Thursday, January 16, 2014

Pittsburgh Considers Open Records

Pittsburgh City Councilwoman, Natalia Rudiak

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak announced a proposal to make a wealth of information -- from the location of potholes, to building permits, to paving schedules -- available to the public on a new city website and for consumption by the tech community who could transform the data into useful apps.

"We want to blow the doors of this building open to provide information," Mr. Peduto said.

The legislation puts the onus on the city to proactively provide public data on the city website -- rather than forcing citizens to endure a cumbersome right-to-know process. That process, outlined under the state's right-to-know law, allows government agencies to wait up to a month or more to release data, even if there's little dispute that it falls within the realm of public information.

By avoiding the administrative process, staff is freed up work on nonpublic access issues.  It will save time for the agency employees, and it will save money for the taxpayers.

If the law passes, Pittsburgh will join several big cities -- such as San Francisco, New York, Chicago and Philadelphia -- in opening its data to the public. Raw data could be perused by the public, but the tech community could also use it to create helpful apps or programs.  In Chicago, for example, programmers developed a website that allows residents to track snow plows during a storm, allowing them to better choose their routes to work.

Pittsburgh ..... moving decidedly forward into the 21st Century!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Pittsburgh Considers Land Bank

Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Deb Gross is proposing legislation that would the create a Land Bank for the city of Pittsburgh, a mechanism that could streamline the process of redeveloping tax-delinquent land, parcels that are often the blighted eyesores of communities.  Ms Gross wants public input on many of the program's details.

Land Banks are quasi-governmental entities created by counties or municipalities to effectively manage and repurpose an inventory of underused, abandoned or foreclosed property. They are often chartered to have powers that allow them to accomplish these goals in ways that existing government agencies can not. While the land bank "model" has gained broad support and has been implemented in a number of cities, they are implemented differently so as to best address both municipal needs and the state and local legal context in which they were created.
In 2012, the Pennsylvania state Legislature passed the State Land Bank Act, which allowed for the creation of land banks. Since the passage of the law, Westmoreland County, Dauphin County and Philadelphia have created land banks. Pittsburgh's land bank could take many forms. It could be a subsidiary of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, or it could be its own authority.

The text of the proposed legislation can be found on the City Clerk's web site for those of you who like to delve into the details.   Meetings will be scheduled for public comment, probably in the next 30 days ..... so be on the lookout for those dates.

Councilwoman Deb Gross
Land Bank Legislation
Metro Pittsburgh Real Estate