State of the Land Report: May 2022

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

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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 OrdinanceHere’s a timeline of articles detailing the history of the Pittsburgh Land Bank throughout the years:




















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 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 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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