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sean mcdaniel

Sam,

Did you notice where one pair of new Blackbird Lofts residents used to call home?

Murrysville...interesting...not Shadyside...not Fox Chapel. I know it's only one example...but still...can Cranberry migrants be far behind?

Sam M

Sean,

Yep. Saw that. And I think it is a good development. Although such a development would require someone else to move out of the city if the city's plans work out like planners think they will.

They are the ones who have predicted no net increase.

Remember. I am the one who thinks piecemeal redevelopment of the neighborhoods makes more sense than the centralized, Big Brother approach guiding the Fifth-Forbes corridor.

And if people from Cranberry ever do start moving into the city, I think a lot of them are more likely to be attracted to the neighborhoods than to "downtown." For reasons like space and cost and character and parking, etc.

Not only do I think that is a good thing, I think it is such a good thing that the government ought to stop larding the Piatts and PNC with subsidies in hopes of shifting the Cranberry immigrants--or any other immigrants--out of Lawrenceville and into downtown.

And since we are looking at the article in this way, I think it makes sense to take a look at:

"'Most of our friends and weekend things were in the city anyway,'said Ms. Orbison."

See that? Most of their friends, people like them, one presumes, "live in the city anyway." So let's say all their friends move to the same complex. Do we have more net immigration, or more of a shift within the city?

But how about people from farther afield?

"Nestor and Cecilia Torres moved to Pittsburgh from Portland, Ore., in March. He works in corporate finance and she is a volunteer coordinator for a non-profit.

"'We looked at over 60 places in two months,' he said. 'We wanted to be within five miles of Downtown.'"

Within five miles of downtown includes almost all of Pittsburgh's neighborhoods, I would think. And these people are from Portland. For them, Lawrenceville is urban enough.

It's also interesting to note some of the amenities these people are looking for:

"All the living spaces are laid out differently, either one- or two-stories. They all have terraces and underground parking."

And it's not just in Lawrenceville. Here's another bit from one of the articles I linked to above:

"The Encore, at Seventh and Fort Duquesne Boulevard, is offering free parking to some residents, in particular those with lower-level apartments on the city side of the building."

So maybe they haven't given up on driving just yet. Which says little, except that maybe what we see happening here is not exactly a New-York-ifcation of Pittsburgh. But a Pittsburgh version of urbanity. There are pros and cons to be sure. But I think such differences are to be expected.

Either way, It seems to me that what's happening in Lawrenceville is a good thing.

And it didn't require the city swooping in and buying whole swaths of land, sitting on it for 10 years, then selling it a loss to politically connected developers who demand exclusive rights and, oh, by the way, some more subsidies if you actually want affordable apartments that attract the kind of people the city wants to attract.

sean mcdaniel

This is old info from the Biz Times:

"Becky Burdick, a founder and co-director of the nonprofit development firm Artists and Cities Inc., is leaving the organization.

She will complete her 10-year stay with the organization, designed to help artists live and work in Pittsburgh, at the end of the year.

She said she and her husband will move from the city to their farm in Butler County. "


I just love that last sentence. Mission accomplished...let's head to green acres. who knows. she's still listed as a property owner in the city's spring garden neighborhood. still,

Mark Rauterkus

I hated what Mayor Tom Murphy did to Pittsburgh. That is no mystery.

One MODE of Operation for Tom Murphy was to attack the vocabulary of the situation and poison the conversation from the get-go and forever more. Things go so twisted with him, and his handle on media types, such as Tom Barnes of the P-G, that Murphy was able to linger around a long time.

Take his use of "holistic" for example. I've blogged about this in the past too. Murhpy didn't really want "holistic" development. He and his cronie developers wanted and pushed for "wholistic development." They wanted the "WHOLE pie" not a "piece" nor "piece-meal-approach."

Case in point 2: There was a time when Murphy and the Chicago Developers, Urban Design Associates (?? I think that was the name of the firm) who were bucking for the downtown mall with Nordstroms. They wanted an "AHCHOR" -- or a "WHALE" to come and be a part of the project. Then, they said, others come to the scene too. They reasoned that the big players would pull down some big customers -- then the smaller fishes would in turn eat smaller fish -- helping the marketplace go.

I told the guys, they're nuts. In nature, the whales eat plankton.

They were trying to make the un-natural fit here in Pittsburgh. That's very UN-HOLISTIC. And, it is so un-natural, that it needed to be subsidized.

