This is the archive of the online open house that occurred between mid-August and mid-October 2020.

All input methods are represented as they were durign the online open house and results have been summarized. Input from this event was used by staff and the Steering Committee to draft the plan's vision statement and goals for each topic area (Community, Development, Mobility, and Infrastructure).

What's Your Vision?

Results

Staff reviewed all 76 responses and identified common themes. You can find those below grouped into the four topics of the planning process. Simply click on the title with the plus sign next to it to expand that topic and see the common themes. The Steering Committee reviewed these themes and worked with staff to draft a vision statement which can be reviewed here.

  • Balancing needs (residents, employees, students, and visitors)
  • Better connections to adjacent areas (Hill, PTC, Hazelwood, Schenley Park, etc.)
  • Contributions from institutions
  • Cultural destination
  • Displacement
  • Equity
  • Gentrification
  • Improved sense of community
  • Livability / quality of life
  • Local food options (grocery store, community garden, private gardens, food halls, etc.)
  • Maintain character / history
  • Other public goods (restrooms, etc.)
  • Public art
  • Safety
  • Support families
  • Accessibility (buildings, infrastructure)
  • Affordable housing (rental, ownership)
  • Commercial vibrancy
  • Cultural destination
  • Global innovation hub
  • Healthy and well maintained buildings
  • Local businesses
  • Local food options (grocery store, community garden, private gardens, food halls, etc.)
  • Reimagine the Boulevard of the Allies
  • Sports venues (stadium, skating rink, etc.)
  • Accessibility (buildings, infrastructure)
  • Better connections to adjacent areas (Hill, PTC, Hazelwood, Schenley Park, etc.)
  • Parking strategy
  • Reimagine mobility
  • Reimagine the Boulevard of the Allies
  • Greening / green corridors
  • Open spaces (added, improved)
  • Other public goods (restrooms, etc.)
  • Pollution (air, trash, water, etc.)
  • Sustainability / climate change

Community

Introduction

Oakland Ave outdoor seating during COVID-19

Oakland Avenue turned outdoor dining and walkway off Forbes Avenue in Central Oakland during COVID-19.

Both innovation district and innovative neighborhood, Oakland is an exciting mix of long-time residents and families, university employees, students, hospital doctors and administrators, tech-sector business people, and a growing contingent of young professionals. It is diverse, with people from many countries, backgrounds, and socioeconomic statuses calling it home and workplace. This people diversity is sustained through the economic diversity of the Oakland market and underscores the importance of equitable and sustainable access to housing, food, shopping and employment being available to people from all income brackets.

Over the next few months, we will use this landing page to collect information and facilitate conversation around topics of community programming and livability, cultural heritage and preservation, public art, public safety, public facilities and services, public health, community uses in the right-of-way, nuisance and enforcement issues, and schools. Many of these topics are at the forefront of larger public discussion right now, and impact everything from affordability, gentrification/displacement, racism, and community health. We will not shy away from these conversations and hope to build a positive space for constructive dialogue.

We appreciate your time and willingness to share your Oakland story. We hope you can share with us the Oakland community you know, and the Oakland community you imagine.

Read below to learn more and participate in activities to set goals for Community in Oakland.

"A livable community is one that is safe and secure, has affordable and appropriate housing and transportation options, and has supportive community features and services. Once in place, those resources enhance personal independence; allow residents to age in place; and foster residents’ engagement in the community’s civic, economic, and social life." – The Policy Book: AARP Public Policies (link)

Livability means something different to most people. When lots of different styles of livability are accommodated, a neighborhood often feels inviting and interesting. However, what is livable for some can be in conflict with what is livable for others, especially if development doesn't balance the needs of various communities. This is especially important in Oakland, a community of nearly 20,000 people spread across four city-designated areas: West Oakland, North Oakland, Central Oakland and South Oakland. The neighborhood these four areas form possesses an unparalleled combination of academic, medical, and cultural institutions surrounded by a vibrant residential community. A 2017 Brookings Institute report highlighted the potential for Oakland to become a global innovation hub, while also recognizing the many issues to be addressed before that potential can be realized and before it would lead to widespread workforce and community benefits for Pittsburgh.

Oakland has always been home to multiple residential communities providing housing for a diverse group of Pittsburghers. Recent discussion in Oakland have revealed an alignment between the universities, healthcare providers, and the residential community around increasing the district's supply of affordable housing for long-term residents including faculty and staff, as well as students.

Of this population, Oakland is extremely diverse and has a composition different than that of the greater city. More of Oakland's population identifies as Asian and/or white and less of Oakland's population identifies as Black than the city overall. Each area of Oakland is different in terms of racial composition. While Central Oakland is the most homogenous with over 80% of the resident population identifying as white, West Oakland is the most diverse racially with almost half of residents identifying as non-white (according to self-reported Census data on racial identity). The population of residents who identify as Black has been declining across all Oakland neighborhoods, particularly in West Oakland. There is concern that these demographic changes reflect a lack of livability, inclusivity, and affordability for Black Oaklanders.

Another distinction of Oakland is that it hosts a higher share of very low-income households than the city overall. Over 40% of Oakland's households have incomes of less than $15,000 per year, with South Oakland as the most diversified in terms of income among Oakland's areas. West Oakland has the highest concentration of low-income households, but also has a greater relative share of middle income households earning $35,000-$49,000. And North Oakland has the highest percentage of higher income households. There are comparatively few of the highest income households in South and Central Oakland.

For many, livability is directly related to affordability and access to amenities and services. Rent in Oakland is difficult to decipher because of the large student renter population, however, there are stark differences among race on home-ownership in Oakland. While fewer than a quarter of the occupied housing units in Oakland are owner-occupied, 73% of the owner-occupied housing units are owned by white households. 15% of the occupied housing units are occupied by Asian households and 84% of these households rent. 14% of the occupied housing units are occupied by black households and 78% of these households rent. The differences in representation of home-ownership among races is a clear indicator of differing livability based on background and experience. Similar trends emerge among other indicators of livability, but home-ownership is one of the most stark.

Two major points of discussion that emerge when thinking about livability and identity in Oakland are:

  1. Oakland's student population comes from over 100 countries throughout the world. How can Oakland provide opportunities for them to stay and feel welcome?
  2. What can be done to retain and grow Oakland's Black population?

Topics: Community Programs and Livability, Cultural Heritage and Preservation, Public Art, Public Safety, Public Facilities and Services, Public Health

Oakland is a strategic neighborhood to consider the ideas of health and safety for all of its residents. During a global pandemic like COVID-19 and in the midst of a national conversation on race, it is important to assess how neighbors feel about their ability to be well, healthy, and safe.

To this end, the City of Pittsburgh has taken a number of actions to drive real change and reform for community health and safety. These efforts range from the establishment of the Office of Gender Equity (which released the Gender Equity Commission's groundbreaking "Pittsburgh Inequality Across Gender and Race" report in 2019, and became the 6th U.S. city to approve a Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women ordinance), to approving important gun safety ordinances following the Tree of Life massacre, to increasing staffing in the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police's Neighborhood Resource Officer and Community Resource Officer beats and investing further in the Group Violence Intervention (GVI) program.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic and the civil unrest in America around the treatment of Black people by police, a new Office of Community Health and Safety was established by the Pittsburgh Mayor's Office in June 2020 intended to redirect city resources to better meet community needs by housing social services, public health and social work experts who can assist first responders in situations that require longer-term assistance, harm reduction support and other services.

Public Safety

In addition to this new Office, the City has also joined over 270 other cities signed onto the 8 Can't Wait initiative, a campaign to bring immediate change to police departments.

While the Oakland Plan is not a venue through which we can make changes to policing, this can be a forum for discussing what it means to truly invest in a community. In Washington, DC, the Planning Department helped lead an effort called "PARK(ing) Day" where residents can apply to take over a parking space to use as public space for a day. The DC Director of Planning, Eric Shaw, however, illustrated the racial limits of these efforts in discussion with the Washington Post, saying "PARK(ing) Day is really nice. But if five black males took over a parking spot and had a barbecue and listened to music... would they last 10 minutes?" The Project for Public Spaces poses the question of "who gets to 'disrupt' the public space paradigm...?" in response to this, calling for placemaking efforts to recognize their role in perpetuating or addressing inequities.

