State of the Land Report: May 2022 Posted on June 13, 2022 by Rebecca Simon Share this post Welcome to the State of the Land Report! May 2022 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! Cats Corner in the the Hill District, by CommunityCare Hill District 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. State of the Land Updates Last month marked 8 Year Anniversary of the Pittsburgh Land Bank Creation Ordinance. Here’s a timeline of articles detailing the history of the Pittsburgh Land Bank throughout the years: 2014 City Councilors O’Connor and Gross Lay Out Pittsburgh’s New Land Bank Plan How Neighborhoods Are Using New Tools In The Fight Against Old Blight 2016 Vacant Lots Abound In Pittsburgh, But Buying One Isn’t Easy 2017 Pittsburgh Land Bank 101: What you need to know about the blight program How Much Of Pittsburgh Property Is Untaxed? (And How Does The City Get Its Money?) Mayor Bill Peduto is making big plans for a potential second term 2018 Want to buy a city-owned property? The wait can be years. 2019 Tearing Down History 2020 Pittsburgh Land Bank board hires interim executive director Long-stalled Pittsburgh Land Bank now without a leader Tri-COG Land Bank sells its first property The Not Yet Functional Pittsburgh Land Bank May Join Forces With The URA 2021 March Urban Redevelopment Authority Set To Launch Program To Support Homeownership in Pittsburgh $26 million will fund Pittsburgh home ownership program April Land bank fails to fight blight Pittsburgh’s land bank program must be fully fixed NYC city planner tapped to manage Pittsburgh Land Bank New Executive Director Describes An ‘Uphill Battle’ To Get Pittsburgh Land Bank Running Smoothly August Bobby Wilson appointed to Pittsburgh Land Bank board; Council returns to Chambers NEXT viewpoint: Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto outlines work still to be done before he leaves office October ‘Kind of empowering’: How the American Rescue Plan changed the course of the URA December After eight years, Peduto’s record is a mix of bold plans and frustrating endings Pittsburgh Land Bank officials say 2022 is going to be a big year Pittsburgh ‘mimics’ a functioning land bank, but needs help to be effective Land bank fails to fight blight Pittsburgh’s land bank program must be fully fixed NYC city planner tapped to manage Pittsburgh Land Bank New Executive Director Describes An ‘Uphill Battle’ To Get Pittsburgh Land Bank Running Smoothly August Bobby Wilson appointed to Pittsburgh Land Bank board; Council returns to Chambers NEXT viewpoint: Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto outlines work still to be done before he leaves office October ‘Kind of empowering’: How the American Rescue Plan changed the course of the URA December After eight years, Peduto’s record is a mix of bold plans and frustrating endings Pittsburgh Land Bank officials say 2022 is going to be a big year Pittsburgh ‘mimics’ a functioning land bank, but needs help to be effective 2022 January Restoring Pittsburgh’s vacant land to use just got a little bit easier Pittsburgh Land Bank, PWSA work to streamline process for redeveloping blighted properties March Pittsburgh URA powerhouse Diamonte Walker to leave the agency Turnover at the URA starts near the top, as deputy executive director departs Call To Action Tell us your land acquisition story! Have you tried to acquire vacant land? Do you want to try to acquire land? What is your feedback? Tell us your story! Email us Policy@groundedpgh.org Policy Updates City Council Meeting HighlightsPittsburgh City Council votes to give URA $1.2 million in funding for programs On May 3rd, 2022, Pittsburgh City Council allocated $1.2 million of funding to go towards various programs including the Neighborhoods Initiatives Fund, Land Maintenance, Equitable Empowerment Fund, and their Employee Ownership Taskforce. City of Pittsburgh Updates Mayor Ed Gainey receives transition report from committees, outlining Pittsburgh’s ‘most pressing issues’Last week, Mayor Ed Gainey’s transition team released their report detailing recommendations for the most important issues to be addressed in the City of Pittsburgh during the Mayor’s tenure. In terms of vacant land, there were numerous recommendations laid by two of the committees: Equitable Development Committee Recommendation 7: Strengthen Pittsburgh’s capacity to steward permanently affordable housing (page 28) – “Pittsburgh’s residents are the eyes and ears of its neighborhoods and possess valuable information, insight, and wisdom critical to designing solutions that work. Residents are also uniquely positioned to be the agents and owners of neighborhood change, transforming problems like vacant lots into community assets. Experience from communities that have gentrified also reveals the importance of community ownership and control of land as well as authentic community engagement in the development process to ensure that community residents and small businesses can stay in their neighborhoods as they improve.” Infrastructure and Envrionment Recommendation 3: Maintain Ecological Health (page 94) – “Avoid mowing on city properties where appropriate and encourage the establishment of native or ecologically valuable plantings, expand upon the vacant lot toolkit, and actively plant wildflower meadows on vacant land. “ Recommendation 4: Reduce Litter and Blight (page 95) – “The administration should enforce regulations for vacant properties and structures and city landowners who do not care for their properties. Engage communities to find places in the most need of cleanup and find ways to address why these areas are consistent issues. The City could collaborate with nonprofits and neighborhood organizations to educate and empower people to care for their own neighborhoods.” Recommendation 6: Minimize resident exposure to unhealthy places (page 97)- “The administration should pursue funding to assist in creating lead-safe rental homes, childcare, public spaces, vacant lots, and stipulate the use of best management practices (BMP) in demolition sites.” Recommendation 19: Public health infrastructure: invest in green stormwater infrastructure – “Align City regulations for easy wins, such as changes to the City’s Adopt-a-Lot program, to include green stormwater infrastructure as an acceptable use alongside urban agriculture or expediting the process of getting permission for small curb-cuts to bring stormwater into rain gardens in vacant lots.” Steward Spotlight – Talking Lots with Dr. Cherri Banks Talking Lots is a podcast series that explores the issue of vacant lots in the Pittsburgh region. We present stories of vacant land restoration and activation as told through the voices of residents, community leaders, partners, and officials. Vacant lots are often overlooked but these stories prove that beautiful things can happen when we take care of the land that surrounds us. This episode introduces Dr. Cherri Banks of the Wilkinsburg neighborhood. She contributes to the vacant plot of land opposite to her house and involves her entire community in its development. There is an emphasis of community involvement to build a sense of community ownership of the vacant land. Listen to the full podcast below or here What is Grounded Staff Reading This Month? Black Homeownership Report-PCRG Released Additional Resources Celebrating 15 Years of GroundedThe 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.