State of the Land Report: May 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

Updates on February 2023 Main Story: MCTLL and TPCA

The amendment to the Municipal Claims and Tax Lien Law (MCTLL) would grant second class cities (Pittsburgh) the legal right to recycle land through the Sheriff’s sale, rather than the Treasurer’s sale. They were presented as SB202, and HB711 in the Pennsylvania State Senate and House respectively by Senator Fontana and Representative Kinkead.

The Treasurer’s sale is an open bid, so there is no guarantee that a resident will obtain the property they are looking to buy – a developer could swoop in and outbid them. Also, the tax liens from the previous owner are passed on to the new owner, making the process of acquiring vacant land very expensive and risky. Finally, before a piece of land can be sold, there are many legal services required to quiet the title and make a new deed. This process is extremely time consuming, and can take years.

The Sheriff’s sale process allows for priority bidding, which protects residents from developers. It also expedites the process of quieting the title and clearing the liens, so residents can acquire the land much faster. This amendment was passed by the PA Senate Urban Affairs Committee on May 10th, 2023, and was referred to the PA House Committee of Housing and Community Development on May 24th, 2023.

The Tri-party Cooperation Agreement (TPCA) is an agreement between the City of Pittsburgh, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and the Pittsburgh Land Bank (PLB) that would allow the PLB to more easily acquire properties owned by the City and the URA. Last month City Council held a closed meeting with experts to seek advice. A public, post-agenda meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 13th, at 2:30 PM!

We want to hear from you! What are your thoughts?

Past SOTLR Updates

From March (Registered Community Organizations) – Should community organizations be regulated by the City of Pittsburgh?

Advocacy 101: Public Comment at City Council Meetings

Do you want to share some thoughts with the members of Pittsburgh City Council? You can attend the City Council Meetings on Tuesday at 10 am, or the Standing Committee meetings on Wednesdays at 10 am. You can attend in person (on the 5th floor of the City-County building at 414 Grant Street; use the Grant Street entrance to access the elevators).

When a piece of legislation is introduced at a regular City Council meeting, it is usually referred to committee. The committee discusses it at the Standing Committee Meeting, often the next week. If there is a particular piece of legislation you want to speak on, you can see when that bill will be up for discussion (Standing Committee meeting) or a vote (City Council meeting) by scanning the agendas for that week, or by searching for it using this website. They are usually posted only a few days in advance, and can be found here. 

How to sign up:

You can fill out the form on this page, or call the City Clerk’s office at (412) 255-2138. Often the option to sign up for a meeting is not available until a few days before, and you must sign up before 9am on the day of the meeting.

You will be asked to share your name and neighborhood, and then you will be given three minutes to speak. You do not need to use the full 3 minutes, but the council may stop your testimony if you go over 3 minutes.  

Policy Updates 

Urban Redevelopment Authority and Land Bank Updates

Pittsburgh office-to-residential conversion fund begins to accept bids

Pittsburgh URA approves 1st loan to maintain affordable housing in Knoxville

Pittsburgh URA says it spent $12.7M on affordable housing efforts last year

Sidewalk to nowhere leads to rift in Larimer

URA, SEA approve creation of Hill District music venue 

Urban Redevelopment Authority moves ahead with first phase of Bedford Dwellings project in Hill District


City Council and City of Pittsburgh Updates and Meeting Highlights

A plan to build 162 apartments next to Frick Park is on hold for a month

Pittsburgh to begin hosting 2024 budget meetings to gather ideas from residents

Pittsburgh Planning Commission approves master plan for riverfront development in Strip District

Plans move ahead to redevelop East Liberty’s Enright Park 

Updated: Developer wins OK for riverfront project in Strip District

Wilson, Warwick, Gross, Mosley, Charland coast to victory in City Council races


Community Updates

Homewood residents turn out to cheer marathoners

Larimer residents oppose plans for more housing, citing lack of affordability

Resident looks to block 117-unit apartment development in Shadyside

Some Hill District groups take issue with restorations at New Granada Theater

Through pandemic and fire, plan rose to bake up biz in Wilkinsburg


Allegheny County Updates

Allegheny County enrolls 14,500 residents in its discounted bus fare pilot program

Brooklyn steel company hopes to move forward with $218M project in Aliquippa

PWSA files for 60% rate increases over the next 3 years

Sara Innamorator the victor in Democratic primary for Allegheny County Executive


Pennsylvania Updates

Federal report: 10,000 bridges similar to Fern Hollow should be checked for corrosion

Shell’s Beaver County cracker plant now facing federal lawsuit



Using Vacant Properties for a Climate Resilient Future

When a Land Bank Starts a Land Trust

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!

Grounded Updates

Where is Becca? 

You may have noticed that for the past few months, you have been receiving this newsletter from me (Sophie) rather than Becca. Becca is still at Grounded, but was promoted to Director of Programming! She is busy making sure all of our programs are running smoothly 🙂 

Who is Sophie?

Hi! My name is Sophie Smith, and I started at Grounded in February as the Project Coordinator for the policy team! I am so excited to engage all of you in advocacy and actions around vacant land policy in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County! Feel free to reach out and/or set up a meeting with me any time! 

Additional Resources 

Allegheny County Whole-Home Repairs Program

Connect with Grounded




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.