Public Health

Urban planning and public health have long been intertwined. A Center for Disease Control article provides several examples of the benefits of this collaboration, including the contribution of safe accessible areas to increases in physical activity and a reduction in death and injury as a result of improvements to transportation design. The CDC identifies various positive outcomes from a long-term blending of responsibilities, tools and perspectives between urban planning and public health, including improved outcomes when public health is an explicit consideration in zoning and place-making decisions.

The Pittsburgh Equity Indicators report is a good first step in considering public health in Pittsburgh. The 80 scored indicators show substantial variation, ranging from 1 to 100, where a score of 100 indicates equitable outcomes and a score of 1 indicates inequitable outcomes. One of four sections of this report tackled "Health, Food, and Safety", which included the topics of access and prevention (44), health status and outcomes (68), childhood health and wellbeing (24), policing and criminal justice (42), and public safety (44). These scores do not speak to the overall quality of experience on the given topic. For example, Black Pittsburghers are subjected to more days of low air quality than White Pittsburghers, but overall air quality is very low in Pittsburgh.

Some key findings of the Pittsburgh Equity Indicators Report include:

  • Lack of health insurance: 6% of Black residents are uninsured compared to 3.3% of White residents.
  • Opioid overdose deaths: Rates were 205.8 per 100,000 residents in low-income neighborhoods, compared to 113.7 per 100,000 in high-income neighborhoods.
  • Infant mortality: Rates for Black babies were 14.9 per 10,000 births compared to a rate of 3.3 per 10,000 babies for White babies.
  • Incarceration: 2,606.5 Black residents per 100,000 were incarcerated in 2017, compared to 521.1 White residents per 100,000.
  • Homicide: There were 58.6 homicides per 100,000 Black residents compared to 4.6 homicides per 100,000 White residents.

The four sections of the report included: (1) health, food, and safety; (2) education, workforce development, and entrepreneurship; (3) housing, transportation, infrastructure, and environment; (4) civic engagement and communications. Of these four sections, Pittsburghers experience the greatest inequity in Health, Food and Safety.

Through the Oakland Plan, we have an opportunity to consider how the urban fabric of Oakland can be altered to improve health outcomes for all, and decrease disparity in health outcomes among Black and White populations, and low- and high- income populations. There are more topics to explore related to public health, such as air quality, and their specific relationship in Oakland. Organizations like the Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP) are great resources for understanding specific health issues.

Topics: Public Health, Public Safety, Community Uses in the Right-of-Way, Public Facilities and Services, Community Programs and Livability.

Hold up a mirror to the Oakland neighborhood and think “Is this a good neighborhood for people? Is it good for my body?”

Does the air taste good, is the water clean, is there access to shade and sun, can I access quality healthcare and fresh food? Am I able to be safe and well here?

Stories have always been an integral part of the human experience. They teach us our history, helping us to better understand our place in the world and the common connections we share with each other. Stories can help us navigate the ebbs and flows of history through actions of people who lived them. Oakland is no different and its formation is a critical component to the story of Pittsburgh.

We'd like to share the story of Henry Highland Garnet, a freed slave, abolitionist, academic, and community leader who spent much of his adult life in Pittsburgh's Oakland. We encourage you to think about the power of legacies, the impact that Oakland has had on you, and the impact you will leave on it.

Henry Highland Garnet and Shaping Oakland

Before heading north, Henry Highland Garnet was a slave with his family in Maryland. In 1824, Garnet (only ten years old) and eleven family members petitioned their owner to be attend a funeral off the plantation. Their petition was granted, and the entire family used the excused absence to escape their slavery via a covered wagon. The entire family trekked north, eventually ending up in Wilmington, Delaware.

The rest of Garnet’s life would be at the cusp of that same constant struggle for freedom, devoting his remaining years to the abolition of slavery in the United States and abroad. That path would eventually lead him to Pittsburgh in 1868 when Garnet was chosen to become the president of Avery College, a black college formerly located in the North Side. It was not the only mark he would leave on the burgeoning manufacturing town.

Twenty years prior to Garnet’s arrival, Pittsburgh’s population was growing out of the confines of its city limits, which today would only include The Point, Downtown, and some parts of Uptown. At the time, around 1840, anything outside those three locations would be considered suburban living.

While some traveled along the three rivers, many would head west of the city to congregate in an area of settlements that would eventually become Oakland. This migration would be intensified by the Great Fire of 1845 in Downtown Pittsburgh, a massive disaster that burned down a third of the city and left many residents looking for a new place to live and/or work.

Oakland Township, as it came to be known, grew so populous that it was annexed to the City of Pittsburgh in 1868. That same year, Garnet (now Reverend Dr. Henry Highland Garnet) was in town to become president of Avery College. While the college would only stay open for another two years, eventually closing for good in 1873, Garnet founded something that year with much more staying power: Grace Memorial Church.

The church, located on the border of the Upper Hill and North Oakland, served a black neighborhood and a black congregation. The significance of churches during Pittsburgh’s formation cannot be understated, as they became de facto ‘town centers’ for those living around them and helped develop the neighborhoods that dot the city today. Grace Memorial was no different, helping to create a vibrant community and congregation.

The church stayed true to Garnet’s life and legacy, especially at the height of the 1960’s civil rights movement. Many parishioners realized that the racial divide they saw in the country was reflected in their communities and congregations across Pittsburgh. To combat this rift, members from Grace Memorial’s black congregation joined white parishioners from nearby First Presbyterian and Bellefield Presbyterian to form the first congregation of the Community of Reconciliation Church (COR) in Oakland.

Garnet’s legacy lives on through Grace Memorial Church (which is still operating over 150 years later), its congregations, and the lasting communities created through them. Its alliance with COR during the 1960s was purely a representation of its founder’s commitment to equality respect for all. Today, Grace Memorial still stands serving the Upper Hill community while COR sits just behind the Cathedral of Learning, a constant reminder of Oakland’s past in the shadow of its ever-changing future.

Topics: Community Programs and Livability, Public Safety, Public Facilities and Services, Public Health, Nuisance and Enforcement Issues, Schools and Related Programs.

What brought you and/or your family to Oakland?

Does Oakland have all the things you need to succeed (i.e. green spaces, eat, work, play, good schools, safe, etc.)?

19 October, 2020

pj8115 says:

“need more safety, retail, parking, green spaces, no more towering apt bldgs, please, good schools, and hospitals more creative use of space ”

12 October, 2020

Andrea.LavinKossis says:

“We moved to Oakland for the house and stayed because of proximity to Schenley, Library main branch, transit and feeds to Allderdice HS.”

22 September, 2020

Pitt Prof says:

“Oakland badly needs a real grocery store and more holistic attention to safety and access for pedestrians and bikers.”

21 September, 2020

Oakland Employee says:

“The major thing missing in Oakland is a grocery store. Given the demographics of the area, Aldi would be an great addition.”

26 August, 2020

brosha.tkacheva says:

“Undergraduate degree, graduate degree, and now my work. ”

26 August, 2020

Yousef.Tamimi says:

“I came to Oakland to attend Carlow University. It has the education and work opportunities but it lacks in green spaces And food markets. ”

26 August, 2020

brosha.tkacheva says:

“More quality affordable housing and access to quality/nutritious food at an affordable price. ”

Community services are all around us.

Explore the map below to learn about just some of the public services offered in Oakland by various nonprofits. We will be constantly updating this map as you tell us about other community services.

Aerial of Oakland
Food Pantry
Project Silk
Housing Assistance
People's Oakland
The Corner
The Carnegie Library

Oakland is more than just the education and healthcare center we know and love. It is also a dense and rich hub of arts and culture with roots back to some of the first installations of public art in the City. These roots offer a unique opportunity to preserve and cherish the past while honoring and engaging the dynamic and constant confluence that the community is known for.

History

Oakland is home to significant history in arts and culture.

