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This chapter is about improving the physical, social, and economic development of Oakland. The content of this chapter focuses on new and existing buildings and what they contribute to Oakland and the Pittsburgh region.

Specifically, you'll find proposals about:

  • How to realize the economic potential of Oakland and equitably create jobs for Pittsburghers;
  • How to create affordable housing;
  • How to create sustainable and well designed buildings; and
  • How to integrate transit with new development activities.

All of the Oakland Plan was created through an iterative process of input, research, and strategy development. Input from the first 6 months of Steering Committee meetings informed the Summer 2020 online open house, the results of which informed the work of the Steering Committee to create the vision statement and goals and the four Action Teams to create strategies. Research and best practices, including insights from local expert Technical Advisory Groups, were woven into all of this work to present draft strategies to the public online and in-person throughout the Fall of 2021. The final content is the culmination of 2.5 years of work. We hope you see your words and ideas reflected in the content below.

30-Day Public Comment Period

We hope you will read the plan and provide comments that can improve this draft before it's formally adopted. You can comment on every aspect of the plan on this website, join us for Zoom events on March 19 and 23, or give us a call by dialing 3-1-1.

Planning Commission Hearing and Action

After the 30 day public comment period, the City's Planning Commission will hold a hearing on April 19th where it will receive testimony on the plan and take action to adopt the plan and recommend the associated zoning proposals on to City Council and the Mayor to become law.

City Council and Mayoral Action

A second set of hearings and meetings will take plan on the zoning proposals. For both Planning Commission and City Council, all property owners in and adjacent to the areas to be rezoned will receive notices. After all the testimony has been heard, City Council will take action to approve the zoning proposals and send them to the Mayor to sign into law.

What are goals?

Goals are long-term outcomes that organizations and the City of Pittsburgh will work towards by taking action on policies, projects, and programs. Goals are aspirational in nature and express the neighborhood's collective desires and values for various topics in the plan. Compared to the policies in the section below, goals can encompass many different ideas and desires whereas policies focus on one specific topic. The goals below are organized as specified in the City's Neighborhood Plan Guide.

D1. Land use policy and regulations

  • D1.A Development review system. A system of City processes, local guidelines, and local review committee(s) supports plan implementation through development.
  • D1.B Land use addresses community needs. The use of private and public land, including the rights-of-way, consider the needs of current and future Oaklanders.
  • D1.C Framework to provide community amenities. Incentives, requirements, and policies work together to target amenities to specific parts of the neighborhood where they are needed most.

D2. Urban sustainable design

  • D2.A High performing buildings. Buildings reduce energy, water, and other resources used in construction, materials, management, and across their life cycle.
  • D2.B Prioritizing green. Buildings in all areas of Oakland incorporate green features to improve the comfort and livability of Oakland for people and other animals.
  • D2.C Buildings that belong in Oakland. Building design speaks to the unique context of Oakland and contributes to the outstanding architectural heritage of the area.

D3. Equitable economic development

  • D3.A Welcoming Oakland. Oakland's institutions, non-profit organizations, businesses, residents, and students work proactively to welcome BIPOC, LGBTQ, immigrant and refugee, and disabled people to live, work, study, invest in businesses, and play in the community.
  • D3.B Buildings that overcome inequities. The construction, rehabilitation, and tenanting of buildings are opportunities to overcome inequities experienced by residents, entrepreneurs, and employees.
  • D3.C Inclusive hiring. Activities and investments in Oakland maximize opportunities for minority, women, and disadvantaged business enterprises, particularly those based out of Oakland.

D4. Housing

  • D4.A Jobs and housing for all. Residents have access to career services and opportunities that allow them to work in good paying jobs in their neighborhood, and Oakland’s low income employees and students have access to affordable housing that allows them to walk to work or school.
  • D4.B Healthy and comfortable buildings. All buildings in Oakland are well maintained, resource efficient, and healthy for their residents and employees.

