Spotlight

Can Higher Garbage Pickup Fees Reduce Consumption and Waste?

The United States is in the midst of a recycling crisis. Decades of recycling haven’t curbed America’s appetite to consume. It’s increasingly difficult to find someone willing to buy the soda cans, old magazines, milk jugs and pickle jars we recycle. Recycling is getting more expensive. And municipalities are shrinking their recycling programs. “We’re in …

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State’s Innovation Economy Needs a Boost to Compete

Southwestern Pennsylvania’s innovation economy, bolstered by its major research universities, is brimming with potential. But the region and Pennsylvania has its work cut out for them if they want to compete with the likes of San Francisco, Boston and emerging stars, such as Austin, Texas. And realizing that potential begins with a statewide plan and …

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Broken Glass: Recycling Bottles Becomes a Challenge

Kathy Hrabovsky recalls a time in her childhood when she would take glass bottles back to the drug store in exchange for a nickel. She remembers the refund was just enough to buy a piece of candy. At 59, Hrabovsky is again lugging glass far beyond her curbside in Mt. Lebanon to be recycled. The …

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Could Uber/Lyft Replace Paratransit Vans?

Paratransit vans can be spotted in almost any neighborhood picking up patients whose means, health, or proximity to public transit makes getting to their doctor appointment or medical treatment a hardship. The government-funded vans have done the job for years. But, in a growing number of U.S. counties, the expansion of ride-hailing services has provoked …

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Is Cannabis Safe and Effective?

Antoine Douaihy is intrigued by the use of marijuana to treat chronic pain. As an addiction specialist, he’s keenly aware of the value of safe and effective alternatives to prescribing opioids. Several studies suggest pot could be one, at least with some patients, and pain is one of 21 state-approved conditions that get you a …

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High Times for Cannabis

Solveo Wellness opened its doors as Pittsburgh’s first medical marijuana dispensary in February 2018 to customers young and old who braved the cold in a line that wrapped around its Squirrel Hill building. It was warmer in August, but the scene was the same when the dispensary added cannabis flower to its menu. If that …

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Finding the Green for Green Spaces

Gathering Place in Tulsa, Okla. was named the best new attraction in America last year by USA Today. It’s a sprawling $465 million park with lakes, gardens, wetlands and an extravagant playground. Essentially, it’s a public park, built and maintained with private dollars, and in that regard, it’s an exception as urban public parks go. …

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The Parks Puzzle

While the origin of the expression, “a walk in the park,” is unclear, it’s a safe bet the author wasn’t a planner trying to stitch urban parks and trails together to create flowing greenways throughout a city like Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh’s bountiful and diverse parks range from popular destinations, such as Schenley Park in the heart …

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Mandating Affordable Housing: A Complex Zoning Challenge

One Pittsburgh neighborhood could soon test a brand of zoning that requires developers to include affordable housing in new market-rate projects as a way to build the inventory of units available for residents earning less than the city’s median income. Pittsburgh recently joined cities in 25 states that have adopted some form of inclusionary zoning, …

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Desperate for Affordable Housing, Cities Try Rewriting Zoning Laws

The last Penn Plaza apartments were vacated on a cold February day in 2017, ending an exodus of 200 tenants from one of the largest complexes of affordable housing in Pittsburgh. News that the private owner planned to raze the apartments to accommodate upscale development caught the city off guard a year earlier and taxed …

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Soda Tax Works in Philly, but Officials Here Aren’t Sure They Can Do It

Taxes on sugary beverages seem like a sweet deal with their potential to whittle down obesity and diabetes rates while boosting city revenues to help pay for things like better schools and parks. Yet, they require broad public and political support to adopt over industry opposition. Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle and several other cities …

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Healthier, Wealthier and Wiser: Are Cities with Soda Taxes Better Off?

Improving city schools and parks may not have been novel campaign promises, but when it came to funding such aspirations, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney had something new to say. He championed the Philadelphia Beverage Tax, a 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages to help fund schools, pre-kindergarten classes, parks and libraries. Last year, Philadelphia became the …

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