In 1893, the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens was founded with the purpose of education and entertainment.

Envisioning the neighborhood as an epicenter for arts and culture, titan of industry Andrew Carnegie founded the Carnegie Museum of Art and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in 1895 and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in 1896.

The historic 1908 installation of the Mary Schenley fountain as freely available public art coincides with the first convening of the Pittsburgh Arts Commission. When the soon-to-be-named University of Pittsburgh moved to Oakland that same year, they took some inspiration from the four cast bronze Panther statues by Giuseppi Moretti installed at the corners of Schenley Park in 1898.

In 1910, the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall was completed to honor every branch of the military and to honor those who fought in the Civil War. In 1915, the original Oakland Theatre opened on the site of the former Oakland Natatorium that had been finished in 1890.

Current Context

Oakland continues to be a richly dense community for arts and culture. It maintains many of the aforementioned assets as institutions with international influence and prominence. It is home to monuments, memorials, and murals that honor the past and uplift the stories of the present.


This positions the community to consider and inform the future of arts and culture. As the place where many thousands of students and professionals come every year, it has the chance to incorporate and impact these influences through integrating them into its ongoing sense of community.

As such, it is only fitting that arts and culture weigh heavily and appropriately in the neighborhood planning process. Whether considering how its institutions embrace and mark the coming decades or how the community can influence its next era of public art, Oakland stands once again as an epicenter of what is possible.

Development

Introduction

View of South Oakland with the Cathedral of Learning in the background.

View of South Oakland with the Cathedral of Learning in the background. The Development Action Team focuses on providing more affordable housing, overcoming economic inequities, and making parts of the neighborhood more healthy and sustainable, in addition to many other topics.

Oakland is an important place for residents, students, and employees, but it’s also an important destination for the broader Pittsburgh region. This planning process will address the needs of these different groups and create opportunities for Oakland’s future that benefit all members of the community.

For decades, many residents have felt overpowered and overwhelmed by the growth of institutions in the area, which has resulted in conflicts between residents, community organizations, and development interests. In research of existing conditions in Oakland, interviews showed that developers feel Oakland need bold ideas, investment, and a censensus about the future to discover Oakland's full development potential and grow the Pittsburgh economy.

A neighborhood plan allows the community to proactively work together to identify the kinds of new development that are desired and work with public agencies to create policy and regulations that will allow this kind of activity. This is also an opportunity for the community to tell developers what they want and attract those projects to the neighborhood. It’s important to note that allowing something to happen doesn’t mean it will, because there may not be a demand, location, or funding available.

Read below to learn more and participate in activities to set goals for Development in Oakland.

New development is guided by a combination of forces. Although there are many powerful examples in Pittsburgh of affordable housing and other kinds of community-oriented developments, the demand for space and real estate market drive the types of buildings that are likely to be built by private investment. Financial institutions loan money to developers for new buildings and add their own requirements that seek to reduce their risk in the project based on national trends. What is allowed to be built in an area is regulated by the City’s Zoning Code and approvals made by City of Pittsburgh departments, boards, and commissions. This is where you come in.

What can new development provide for Oakland?

Flats on Forward and the adjacent Krause Commons in Squirrel Hill provide ground floor retail, affordable housing units, open space, and office space.

Flats on Forward and the adjacent Krause Commons in Squirrel Hill provide ground floor retail, affordable housing units, open space, and office space. Image courtesy of ACTION Housing.

New buildings or the redevelopment of existing buildings can provide many things that communities find highly desirable, but it’s important for communities to be very specific about what their priorities are.

The types of buildings that can be built is often related to the kinds of community amenities they can provide.

Child care, convenience stores, markets, and full-service grocery stores are concentrated at small clusters at intersections of major streets throughout Oakland.

Large office buildings tend to be located on streets with good bus access. They often provide shops and plazas at street level. Affordable housing is often in mid-rise buildings, although it can be part of large buildings too. Zoning affects what kinds of buildings can be built and where, which in turn affects where these amenities are created.

A combination of regulations in the Zoning Code and policies in plans set the stage for what development can happen.

For two decades, Oakland has had a unique set of regulations called the Oakland Public Realm District (OPR) in the City's Zoning Code. The regulations for new development on the Fifth and Forbes Avenue corridor requires that buildings have windows and openings onto the street to create a more engaging environment. Height is limited to 85 ft, below that of the tallest buildings, but these limits can be exceeded to match the height of adjacent buildings. Similarly sized buildings are allowed along much of the Boulevard of the Allies and along Craig Street. Although buildings in other parts of Pittsburgh including Uptown and the riverfront areas can earn "bonus" height by meeting certain community developed standards, this bonus system has not yet been added to Oakland.

Other than the areas in the OPR, Oakland's land is either dedicated to single-family zoning or Educational and Medical Institution (EMI) zoning which covers University of Pittsburgh, UPMC, Carlow Univerity, and CMU campus areas. In these areas, Institutional Master Plans must be approved to establish what projects are possible and the nature of those buildings.

In 2012, the Oakland Planning and Development Corporation led a process to create a community plan called the Oakland 2025 Plan to establish a vision for the growth and improvement of Oakland over the next decade 10 years. Since that time, the plan led to a host of programs and projects created both by OPDC as well as other community organizations and institutional partners. This planning process will build on the work of the Oakland 2025 Plan, find ways to implement those remaining tasks from that plan, and establish a new generation of projects and programs for the next 10 years.

Results

Pictures of each of the projects are included below along with some themes identified that describe the projects. A bullet list of all themes is provided below.

Themes from well done projects:

  • Adaptive reuse and historic preservation
  • Senior housing
  • Active ground floors
  • Employment uses on Fifth and Forbes Ave corridor
  • Replacement of surface parking
  • Student housing on or near campus
  • Quality materials that match historic context
  • Large and active public realm
  • Using underutilized land
  • Creating affordable housing
  • Family supportive units
  • Variety of housing unit sizes in same building
  • Courtyard and missing middle housing
  • Community spaces built into housing projects

Results

The ordered list below shows the items that were considered most important by the largest number of participants from the exercise above.

  1. Affordable housing
  2. Provide jobs the community needs
  3. Parks and plazas
  4. Green infrastructure to handle rainwater
  5. Services like childcare and laundromats
  6. Bus and bike facilities
  7. Restaurants and shops
  8. Create energy using solar and wind

Results

The map with all comments is included above, but staff also noted some common themes:

  • More affordable housing is needed in Central and West Oakland;
  • Integrate energy generation into major developments on the corridors;
  • Add green infrastructure along major corridors;
  • More bus and bike facilities are needed throughout the neighborhood; and
  • Improve and add new smaller green spaces throughout residential areas.

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (UN World Commission on Environment and Development).

Urban design is the process of intentionally shaping the physical features of a place. At the neighborhood-scale, it takes into consideration the design of buildings and how they are experienced at the street along with the design of the street and adjacent open spaces like plazas and parks.

Pittsburgh’s Neighborhood Plan Guide integrates these two topics to maximize the benefits to our communities. Buildings and streets can be designed together to create more comfortable, healthy places for people and other animal, while reducing heating, cooling, and water costs.

Making our neighborhoods more sustainable is essential to Pittsburgh meeting its 2030 goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

By 2030 the city’s goal is for 50% less water and energy use, a 50% reduction in transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions, and zero waste production, among other targets.

Adopted 2030 goals from the City of Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan 3.0.

Integrating sustainability into the design of the neighborhood is a key part of meeting the City’s 2030 goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and water use. Policies set across the entire city must be implemented locally in ways that fit the context and opportunities of each neighborhood. Sustainable practices for buildings, infrastructure, and open spaces make the best possible use of resources. Energy and water efficient buildings are cheaper to heat and cool and better for those using the buildings every day.

Green buildings are an important part of creating a more sustainable Oakland.

The Center for Sustainable Landscapes at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is the first and only building to meet five of the highest green building standards.

The Center for Sustainable Landscapes at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is the first and only building to meet five of the highest green building standards.