D5. Transit oriented development and commercial corridors and nodes

  • D5.A Vibrant commercial corridors. Development on commercial corridors provides healthy and safe pedestrian experiences with inviting public realm improvements, open spaces, and complementary ground floor uses that serve the broader community and integrate with transit services.
  • D5.B Integrate development and transit. Development provides amenities for transit users including commercial services, enjoyable waiting areas, and first-mile/last-mile multimodal facilities.

What are policies?

Policies set a preferred direction and describe what must be done to achieve the goals in the section above. Where goals can have many elements that relate to a central theme, policies should have one clear focus. They are specific enough that future projects can be assessed to determine if they would advance the values in the plan or run counter to them. Along with the vision statement, and goals, policies are formally adopted by the City's Planning Commission. The policies below are organized as specified in the City's Neighborhood Plan Guide.

D1. Land use policy and regulations

  • Managed density. Locate dense development in appropriately designed buildings and in locations near transit and other supportive amenities.
  • Reduce negative externalities. Design new buildings to internalize or otherwise address nuisance issues to avoid increasing conflict between residents.
  • Limit development on hillsides. Avoid new development activities in environmentally sensitive areas such as landslide prone and steeply sloped areas and seek to move people out of potentially hazardous locations.
  • Improve living conditions. Support the Rental Registration Program and other efforts to improve living conditions and fair treatment for all renters.

D2. Urban sustainable design

  • Excellence in sustainability. Incorporate sustainability principles and best practices into public spaces, buildings, and infrastructure.
  • Design for topography. Design infrastructure and buildings to help residents overcome topography challenges and enjoy unique publicly accessible views.
  • Amenities for all ages. Use public and private investments as opportunities to provide publicly accessible amenities for people of all ages.
  • Inspiring gateways. Incorporate unique architecture, open spaces, public art, and plantings into entry points to the neighborhood to present an image of what Oakland is and aspires to be.
  • Limit pedestrian bridges. Prioritize street-level activity on Oakland’s major commercial corridors including Fifth and Forbes Avenues, the Boulevard of the Allies, and Craig Street by building pedestrian bridges only on smaller streets and ways.
  • Design for children. Design buildings, open spaces, and transportation projects to establish safe places and routes that allow children to navigate the neighborhood.

D3. Equitable economic development

  • Access and influence. Ensure communities of color and immigrants are part of social and business networks and represented in leadership positions in Oakland.
  • Minority and immigrant business focus. Prioritize tenanting of minority, women, and immigrant business enterprises, particularly by local residents, in ground floor spaces on commercial corridors.
  • Access to careers. Regularly study and address barriers to participation for underrepresented communities in Oakland’s career opportunities at major employers.

D4. Housing

  • Black and African-American residents. Ensure the needs of Oakland’s Black and African-American residents are addressed through initiatives that create housing and fight displacement.
  • Transit oriented housing. Build and maintain affordable housing within walking distance of transit stations.
  • Frontline and low income worker housing. Create housing that meets the needs of Oakland’s frontline and low income workers.
  • Students as residents. Tap the full potential of Oakland’s diverse student population by providing the right mix of housing and amenities to retain them following graduation.

D5. Transit oriented development and commercial corridors and nodes

  • Community hubs. Build up transit station amenities, wayfinding, and adjacent ground floor activities in buildings to create local hubs of community activity.
  • Transit station circulation. Design clear and accessible public connections between transit station areas and the surrounding neighborhood as part of development.
  • Boulevard of the Allies as connector. Invest in development and infrastructure to create a healthy, comfortable, and enjoyable pedestrian and transit-oriented character that stitches together Central and South Oakland.

What are the projects and programs?

The projects and programs are a shared "To Do" list where the community and government identify the projects they want to undertake over the next 10 years to make the vision a reality. Many of the ideas you see below are the result of ideas from people in Oakland, supported by research and case studies, and now ready for your review and inclusion in the final plan.


Dig into the details

In the lists below, you'll get a title, brief description, and information about how the project or program could be realized including when it should start, by whom, and potential funding sources. For many of the ideas below there is "Learn More" button that takes you to a page full of details, drawings, illustrations, and specific ways to provide comments on that strategy. We highly recommend you dig into the details to see what your fellow Oaklanders came up with.