Did that make sense?

Well, I'm not suprised to see those old quotes and old-school thoughts. We do need to keep re-visiting them. Those deal stunk. The outcomes failed us. The methods for them to hatch need to be proven as junk. We can't repeat those mistakes again.

C. Briem

"can Cranberry migrants be far behind?"

huh? there is no evidence there is any meaninful net migration from Cranberry into the city proper. to a large degree this all misses the single most important factor driving population change in the city proper. Good development or bad the city population will continue to lose resident workers as long as city specific income taxes are so uncompetitive vis a vis all other municipalities in the county and region. period. In fact, if not for students and elderly, the city population would be dropping even faster than it is now. but those students move out of the city once they start earning real wages just as they have for many years. Anectdotal exceptions that prove the rule not withstanding. It's not a Murphy issue, it's not a Masloff issue, although Sophie tried hard to keep people from leaving the city by altering the balance of wage and property taxes in the city. This has been going on for many successive administrations and is only getting worse as the city tax base shrinks ever further.

Sam M

Chris,

I mentioned this issue in a discussion a while back, but I agree that it needs repeating here:

I think the tax question stands out most vividly in places like Regent Square. Why in the world would I live there? Sure, I like the little strip of restaurants and stores. And a lot of people would enjoy access to the 61A and 61B. And Frick Park.

But you can enjoy all those same things--AND pay thousands less in taxes every year--by living across the street in Edgewood. Literally. Across the street.

You see this kind of contrast whenever you have a populated border. I am thinking of places like Chevy Chase, MD, and Washington, DC. But for some reason that contrast seems more stark in Pittsburgh. I could be wrong, as I never lived anywhere near Chevy Chase. But still.

At any rate, what to do? As John Morris has often points out, getting (or losing) residents can be a virtuous (or vicious) circle. Getting more residents allows you to spread the tax burden over a larger base. And theoretically lower taxes. Other approaches--like getting "rainmaker" retail and other commercial development into the city--haven't worked.

I think the problem with all of the approaches is that actual change--real improvement--is incremental and systemic. Good government requires hard decisions. Serious cuts. An ability to deal with powerful unions.

It's a lot easier to write an $18 million check to PNC. It allows officials to stand in front of an empty lot with a golden shovel. And a few years later stand in front of a skyscraper (or a stadium or Lazarus) with a pair of goofy scissors and cut a goofy ribbon.

That's $18 million. From city coffers that are basically empty. Going to a major corporation enjoying astronomic profits. Then you have all the TIF projects. And the URA snapping up huge swaths of property, foregoing property taxes on them for years, then selling them at a loss despite constant reassurances that downtown finally is becoming a mecca for residents and developers.

These things add up. And all of a sudden it doesn't make any sense to live on the Regent Square side of the street.

C. Briem

I think that no matter how you add it up, blaming people leaving on these development choices is missing the point. Consider the issue of the TIF for this PNC building. In the past, the existence of the land tax offered as much, if not a greater advantage to such an investment with a corresponding lack of gain for city tax revenues. So its hard to see how this particular TIF, or even dozens of them, are themselves causing people to people leaving now or in the future. Dont get me wrong, I am on record opposing all such ad hoc tax breaks, but they have little to do with the sorry state of urban finaces. or at least they are much more effect than cause. Pittsburgh is just an extreme case of trends affecting many cities.

no matter what, at this point the issue is not about spreading new costs over a larger or smaller tax base.. its spreading around a legacy of debt incurred by a population long since gone on what is a small tax base unlikely to be substantially larger in the foreseeable future. You can look up how much of local revenues go toward various forms of debt service. If that debt were not there then the it would not be disadvantageous to live in the city and the debate would be not over blaming one development strategy or another for the continued population lose. It is a structural issue in American local government that an electorate can incur such debt yet be able to move away without ever having to pay for it.

sean mcdaniel

okay, you guys are still missing the irony of becky burdick moving to butler county. remember, the lady who wants to bring people back to the city? She moved to the country. And when bit of info appeared in the Business Times a few years ago, the reporter never asked why, why Becky aren't you living in the city?

I'd love to know that too.

Are you serious Chris???

Chris wrote, in part: So its hard to see how this particular TIF, or even dozens of them, are themselves causing people to people leaving now or in the future.

When $18M goes to PNC for a building expansion, then we don't have Crossing Guards, swim pools, salt for streets after snow, road crews nor rodent control.