The Center for Sustainable Landscapes at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, the University of Pittsburgh’s Sustainability Plan, and commitments from building owners to participate in the Pittsburgh 2030 District are all examples of your community’s commitment to sustainability. However, Oakland is home to medical and research facilities that have very high demands for electricity and water and more of these buildings are planned. Oakland’s homes are historic and require upgrades to reduce the burdens of heating and cooling costs. Making Oakland’s buildings more sustainable and healthier is an important goal for everyone.

The design of streets and open space must be a part of a more sustainable and healthy future.

Urban sustainable design is also about the streets and open spaces in a neighborhood. How streets and parks are designed determines whether they are comfortable places to walk and play in throughout the year. These spaces can also be designed to manage rain from storms and provide habitat for birds and pollinators. The presence of tree canopy can reduce the cooling costs of homes during hot summer months and heating costs in the winter. Providing trees and other green infrastructure will require us to make careful use of our streets and ensure new development makes room for them as well. Creating more equitable communities means that every part of the neighborhood should be comfortable, healthy, and sustainable.

Oakland's tree canopy could be greatly improved

Urban sustainable design is about more than buildings. Trees provide many benefits including cooling streets and adjacent buildings during hot summer months, treating rainwater, cleaning the air, and providing habitat for birds and pollinators. Creating more equitable communities means that every part of the neighborhood should be comfortable, healthy, and sustainable. Every part of Oakland deserves the benefits of trees.

Before: Central Oakland has very few trees, increasing summer heat, and driving up HVAC costs for buildings. After: Schenley Farms has ample tree canopy shading streets and buildings.

Results

"Plazas that treat stormwater" was the most popular element of urban sustainable design from the above exercise. The full list of priorities are below as are some additional ideas that were provided by open house attendees.

  1. Plazas that treat stormwater
  2. Streets with shade trees
  3. Parks that treat rainwater or grow food
  4. Buildings designed to maximize sunlight (tie)
  5. Buildings with solar panels and green walls (tie)

Other ideas: Composting pilot program in collaboration with universities, parking.

Throughout our nation’s history, policies and practices have purposefully discriminated against citizens based on their gender and race, and purposeful efforts will be needed to overcome this problem. The Neighborhood Plan Guide calls on public and private partners to pursue economic development with the goal of creating opportunities and programs designed to overcome inequities.

Oakland is one of the most important economic centers in Pennsylvania.

The majority of Oakland’s 57,700 jobs are at educational and medical institutions and businesses including UPMC hospitals, the University of Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Mellon University.

Oakland is a regional jobs center for Western Pennsylvania with people traveling for miles to work here every day. The educational and medical institutions and businesses in Oakland employ 57,700 Pittsburghers. In 2017, over a third of Pittsburgh’s health care and social assistance jobs and two thirds of the city’s educational services jobs were located in Oakland. According to the Brookings Institute, a third of all research and development activities in Pennsylvania take place in Oakland. This research leads to the creation of patents, new businesses, and new jobs. Oakland also has a quarter of the city’s corporate offices, banks, and holding companies. Hotels and restaurants have been an important and growing part of the jobs market.

Most of Pittsburgh’s growth from 2000-2010 happened in Oakland and in the last decade it has spilled out into other areas of the city.

The newest phase of Bakery Square in the Larimar and Shadyside neighborhoods includes a new building where the largest tenant will be Philips Sleep and Respiratory Care.

The newest phase of Bakery Square in the Larimar and Shadyside neighborhoods includes a new building for Philips Sleep and Respiratory Care. Image courtesy of Walnut Capital.

Between 2002 and 2010, ~13,500 jobs were added in Oakland, nearly all city’s job growth during the period. In the last decade, Oakland’s job growth slowed at the same time that Lawrenceville and South Side Flats saw consistent growth. Bakery Square in the nearby Point Breeze and Larimar neighborhoods started as an adaptive reuse project that provided offices for Google and other tech companies many of which had their initial office spaces in Oakland. Now life sciences companies, attracted by activities in Oakland are also finding a home there. Similar innovation neighborhoods in Philadelphia, Cambridge (MA), and Atlanta all have more jobs by area suggesting even more businesses could be accommodated in Oakland. More companies want to be located in Oakland than there is space for currently. The planning process offers the opportunity to proactively set the conditions of new development in terms of the buildings and the jobs in them.

Oakland’s workforce is diverse, but some people have been left out of this economic growth.

Employees, students, and residents at a bus stop in Oakland.

Employees, students, and residents at a bus stop in Oakland.

Compared to other employment districts in the city, Oakland’s workforce is diverse. Approximately 60% of Oakland’s employees are women, 6% are Asian, and 11.4% are Black or African-American. The universities and hospitals draw in talent from over 100 nations, making Oakland a global community.

However, Oakland’s employment opportunities are not available to everyone. Compared to similar innovation neighborhoods across the nation, Oakland provides fewer jobs for those without a bachelor’s degree or higher levels of education. Oakland is missing a variety of jobs that allow people to develop professionally through work experience and move up into roles of increasing responsibility and pay.

The Oakland Planning and Development Corporation (OPDC), UPMC, and the University of Pittsburgh all have programs that focus on workforce development and finding ways for people to access careers in science, medicine, and technology. OPDC’s School 2 Career youth program prepares at-risk youth for college success. The University Talent Alliance was launched by a consortium of Oakland institutions and community organizations to connect economically disadvantaged populations in neighborhoods around the Fifth and Forbes Avenue corridor with job opportunities. Much more work is needed to ensure that the promise of Oakland’s economic growth is available to everyone.

Some of those working Oakland’s lowest paying jobs are traveling the furthest to get to work each day.

Oakland is a regional center, so it's not surprising that workers travel here from throughout Western Pennsylvania every day. However, the data above shows that those with the lowest incomes are traveling the furthest and often from communities that are poorly served by public transit. There are many reasons that this may be happening, but it seems likely that the known shortage of affordable housing in Pittsburgh is partly to blame. Creating new affordable housing in Oakland and the surrounding areas will allow some to walk, bike, or take transit to work, while improving Oakland's transit connections to the rest of the region can reduce travel costs for others.

How can we make sure Oakland’s economic future is available to everyone?

You could talk about the issues you’ve faced in trying to find work in Oakland or share your ideas for new workforce programs, employers, industries, etc.

19 October, 2020

pj8115 says:

“Oakland has university, medical, research presence for employment Employment needs developed and expanded ”

12 October, 2020

Andrea.LavinKossis says:

“Remediate lead in houses & environmental lead, improve air quality, improve food security so children are healthier”

12 October, 2020

Andrea.LavinKossis says:

“Oakland institutions actively help their essential workers to live in the neighborhood = win/win/win for n'hood, residents and employers”

12 October, 2020

Andrea.LavinKossis says:

“Oakland institutions provide small biz devel services to Oakland-based microbusinesses”

12 October, 2020

Andrea.LavinKossis says:

“Universities should be targeting programs to our youngest Oaklanders, starting with offering affordable high-quality childcare to residents”

5 October, 2020

rsargent says:

“Hire living-wage jobs locally. Train living-wage jobs locally Educate locally Our universities and local industries must engage equitably”

3 October, 2020

ezaitsoff says:

“Pitt and UPMC employee incentives for owning homes in Oakland would help stabilize the neighborhoods and Oakland's economic future. ”

30 September, 2020

Anonymous says:

“UPMC has to start paying taxes at a higher bracket to give back to their employees and Oakland. ”

22 September, 2020

Anonymous says:

“The housing near universities is in unsafe areas and are overpriced. ”

22 September, 2020

Anonymous says:

“Investing in solar energy and green roofs. These could create great training programs for youth and lead to jobs installing and maintaining.”

21 September, 2020

Anonymous says:

“If find parking I pay an arm & a leg, but I can’t rely on the busses b/c I need to help my kids! More parking/green garages would help lots!”

21 September, 2020

Anonymous says:

“Improved transit is a bigger priority than affordable housing, which assumes that people want to leave their current communities.”

Housing in a complex issue. People choose housing based on many different factors ranging from proximity to transit and businesses, to affordability and the sense of community. What's considered affordable depends on many factors including a households income and transportation costs. From studio apartments in high-rise buildings to single-family homes, Oakland has every type of housing unit, and all of these markets have been shaped by student housing needs.