D-1. Community reinvestment fund -- CLICK TO LEARN MORE

Establish a City Trust Fund that can receive payments from the Equitable Development Performance Point in the Zoning Code. This fund should be managed by the Department of City Planning in partnership with a community board that makes recommendations on investments that benefit all of Oakland.

  • When to start: 0-2 years
  • Project lead(s): DCP
  • Project partner(s): City Council
  • Potential funding source(s): None needed

D-2. Design guidelines -- CLICK TO LEARN MORE

Create design guidelines that establish shared expectations for both developers and the community about how to integrate community input into project design. These guidelines should create a design process that allows residents and other community members to feel that development and other types of projects contribute to their neighborhood instead of serve only to displace.

  • When to start: 0-2 years
  • Project lead(s): DCP, Arts and design committee
  • Project partner(s): OBID, OPDC, CMOA, OPA, art and design faculty at the University of Pittsburgh and CMU, local artists and designers
  • Potential funding source(s): City Capital Budget, grants

D-3. Environmentally sensitive areas

Create materials that clearly communicate the location of environmentally sensitive areas of the neighborhood, what policy and regulatory limits are in place to prevent development there, and why.

  • When to start: 3-5 years
  • Project lead(s): DCP
  • Project partner(s): PWSA, OPDC
  • Potential funding source(s): None needed

D-4. Green buffer requirement

Create requirement in the Zoning Code for green buffer areas to be part of development projects that are substantially taller than adjacent buildings. Green buffers will be expected to serve a clear function such as providing a public pedestrian connection through a long block, providing a park-like space, or environmental function. For very tall structures, these buffers may need to be augmented by upper floor stepbacks.

  • When to start: 0-2 years -- Part of the Oakland Plan Zoning Proposals
  • Project lead(s): DCP
  • Project partner(s): None specified
  • Potential funding source(s): None needed

D-5. Inclusionary zoning

Apply Inclusionary Zoning regulations to Oakland through rezonings.

  • When to start: 0-2 years -- Part of the Oakland Plan Zoning Proposals
  • Project lead(s): DCP
  • Project partner(s): None specified
  • Potential funding source(s): None needed

D-6. Missing middle housing

Conduct a study and implement any necessary Zoning Code amendments to support the expansion of Missing Middle Housing types, including Accessory Dwelling Units, in lower density residential areas. A primary goal should be to meet the needs of long-term residents and increase access to affordable housing.

  • When to start: 3-5 years
  • Project lead(s): DCP
  • Project partner(s): None specified
  • Potential funding source(s): City Capital Budget, grants

D-7. Oakland town center -- CLICK TO LEARN MORE

Redevelop University of Pittsburgh, UPMC, and City land in the Zulema Park area to create a dense node of activity where affordable housing, sustainable buildings, community service hubs, groceries, transit, and an enhanced Zulema Park serves the needs of residents. Isaly’s Building is retained and reactivated as a centerpiece of this area. Transform the Boulevard of the Allies from a barrier into a neighborhood connector.

  • When to start: 0-2 years
  • Project lead(s): DCP, University of Pittsburgh, UPMC
  • Project partner(s): URA, HACP, PennDOT
  • Potential funding source(s): Developers, bonds, grants, City Capital Budget, foundations

D-8. Resident marketing campaign

Develop marketing campaign that advertises positive aspects of Oakland in terms of central location, affordable housing efforts, walkability, transit access, parks, and cultural resources. The goal should be to attract a diverse set of permanent residents to locate in Oakland.

  • When to start: 3-5 years
  • Project lead(s): PID
  • Project partner(s): OPDC, OBID, institutions, PAAC
  • Potential funding source(s): Foundations, grants

D-9. Sustainability for existing buildings

Work with the Department of Permits, Licensing, and Inspections and other partners to identify opportunities to establish requirements for making sustainability and landscape related improvements for existing structures such as new occupancy permits, license renewals, and changes of use. This should link to the implementation of the Rental Registry program and could be coupled with informational campaigns, training, and funding opportunities.

