Your input is essential to the planning process. Staff and the Steering Committee will use your input to start developing parts of the Oakland Plan.

  • Input on this page and other topic-based pages (i.e., Community, Development, Mobility, and Infrastructure) will be used to develop goals for the plan specific to those topics. This goal language will become part of the plan, but will also be used to guide the proposals developed in the Action Teams in the year ahead.

Learn more about opportunities to be involved on the homepage.

Action Teams are comprised of residents, students, employees, property owners, agencies, and professionals interested in working to develop projects and programs for the neighborhood plan. They are an opportunity for building partnerships while developing feasible action items for the plan.

The Infrastructure Action Team develops proposals for the non-transportation systems that nourish and maintain a district including how stormwater is handled, needs for open spaces, the energy systems that serve all buildings, and how waste is reduced and reused.

Learn more about Action Teams and how to join them using the bottom on the right of this page.

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.

This content is still being developed.