Oakland was historically a diverse residential community but has seen a steady and significant loss of homeownership and an increase in student rentals. Today, fewer than one-third of Oakland’s housing units are occupied by homeowners. Housing was an important part of the Oakland 2025 Plan created by the community in 2012 and are still very relevant today.

Oakland 2025 Plan housing recommendations:
  • Diversify and stabilize Oakland's housing
  • Address student rentals
  • Create new green infill
  • Development/maintain affordable workforce housing
  • Provide professional live/work opportunities
  • Rehabilitate and preserve existing homes
  • Implement employer assisted programs, rehabilitation design and funding assistance
  • Development retirement living options

Opportunities for owner-occupied housing in Oakland are limited.

Schenley Farms and the condominiums in North Oakland are hotspots for owner-occupied homes.

Higher levels of homeownership exist in Oakland but are largely concentrated in pockets of North Oakland as part of the Schenley Farms neighborhood and in the area bound by Bellefield Avenue, Fifth Avenue, Neville Street, and Bayard Street where there are a number of large condominium buildings. There are slightly higher rates of homeownership in West and South Oakland than in Central Oakland.

Rental housing is very dense, very expensive, and in many cases in poor condition.

In addition to the dense owner-occupied pocked of housing in North Oakland, this map shows that there are areas with high densities of bedrooms in Central Oakland and South Oakland consistent with the high numbers of student rentals in homes.

At the February Oakland Plan Steering Committee meeting, student representatives reported very poor living conditions in Central Oakland’s rental units including mold, flooding, doors that don’t lock, and a general state of disrepair. This condition is unlikely to change while there is demand from the student rental market, however, in the last five years large amounts of new apartments have been built along Fifth and Forbes Avenues and Craig Street.

The University of Pittsburgh has included new student housing in its proposed Institutional Master Plan. This provides students with choices and creates competition for landlords. The result could be improvements to existing rentals or new kinds of development.

At the April Steering Committee meeting, OPDC presented data about the rental and for sale housing markets in Oakland including that 76% of Oakland’s rental population spends more than 30% of their income on rent suggesting housing is unaffordable for most Oakland residents. OPDC keeps waitlists for affordable units at Parkview Manor (15 units) and Oakland Affordable Living (49 units), and there are over 360 people on their waitlists for these 64 units. A substantial increase in the number of affordable rental units is needed.

The COVID-19 pandemic will also impact these conditions in ways that will become clearer during this planning process.

Homeownership has many important benefits for a community.

Homeownership is not just about owning a house. For many, their home is an important way to accumulate wealth that they'll need for their retirement or if they have a costly life event. For a decade, studies have shown that people continue to view homeownership as part of the American Dream but is available to fewer and fewer people. Homeownership has traditionally also been linked with longer-term residency and more civic engagement in one's community. The longer people live in a place the more the tend to get involved in improving the community and establishing social networks with neighbors. Healthy communities provide a diversity of housing types and genuine options available to everyone.

Affordable options for home ownership have been very limited.

The student rental market has shaped housing in Oakland for decades. Many of the children who grew up in Oakland are now landlords renting their childhood homes to students. Investors have converted a significant portion of Oakland’s homes to rentals, increasing their value substantially. Central Oakland homes are 11% more expensive to purchase than the average price in Oakland likely due to their proximity to the University of Pittsburgh. West Oakland homes cost 23% less than homes in the rest of Oakland. North Oakland’s home costs are in the middle. This may suggest that the condominium-style home prevalent in North Oakland is an effective way to get larger numbers of lower cost homes in other parts of Oakland.

Many past plans for Oakland, including the Oakland 2025 Plan, called for an increase in owner-occupied housing. OPDC’s Community Land Trust is working to provide affordable homes for sale. There have also been discussions with Oakland-based institutions to provide financial incentives for its employees to live in the neighborhood. Moving forward, a combination of community-based programs, public subsidies, and private market actions will be needed to overcome the significant shortage of affordable homeowner opportunities in Oakland.

Housing density and owner-occupancy

North Oakland's many condominiums show that density and ownership can be connected in Oakland. This may suggest that condominium buildings could be a solution for other parts of Oakland if ownership and affordability are prioritized.

Before: Schenley Farms and the condominiums in North Oakland are hotspots for owner-occupied homes. After: In addition to the dense owner-occupied pocked of housing in North Oakland, this map shows that there are areas with high densities of bedrooms in Central Oakland and South Oakland consistent with the high numbers of student rentals in homes.

Quick Poll

Would you support the construction of new apartment and condominium buildings in Oakland if they included affordable rental and home ownership options?

This poll has concluded.

Total Votes: 28

Quick Poll

Where do you think these new buildings with affordable units are most needed?

This poll has concluded.

Total Votes: 27

Commercial activity (the provision of goods and services to individuals) is an important part of the vitality of an area. The Neighborhood Plan Guide identifies two optional topics that have been combined for the Oakland Plan process: Commercial Corridors and Notes, and Transit-Oriented Development.

Commercial corridors are streets where there is consistent commercial activity spanning multiple blocks. Commercial nodes are clusters of activities at a specific spot, often the intersection of major streets. In many cases, a commercial node grows outward along major streets to create an entire corridors of activity.

Transit-oriented development (TOD) is deliberately planned higher-density, mixed-use development within walking distance of transit. Well-planned and well-designed TOD attracts residents to neighborhoods and riders to transit stations. When public and private investments work together to create walkable, mixed-use, and mixed-income communities, it creates a fertile environment in which transit service can grow and thrive.

The Port Authority of Allegheny County’s Transit Oriented Communities program includes a best practices for TOD guide.

Note: The COVID-19 pandemic has had considerable impacts on many aspects of normal life in Oakland including nearly all commercial activities. The text below refers to the way Oakland has functioned over the last decade and is likely to function after the pandemic ends.

Accessible design is what makes it all work for everyone.

People of all abilities must be considered when planning and designing new buildings and public spaces. This is particularly true for TOD projects as people with disabilities use transit at a higher rate than the general population. Considerations should be given to people of all ages and abilities with regard to accessing the site, connecting the site to the transit station, and connecting the street network to the transit station. Furthermore, site and building designs should seek to exceed minimum legal requirements and strive to achieve greater accessibility.

In Europe, many cities have begun to focus on designing places and infrastructure around the needs of a single parents with strollers. This standard ensures places are accessible for everyone, include places to rest, and that more vulnerable members of our communities feel safe at all hours.

Oakland’s restaurants, cafés, and entertainment venues are concentrated in three major nodes.

Commercial nodes exist near the corner of Forbes Avenue and Oakland Street, Forbes Avenue and South Craig Street, and Centre Avenue and North Craig Street.

Oakland is a retail destination with retail sales estimated at $247 million annually, $72 million of which is dining. Much of this retail activity is oriented to the universities and therefore clustered around the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University on Fifth and Forbes Avenues. This leaves large portions of the more residential parts of the neighborhood with very few stores and restaurants.

The Boulevard of the Allies has relatively few retail businesses even though the area is highly visible to traffic and past plans for the area have called out the potential for this area to have a mixture of activities including retail. Bringing these kinds of businesses to this area will require a combination of pedestrian improvements, new buildings that support commercial businesses, and more employees and/or residents who will use them.

Neighborhood supporting facilities like convenience stores, markets, and child care facilities are speckled throughout Oakland.

Convenience stores, markets, farmers markets, and food pantries are located throughout Oakland except for South Oakland which has very few.

The loss of the student population over the summer months places many stresses on retail businesses and is often considered the main reason that full-service grocery stores have been unable to stay open in Oakland. However, Oakland does have a large number of markets, convenience stores, and specialty market. These businesses are located in small, lower-rent commercial spaces in historic buildings. Current grocery trends nationwide include smaller format specialty stores like those found in Oakland and expanded grocery delivery and pick-up services. Child care facilities are dispersed throughout the neighborhood along major streets but not necessarily in areas where there are significant amounts of other commercial activity. Demand for child care facilities may continue to expand with the growth of Oakland as a job center.

