Pittsburgh, PA, Code of Ordinances

Updated October 2020



Table of Contents

Active Transportation

The city’s zoning code seeks to encourage bicycle use, and reduce automobile use, through provision of bicycle facilities. It both requires bicycle parking, with amounts based on primary use square footage, and incentivizes additional facilities with reduced automobile parking requirements (§914.05). It defines bicycle racks broadly, but has dimensional and performance standards for each bicycle parking space. 

Environmentally Sensitive Areas

The city’s zoning code includes environmental overlay districts to protects environmentally sensitive areas and reduces hazards to residents. These areas include floodplains, riverfront land, landslide-prone areas, undermined areas, stormwater management area, and steep slopes (§906.02). The riverfront overlay district is a unique component that features three subdistricts (preservation, conservation, and development areas) with respective specific uses, exceptions, and conditional uses (§906.03).

Green Building

The city’s code of ordinances requires public buildings of a certain size receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification and offers density bonus incentives to private non-residential developments that also receive such certification. It requires new public developments of equal to or greater than 10,000 square feet, or at a cost of $2 million or greater, receive LEED Silver certification (§915.06.B). It offers floor area ratio (FAR) density bonuses of up to 20% to all buildings within non-residential zoning (§915.04).

Green Stormwater Infrastructure

The city’s code of ordinances provides standards for using green infrastructure and low-impact development (LID) tactics. It outlines site-level attributes that would make it infeasibility to use of these tactics to manage less than or equal to 95th percentile of rainfall by infiltration, evapotranspiration, and harvesting and reuse (§1303.06.b). It states that if the site is unable to manage stormwater with these tactics the remaining percentage of precipitation can be managed by gray infrastructure tactics (§1303.06.a).

Rethinking Off-Street Parking Requirements

The city’s zoning code includes multiple types of policy-driven off-street parking requirements. It exempts all downtown land uses and development from minimum off-street parking requirements and reduces parking minimums in many other districts (§914.04). It includes maximum parking requirements for all uses (§914.02.A). And it authorizes parking reductions for shared parking facilities, the provision of bicycle parking, transit proximity, and uses and developments that implement transportation demand management plans (§914.07.G).

Scenic View Protection

The city’s zoning code establishes view protection overlay district to protect scenic views, view corridors, viewing places, and scenic entryways or scenic road corridors. It allows the planning commission to adopt district-specific guidelines regarding site design, sign and billboards, vegetation, protection of sensitive natural and cultural resources, and open space (§906.06).

Urban Agriculture

The city’s zoning code addresses urban agriculture. It provides standards for urban agriculture both with and without animals, permitted by right as an accessory use throughout the city (§912.07). Sales of produce are permitted only in nonresidential districts; standards address storage, plot plan requirement, and regulations for urban livestock, including chickens, ducks, honeybees, and goats.

The city also offers an adopt-a-lot program with licenses to use vacant city lots for temporary flower or edible gardens for personal use, or with market stand leases to use lots for flower and edible market gardens for sale of produce (Chapter 454).

Urban Livestock

The city's zoning code was amended in 2011 and 2015 to allow for the keeping of urban livestock as part of an urban agriculture accessory use (§912.07.B). The "urban agriculture (accessory use) with animals" is permitted by right for occupied residences; a permit is required for sales of agricultural products, but no permit is required for personal/noncommercial use. Residents may keep 5 chickens or ducks and 2 beehives on parcels of at least 2,000 SF, with additional animals allowed per additional square footage. On parcels of 2,000–10,000 SF, residents may keep 2 female or neutered male miniature goats; on parcels greater than 10,000 SF, residents may keep 2 female or neutered male goats. Standards address setbacks, animal enclosure locations, and sanitation requirements.

The city offers a process guide summarizing its urban agriculture regulations and answering frequently asked questions.  

Pittsburgh, PA

2010 Population: 305,704

2010 Population Density: 5,521.41/square mile