Best Practices

Mayor Tom Murphy

Mayor's Neighborhood Strategy

The diversity and livability of Pittsburgh's 90 neighborhoods and the city government's commitment to them are what make Pittsburgh unique among cities. The city's neighborhoods offer residents a sense of identify and connection which together create a strong and supportive city.

In 1994, the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Policy organized 67 neighborhood strategy meetings in the 90 city neighborhoods. The primary goal of those meetings was to identify structural and process issues within city government. The city took a proactive approach to the resolution of ongoing neighborhood concerns. Through those meetings several goals were accomplished: to allow for citizen dialogue with the Mayor and city departments, to identify specific concerns in the neighborhoods, to coordinate patterns of concerns and identify how and why city departments respond to the problems, and to establish working relationships with residents and local community based organizations.

Based on the meetings, four patterns of concerns were identified:

  1. How do we ensure that there are not properties within our neighborhoods that are poorly maintained, safety hazards or used for criminal activities?

  2. How do we ensure more police presence in our neighborhoods and how can we get police to interact positively in the neighborhoods?

  3. How can we assist in the creation of more opportunities for youth, specifically recreation and employment?

  4. How can we get the neighborhoods to remain clean and how do we ensure the daily maintenance activities while enhancing the beauty of our communities?
By working through and with local community based organizations and specific task forces, neighborhoods partnered with the city workforce to identify neighborhood based service needs and service delivery options.

In 1995, the Mayor returned to the neighborhoods for follow-up Action Report Meetings. This series of 14 cluster neighborhood meetings is designed to communicate how the city responded in an overall policy fashion to the various concerns raised by residents and groups. The meetings are organized by neighborhood, then further into the top four areas of concern: neighborhood maintenance, youth issues, housing/economic development and public safety.

This format allows for reports from the various task forces and community based organizations on their success in the past year, on how the city has responded to their overall requests, and on what continues to be ongoing concerns across the city. City representatives have an opportunity to discuss the success of each department in responding to neighborhood issues and overall city-wide concerns.

Accessibility, accountability, responsiveness and education are the key factors in the return neighborhood meetings. As residents become more familiar with the functions and roles of city government they are better able to utilize the systems. Understanding the policies and procedures of the city allows them to move from day to day constituent complaints to changing the system for their benefit. In turn, departments become more familiar with neighborhood concerns and are better able to identify procedures that could be adjusted to meet neighborhood needs. The information gathered in all the meetings has been used for resource allocation within the City of Pittsburgh. As we continue to identify repeated issues in neighborhoods, it allows city government to respond, and be held accountable, to the residents.

Contact: Office of the Mayor, (412) 255-2626

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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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