56/365 – Just plain me, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from andres.thor’s photostream

Land use rules and zoning are critically important for any city. They guide development, shape neighborhood aesthetics, and protect residents against potentially disruptive activities. Yet Pittsburgh’s zoning designations are difficult to figure out for the average person and can even be confusing for developers. We can create attractive, easily-accessible interactive zoning maps that would allow residents and developers alike to quickly determine the zoning designation for their property and the surrounding neighborhood.

1. Transfer Zoning Data Into an Interactive Map

The current zoning maps available on the city’s website are static .PDF files in black and white that only show zoning designation for one neighborhood and are nearly unreadable, even for someone well-versed in the city’s zoning code. Something as simple as determining the setbacks for a construction project can become tedious if you can’t easily figure out what zoning designation applies to your property.

We should create an attractive, interactive zoning map that anyone can use. After typing in an address, all relevant zoning information will be displayed. Not only would the map quickly tell you what your property is zoned for, but it would also link you to the relevant sections of the city zoning code outlining the development types approved for your property, and steps you should take to move forward with a project whether it is opening a small business or installing a deck on your home.

2. Map Proposed Developments

In addition to making zoning data more accessible, the same interactive map should include a layer giving users the option to see all proposed developments across the city.

Pulling data from the Planning Commission and Bureau of Building Inspection we can map building permits that have been issued, land development plans that have been submitted, and zoning variances that have been requested. Users could click these points on the map to find out when a zoning or planning hearing is being held.