Scenic Pittsburgh Scenic Advocacy

We help citizens and community groups organize and advocate for the scenic values of their communities at council meetings and zoning board meetings. We sometimes call this part of our programming the “bad development 911” because these efforts tend to be time-sensitive and urgent to the community.

Franchise businesses can be a welcome part of a business community, but zoning can help define where and how they build.


We’ve been contacted by SWPA residents to help them oppose some of the following proposed scenic changes:

  • New electronic signage or electronic billboards
  • New buildings that don’t take the character of the neighborhood into account
  • Franchise architecture (like fast food, dollar stores and megastores) that emphasizes the cheapest options, compromising the attractiveness of the surrounding districts and leading to additional problems, such as stormwater control
  • Businesses asking for a zoning exception to build in a residential area or to demolish an historic building that is in otherwise good condition
  • Construction of a storage facility in or adjacent to greenspace, residential districts or historic buildings

Last year we helped to oppose a Dollar Store in Uniontown that would have endangered an historic building.

If you have a scenic issue in your community, get in touch. We’ll do all we can to help!

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We work with people to:

  • understand whether zoning prohibits the proposed use, and if not, what they could still do to oppose it
  • understand the process that their municipality has in place to propose a zoning change or exception, how it’s decided, and how to impact that process
  • how to give testimony in a zoning board hearing and what kind of testimony is likely to work

It’s important to us to help communities stand up for their unique beauty and history, and it’s a crucial part of what we do. But many bad development emergencies are a testimony to a zoning failure, and if a use is allowed in a community’s zoning, it gets much harder to fight. That’s why we highly recommend that residents work with their municipal leadership to ensure their zoning ordinance reflects the community they want to see, and gets regular updates to adapt it to new developments. Or you can get in touch and have us update your community’s zoning.