricts Imperatives,” that align almost perfectly with those the Pittsburgh region is focused on: Equity, Resilience, and Climate Protection.
Pittsburgh has a long history of working with partners across the nation and throughout the world to pursue sustainable development and equity goals. Actions taken by Pittsburgh mayors have been matched by non-profit and foundation initiatives that have fostered one of the nation’s most active and accomplished green building communities. Partnerships with other cities, both in the US and in other countries, ensure that Pittsburgh benefits from and contributes to global best practices as it works to address the near and long-term needs of its communities. Pittsburgh’s new status as a UN Centre of Excellence for district-scale sustainability measures will strengthen and draw international attention to related initiatives such as the Green Building Alliance’s (GBA) 2030 District and neighborhood planning.
The City of Pittsburgh recognizes the important role all cities play in realizing the goals identified by the United Nations through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals were designed to be useful for any city in the world, but each city must determine for itself how best to address them. Pittsburghers are not only interested in improving their neighborhood and their city, they are part of a global effort to tackle the major challenges facing humanity. In response, this guide clearly shows how local action at the neighborhood scale can contribute meaningfully to global change. The Resources chapter includes a list of neighborhood planning topics and the relevant SDG they address.
Adopted neighborhood plans should have a consistent structure and include of a core set of topics that advance broader, citywide goals. For each of the four chapters in a neighborhood plan, there are “Required” topics that all communities must address, and “Optional” topics that communities may elect to include. This system maintains consistency while still allowing plans to be responsive to each neighborhood’s specific needs and conditions. Communities may develop additional topics as needed. Example goals and indicators that align with goals and indicators from the EcoDistricts Protocol and UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are provided in the Plan Content Details resource. Key agencies for each chapter are also identified and will facilitate discussions during the Strategize phase of the planning process. Additionally, the City’s Office of Management and Budget should be engaged during the Strategize phase as proposals are developed that propose the use of City funds. Consider inviting non-profit organizations with expertise in relevant areas to participate in Action Teams (see Assembling a Steering Committee, Action Teams, and Technical Advisory Groups.)
This chapter focuses on the existing residents, employees, students, and visitors of the planning area with proposals for how they can be better served by the district.
Key Agencies: Dept. of City Planning, Mayor’s Office, Office of Equity, Dept. of Public Safety, Community Affairs, and Public Schools, County Health Department
This chapter establishes the agenda for physical change to a district whether that be through new buildings, commercial corridors, residential areas, etc. Creating new affordable housing and commercial opportunities can be addressed in this chapter.
Key Agencies: Dept. of City Planning, Urban Redevelopment Authority, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh, and the Dept. of Permits, Licensing and Inspections.
This chapter focuses on how people get around and will typically include strategies for improving safety, reducing the negative impacts associated with traffic, and shifting trips to and from the planning area to more efficient and healthful modes of travel.
Key Agencies: Dept. of Mobility and Infrastructure, Port Authority of Allegheny County, and Pittsburgh Parking Authority
This chapter includes all non-transportation systems that nourish and maintain a district including how stormwater is handled, needs for open spaces, the energy systems that serve all buildings, and how waste is reduced and reused. There are many opportunities for these projects to meet multiple objectives (e.g., open spaces that also manage stormwater).
Key Agencies: Green Building Alliance (non-profit planning partner to the City), Dept. Of City Planning, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, Dept. of Public Works, Citiparks,
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