They spend $ on corporate welfare -- and they don't spend money on the basics of what government should be doing.

So, things in the city are frail, if not worn well past thin.

Hence, people leave. They depart. The outward migration continues.

Mark Rauterkus

When a sweetheart deal is hatched on Grant Street for some tax break, everyone else who is not PNC gets zip -- and has to pay for PNC's deal.

When people don't trust that they'll get a square deal here, and when people know that they'll have to pay for the injustice that is caused by the city by being a part of the city, they leave.

You know that the TIFs are wrong. You know that your city is doing the wrong things. So, you can either stop the city from doing wrong. Or, you can choose to live in a city that doesn't do uncontrolled wrongs repeatedly and charge its citizens for those ills.

C. Briem

I do not think I need to defend my credentials as an opponent of ad hoc corporate tax breaks..

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06017/640137.stm

but that does not mean it makes sense to ascribe the city's core problems to bad development decisions.. To simplify the debate into something like "TIF's causing people to move out" is dangerously misleading. Let me try to be clear, the city's problems are far worse than anything that can be fixed by choosing some alternative form of development. In fact this sounds like just a variation of "we will grow ourselves out of the problem" if we were just chose different development strategies. Some of this even makes it sound like disapproving this TIF would have freed up money for school guards. It's just not the case.

sean mcdaniel

anonymous says:

"When $18M goes to PNC for a building expansion, then we don't have Crossing Guards, swim pools, salt for streets after snow, road crews nor rodent control."

Well, I wouldn't consider Shadyside a ghost town...but maybe that's where all the crossing guards are to be found...you know, the rich bastards get special treatment.

Then again, I noticed that Bloomfield doesn't really sport many vacant houses...and some of the units there aren't exactly architectural wonders...and streets get plowed.

You can go down the list of city neighborhoods that people aren't leaving...oakland, shadyside, regent square, south side (they're even climbing the slopes these days. could allentown be the next hot neighborhood?). A lot of other places are looking good too. Okay, no one wants to live in Fairywood (do you know where it is) or much of the West End, for that matter.

But TIFs and ballparks and whatever else you guys rail against aren't the reasons why people left Pittsburgh. To borrow a James Carville quote, it's the economy, stupid.

Remember the steel mills? Oh, that's right. A lot of you guys aren't from here. Still, some of you still plunked down your lives in this so-called miserable town. Didn't you do your research?

Anyway, the big steel jobs are gone. The little jobs that fed off the mill jobs are gone too. And many of the people are gone as well. Do you really think taxes and subsidized stadiums and condos and Point State Park drove people to move to Houston or Phoenix or Orlando? Did any of that stuff stop any of you from taking up residence here? If you knew the Titanic was going to sink would you have boarded it...and then bitched when it ended up on the ocean floor?

WQED ran a show about the decline of Brownsville, a once amazingly bustling river town. But sometime wouldn't you know, the 1980s came and Brownsville went belly up. Nearly entire downtown is abandoned. Why? Because the coal mines where tons of guys worked went out of business? And why is that? Because the steel mills closed. And as a result, the clothing and hardware stores — and just about everything else — in Brownsville went out of business. Or maybe Brownsville tax money subsidized a couple new sports arenas and a half dozen high-rise condos. Maybe I missed that sort of thing. But my guess is the reason Brownsville wasted away and Pittsburgh lost half its population boils down to this simple fact...it's the economy, stupid.

sean mcdaniel

sorry for a couple word omissions in the previous post. but i think you guys are smart enough to figure it out...then again...who knows.

Sam M

Chris,

By all means, I am right with you. To wit: I do recognize that the city's debt is a terrible problem. Perhaps even an intractable one. But I do think that when you are in a hole, the first order of business is to stop digging. A cliche, perhaps. But true nonetheless.

Moreover, I never meant to imply--and I don't think I ever said--that the current crop of development schemes are responsible for the city's loss in population. As Sean notes, the most serious cause of that implosion was the collapse of that population's livelihood.

I did say this:

"I think the problem with all of the approaches is that actual change--real improvement--is incremental and systemic. Good government requires hard decisions. Serious cuts. An ability to deal with powerful unions.

It's a lot easier to write an $18 million check to PNC. It allows officials to stand in front of an empty lot with a golden shovel. And a few years later stand in front of a skyscraper (or a stadium or Lazarus) with a pair of goofy scissors and cut a goofy ribbon."