Oakland’s hotels serve many important roles.

Oakland is home to a large number of medium-sized hotels, many of which are concentrated along Fifth and Forbes Avenues. Oakland also has an active Airbnb market particularly in Central and South Oakland.

Oakland attracts people from many places and for many reasons. In addition to travelers who visit Pittsburgh on business or for pleasure, Oakland’s institutions hold conferences and summits that bring in experts from all over the world. Seasonal student events bring large numbers of parents. UPMC hospitals offer a wide range of unique medical services that draw patients from throughout the country. They and their families often stay in hotels or in longer-term accommodations provided by Family House Pittsburgh which houses over 24,000 patients and families every year. In addition to more traditional accommodations, there is a high number of rentable private rooms listed on Airbnb in Central and South Oakland. More research is needed to understand the role these rentals play in Oakland’s housing and lodgings markets vs. potential uses for parties and events which are common to Airbnb rentals throughout the country and a common nuisance for neighborhoods.

Oakland’s cultural institutions are a major draw for visitors.

Map showing Oakland’s many cultural institutions including the Carnegie Museum of Art, Natural History Museum, Carnegie Music Hall, Carnegie Library, and Phipps Botanical Gardens and Conservatory.

Oakland’s role as a civic center with major cultural institutions means that visitors are a significant presence in the neighborhood. In total, attractions in Oakland admit approximately 1.8 million visitors a year.

Housing is becoming an important part of Oakland’s corridors and nodes.

Bedroom density is primarily clustered in Central, South, and North Oakland where homes have more bedrooms, but most new apartment buildings are being built on major corridors.

Housing is most dense in Central and South Oakland. For Central Oakland, housing is still within a few blocks of Fifth and Forbes Avenues where there is excellent transit service and commercial services making it a very walkable and vibrant place to live. For South Oakland, Boulevard of the Allies has fewer bus lines and less commercial activity. In some ways, South Oakland has become less transit-oriented over time.

In the last decade, institutional shuttle buses have replaced public transit for students and employees. The result is fewer riders on buses and therefore fewer buses. Undoing this trend will require rethinking of the impact of shuttles and their role here just as much as what kinds of structures are built.

Elements of successful transit-oriented development

Well-planned and well-designed Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) attracts residents to neighborhoods and riders to transit stations. When public and private investments work together to create walkable, mixed-use, and mixed-income communities, it creates a fertile environment in which transit service can grow and thrive. Explore this diagram adapted from the Port Authority's Transit-Oriented Development Guidelines to learn about the features of well designed transit areas. Oakland has many locations that have some of these elements, but very few places where all four are present.

Example of an intersection with all the elements of successful transit-oriented development.
Trees and public spaces
Active ground floor uses
Accessible
Furnishings

Results

The results from the survey above are summarized for each question below.

Do you feel this is the right vision for the future of the Boulevard of Allies?

  • Yes (80.56%)
  • Not sure (16.67%)
  • No (0%)
  • Other (2.78%)

Is there anything you'd like to change or add? (Note: This includes responses to the 2nd and 3rd questions above.)

  • Ensure there is affordable housing in developments
  • Add bike facilities
  • Pedestrian or bike lift / link to Eliza Furnace Trail
  • Roundabout at Zulema Park instead of raised road, traffic calming
  • Better traffic controls for intersection around Bates Street
  • District energy, solar panels, sustainable buildings
  • Local (not chain) shops and services that serve long-term residents
  • High quality pedestrian areas that serve as arts, culture, activity hub
  • Slow traffic on the Boulevard with islands, trees, fewer lanes, better
  • sidewalks and pedestrian crossings
  • Allow / push for more density along the Boulevard to put pressure on
  • landlords running rentals in adjacent home areas
  • Grocery store integrated into development

Mobility

Introduction

A view across Fifth Avenue showing sidewalk, driving lanes, dedicated busway, and buses.

The mobility section will focus on the infrastructure and policies that affect access within the public right of way. Access is defined as one’s ability to reach destinations for work, life, or play by the mode of one's choosing. It is the intent of the mobility section to identify improvements, enhancements, and other treatments within the public right of way that equitably serve users of all ages and abilities. The mobility section will keep the City’s mobility principles in mind when planning for improved and enhanced access:

  1. No one dies or is seriously injured traveling on city streets (streets and intersections are intuitive to use, even by an adolescent child).
  2. Every resident can access fresh fruits and vegetables within 20 minutes travel of home (without requiring a private vehicle).
  3. All trips less than 1 mile are easy and enjoyable to achieve by non-vehicle travel.
  4. No household must spend more than 45% of income on housing + transportation + energy (for any income quintile).
  5. Our streets reflect the values and pride of our city.It is the intent of the mobility action team to identify improvements, enhancements, and other treatments to serve users of all ages and abilities and with equity in mind.

The following is intended to provide an overview of some of the topics that will be covered by the Mobility Action Team. From previous conversations with the community, the project team recognizes that there are some updates to the maps that need to be made. Updated maps will be swapped out as they become available.

Read below to learn more and participate in activities to set goals for Mobility in Oakland.

The cartway is defined as the portion of the street between the curbs. This is the area where motor and people-powered vehicles are permitted to operate, load, and/or park.

The following background data is provided to enable a better understanding of current use of the cartway in Oakland.

Travel Behavior and Mode Split

The following tables demonstrate the mode split for Oakland residents and workers who come to Oakland from across the region. The information included in these tables represents the pre-COVID-19 pandemic condition. Of the 9,780 residents who participated in the study, an overwhelming majority walk to work (44.1 percent). Another 28.1 percent drive alone and 14.4 percent take transit.

Of the 43,569 workers who participated in the study, almost 56.0 percent of them drive alone to their place of employment. Transit riders represent 18.6 percent and walkers / rollers represent 11.9 percent of total workers, respectively.

Commute Patterns

This analysis is currently underway and this section will be updated as the information becomes available.

Map showing Port Authority bus routes as well as University of Pittsburgh and CMU shuttle routes.

Bike(+) Plan

The City’s first bike plan in 20 years was completed in June 2020 and identifies a priority network of 120 miles for implementation of new and enhanced facilities over the next ten years. This includes critical facilities that will connect the various parts of Oakland in addition to connections to other City neighborhoods.

Creative Uses

Creative uses in the cartway could include street murals, decorative crosswalks, etc. Any artistic features would need to be approved by the City’s Art Commission and be designed in accordance with standards set by the City’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure (DOMI). A permit is also required.

Such uses can only be sited in designated bump-out / bulb-out areas, in intersections, or between the two white lines of a crosswalk. They are not permitted in piano key crosswalks nor can crosswalks be a color other than white. Paint colors should shy away from those used in standard pavement markings such as yellow and green.

Map showing traffic volume and crashes in Oakland. Source: Crashes (2018), PennDOT; Traffic Volumes (2019), PennDOT.

Traffic Volume and Crashes in Oakland. Source: Crashes (2018), PennDOT; Traffic Volumes (2019), PennDOT.

The curb includes of the lane in the cartway closest to the curb itself. This space can be used in myriad ways, depending on regulations, need, and space constraints.

Transit Stop Usage

This image shows the number of trips that begin and end at each stop on an average weekday. The total of these numbers is often referred to as “ridership” but does not necessarily correlate to an equivalent number of transit users.

On-Street Parking

On-street parking can include metered parking, residential permit parking (RPP), unrestricted parking (free and non-permitted), and bike parking (e.g. bike corrals), all of which occur across Greater Oakland.

Loading Goods + People

The curbside lane is often used to deliver goods or people to their destination.

Creative Uses

Creative uses at the curb could include outdoor dining (e.g. COVID space on Oakland Avenue for example), bike share stations, and bike parking corrals, etc.


Sidewalks

Sidewalks serve as a critical connection for pedestrians as they are the first and last facility for users of all modes as they approach their destination.Bicycles are not permitted on sidewalks in business districts, such as Central Oakland.

