Community Organizing and Resident Engagement

In all our community programs, we connect, educate and empower residents to build a beautiful neighborhood and a strong social fabric. We conduct outreach and community organizing related to code enforcement, development, design review, land use, and greening projects. We provide opportunities for community members to be well-informed about development proposals, navigate the local public approval processes needed to effectively testify at formal hearings and have their voices heard.

With approximately 100,000 people commuting into and through Oakland each day, advocating for and planning for multi-modal transportation options and bike and pedestrian safety is of paramount importance.  We organize the Oakland Bicycle-Pedestrian Committee and work closely with partners, including City of Pittsburgh, Bike Pittsburgh, Port Authority, the Oakland Transportation Management Association, and many others involved in large scale transportation and infrastructure improvement projects.

The relationship between people and place is central to our work. We’re privileged to work with neighborhood leaders and hundreds of volunteers to make the community more beautiful and attractive for everyone. Volunteers steward the streets through our Adopt-A-Block program, clean up vacant lots, pick up trash, prune trees, paint walls and help us collect data about neighborhood conditions. Organizations including Tree Pittsburgh, our local universities, the Western PA Conservancy, Phipps Conservatory, Allegheny CleanWays, and the City of Pittsburgh support our work each year to beautify Oakland.


Oakwatch: The Oakland Code Enforcement Project

OPDC works with residents, property owners, building inspectors, and police officers to enforce housing codes and reduce crime. The mission of Oakwatch is to improve the quality of life in Oakland by bringing people and institutions together to identify code violations, advocate for their remediation and monitor the outcomes. OPDC co-manages Oakwatch in partnership with a resident chairperson, currently Elena Zaitsoff, and a large network of collaborators to make our success stories possible.

Oakwatch accomplishments include the creation of an active partnership with the City of Pittsburgh Zone 4 and University of Pittsburgh Police Departments to reduce the number of alcohol-related crimes in the neighborhood; identifying abandoned properties for acquisition by OPDC to return to productive community use; compelling absentee property owners to abate building code violations or sell; and winning several lengthy court battles with speculative investors that blatantly violated the city’s over occupancy code. Oakwatch formed in 2011 as a result of The Oakland 2025 Master Plan process, and has since gained city-wide recognition as a top model for collaborative public safety advocacy and code enforcement. 

Oakwatch meets the third Wednesday of each month, and meeting times and locations vary. Check our monthly calendar to confirm the details about our next meeting. To be added to the Oakwatch email list, contact lgray@opdc.org.

Oakwatch encourages community members to submit all quality of life complaints to the City of Pittsburgh's 311 Response Center as a first step. We work closely with the city on these issues and can advocate on your behalf after you submit the issue.  If you want us to know about something you've submitted to 311, please contact Liz gray at 412.335.0933 or lgray@opdc.org.   


The Oakland Tree & Garden (TAG) Team: Put the "Oak" Back in Oakland

Through the Oakland Tree and Garden (TAG) Team, OPDC works alongside community leaders to beautify public spaces and conserve Oakland's green resources. We rely on volunteers to help identify priority project and provide support to guide their implementation. Sign up to volunteer to help make Oakland greener and learn more about tree tending, composting, rain gardens, and much more. The TAG Team’s mission is consistent with the goals outlined in The Oakland 2025 Master Plan. For questions or to receive email updates, please contact Andrea Boykowycz at aboykowycz@opdc.org.


The Oakland Landlord Alliance

The Oakland Landlord Alliance (OLA) is a cooperative roundtable of Oakland’s landlords and OPDC, who provides logistic support, facilitates meetings, and represents the overall community.

OLA is a bridge between landlords, tenants, and the community, to educate and inform all regarding their respective rights and responsibilities.  Established to provide education, information, and problem solving assistance to improve landlord-community relations, OLA meets on a quarterly basis to discuss the changing needs of our growing community. 

To be added to the OLA email list, contact lgray@opdc.org.