Community leaders and City Council members gathered today to witness Mayor Bill Peduto sign an historic piece of legislation creating a land bank, a semi-autonomous body that will be responsible for handling the scores of blighted and tax-delinquent property in the city.
About two-dozen people filled the mayor's conference room and broke into applause after he signed the legislation and declared "Pittsburgh has land bank legislation!"
The mayor credited the bill's sponsor, Councilwoman Deborah Gross, for shepherding the controversial proposal through. Ms. Gross, who has been on the job since December, introduced the bill in mid-January. It faced fierce opposition from council members who wanted to maintain control over city land sales and community residents who feared that land would be sold without their input.
The bill, which was ultimately amended to include council oversight for at least two years and additional provisions for community input, passed 8-to-1 last week.
Ms. Gross said the debate reinvigorated a conversation over the role communities should play in how their neighborhoods develop.
"We're just starting to really wake up and say, 'What do we want here?'" she said. "Thank you for having the courage to start that conversation."
Moriah Balingit: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-2533 or on Twitter @MoriahBee.