The City recognizes that there are critical gaps and necessary repairs in the sidewalk network in Oakland. Municipal code stipulates that sidewalks are the responsibility of the private property owner; however, the City is actively working to fill critical gaps to the extent feasible. New developments also include new sidewalk.

Walkshed

A walkshed is the area around a transit stop or station that people are typically willing to walk to or from to access transit. For a bus stop, the standard area is ¼ mile. For a station, ½ mile. A networked walkshed takes into account the connectivity of the street network.

Public vs. Private

Public parking facilities are owned and operated by the Pittsburgh Parking Authority. Private facilities are privately owned and may be available for paid use by the public or may be restricted to a specific group of users (e.g. employees, residents).

Structure vs. Surface

Surface parking is more affordable to build and more easily converted to other uses but is more limited in capacity. Structured parking is expensive to build (at least $20,000 per space) and multiplies the amount of parking that can fit on a given site.

Commercial vs. Residential

Traditionally, the number of parking spaces built has been specific to the land use that it is intended to support. Parking spaces have often been dedicated to an individual building or tenant at all times. Efficiencies may be gained by rethinking these practices to allow for flexibility and sharing of spaces among uses.

Infrastructure

Introduction

Schenley Plaza by the library where the public can picnic and hammock

Infrastructure refers to the non-transportation systems that nourish and maintain an area including stormwater, open spaces, energy systems, waste, and digital network. There are many opportunities for projects within the neighborhood plan to meet multiple objectives and enhance the neighborhood.

The infrastructure chapter of the plan requires plans for stormwater management, open space, energy system planning, waste management and recycling, tree canopy, habitat restoration, and digital network. It could also include urban agriculture, clean air, water use, and systems integration.

Read below to learn more and participate in activities to set goals for infrastructure in Oakland.

While Oakland’s high-quality open spaces are centered in Schenley Park and near Schenley Plaza, many areas are underserved in terms of green space and recreation amenities.

Despite neighboring one of the City’s signature open spaces, Schenley Park, Oakland overall is underserved for park and open space given its density, access constraints, and the suitability of existing park space to community needs. The steep topography of Junction Hollow and limited access points on Schenley Drive and Boulevard of the Allies means that only limited areas near these access points are within a 1/4 mile walk, despite some recent access improvements.The 2012 update to the Regional Parks Master Plan identified traffic calming and pedestrian safety within the park and the need to build sidewalk and trail connections to surrounding neighborhoods as the top priority for Schenley Park.

Pedestrian access to Schenley Plaza is excellent, but its location at the center of Oakland’s cultural institutions means that it is outside of a 1/4 mile walk and easy access for most residents. Additionally, there are several other significant green spaces in this general area, many of which are privately owned. These are important amenities for the central business district and university areas, but most areas to the north, south, and west have far less access to high-quality open space.

Frazier Park, including Dan Marino Field, is the only community-scale park in Oakland, but it is in need of renovation and given its location at the very south end of South Pittsburgh, it serves a limited area. There are a handful of other small parks in South and Central Oakland but most lack sufficient amenities to provide significant value for residents. North and West Oakland have even fewer parks and open spaces. Additional open space areas worth noting include the riverfront trail system, small greenways in South and North Oakland, and other unofficial wooded areas.There are also numerous trail recommendations from previous plans including the Oakland 2025 Plan and Uptown EcoInnovation District Plan, which will continue to be explored in this process as ways to improve connections and access to open space.

Links: See the Development page for more information about sustainable urban design, and land use policy & regulation. See the Community page for more information about community program & livability.

Oakland Lacks Sufficient Tree Canopy, with less than 5% average canopy coverage on developed blocks, resulting in higher temperatures and other negative environmental impacts.

Map showing tree canopy from a 2015 inventory as well as gains and losses since that time. in Oakland's tree canopy covers only 19% of its land area, primarily on hillsides surrounding the neighborhood. Less than a quarter of this tree canopy is in the core and neighborhood areas, with developed blocks averaging less than 5% tree canopy coverage. Outside of Schenley Farms, Oakland’s residential neighborhoods have negligible tree canopy compared to the adjacent neighborhoods.Limited setbacks and smaller lot sizes mean there is less space for trees to grow on residential properties, and high demand for parking in neighborhoods results in lots being paved rather than planted with trees.Overhead and underground utilities create additional challenges for street trees in the right-of-way. In business districts, underground vaults and limited sidewalk areas create further constraints.In some blocks of Central Oakland, there is almost no tree canopy.

Due to low tree canopy and high impervious surface, Oakland is an urban heat island, which means that it gets hotter in Oakland than it does in surrounding areas. Because Oakland’s overall tree canopy is highly concentrated on steep slopes at the edges of the neighborhood, the trees that Oakland does have do not provide as much day-to-day value to people in Oakland in terms of cooling, shading, and greening.

Both City of Pittsburgh data and TreePittsburgh analysis indicate that Oakland is losing tree canopy overall. According to TreePittsburgh, over 2010-2015, the largest amount of tree canopy loss occurred on institutional properties and along main roads, likely reflecting institutional development and larger capital projects. Canopy gain occurred in steep slope areas. The trees making up this canopy are significantly more likely to be vigorous invasive species and other nuisance trees rather than higher-quality canopy.

There are approximately 1,500 trees in Oakland currently owned and maintained by the City of Pittsburgh in public right-of-way and on public property. Approximately 8% are slated for removal due to tree death or disease. While many of these locations may be suitable for replanting, others may represent poor locations for tree growth in their current format.The City of Pittsburgh requires tree plantings in order to increase canopy as part of zoning requirements for development. New street trees are required at a rate of one tree for every 30 feet of frontage. The City has minimum standards for tree pits (30 sq ft, 3’ by 10’ as possible), recommended species to address utility wires, and is developing standards for soil.

See the Development page for more information about Sustainable Urban Development. See the Mobility page for more information about pedestrian access, and circulation and safety.

Oakland’s urban landscape does not support much biodiversity, yet it could be an excellent opportunity to improve the environment for plants, animals, and humans, and to study urban ecology.

As more of humanity moves to cities and as and more of our natural landscapes are urbanized, fragmented, or otherwise impacted by humans, we are beginning to think more about improving our urban landscapes not just for people but for other plants and animals as well. Restoring biodiversity to cities will become increasingly important for human well-being and natural ecosystems alike. In Oakland, Schenley Park serves as the largest area of refuge for animal species, and there may be other smaller pockets of biodiversity in the wooded areas, hillsides, and other landscaped spaces.

There are many factors that contribute to biodiversity, but one of the most important is the existence of healthy native vegetation. Some plants may serve as food and housing for many species, while other (often introduced or invasive species) contribute very little to local ecosystems. Think about the lawn in many of our urban greenspaces. While it may allow some rain water to soak into the ground, and provide more cooling and oxygen than would asphalt or concrete, it doesn’t provide nearly the ecosystem benefits that a native Oak tree would, for example. Other factors, such as soil, air, and water quality, noise and light pollution, also play an important role in what species are able to live in an area. Further, many cities such as Pittsburgh have additional ecosystem challenges such as an overabundance of deer, since all of their natural predators (besides automobiles) have been eliminated from these environments. The deer population in areas around Schenley Park exacerbate issues related to the prevalence of invasive species and difficulty reestablishing native vegetation, as well as increase the risk of vehicle accidents.

Oakland presents many of the environmental challenges inherent to the Pittsburgh region, including landslide-prone steep slopes, undermined land, prevalence of impervious surfaces, lack of trees and vegetation and the resulting hot urban heat. There are also many institutions and groups in Oakland who are actively studying and trying to improve the environment, such as the universities and Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes. With so many students and engaged citizens, Oakland could be a testing ground for improving the urban landscape and ecosystem health.

Links: See the Development page for more information about Sustainable Urban Design.

How high of a priority is habitat restoration relative to other infrastructure projects?

Why is habitat restoration most important?

This poll has concluded.

