There are more than a dozen registered historic districts in the City Of Pittsburgh. We have a treasure of both homes and public buildings that are more than one hundred years old — it’s part of what makes Pittsburgh special. But these buildings aren’t just beautiful to look at, they encourage economic development as people find neighborhoods with architectural character a desirable place to live. Additionally, preserving and adapting an existing building is a key element of sustainable development.
Love Your Block grants are a joint program of the City of Pittsburgh and The Home Depot Foundation to revitalize our city. To date, Love Your Block grants have helped beautify approximately 150 blocks in the City of Pittsburgh. The program invites nonprofit organizations to propose block improvement projects in their neighborhoods. Up to 30 local nonprofit groups will each win $1,000 Home Depot gift cards to achieve their goal. Each project must also demonstrate the ability to mobilize a minimum of 20 neighborhood volunteers to participate. Additionally, city agencies will provide services such as graffiti removal, supplying litter cleanup supplies, pruning city-owned trees, etc., as is feasible.
The Housing Authority of Pittsburgh controls nearly 6,000 public housing units and administers more than 6,000 Section 8 vouchers throughout the City of Pittsburgh. Our Housing Authority was the first created in Pennsylvania and one of the first in the nation. Many of the units and communities were constructed many years ago and are badly in need of modernization and better service provision. A recent independent audit revealed some serious concerns about how contracts are awarded by the authority and how services are provided. Public housing residents should not have to live in substandard conditions. They should not have to wait for an audit to see improvement in their communities.
A diverse alliance of labor, community and environmental groups rallied in support of Bill Peduto this morning. Peduto supporters from groups including 32BJ SEIU, The Sierra Club, United Steelworkers, UFCW, Ironworkers, IATSE, Clean Water Action, and the League of Conservation Voters gathered at the Gardens at Market Square—the first development which will be fully covered under the 2009 Service Worker Prevailing Wage Bill strongly supported by Bill Peduto.
In 2004, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed the Transit Revitalization Investment District (TRID) law. This law allows municipalities and redevelopment authorities to create TRID Districts so new revenue can be utilized to expand and create new public transit opportunities. Stakeholders in East Liberty are working on implementing the city’s first TRID District in conjunction with new developments in the area. The TRID will allow a portion of the new property taxes created through redevelopment efforts to be dedicated to improvements in public transit, pedestrian, and bicycle infrastructure in the surrounding area. Our hope is that this TRID District becomes a model that can be used in other neighborhoods. But creating TRID may not be enough. To supplement the district and ensure that the development within it is in line with the goals of expanding and creating transit opportunities, I will work with our City Planning Department to create the city’s first Transit Oriented Development zoning overlay.
Earth Day is coming up on Monday, April 22nd, and I’d love for you to join me and a hundred of our closest friends to celebrate in style at the Mansions on Fifth from 6-8pm.
The energy used by buildings to keep our offices, stores, homes, and stadiums heated in the winter, cooled in the summer, and lighted all year round represents a significant portion of the total energy used every year. It also represents a lot of greenhouse gases pumped into the atmosphere and a lot of money wasted on inefficiencies. Cities around the country have started to look more closely at how large buildings use energy, and through this process of examining usage they have been able to take concrete steps to make buildings more efficient and save energy and money. Through partnerships with the federal government, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and organizations like Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future and the Green Building Alliance, we can create a program to help building owners and managers track their energy use and make adjustments to save them energy and money.
Encouraging pedestrians to get out and walk their neighborhoods is one of the best ways to increase public health, keep eyes on our streets, and keep our neighborhood business districts vibrant. However, most of our way-finding and place-making infrastructure is geared toward drivers, is outdated, and was created in a top-down manner without much input from residents and community groups. We should gear our way-finding tools to appeal to and support pedestrians and cyclists as well as drivers. These tools should help find innovative ways to get residents and neighborhoods involved to promote local attractions and businesses and to create a stronger, more vibrant, human-scale city.
There is no doubt that blight and abandonment have a significant impact on our neighborhoods. Blight is an economic crime committed on our residents. I have attended dozens of meetings across the city, where the topic of conversation invariably goes to what can be done about homes that are in poor condition. I truly believe that we cannot sit idly by and let blight claim streets and blocks throughout the city. Our Bureau of Building Inspection has made strides in recent years, but it is still woefully understaffed and without the most critical technology to do the vital work of keeping our neighborhoods up to code. Pittsburgh deserves a code enforcement division that will support the work of our community organizations in weeding out eyesores and public safety hazards.
Pittsburgh’s construction industry is booming, thanks to a healthy regional economy and some of the best developers and contractors in the United States. We all want to see high-quality, community-supported development happening across the City of Pittsburgh and as Mayor I will make sure that this development boom continues and starts to spread to neighborhoods that have lacked investment for far too long. In supporting development, we also need to take some steps to make sure that we minimize waste and environmental impacts. One way to do this is to work with developers and construction companies to help them recycle or reuse as much building material as possible when they demolish or renovate existing buildings and to preserve historical materials and building components.