By that, I do not mean that the PNC plan is the sole cause of Pittsburgh's woes. What I do mean is that this is a mess. And rather than taking a real look at the mess, it appears that we are rehashing a lot of the plans that have been failing to "save" Pittsburgh since the 1940s. We had the Renaissance. Renaissance II. And the now the Post-Gazette prattles on about Renaissance III. God help us.

Remember, not long ago the Civic Arena and Gateway Center were supposed to save us. Then it was PPG Place. Then we had a few stadiums and a convention center. Lazarus.

Whoops.

So now it's creative class lads and lasses living it up in Jack Piatt condos.

There is a history here. A history of grand schemes and even grander promises that as far as I can tell have never really worked.

The original post was meant to illustrate that there is some good news. And that good news can emerge without some sort of grandiose ribbon cutting. Progress, it turns out, is boring. Gradual. And its usually not the kind of thing one person can claim credit for.

Like a casino. Or a stadium. Or a department store.

So no. The TIFs and the strange development plans are not solely responsible for the city's finincial or demographic woes. But they are part of a larger history of mismanagement and misguided planning, however well-intentioned. That history has combined with incredibly difficult historical circumstances to make a heck of a hole. And all I hear are the golden shovels digging.

sean mcdaniel

Sam,

I'll disagree on Point Park being a savior. Clearing out the slums and rundown businesses in the area was the removal of an eyesore. If the property hadn't been razed, we'd all be clamoring for it to be turned into a riverfront park today. Gateway Center isn't a problem. You should have seen it in the 1970s. The placed was packed at lunch hour, with people walking to Horne's or the Jenkins arcade to shop or eat. But then again, those steel mills closed. And businesses folded or left town, for whatever reasons.


Anyway, Point Park, Gateway Center, and the Hill redevelopment all came about during times when Pittsburgh was a thriving town. The efforts weren't intended to save the city. They were supposed to transform it from a grimy steeltown to gleaming Oz of sorts. Pittsburgh wasn't down and out then. It was just dirty. The city fathers were just trying to redd up in a big way. In a way, they were trying to make sure people didn't leave. what's happening now is different.

C. briem

“You can go down the list of city neighborhoods that people aren't leaving...oakland, shadyside, regent square, south side (they're even climbing the slopes these days. could allentown be the next hot neighborhood?). “

Huh? Some days there are just too many myths to try and correct. Shadyside, Sq. Hill and most of Oakland are either stagnant or declining in terms of population… certainly not increasing… other than for aberrant things like large dorms that is. and to the comment that people generally do not like living in the West End.. some West End neighborhoods are among the most stable within the city. There is no reason that things have turned around in just the last year or two to reverse what has been long term decline in these neighborhoods, especially as city population decline has continued unabated. Here is a better perspective:

http://www.post-gazette.com/census/20010312census2.asp

or for more data try this:

http://www.post-gazette.com/census/20010312pghcensus9.asp

so I do see that Regent square with 41 net new residents does indeed register as one of the fast growth neighborhoods. and downtown in this list has a large increase which is entirely attributable to the increase in the new jail's population. Even where vacancy rates are low, declining household size is still resulting in significant de-densification of most neighborhoods in the city. In most neighborhoods there just isn’t much residential construction going on to even offset normal housing depreciation. Parts of Lawrenceville, Bloomfield and Garfield have declined in percentage terms as much as the worst hit parts of the mon valley. Some of you may have seen Diana Jones piece on lower Bloomfield (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06151/694390-53.stm), which is dead center of where I grew up. It honestly seems like a ghost town to me down there these days when you compare the population there to just a decade or two ago. Houses that had large families not long ago now often have a single occupant. Often its even a ghost resident as children maintain a home for a parent in a nursing home or elsewhere. It is always curious to me how perception in this town rarely matches easily verified reality.. whether that is for good or bad.

and just so people don't write me off for having so many negative thoughts. Here is something to think about. Did all those plans in the past fail? Depends how you characterize their goals for sure. Something people dont realize is that emloyment in the city proper went UP in most of the 1990's and is right about where it was in the 1960's. That is pretty amazing for an urban core center city, even more amazing for a rust belt city that has seen such dramatic population loss. While some of that has been drained off by Oakland employment (although the employment decline in E.Liberty and other neighborhoods nets that out to a degree), the number of people working downtown is not far from what it was in the 60's and 70's despite perceptions. People think downtown is empty because different parts of town are empty compared to the past. This is a topic unto itself I admit.

sean mcdaniel

"something people dont realize is that emloyment in the city proper went UP in most of the 1990's and is right about where it was in the 1960's."