  • When to start: 0-2 years -- Part of the DCP Energy Strategy
  • Project lead(s): DCP
  • Project partner(s): PLI, GBA, AIA PGH, DLC
  • Potential funding source(s): City Capital Budget, grants

D-10. Sustainability for new buildings

Establish requirements, incentives, and funding programs for new buildings that ensure they are as sustainable as possible. All buildings, including affordable housing, should meet the high standards.

  • When to start: 0-2 years -- Part of the Oakland Plan Zoning Proposals
  • Project lead(s): DCP, GBA
  • Project partner(s): None specified
  • Potential funding source(s): None needed

D-11. Transit oriented zoning

Amend the Zoning for Oakland to establish a corridor approach to transit oriented development that provides for the needs of the community. Clearly identify areas where different kinds of residential and commercial development are prioritized or incentivized.

  • When to start: 0-2 years -- Part of the Oakland Plan Zoning Proposals
  • Project lead(s): DCP
  • Project partner(s): PAAC
  • Potential funding source(s): None needed

D-12. Wayfinding for neighborhood businesses

Create wayfinding system and promotional programs to drive foot traffic, cyclists, other visitors to local businesses, particularly when they are off the major corridors. Think about visitors to Oakland including patients and families, what they are looking for, how they get around, and how this can support local business development.

  • When to start: 3-5 years
  • Project lead(s): OBID
  • Project partner(s): None specified
  • Potential funding source(s): City Capital Budget, grants

What are the projects and programs?

The projects and programs are a shared "To Do" list where the community and government identify the projects they want to undertake over the next 10 years to make the vision a reality. Many of the ideas you see below are the result of ideas from people in Oakland, supported by research and case studies, and now ready for your review and inclusion in the final plan.


Dig into the details

In the lists below, you'll get a title, brief description, and information about how the project or program could be realized including when it should start, by whom, and potential funding sources. For many of the ideas below there is "Learn More" button that takes you to a page full of details, drawings, illustrations, and specific ways to provide comments on that strategy. We highly recommend you dig into the details to see what your fellow Oaklanders came up with.


D-13. Collaborate on local tenanting efforts

Establishing a committee that focuses on local business tenanting, shares experiences and resources, and tracks progress. Build on recent work by OBID, OPDC, and UPMC to tenant local businesses by expanding this effort across all commercial property owners and relevant non-profit organizations, particularly the institutions.

  • When to start: 0-2 years
  • Project lead(s): OBID
  • Project partner(s): OPDC, PID, PHDC, institutions
  • Potential funding source(s): None needed

D-14. Community reinvestment board -- CLICK TO LEARN MORE

Establish a board to work with the Department of City Planning to spend money from the new City Trust Fund proposed to receive funds from the Equitable Development Performance Point and potentially other sources.

  • When to start: 0-2 years
  • Project lead(s): DCP
  • Project partner(s): Partners4Work, Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation, Vibrant Pittsburgh, URA
  • Potential funding source(s): Developers, bonds, grants, City Capital Budget, foundations

D-15. Diversity, equity, and inclusion principles

Establish shared targets and/or principles among institutions and major employers for hiring local firms, MWDBE firms, Oakland residents, and tenanting local businesses. Any project seeking funds from public sector or Oakland organizations or on institutional or public lands should meet these goals. Base proposals on best practices elsewhere to ensure targets are meaningful and enforceable to create accountability. Meeting these objectives will require mentorship programs and other work to build up the pipeline of these businesses.

  • When to start: 3-5 years
  • Project lead(s): City of Pittsburgh, OBID, institutions, major employers, OPDC
  • Project partner(s): None specified
  • Potential funding source(s): None needed

D-16. Employer assisted housing

Establish Employer Assistant Housing Programs at all major employers and consider potential benefits of a single shared program. Program(s) must be linked to those building and advocating for housing so needs of employees can be met. Consider maintaining waitlists for housing types at employers that are then used by developers as they establish projects and decide on units and look to lease/sell them. Identify a role for smaller businesses to be part of this program.

