Pittsburgh skyline
Photo by Jennifer Baron.

Want to have a say in Pittsburgh’s future? An online workshop started this week kicks off community involvement for a citywide comprehensive planning process called ForgingPGH, which will guide investment and development for the next two decades.

City Planning Director Andrew Dash says it’s the first comprehensive look at land use across Pittsburgh.

“The plan will provide an equitable framework for housing, development, mobility, sustainability and land use for the next 20 years,” say Dash.

The online workshop runs through October 1 and includes a survey and interactive map. The city is launching the public engagement process online because of COVID-19 restrictions, but the workshop also can be completed by calling 3-1-1 or visiting open Carnegie Library locations.

As the work proceeds, people will be invited to open house events to view collected data and help choose scenarios for the plan. When a draft plan is ready, the city will hold a public presentation before sending it to the Planning Commission for adoption.

You can sign up on EngagePGH to receive email updates about the planning process.

“This community-driven plan, with equity at its foundation, will continue to make Pittsburgh a place for all,” says Mayor Bill Peduto.

A Conditions and Trends report shows where Pittsburgh stands today and how it got there. The report identifies inequalities related to past development and uneven growth, and this data will help to ensure a “people-based approach” to future land use, officials say.

“The same forces that built Pittsburgh into an economic dynamo in the 20th century are at the root of the inequality we see now,” says the report.

Among other things, the report notes that Pittsburgh is getting younger and more diverse. Its labor force has grown, but growth from the city’s economic rebirth is not benefiting everyone equally — majority-Black neighborhoods still have significantly lower life expectancy, and half of all Black renters in Pittsburgh spend more than 50 percent of their income on rent.

The report also shows that population turnover has affected neighborhoods disproportionately and, although the city is less segregated than it used to be, development has happened in some neighborhoods “at a far greater value than others.”

If you’re curious about factors affecting your neighborhood, check out the data visualization tool that provides data and maps at citywide and neighborhood levels.

In addition to the Conditions and Trends report, city planners will use the p4 framework — people, planet, place and performance — and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to steer ForgingPGH.

The planning process comes as the city begins to recover from the coronavirus pandemic’s significant impacts on the region. Though ForgingPGH is meant to be a comprehensive 20-year plan, it also takes into account those more immediate impacts, officials say.

The City Planning Department will seek proposals for elements of the plan involving economic development and a housing needs assessment. These opportunities will be available on Beacon, the city’s new web-based procurement system.

Sandra Tolliver

Sandra Tolliver is a freelance writer, editor and public relations professional in Upper St. Clair.