Since being elected to be the Mayor of Pittsburgh in 2013, I have been working to create a city that works for you. When we came into office, my administration inherited many challenges from financial distress to a failing water authority. In those challenges we saw opportunity to establish values to guide our governance in the short and long term. I prioritized transparency, equity, accessibility, financial responsibility, sustainability, resiliency, affordability and creating inclusive opportunities for community, economic and workforce development so that the city we build today is a Pittsburgh for all tomorrow.
We developed a framework to guide city investments and decisions called P4: “Does this decision support our people, planet, place and performance?” P4 ensures that we are responsibly investing taxpayer money in ways that support our priorities and values and meet the needs defined and supported by our communities.
I was re-elected to a four-year term in 2017 by the people of Pittsburgh, and I will fulfill the oath and promise I made to serve them. We are not done yet. My administration intends to finish what we have started and work hard for Pittsburgh until January when we will pass off a city poised for further progress to the next administration.
As local government, all of our services are essential since we are responsible for providing direct public services to our residents, but since March of 2020, our employees have been doing more work with fewer people. Thanks to federal funding in the American Rescue Plan, we will focus on restoring frozen staff positions to enhance the quality of public service.
The American Rescue Plan has also allowed us to fund community-based investments to help our communities that have been hit hardest by the pandemic. We have been given the opportunity to come out of this crisis guided by a new normal of equitable community investment to provide services and resources that improve the health, safety, opportunity, violence prevention and development for all in our city. We have prioritized relief that focus on equity, sustainability, job creation and neighborhood-based projects.
Office of Community Health and Safety
We will focus on the growth of our new Office of Community Health and Safety (OCH&S) to meet the root needs of our critical communities. OCH&S launched in 2020 after over a year of planning to address longstanding health, safety and justice issues. OCH&S is developing programs guided by evidence-based practices and community input. This includes hiring social workers, outreach workers and other professionals who can assist individuals and first responders in situations that require longer-term support and harm reduction like those involving mental and behavioral health conditions, homelessness and substance use. It’s sustainable assistance for those who need help and attention and complements other citywide initiatives around violence prevention, community engagement and diversion.
Avenues of Hope
In October 2020 we launched Avenues of Hope in partnership with the Urban Redevelopment Authority, an initiative to prioritize investments to rebuild largely Black and diverse neighborhood business districts. We intend to continue building momentum around this program, which has already begun to see investments in infrastructure, entrepreneurship and affordable housing in the target avenues of Homewood, Larimer, Centre, Perrysville, Chartiers, Warrington and Irvine Street.
Stormwater and PWSA operations
In 2014, we had a water authority that could not process billing, was providing unreliable service, had failing and aging infrastructure, operated a tradition of disinvestment and, then, found increasing lead content. Rehabilitating PWSA became our priority and over the past seven years they have gone from failing to operational to providing a high standard of service. Today, PWSA has the lowest lead levels in several years, is replacing old failing lines and is ahead of schedule to replace all lead service lines in the city by 2026.
PWSA is now designing a world-class, citywide stormwater management plan to help alleviate the climate stressors our region has experienced like increased flooding and landslides. We will be working with the Water Center at Penn and PennPraxis to have a completed master plan to guide investments and priorities for the next 25 years.
Parks and Infrastructure
We know that parks and access to green space and recreation space are critical to social, economic and environmental health determinants and all Pittsburghers deserve access to high-quality parks within a 10-minute walk of their home. In addition to the ongoing improvement projects in parks, playgrounds and recreation centers citywide we will finish this year, we will also be developing the first five-year plan for the parks tax.
Pittsburgh Land Bank
The mission of the Land Bank is to make land ownership and acquisition simpler and more equitable, reduce neighborhood blight and create workforce development opportunities for our communities. Thanks to critical staff hires, partnerships and our American Rescue Plan allocation, I am confident that the Pittsburgh Land Bank has been set up for success for the incoming mayoral administration.
Sustainability and climate change
We have seen the effects of climate change on our streets, our hillsides, our basements and unfortunately in our city budget. We need to act urgently to adapt city processes so that the money we spend — from our purchase of additional electric vehicles and public chargers to the replacement of over 43,000 streetlights with efficiency bulbs — mitigates climate change rather than making it worse.
Climate change is real and we have the opportunity right now to lead investment in our people, our markets and our infrastructure. I launched the Marshall Plan for Middle America with the support of several mayors in the region because the hardworking people of the Rust Belt built America and can continue to do so. We are working to bring bold action and funding from the federal government now so that Western Pennsylvania, Ohio River Valley and Upper Appalachia can emerge as a leader in renewable energy markets and green manufacturing.
It has been my honor to have the opportunity to work towards an intentional, inclusive city and I am proud of the work we have accomplished. I believe we are a better Pittsburgh today than we were in 2014 and that we will be better come January than we are today.
Thank you, Pittsburgh.
Mayor Bill Peduto