Sounds like the kind of happy talk you hear from the bush administration and rush limbaugh chirping about full employment in america.

if employment did go up in the urban core...are those new employees earning steel mill wages or janitors' salaries.

As for thost east end neighborhoods, maybe shadyside, sq. hill etc, are stagnant...but unless developers start building high rises in those places, where are more people going to live.

this sounds like the John Morris density theory, which means sort of goes something like if you have a lot of people crammed into a space, it's a successful city....you know, like karachi or new delhi or mexico city.

it's not just the number of people, it's the quality of the neighborhood and city. really size doesn't always matter.

C. Briem

happy talk? Rush Limbaugh? At some point this region needs to get beyond debating everything ad hominum and look at facts in some objective way.

but if you are interested. Average city specific wages are much higher than the remainder of the county or region. Downtown and oakland wages even higher. So speaking broadly I think it's fair to say that the city of Pittsburgh has not only retained a surprising number of jobs but also the better paying jobs in the region. By large measure I should add, not just a matter of a percentage point here or there. The jobs that have left the city for suburban parts of the region are probably more of the lower paid service/retail sector jobs becasue those jobs clearly follow the residential population.

it is a topic unto itself as to the role of size and scale plays in measuring prosperity or quality of life. I am not trying to address any of that. Size does matter in the public finance sense because given current tax structures, city debt will essentially need to be paid by current and future city residents for the most part. I do think people need to understand the trends in this city. The pseudo fact that you often hear about jobs fleeing the city is just not true when you look at the numbers. Yet most people believe that while they also believe population trends are positive in the city. People literally have the facts backwards and make judgements accordingly.

but juxtaposing Pittsburgh, karachi, new delhi and mexico city? That sounds like one of those questions where you pick which item does not belong in the group.

Sam M

Chris,

Like I said, I recognize that the debt is a serious problem. I also recognize that some of that debt has arisen because of structural problems. (The collapse of manufacturing, a migration out of cities that impacted a lot of regions, etc.)

But Pittburgh's leaders have been promising salvation for decades. One enormous project after another. From Skybus to the Renaissance I through Renaissance XXX, or whichever one we are on now.

I understand folks on all sides of the debate can select certain data points to make those efforts look better or worse. But it seems clear to me that the only mythology around here that has half as much power as the one surrounding the steel mills is the one focused on the Renaissance. Pittsburghers love "national attention," and the city got plenty of it from the 1950s through the 1970s. A "national model" of renewal.

And I suppose some of that is deserved. Which is why so many people can say, without the slightest hint of irony, that what we need is another Renaissance.

But the data points I can't get past are the ones that say Pittsburgh went from a fairly vibrant city of 600,000 to a financially moribund city of 300,000 while all of these projects were working their magic.

I am not arguing that happened because someone offered PNC a TIF. But such things have been, and remain, part of the problem. And such things have contributed, and continue to contribute, to the debt problem.

Plus they just haven't worked. If the Fifth-Forbes corridor isn't vibrant, it certainly isn't because the city hasn't engaged in enough high-profile revitalization efforts.

But I think we agree on that, more or less.

In the meantime, I welcome your pessimism. I am usually the gloomy one. I appreciate the opportunity to feel all sunny and bright and naive. (I am usually just naive in a cynical sort of way.)

C. Briem

the funny thing is.. the powers that be downtown usually call me Dr. Doom. It's all in your perspective I guess.

but its not just local perceptions that play into this. of note is a conversation I was having just yesterday with an official from Canada who has been tasked to study Pittsburgh's history of economic development.. their implied premise is that we are a positive role model. There is an odd chasm between how we see our own economic history and what the rest of the world sees. We have engaged with colleagues in Europe and elsewhere since long before I became interested in these things. They always are looking at Pittsburgh as a model to emulate and they know our objective facts well enough.

where is this dichotomy coming from? Some of it comes from the fact that compared to some European regions which became mired in recessions for decades, Pittsburgh is something of a model. I point out that the biggest part of that has little to do with local policy. In Europe, a large regional unemployed labor force did not have the option or incentive to move elsewhere in the same way americans are forced to. So our economic decline was attenuated out of the region quicker than regions in other countries. I also point out that when it comes to the sheer concentration of structural economic decline, it really is hard to find anything that comes close to what happened here in Pittsburgh. So even if we have not exactly boomed of late, the sheer survivial of the region is a positive story in itself. In one sad factoid that summarizes our collective history. Beaver County in the 80's hit 28% unemployment. Most states in the US did not peak at that level of unemployment in the depression. That says something.

but all of this still is distinct from the problems facing the city going forward... I think it is important for people to understand the city's problems, but also to not assume problems that are not there as well.

