It’s a beautiful day to survey the neighborhood


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The Oakland Planning and Development Corporation has created the Oakland Community Survey for residents to give input about changes they want to see in their neighborhood.

By Charlotte Pearse, Staff Writer

Lately, between Pitt’s Campus Master Plan and the construction of new apartments and offices, there always seems to be some kind of development going on in Oakland. Now, the Oakland Planning and Development Corporation wants to figure out what the neighborhood should look like in the next 10 years — and it wants to hear from its residents. 

The local non-profit is seeking input on what changes Oakland residents would like to see in their community in development, mobility and infrastructure through the recently launched Oakland Community Survey.

Jarrett Crowell, a staff member and community organizer at the OPDC, explained in an email that the City of Pittsburgh is creating an official neighborhood plan for Oakland. The survey asks residents several questions about living conditions in Oakland, such as “Is your home easily accessible to you?” “Do you feel the air quality in your neighborhood is good?” and “Do you feel safe as a pedestrian in Oakland?”

“We were really looking for a way for all Oakland residents to have their experiences, and opinions, and thoughts present at the table when the Oakland Plan was being created,” Crowell said. “It’s also a tricky situation where we don’t actually know how effective the survey will be until the plan is actually created. But hopefully, in the long term, it will be a really effective way of making sure that the Oakland neighborhood plan adequately addresses our collective needs.”

The planning process of the survey began in the summer. The OPDC hosted a kick-off event when the survey launched in November to educate members of the community. As of right now it has around 130 responses, mainly from white women between the ages of 17 to 24. The survey will remain open until sometime in the spring. Since the number of responses is low when compared to the population of all of Oakland, they have yet to analyze data.

“We’re taking that data that we have now, and looking at it and saying, ‘what are some demographics that we haven’t captured yet?’” Crowell said. “Maybe rethinking some of our outreach strategy to be a little more intentional to engage folks that we know live here but maybe don’t have the easiest time taking the survey.”

David Salcido, a research assistant professor in emergency medicine at Pitt, is a resident of South Oakland and and one of the Pitt faculty representatives on the Steering Committee of Oakland. Every member of the Steering Committee represents a different group in Oakland and their interests — Salcido represents Pitt faculty. They all meet monthly to discuss goals for the community, and their input will help decide what gets addressed in the Oakland Plan.

“Before anybody makes any decisions about how Oakland should be developed, we need to know actually what people want,” Salcido said. “And the only way to do that is to ask them, so the survey is a great idea to do that systematically. It hits on a lot of important points, it asks about housing, it asks about the composition of the family units that live in given housing, it asks about needs.”

Haleigh Wickett, an OPDC intern from the school of social work at Pitt, expressed interest to see what results the survey would reign in from all the different populations in Oakland.

“You have Central Oakland that’s all just students, UPMC and Pitt, and all the residence halls,” Wickett said. “But then if you look beyond that, you have South Oakland which could have a completely different demographic, or North Oakland, or West Oakland, and all these different sub-neighborhoods that overall, what’s the demographic gonna be? I really don’t know what we’re gonna find out.”

Eric Macadangdang, a junior Pitt student, SGB board member and former intern at OPDC, said the organization hopes to get responses from all of Oakland, not just Pitt students. But Macadangang added that he still think it’s important for students to take the survey, too.

“It’s easy for students who’ve only lived in Oakland for a year to brush it off,” Macadangdang said. “But we are more than students, we are tenants, we are people who help volunteer in the community, we use the businesses in Oakland, we use their services, so it’s extremely important for students to get involved.”

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