Two weeks ago, on Tuesday, November 14, the House Urban Affairs Committee held a hearing entitled A Progress Report on PA Land Banks at the Five-Year Mark. Witnesses testified to the accomplishments of land banks across the state. The hearing provided an opportunity for reflection; while much has been accomplished, land banking in Pittsburgh is still more theoretical than actual.
PCRG actively monitors the progress of the Pittsburgh Land Bank as it continues to gear up for operations. The next step for land banking in Pittsburgh is for City Council to pass bill 2017-2018, which approves the Policies and Procedures. This will put the PLB one step closer to operations.
A Post Agenda and a Public Hearing will be held on December 14 to solicit public feedback.We urge all our members, partners, friends, and any interested parties to sign up to attend and urge City Council to pass the bill! The link to the Public Hearing sign-up is here.
We have worked for more than a decade for an operational land bank – advocating for a state bill, advocating for a land bank for Pittsburgh, attending monthly land bank meetings – and we do not want to wait any longer for this tool! Please attend and tell your council member to vote YES.
Need some context? Read on for past coverage of land banking.
Since 2012, when Pennsylvania passed the enabling legislation to allow municipalities to create land banks, PCRG has been actively pushing for a Land Bank in the City of Pittsburgh. Many of you have provided comment and followed along as we have kept you updated on all the steps that have taken place so far, from initial passage of the state law, to the introduction and passage of the Pittsburgh ordinance, and beyond.
Over the last year and a half, our engagement efforts have focused on the Policies and Procedures that will govern the day-to-day operations of the Land Bank. PCRG members gathered to draft a letter to the Land Bank in September 2016, October 2016, and November 2016. The Pittsburgh Land Bank held community meetings in winter and spring 2017: January 2017, February 2017, and March 2017. Once the public engagement process was over, the Pittsburgh Land Bank compiled an engagement report, and revised the Policies and Procedures to be in line with the comments they received. PCRG then sent a memo to members detailing the changes; contact any staff member to have that memo sent to you. More information about the Pittsburgh Land Bank is available on the PCRG Land Bank Policy page and on the Pittsburgh Land Bank website.
Justin has been at PCRG since September 18th, working as an Executive Ally through CORO Pittsburgh’s Public Allies program. Justin is currently developing both a capitalization plan as well as a communication plan for the Community Acquisition and Rehabilitation Loan (CARL). He is working closely with both PCRG’s Executive Director as well as Walter Burlack, the Executive Director of the Community Growth Fund.
Justin, where are you from?
I was born in Farmington, WV and moved to Morgantown to attend college where I stayed for 8 years before moving to Pittsburgh in the summer of 2016.
Tell us a little bit about your background:
I have an educational background in Geography, Landscape Architecture, and Communications. I’ve worked in public sector positions in the fields of environmental sustainability, community development, and project management. I’m also a two year member of Public Allies Pittsburgh where I’ve participated in professional development and social justice trainings and developed community-based events and initiatives.
What are you most excited to work on at PCRG?
I’m most excited to continue developing programs and projects to increase quality of life for residents of the Greater Pittsburgh Region as well as expand my geographical area of focus through partnerships with PCRG’s member organizations.
What are some of your hobbies?
In my spare time, I enjoy camping, whitewater rafting, developing my woodworking skills, exploring the city and country with my friends, and volunteering.
Tell us a fun fact about you:
I have a collection of rocks and of records. I won my 6th grade social studies fair and I’m currently on a mediocre kickball team.
What is something you love about Pittsburgh?
I enjoy the history and architecture of Pittsburgh as well as the strong base of grass-root organizations and foundations working to move Pittsburgh towards a future of justice, equality, and opportunity.
PCRG was pleased to place our spotlight on Bonafide Bellevue, the community development corporation that has been at the forefront of revitalization efforts in Bellevue. Kathy Coder, president of the organization, provided PCRG with a great deal of insight on what is taking place in Bellevue and the best things this town has to offer.
1. Organization: Bonafide Bellevue – (Powered by BIGr-Bellevue Initiative for Growth and Revitalization)
2. Founding Date: November, 2008
3. Executive Director or President or Board Chair: Kathy Coder
4. Current staff size and composition: All volunteer, no staff.
5. What geographic area do you serve? Bellevue and the North Boroughs.
6. What is your mission statement?
Bonafide Bellevue is Community Development Corporation. Our purpose is to bring growth and revitalization to Bellevue’s residential and business district.
7. What is one project or program that you are really excited about?
The rejuvenation of our Downtown Business District.
8. What are some of your organization’s recent accomplishments?
The Bellevue Farmer’s Market, Bellevue House Tour, Live. Learn. Grow series, Historic House Plaque Initiative, Community Herb Garden, Memorial Park Bike and Hike Trail, and our on-going annual initiative: Improve the VUE.
9. Tell us what you love about your neighborhood. What is your neighborhood’s best kept secret?
Bellevue is one square mile and a totally walkable community (even our School District) with easy access to public transportation. Many diverse and fascinating people make their home in Bellevue, including pro athletes, a world-renowned opera singer/ teacher (who Pavarotti would stay with while in Pittsburgh), a National Geographic photographer, as well as young people starting their careers and people who have lived here their whole lives. We have a vibrant downtown with new businesses emerging regularly. We are the best location in Pittsburgh – no tunnels, easy access to the city, and 20 minutes to anywhere, but the best thing is the sense of community. We are the “Mayberry RFD” of Pittsburgh.
10. What is a restaurant or business in your neighborhood that partners with your organization for events or has partnered with your organization in the past? How has it helped you?
It would be hard to pick just one since we have so many businesses, churches, and restaurants that support us. Many of these organizations let us use space for meetings, and generously give in-kind, money, and time to help us be successful.
11. List an interesting fact about your organization, leadership, history, the area you serve, or other topic.
In 2017, the town of Bellevue had its 150th anniversary.
12. What are some of your upcoming events?
December 1st is the Bellevue Holiday Market! Stop by The Center of Bellevue (2 N Sprague Ave) from 5-9pm and visit some of our favorite regular-season vendors as well as some fresh, new faces! In addition, Live. Learn. Grow, an ongoing personal enrichment series, has upcoming events on subjects such as, diversity and inclusion, cooking, power tools for women, and homeowner education.
13. Contact information:
Name of contact person for further inquiries: Kathy Coder
Address: 25 North Bryant Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15202
Link to Website: www.bonafidebellevue.com
The winter is here, and with winter comes our annual tradition: seeking speakers for our Community Development Summit in the spring! PCRG’s 2018 Community Development Summit will take place May 15-16, 2018 and we are seeking outstanding sessions on all topics relating to community development.
Our sessions in the past have covered everything from land banking to workforce investment, from education to arts in the community. We look for people to present topics on any work that intersects with land, capital, or mobility, bridging the barriers between government, activists, businesses, nonprofits, and residents.
Sessions are the heart of our Summit, and we can’t do it without you! Although PCRG and our Summit Steering Committee work hard to find presenters who can speak about the work that they are doing, we also publicize the Summit because some of our best sessions have come from our session proposal process.
Even if you don’t have a fully developed session, please apply with whatever information you can. We encourage you to think outside the box on format and topic. You can also think outside the conference venue and apply to host a mobile workshop!
Interested in learning more? Read our formal Request for Session Proposals and fill out our online application on our Summit website, here.
For more information on this newsletter, please contact Adrie Fells, AmeriCorps Outreach VISTA, at email@example.com or (412) 391-6732 ext. 211.