'Heroic' Transformations Targeted by Pittsburgh Planning Director Ray Gastil
Patrick Doyle pens an in-depth profile of Pittsburgh Planning Director Ray Gastil—avid cyclist, historian, and aficionado of Pittsburgh's many public spaces.
As for policy, Doyle describes Gastil's efforts to integrate into his adopted city:
"Gastil arrived in Pittsburgh in April 2014 from Seattle — his resume plucked out of The Pittsburgh Foundation’s “Talent City” application pool for work in Mayor Bill Peduto’s administration — with a loose understanding of the challenges that awaited him here. In the time that he’s been here, however, he says he’s begun clarifying his vision. He’s beginning to consider tweaks to the city’s zoning plan — as appropriate — in order to streamline both commercial and residential developments by dialing back rules that seem to require a variance for just about everything. In the planning department, he’s filled vacant neighborhood-level positions so that communities now have a point person with the city.
"Most of all, though, he’s working on making stronger connections between neighborhoods and the riverfronts, increasing development around transit-oriented hubs and increasing both the bike- and pedestrian-friendliness of the city. He’s intricately involved with a pair of initiatives that Peduto announced in March — the $32 million “complete streets” Envision Downtown program and The Heinz Endowments-funded p4, for “People, Planet, Place, Performance,” program for sustainable urban growth."
The article also includes quotes from Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and former Mayor Tom Murphy on the potential of planning directors to shape a positive vision for Pittsburgh and other cities. Doyle also spares no detail on the places and recent planning decisions that will have the most impact on Pittsburgh during Gastil's tenure.
Hat tip to Jenn Stanley for sharing the article.