Mark Rauterkus

Chris, I understand that you are not one to wave a happy flag at the TIFs.

But, in no way or form should you put me in the category of one who wants "different development" to rule the day -- as in NOT Strawberry, but YES to Pecan. The flavor of the development deals and the development strategies is something that is far below my vision of what Pittsburgh needs and where the blame resides.

One of my theme songs is "LAY THE SHOVEL DOWN." That goes to the heart of what we need to do. Or, as posted above, "when you are in a hole, the first order of business is to stop digging. A cliche, perhaps. But true nonetheless." That thought is ON THE MARK.

- - -
I feel it is fair to ascribe the city's core problems to bad development decisions. I think it is fair to simplify the debate and state that TIFs have caused people to move out and TIF-centric politicians are dangerously misleading this region. TIFs are dangerous. The TIF mind-set among politicans here have hurt our region.

I do agree that the city's problems are far worse than anything that can be fixed by choosing some alternative form of development. So, I'm not about 'strawberry' vs. 'pecan.' I'm about no ice cream at all.

That does not, nor should it ever, sound like just a variation of "we will grow ourselves out of the problem" if we were just chose different development strategies.

Chirs's statement that follows is BS -- when you consider the Wabash Tunnel: Chris wrote in part: "Some of this even makes it sound like disapproving this TIF would have freed up money for school guards. It's just not the case."

Disapproving of TIFs (in general) would have freed up money for school guards. That is the case.

PAT got the WABASH TUNNEL -- and pays dearly for it now. The $1-million or so it costs to clean the tunnel and change its traffic flow twice each day -- means that $1-million isn't there for bus stops, security, fuel, pay checks, etc. The Wabash Tunnel's operation is costly. The funds come from the operations budget(s).

Most of all, the TIFs and development alternatives, are distractions. They take time to hatch and present moments for lost time so we can't get to crossing guards radios or putting up fences for dog runs in city parks.

The development deals have meant that the basics didn't get done. And, the development deals made more and more debt.

I'm not sure if Point State Park was a good deal decades ago. I don't want to turn the clock back too, too far. The times then are unlike the times now. But, if Point State Park was so good then -- why are we spending $25-Million for a re-do now? I'm sure that the re-do they have on tap stinks and the majority of the citizens would NOT want it to occur. And, we'd be able to do a better job with less money if our priorties were set again.

Jack Urbani

I must be really bored. I told myself I wouldn't jump into this pit of negativity again, but here goes.

The fact that Pittsburgh's population is declining is not exclusive to Pittsburgh. Most north east cities and many mid western cities have the same problem, perhaps not to the degree that Pittsburgh deals with but they didn't have the same monumental problems that Pittsburgh has had to overcome. Most not even close.

The city's population has declined but it's tax base is rising. Much of the loss of population is due to traditional, larger inner city families are moving into the roomier, newly affordable, older suburbs, like Penn Hills. The small cramped little townhouses of the South Side, North Side Shadyside etc. are now renovating to accomadate young professionals, singles and older empty nesters.

From USA TODAY;
This shift is fueled largely by demographic changes. For example, a family of six with an annual household income of $65,000 moves from the city to the suburbs and a single, young professional who earns $80,000 moves in. The city ends up with five fewer people who need government services while the per-capita income of that household soars.

Shadyside's population may have been stagnant. This is much due to the fact that many older homes were, in the past, turned into apartments and left to absentee landlords. This trend is reversing as homes are be reconverted back to single family homes. Instead of having 12 students crammed into these divided homes there are now more affluent small families, singles and empty nesters. This is a trand across the city and the country.

I can already hear the nay sayers rustling around, looking for quotes and polls to explain, again, what a horrible place Pittsburgh is again. I can hear them clenching in that anyone may diagree

All cities have problems with taxes and competing with their suburbs. All cities have had to overcome bad planning of the past, bad decisions by their politicians, and multiple other problems. They carry on. These are battles that carry on also. This doesn't mean we immediately dive into doomsday mode.