Biodiversity of plants and animals in general
37% (7 votes)
Human health and wellbeing
32% (6 votes)
Supporting pollinators and insects whose global populations are rapidly declining
11% (2 votes)
Improving educational opportunities, e.g. better birding, wildlife sightings, plant ID
0% (0 votes)
Opportunities to conduct research on biodiversity in urban areas
0% (0 votes)
Land stewardship ethic
21% (4 votes)
Total Votes: 19

Oakland’s high urban density presents stormwater challenges that require unique solutions.


The above map is an overview of all of the priority sewersheds in Pittsburgh (M-29, M-19A/B, A-22 for Oakland) from the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority. Oakland lies in three different sewersheds and is a large contributor to sewage and stormwater flows due to the amount of impervious area.

During storms, the combined sewage and stormwater can overflow the system directly into the river, degrading water quality, and contributing to street flooding and basement backups. Among other strategies, PWSA and the City of Pittsburgh are pursuing green infrastructure projects that manage stormwater flows during a storm and reduce combined sewer outflows. The M-29 sewershed is currently the focus of long-term strategic urban planning and construction to reduce stormwater issues.

Not all of these projects fall within the boundary of the Oakland neighborhood, but they do fall within the sewershed boundary that Oakland is a part of. These projects will become valuable to all communities who share them.There are many more projects throughout the neighborhood that manage stormwater and reduce sewer overflows. They are created from a conglomerate of different entities whether it is PWSA, the City, or a private developer. All of these projects have their own public engagement processes, but throughout the Oakland Public Engagement Process needs and desire for future projects can arise.

When dealing with stormwater, it’s important to realize that what happens in one area is impacted by what goes on throughout the stormwater system upstream -- and influences what happens downstream. We realize that our stormwater system needs fixed and it will take time and a commitment from everybody to ensure that it functions – even if it is built to modern standards and regulations there will always be a larger storm that will overwhelm the system – that we can count on.

Links: Read about the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority's approach to green stormwater projects (https://www.pgh2o.com/projects-maintenance/green-stormwater-projects).

Oakland is the third largest business district in Pennsylvania and uses lots of energy; there are many good opportunities to reduce energy usage.

The Bellefield Boiler Plant, also known as "The Cloud Factory", was built in 1907 to provide steam heat for Carnegie Museum but now provides heat to many Oakland institutions including the Carnegie Museums & Library, the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Phipps Conservatory, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), and two Pittsburgh Public Schools facilities. The plant was primarily coal until 2009 when it shifted to solely natural gas to reduce CO2 emissions.

Carillo Street Steam Plant opened in 2009 and is used by the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC in Oakland is one of the cleanest university heating plants in the United States. The full use of the facility by Pitt and UPMC is expected to reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 48,000 metric tons and can transform approximately 14,000 gallons of water per hour into steam.

The Pittsburgh 2030 District is an internationally recognized, locally driven strategic initiative of Green Building Alliance (GBA) that supports building owners and managers as they strive towards 50% reductions in energy use, water consumption, and transportation emissions by 2030, while improving indoor air quality. The District connects Property Partners with Community and Resource Partners, driving industry-leading performance through peer-to-peer learning, technical trainings, and data benchmarking. The District leads all 22 international 2030 Districts with 86.3 million square feet committed, and has collectively saved $154.5M in energy and water costs since 2012. The Pittsburgh 2030 District is the first 2030 District to have collected and analyzed indoor air quality data.

All 2030 Districts focus on committing the urban core of their respective cities. In 2012, the Pittsburgh 2030 District started committing buildings in downtown to engage the City’s central business district. The District expanded to include Oakland in 2014 as it is Pittsburgh’s second economic powerhouse. Building from relationships with Pittsburgh’s anchor institutions and universities, many properties signed onto the Oakland expansion. From there, the District has continued to grow, encompassing the Northside, Downtown, Uptown, Oakland, and the newest addition of the Strip District in 2019.

311. The City of Pittsburgh’s 311 Response Center webpage is the starting place for any non-emergency City of Pittsburgh concerns or questions. Requests can be sent anonymously if you do not require a response. Please keep in mind that the more detailed information you can provide, the better we will be able to assist.

All service requests sent with a valid email address will be sent an email response providing your Ticket Number for tracking purposes. Should a service request be generated by your submission, one of our 311 representatives will provide a Service Request ID Number.

My Burgh App. 311 resource guide, responsibility per utility, let us know what your issues are to develop a strategy ie are your utilities preventing you from getting a tree? what is the neighborhood plan for inclusion, energy burden, access or shut off, outage issues, burying utilities.

Utilities. More information about utilities in Oakland will be forthcoming.

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In 2017, the City of Pittsburgh adopted its Climate Action Plan that laid down the path to how PIttsburgh will mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Pittsburgh has already begun to experience the effects of climate change with harsher winters, hotter summers, record setting precipitation, and increased numbers of invasive species. Coordinated, concentrated and comprehensive carbon mitigation action is needed to reduce the severity of regional impacts and prepare for low carbon economy. To address these challenges, Pittsburgh has created the Climate Action Plan.

Climate Action Plan 3.0 lays out strategies through which Pittsburgh can reduce greenhouse gas emissions within city limits and within City operations. This will lessen Pittsburgh’s contribution to global climate change.

PCAP 3.0 is structured according to emission sources, with a focus on instrumental, measurable actions with assigned stakeholders. Action plans are broken into six categories or chapters:

  1. Energy Generation and Distribution
  1. Buildings and End Use Efficiency
  1. Transportation and Land Use
  1. Waste and Resource Reduction
  1. Food and Agriculture
  1. Urban Ecosystems

This PCAP 3.0 lays out pathways, strategies, and a framework for achieving Pittsburgh’s greenhouse gas reduction goals by the year 2030 and beyond, as follows:

Pittsburgh’s Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Goals (below on a 2003 baseline)

  • 20% GHG Reduction by 2023
  • 50% GHG Reduction by 2030
  • 80% GHG Reduction by 2050
  • Pursue a future carbon neutral goal

Pittsburgh 2030 Climate Goals

Internal City Operations:

  1. 100% renewable electricity use
  1. 100% fossil fuel free fleet
  1. Divestment from fossil fuels

City of Pittsburgh:

  1. 50% energy use reduction
  1. 50% water use reduction
  1. 50% transportation emission reduction
  1. Zero Waste

In short, Pittsburgh follows a 0-50-100 goal; zero waste, 50% emissions reduction, and 100% renewable electricity. These broad, ambitious goals allow for innovation and collaboration with a variety of stakeholders.

By neighborhood, Oakland is second only to downtown in regards to total, annual GHG emissions. Many of the actions laid out in the Climate Action Plan relate to improvement and modernization of Pittsburgh’s infrastructure. As Pittsburgh continues to feel the effects of climate change, there will also be significant impacts to the City’s infrastructure. In order to reduce emissions, there are actions that can be taken at all levels to help make progress toward the 2030 climate goals. There are also steps that can be implemented in order to reduce the impacts of climate change on the infrastructure and residents of Oakland.

Links: City of Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan

As one of the most densely populated and heavily trafficked neighborhoods, Oakland has higher levels of air pollution than in many other neighborhoods.

Pittsburgh has made vast improvements in air quality since the height of the steel industry, including enactment of the nation’s first Clean Air Act. However, the American Lung Association still ranks Pittsburgh the eighth worst of more than 200 metropolitan areas in the nation for long-term (annual) soot pollution, the 14th worst for short-term or daily soot pollution, and the 29th worst for ozone, the main precursor of unhealthy smog. Air quality has significant health implications in our region. A recent study, conducted by Dr. Deborah Gentile of the Pediatric Alliance, showed that while the national average for pediatric asthma is about 8%, nearly 23% of children in the Pittsburgh region have been diagnosed with asthma. In Southwestern Pennsylvania, there are an estimated 1500 deaths that can be attributed to poor air quality each year. As Pittsburgh strives to reduce GHG emissions, there must also be a focus on improved air quality and the related human health benefits.

Poor air quality can have severe negative impacts on the residents of Oakland. While many of the worst polluters are not located in Oakland, there are still many steps that can be taken and projects that can be implemented locally to improve Oakland’s air quality.

Links: Penn Environment, Breathe Project, State of the Air, DOMI Transport Vision Plan.

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