State of the Land Report: November 2022 Posted on March 22, 2023 by Sophia Smith Share this post 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 We were in attendance for Mayor Gainey’s Budget Address to City Council this month. He proposed to provide an additional $4 million for the Department of Public Works, stating that those funds will be used to increase staffing and purchase new equipment to efficiently respond to snow events and catch up on other backlogged projects, like maintaining vacant city-owned lots. Vacant lots compromise the quality of life and health of residents by reducing property values, creating community health hazards, and decreasing the tax base for the surrounding neighborhood. Grounded and residents of communities most distressed by hypervacancy have long advocated for this budgetary increase towards vacant land maintenance. Proper parcel maintenance costs around $500 per 2,400 sq ft (average size of the vacant parcel) each year. While maintenance is one step in the right direction for ending the cycle of vacancy we will continue to look out for opportunities to advocate for the City of Pittsburgh to prioritize accessibility and equitability in the process of vacant land access and acquisition. By creating ease in the transfer of property to residents, the City of Pittsburgh relieves itself of the financial burden of lot maintenance, opens the door to potential new revenue resulting from the new land use, and offers opportunities for generational wealth development for residents. Along with an increased maintenance budget, Mayor Gainey’s budget address revealed a $3 million reallocation from the American Rescue Plan funds originally slated for the Pittsburgh Land Bank to be put forth for the Pittsburgh Food Justice Fund. This fund would allocate investments toward improving food access for marginalized communities most impacted by food apartheid. The budget is currently under review by City Council and is to be approved by the end of the year. Upcoming Event for Braddock, East Pittsburgh, and North Braddock Residents! Are you a resident of Braddock, East Pittsburgh, or North Braddock? You are invited to a free community dinner to meet the Community Revitalization Fellows and give feedback on properties and priorities for recovering vacant land in East Pittsburgh, North Braddock, and Braddock! This will be an opportunity to meet with other residents to review past arts and vacant land-focused projects that have been discussed in the BEN area and what could be improved for the future vacant land opportunity the fellows are putting together in the upcoming year. More information about the event and the fellowship is attached. To RSVP please call Becca Simon at 503-360-6597 or go to this link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/braddock-east-pittsburgh-and-north-braddock-community-dinner-tickets-468728889727 Policy Updates Urban Redevelopment Authority and Pittsburgh Land Bank Updates Account overdue: Frustration mounts among some who have been banking on a land bank — for 8 years Pittsburgh Land Bank officials say a state law change is critical to success Mayor’s Office and City Council Meeting Highlights Gainey’s revised budget proposal includes money for public works, infrastructure and food insecurity Gainey addresses city council ahead of weeks of budget hearings Mayor Ed Gainey makes case for 2023 proposed budget Broader Pittsburgh Land Updates How Low Land Taxes Contribute to the Housing Shortage Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh receives $6 million from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott 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 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.