A map showing the area in which October Development is seeking to take on conservatorship of 97 properties, taken from the company's petition filed in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.

Develop PGH Bulletins: Big bid for conservatorship over North Side properties to be withdrawn

Develop PGH Bulletins updates you on the Pittsburgh region's economy, including close coverage of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, City Planning Commission and other important agencies. Please check back frequently, sign up for the Develop PGH newsletter and email rich@publicsource.org with questions, tips or story ideas. 4/9/21: Attorney for October Development pledges narrower conservatorship effort around East Allegheny
A petition seeking conservatorship over nearly 100 North Side properties will be withdrawn, and a narrower bid to address blight in and near East Allegheny will be filed, according to the attorney representing the would-be steward, October Development. A March 5 petition by October Development, filed by attorney Dan Friedson, asked the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas to give the company control over 97 parcels now owned by the city, a community group and a slew of private owners. The petition was filed under the state’s 13-year-old conservatorship law, which allows the temporary takeover of vacant, blighted properties by court-approved stewards, who can later file liens and sometimes take ownership.

A map showing the area in which October Development is seeking to take on conservatorship of 97 properties, taken from the company's petition filed in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.

March 2021 Develop PGH Bulletins: ‘Hostile takeover’ or ‘best practice’? Attorney explains massive North Side conservatorship bid

Develop PGH Bulletins updates you on the Pittsburgh region's economy, including close coverage of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, City Planning Commission and other important agencies. Please check back frequently, sign up for the Develop PGH newsletter and email rich@publicsource.org with questions, tips or story ideas. 03/30/21: Attorney explains bid for conservatorship of 97 properties
A former City of Pittsburgh attorney who has filed an ambitious conservatorship petition said that it was driven by a developer’s desire to improve a neglected part of the North Side amid slow progress by a community group and government officials. Dan Friedson, who was an assistant city solicitor from 2014 through late 2019, filed a March 5 petition on behalf of East Allegheny-based October Development, seeking conservatorship over 97 properties in and around that neighborhood. Of the properties, 29 are owned by the city, two by the Urban Redevelopment Authority [URA], eight by the Community Association of Spring Garden and East Deutschtown [CASGED] and the rest by an assortment of individuals and apparent businesses or nonprofit entities.

Urban Ecologist and Professor, Dr. Marijke Hecht shares how design patterns influenced by systemic racism affect green space and the plant and pest variety in cities across the country and Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Courtesy photo)

Better nature, better relationship, better planet — A conversation with a Pittsburgh urban ecologist

Are discussions about the non-human natural world relevant to folks outside of climate change and environmentalist circles? After listening to Pittsburgh urban ecologist Marijke Hecht, you’ll understand how everyone plays a role in creating the environment. For episode 6, we’re reviewing a Science Magazine article on how design patterns influenced by systemic racism affect green space and the plant and pest variety in your neighborhood. Do you see more weeds or butterflies where you live? Hecht discusses her work as an urban ecologist and how community design, race and mental health are all related in Pittsburgh’s environmental ecosystem.

A fuzzy photo of a computer screen with multiple people in a video meeting.

Racist ‘Zoombombing’ attacks have marred virtual events. Here’s how to protect your virtual space.

A historically Black sorority at Slippery Rock University saw its virtual poetry workshop in February overtaken by unknown users who hurled racist imagery and slurs into the Zoom space. Other groups in the region were victims of similar attacks while trying to host Black History Month events. Commonly referred to as “Zoombombings,” the intrusions are a national trend that began as colleges and schools moved classes to Zoom in March 2020. Platform providers and meeting organizers are still unable to reliably prevent them a year on. Zoombombings can go beyond disruption and cause physical and mental harm to traditionally marginalized communities.

Dr. Jamie Wright leans over a metal railing inside UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital. She is wearing a white coat, black sweater and yellow face mask. The wall behind her is yellow.

Could the pandemic bring a baby boom to the Pittsburgh region? Early data is mixed.

Laurie Sloan and her husband have always known they wanted to have a big family. The stay-at-home mom, who is now pregnant with her fourth child, didn’t let the pandemic stop their plans. “We were stuck at home and hanging out together and it was kind of fun watching all the kids be close in age and play together,” she said. 

Sloan, who is now expecting a son in June, thought being pregnant during the pandemic would allow her to spend more time preparing for his arrival. “I thought by the time the baby was here, life would be back to normal,” she said. “That’s obviously not going to happen.”

For Sloan, pandemic pregnancy has been bittersweet.

Ebony Long, 35, of Perry North sits on the staircase of the rental house from which her landlord is trying to evict her. (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

February 2021 Develop PGH Bulletins: Pittsburgh City Council votes to limit evictions, over landlord objections

Develop PGH Bulletins updates you on the Pittsburgh region's economy, including close coverage of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, City Planning Commission and other important agencies. Please check back frequently, sign up for the Develop PGH newsletter and email rich@publicsource.org with questions, tips or story ideas. 2/24/21: New eviction rules in Pittsburgh clear first vote
Pittsburgh City Council took an initial step toward adding a new set of hurdles to eviction but will likely spend the coming days weighing possible amendments to further protect tenants. Council voted, without dissent, for legislation that would:

Largely bar any landlord action from evicting tenants, within the city, who are behind on rent due to loss of employment or medical expenses
Bar landlords from terminating tenants’ leases or refusing to renew them
Carve out exceptions if a tenant is engaged in criminal activity or presents an “imminent threat” to the health or safety of other residents, or violates building codes or health ordinances
Fine landlords as much as $10,000 for violations
Expire either when the city lifts its current disaster declaration or council terminates the protections. The vote came after lengthy discussion about proposed amendments that could:

Explicitly extend protections to tenants who are defendants in eviction cases that are already pending in court
More clearly bar evictions except for “good cause,” which would not include expirations of leases
Give the city Commission on Human Relations a role in enforcement.