State of the Land Report: March 2023

State of the Land Report

The State of the Land Report is our monthly update where we will be educating and sharing out about everything you need to know about vacant land policy in the City of Pittsburgh!

State of the Land Updates

City Council Assessing RCOs Role in Facilitating Equitable Neighborhood Development

On March 1st, 2023, the Pittsburgh City Council held a Post-Agenda Meeting & Public Hearing on the state of Registered Community Organizations (RCOs). Representatives from the Department of City Planning (DCP), and Marimba Milliones, president and CEO of the Hill CDC, presented to City Council members on the strengths and weaknesses of the RCO system for promoting equitable sustainable development.

RCOs are supposed to facilitate community input in development projects, but often this process breaks down on both sides; the RCOs are unable to properly represent the community, and developers are only required to hear, not incorporate, community feedback into their plans.


The next step is to analyze the results of the DCP survey about the current state of RCOs, which was sent out to all RCOs.
If you have any experience, or opinion with DAMs and RCOs, please fill out the survey here! 

You can watch the full meeting here!
Read the current RCO Ordinance, passed in 2018 here!

We want to hear from you! What is your experience with RCOs? How can RCOs and developers fulfill their promises to residents? 

Responses to Last Month’s SOTLR: Tri-party Cooperation Agreement

“I have no hope that the Pittsburgh Land Bank will ever do anything useful.  The same people sit in chairs at each of the three entities, Pittsburgh City Council, URA and Land Bank. More property transfer options = more obfuscation.” *
– Kate L., 3/1/2023

“First I’d like to see the RCO or CDC be placed in this equation because affordable and market rate housing is needed in different areas of the city, especially low income neighborhoods where blight and vacancy exist. Take the politics out of the improving community; some of our low income community is in dire need for development.”
– Donna J., 2/23/2023

“‘Stay tuned for Calls to Action and Public Comment Prep!’ Why? So we can all hear how the City of Pittsburgh has managed to make a complicated and time consuming issue even more complicated and time consuming?
This business of the City taking its sad sweet LONG time of making empty properties available for use by the local community councils is criminal.
People need places to live and thrive and the City SITS on properties that could be used for people to live on and thrive in. Criminal! It’s been going on for a long time, I don’t blame the current administration, I mostly blame the City’s Bureaucratic Culture.”*
– Janet G., 3/1/2023, 3/10/2023

*Some responses have been edited for formatting and brevity

Policy Updates 

Urban Redevelopment Authority and Land Bank Updates

URA’s Avenues of Hope has $7 million to help undo a history of disinvestment in Black neighborhoods

Urban Redevelopment Authority looks to redevelop Carrick property


City Council and City of Pittsburgh Updates and Meeting Highlights

The overhaul of Oakland zoning is headed for a final vote

Council approves expansion of Pittsburgh’s Allegheny River Greenway


Community Updates

Veterans Place of Washington Boulevard buys land from URA to expand in Larimer 

In major move for Pittsburgh’s affordable housing world, 14 AHRCO properties sold 

Public art vs property rights: Artist and property owner face off over mural in Wilkinsburg


Allegheny County Updates

Allegheny Land Trust acquires more than 120 acres as protected green space 

Assessing to odds: This year’s unusual tax appeal season, explained 

To reassess or not to reassess? Property tax mess awaits next Allegheny County exec

Rule to protect public health during Mon Valley inversions is not working, Allegheny County Council hears



Delinquent Property Tax Enforcement Could Be the Missing Piece in Fighting Vacant Properties 

Politicians Are Using ‘Blight’ to Bulldoze Neighborhoods and Seize Property

The homeownership gap between black and white households hits its widest rate in decades 

Reforming Zoning in a Racist Market Still Worth It 

Black Congregations are Developing Housing on Church Land 

New Report on Ten Years of Land Banking in New York Offers Compelling Metrics of Success, Useful Lessons, and a Lot of Inspiration

Advocacy Network

Thank you for subscribing to our advocacy network, if you have not already done so please subscribe here.

Grounded is working to improve the condition of vacant lots by developing sustainable solutions that can address the environmental and racial injustices currently entrenched in our property management system. The lack of a comprehensive and unified strategy to care for vacant lots disproportionately affects low-income communities of color.

We must ensure that the process of land recycling and maintenance is conducted equitably, transparently, and through an anti-racist framework. Help make change happen in local, state, and federal land-use policies, voice your concerns about vacant land in your community, share how you want to see vacant land transformed, and support your neighbors in obtaining land access and ownership.

Join Our Advocacy Network!

Additional Resources 

Connect with Grounded

The 15 Years of Grounded campaign celebrates our organization’s founding by highlighting 15 projects that have helped communities and residents find new ways to get outside, relieve stress, and beautify their neighborhoods. Come back daily to see which projects we highlight as we look back at the past 15 years. Help keep us Grounded and donate here.



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