Winning: Does Pittsburgh Want It?

At a dinner party of eight this weekend, it suddenly arose that I was the only “native” Pittsburgher in the group, and how did that make me feel?

Um… gosh, this is a first… I guess that explains some things? No, not really, heh heh! Or, maybe a little.

Peduto pledges to draw 20,000 new residents in 10 years by improving public transit, focusing development on long-neglected neighborhoods, and supporting economic growth in education and medical services. (Trib, Chris Togneri)

… and schools and housing.

Because of course. That’s the score, right? Population is the score! We had been losing for decades, and now we’re aching to put points on the board.

Then I recall random articles:

It went from 21 apartments to 18 to 15 to, finally, six townhouses that are likely to need one or two variances for dimensions. (P-G, Diana Nelson Jones)


It was a proposal that divided the densely built neighborhood, with residents on nearby Fisk Street complaining the nightlife on Butler Street already brings alcohol-related issues and parking challenges that would only be made worse by the Thunderbird’s expansion. (PBT, Tim Schooley)

And nearby…

“The biggest complaint everybody has is the noise,” Kelly said. (Trib, Margaret Harding)

And of course…

Mr. Burgess, who said his district includes more property that would be eligible for the land bank than anywhere else, stepped up claims that the plan as it is presently worded constitutes “carpetbagging” from more affluent council districts and a thinly veiled attempt to hand land over to wealthy developers. (P-G, Robert Zullo)

Let’s imagine Pittsburgh actually attracts 20,000 net new, mostly young, mostly highly educated humans from elsewhere on Planet Earth over the next 10 years —  or 50,000 over the next 20.

Would we be thrilled with that – assuming we don’t get to decide where and how they live exactly, or what they do and when? Or have we actually grown comfortable in our groove / rut? Would we honestly rather keep this splendor to ourselves?

UPDATE: Past is prologue… (h/t Briem)

10 thoughts on “Winning: Does Pittsburgh Want It?

  1. MH

    Just watch the cars with New Jersey plates. It’s not that they’re worse than local drivers, but they are worse in a more aggressive way.

  2. Poli

    A six-story, 30-unit apartment building will be going up on the old Poli’s site in Squirrel Hill–10 units for disabled residents and 20 affordable apartments. Small, but it’s a start.

    1. MH

      I hadn’t heard that yet. Will there be any ground floor retail? Are they still going to take the other buildings nearby?

      1. infinitebuffalo

        This is a different project–the one that was going to be down at the corner of Forward seems to have fallen apart. This one was announced last fall: JRS will likely get the first floor as an extension of the Levin Clubhouse next door, and ACTION Housing will have condos/apartments above. (Trib; PopCity.)

  3. Brian Tucker-Hill

    Even if natives wanted to stop it, there is no real way to do that–young adults are coming here for reasons beyond local control, and measures designed to disfavor migrants are actually unconstitutional. See Saenz v. Roe, 526 U.S. 489 (1999). And as lots of other U.S. cities found out in recent decades, if you put all sorts of constraints on new construction in existing neighborhoods, all you will accomplish is accelerating gentrification rates in those existing neighborhoods (because artificial scarcity inevitably leads to higher prices), and more greenfield developments in farther-flung suburbs and exurbs.

    So unless your goal is to force the poorer people of the future to spend increasing amounts of their time and money on ever-longer commutes, you should see Peduto’s policy agenda on this subject not as an option, but as a necessity.

    1. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

      Indeed, there’s an argument to be made that we’ll need citywide tools like land banking just to plan for and manage the influx — given of course, we’d need to use that tool skillfully and not self-destructively.

      Although I think if we really put our minds to it, we could find ways to stop it all short.


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