Pittsburgh's largest hurdle to overcome, imo, are these same nay sayers who endlessly tell us what a terrible place we live in. What terrible leaders we have. What horrible decisions have been made...wha ..wha ...wha...
New comers here have to be constantly barraged by natives asking them why they would move here.

60% of the upcoming neighborhoods in and around downtown have moved here from other areas. My guess is to cluster together so they don't have to listen to this crap on what a terrible decision they made by moving here. They seem to know better, too bad many of the locals can't see it. I moved back here after many years in a number of different cities. I definately see the need to have many friends from out of town here because the never ending negativity here.

I can see such a bright light shining for Pittsburgh. Its reputation is making a complete turn around in the eyes of other cities. Interests are peaked. So many improvements have been made to make this city a better place to live. HUGE improvements! Improvements that will alter the citys entire direction and purpose in the future. I see neighborhoods thriving and vibrant neighborhood shopping districts. Art art everywhere. I see development happening where it was previously unheard of, East Liberty, South Side, Downtown, Uptown & the North Shore. The rivers are nearly completely lined with parks and trails. All are heavily used.

I left Pittsburgh in the late 70's and returned in the late 90's. There is no comparison. The only lingering problem I find are these annoying, constant complainers. Like gnats at a picnic. You just want to swat them but you know that won't get rid of them so you just bear them and continue on. I found that most of them don't really have much to compare the city to and generally live in the suburbs and complain because they come to the city and find it isn't like the suburbs.

Pittsburgh has a huge handicap in that it must maintain as a hub of very large and sprawling metropolitan area. This gives it the burden of many "tax exempt" properties and organizations.

This is from the POST GAZETTE;
'Day surge' puts 41% more people in the city

After the nation's capital come Atlanta (62 percent), Tampa (48 percent), and Pittsburgh and Boston (both at 41 percent). Pittsburgh -- With its dubious reputation of having the most governments per capita of any county in the nation, Allegheny County's 129 suburban municipalities long have ringed the compact city of Pittsburgh. In the region's industrial heyday, much of the county's employment was spread out in steel towns along the rivers, while today, the city itself has become more of a job magnet for the region, pulling in a net influx of 138,000 working commuters each day.

Still, because those workers live elsewhere, the city isn't able to capture most of their local tax payments, said urban policy consultant David Rusk, and that helps explain why the city government is in such dire financial condition. Mr. Rusk said his studies have shown that cities that are able to expand their boundaries and encompass more of their affluent workers generally have much healthier municipal bond ratings.


From the Tribune Review;
Ritter, 40, represents what is called "boomerang migration," people moving back to the area after establishing careers elsewhere to take advantage of affordable housing, proximity to family and other reasons, said Christopher Briem, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Social and Urban Research.

Ritter and his family are among the roughly 40,000 people who move to Pittsburgh and the surrounding region each year, BRIEM said, citing Pitt migration studies.

Mark Rauterkus

Being negative isn't the point at all. Naysayers were the problem, so said, Tom Murphy too. I was a naysayer to Tom Murphy policies.

In no way did or do I ever look down my nose at anyone for choosing to live in Pittsburgh (CITY) as I choose do do with my family. FWIW, I've lived in Boston, Long Beach, Texas, Chicago, Ohio, Peoria, Illinois. I'm a boomerang too. That isn't the point either.

Cities around the world are booming in terms of population growth. Pgh's loss of population can't be blamed on some trend where there is no fix. (Not an exception.) That's just hopelessness and blind boosterism. That gets us another PR campaign.

And, the city's tax base isn't climbing, as posted when you look at the Allegheny Insitute just issued a report on the property taxes decline in the city. Same too with the wage taxes. But I don't care much about the tax base either -- as I think we should be taxing the land. When you tax the dirt, it won't "climb" unless we start to fill in the rivers or take over other municipalities (Stow, Wilkinsburg, Mt. Oliver, etc.)

Finally, I say that the tax exempt orgs are a benefit, not a hardship.

Little in the post by Jack U above helps to extend the conversation on truthful footing.

Sigh. It is hard to extend the thread anyway.

Naysayers are patriots! And, even with a good quality of life, I welcome naysayers. That keeps us all on our toes.

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