The City of Pittsburgh adopted the Registered Community Organization (RCO) ordinance in September 2018. The stated purpose of the legislation is to “obtain informed and inclusive participation from as many neighborhood stakeholders as possible through the creation of a framework to improve cooperation between the various agencies and departments of the City and community organizations representing a geographic area or field of interest by improving the flow of information between these groups and the City, enabling such organizations to participate in civic affairs, and enhancing the livability and character of the City and its neighborhoods.”
RCOs are community organizations meeting specific organizational standards set forth by the City (see here), whose status is renewable on a biennual basis. RCOs play a formal role in the current development projects and neighborhood planning process of their geographic area. For development activities requiring a public hearing and meeting a development threshold (see here), an RCO is guaranteed a public meeting with a developer/applicant prior to a public hearing. This meeting is the Development Activities Meeting (DAM). If an RCO does not exist in a neighborhood, developers are still encouraged to engage the community early and often, but a DAM is not required. Note that the RCO/DAM program does not preclude community organizations from meeting with developer teams outside of the DAM. DAMs are open to the public and intended as spaces for the wider community to ask questions and share feedback with the developer.
After about four years of the legislation and subsequent programming being in effect, the Department of City Planning (DCP) is performing an exploration of the efficacy/success of the RCO legislation and program. This effort is largely in response to (a) the amount of informal feedback we’ve received from various stakeholders and user groups; and (b) the administrative burden placed on DCP staff to intake, process, coordinate, and manage tasks related to the RCO program.
Your input is invaluable to us as we try to determine how to improve this aspect of the City’s development process, while continuing to center the community in Pittsburgh’s growth. The survey is open through the month of March, 2023. Print versions of the survey are available at CitiParks Healthy Active Living Centers.