  • When to start: 0-2 years
  • Project lead(s): Institutions, UPMC, OBID, OPDC
  • Project partner(s): Developers
  • Potential funding source(s): Organization budgets

D-17. Equitable development committee

Establish a workforce committee with all providers and major employers to continually share practices, opportunities, work together to launch new initiatives, share opportunities with residents. Map and understand the workforce pipeline programs in place, what works, what doesn’t, and the gaps. The main goal should to connect residents and their children to opportunities.

  • When to start: 0-2 years
  • Project lead(s): Partners4Work, PID
  • Project partner(s): DCP, URA, institutions, foundations, major STEM employers, OPDC, resident representatives, other education and training partners
  • Potential funding source(s): None needed

D-18. Global district -- CLICK TO LEARN MORE

Support and grow an inclusive district on Fifth and Forbes Avenues where there is a strong market for global food and grocery types. Proactively match spaces with businesses that reinforce and grow the multi-cultural nature of this corridor's business community.

  • When to start: 0-2 years
  • Project lead(s): OBID, URA, DCP
  • Project partner(s): Institutions, student associations, PID, PHDC
  • Potential funding source(s): Community Reinvestment Fund, foundations, grants

D-19. Land use strategy -- CLICK TO LEARN MORE

Implement land use strategy through rezoning projects.

  • When to start: Ongoing
  • Project lead(s): DCP
  • Project partner(s): None identified
  • Potential funding source(s): City Capital Budget, grants

D-20. Neighborhood sustainability identity

Establish a neighborhood identity linked to sustainability, equity, and resilience such as an ecodistrict. This work should build on and support the efforts in this plan.

  • When to start: 3-5 years
  • Project lead(s): OPDC, OBID, OTMA, institutions, neighborhood associations
  • Project partner(s): None identified
  • Potential funding source(s): Grants

D-21. Opportunities for Hispanic businesses

Implement the findings of the Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation that show Oakland is the most desirable location for Pittsburgh’s Hispanic entrepreneurs to start businesses. Overcome barriers to entry including lack of space, high rents, and language barriers.

  • When to start: 3-5 years
  • Project lead(s): OBID, PHDC, University of Pittsburgh Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence
  • Project partner(s): PID
  • Potential funding source(s): Community Reinvestment Fund, foundations, grants

D-22. Provide low-cost commercial space -- CLICK TO LEARN MORE

Ensure a range of low-cost spaces are available in Oakland to support capital constrained innovation businesses.

  • When to start: 3-5 years
  • Project lead(s): OBID, URA
  • Project partner(s): PID, institutions, large property owners, foundations, DCP
  • Potential funding source(s): Building owners, Community reinvestment fund

D-23. Revolving loan program -- CLICK TO LEARN MORE

Establish a revolving loan fund through an institution or other partnership that provides low interest loans to affordable housing projects citywide to address needs. Establish criteria for the loans that support other goals such as proximity to transit and sustainability.

  • When to start: 3-5 years
  • Project lead(s): City of Pittsburgh, institutions
  • Project partner(s): HACP, URA, URA, Allegheny Conference, Allegheny County, foundations
  • Potential funding source(s): City bonds, institutions

D-24. Support local businesses

Expand programs to support entrepreneurs and existing business through by providing a range of services including help with business plans, business structure, and business-to-business networks. The program should build up connections with MWBEs. Provide program and resources in multiple languages and proactively advertise opportunities through immigrant networks.

  • When to start: 3-5 years
  • Project lead(s): OBID, University of Pittsburgh Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence
  • Project partner(s): PID
  • Potential funding source(s): Community Reinvestment Fund, foundations, grants

Development Chapter - What do you think? (Open Ended)

Please let us know what you think of the goals, policies, projects, and programs above. If you have comments on a project or program that has a separate page, please go to that page to share your feedback.
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