Present -vs- PANDA

Comparison:  The Guiding Question

The primary difference between the present policy and PANDA is in their Guiding Questions.  While the guiding questions do not tell you all that is specifically different between the two approaches, they do most succinctly describe the direction in which each is looking.  As we hope you will see, it is as if the two approaches are standing back to back, looking in opposite directions.

Present Policy asks:
"Who do we want to attract, and what do we need to do to get them to come here?" Using carnival tactics, it's felt the most important thing is to get people to come into our tent, even if it means ignoring and abusing those who live here.  People elsewhere aren't fooled; they can see that if they move here, they too will suffer along with the present residents.
PANDA asks:
"Who do we have here, and what do we need to do to take care of us?    We should learn from Chattanooga.  Once called the little Pittsburgh of the South, the collapse of steel hit Chattanooga harder than us here.  But, as they asked and answered this as their guiding question, people elsewhere noticed and felt they too would do well to live or invest there.  They're now booming and called the little Atlanta!


Comparison:  A General Overview

Most people are fed up with the region's present public policy and that in itself should be cause for action, but what many do not realize is that our present public policy is creating even greater problems for our future.  Unfortunately, rather than spare us the pain of repeating mistakes made elsewhere, our leaders appear determined to make them again here.  It's as if those mistakes are a right of passage, or maybe our leaders are demonstrating their ignorance, the way unscrupulous individuals pirate electronic designs by copying computer chips, burned out bugs and all.  We expect that they should know better, and it doesn't make sense but then again, there is an old maxim for trying to understand such conundrums:  "When things don't make sense, follow the money and you'll have your answer."  That answer becomes clearest when viewed first in a general sense and then in specifics.

PANDA, on the other hand, seeks to draw a lesson from the costly errors of other cities (as well as their successes) and has laid out a specific strategy that can reverse our present disastrous course.  Not only can it prevent further community destruction, but it can actually lead to a healthy community revitalization.  To understand how this is possible, it is first necessary to look at a comparative overview of the situation.

Under present public policy, the region's leaders are looking away for quick-fix solutions, and they're clueless as to the region's real problems which are mainly the result of their policy.  To hear them talk, it is as though they are saying, "It's not that we're doing the wrong things, it's that we aren't doing enough of the wrong things!"  And they're determined to do more of the wrong things, faster, and on a larger scale.

Our political leaders feel that if only a superficial facade can be created, others will flock here.  When that doesn't work, they are prepared to bribe them to come with subsidies from your hard earned tax dollars.  They feel that if they can only get people here, somehow everything will magically change into a fantasy fairyland of resort communities, as Pittsburgh becomes America's playland. 

Pittsburgh could once have easily shared the official motto of Portland, Oregon:  "The City that works."  Now, it is our regional leadership's strategy to have us entertain our way to prosperity.  By their thinking, Pittsburgh's new motto is to be:  "The City that plays!"

While they ignore what could be easily fixed, our leaders champion their be-all-to-end-all solution "re-invent the region."  While the region has problems that should be addressed, this is a solution for problems which don't exist.  Worse, at the heart of this strategy is the creation of more and greater problems for our future! 

Subsidized real estate speculation is giving us a "sub-city"

Neighborhood sabotage:  As the City of Pittsburgh's present leadership seeks to re-invent the city, it is anxiously subsidizing and building suburban housing plans inside the city.  These are, for the most part, designed to be topographically isolated and class segregated. Astoundingly, the City's leaders are proceeding while knowing full well that these are also designed to draw the more affluent residents out of the existing neighborhoods. 

This is a disastrous game of residential musical chairs.  It is the residents who have the best means to maintain their homes who are being targeted with inducements to move, and that can only leave their old neighborhoods into an accelerated decline.  Having already started and with more to get underway, the political leadership is in the process of gutting the City of Pittsburgh into a ring of declining urban neighborhoods, interspersed with a smattering of barrier protected enclaves housing the more affluent but the speculators will profit handsomely and they are making generous contributions to the politician's campaigns for offices in both the city and county governments. 

The demise of Downtown Pittsburgh:  The latest outrage to get underway is just as subtle and destructive, and in addition to having snuck up upon an unsuspecting public, it has quite unfortunately caught off guard the organizations which could have stood against it.  Instead of building upon the city's historic structures and the human-scaled urban form (which together make a real city and are actually the number one attraction for urban tourists), the present political powers are busily converting the once grand, urban space of Downtown Pittsburgh into a central suburban service area not for Allegheny County suburbs, but for the surrounding outer counties!

We, the residents of the Pittsburgh Area, are paying for huge subsides to real estate speculators as they consume and suburbanize the city.  In return, they will be giving us a sub-city! 

When people from elsewhere visit the region now, they are most impressed with the abundance of traditional communities which we have here.  Yet, it is our traditional communities which are currently in the cross hairs of our present leadership's destructive policies.  It is not just that our traditional communities have been slighted for years, but there are a number of proposals which are being actively pursued which will eventually take the wrecking ball to large portions of the communities which made Pittsburgh what it was and are its strength today. 

The principal mechanism of our regional decline:  Overall, it is a public policy based upon subsidized real estate speculation, (primarily causing increased suburban sprawl but also making the City of Pittsburgh into a sub-city) that is the greatest threat to our existing communities.  Even the outer Allegheny County suburbs, once thought a safe haven from urban decay, are now being impacted by a decline which is heaviest in the center city but to an increasing degree can be found extending to the County's borders. 

As present property owners watch the value of their own investment erode away, well connected real estate speculators are arranging even more public subsidies which will guarantee them a handsome profit. With the greatest of arrogance, these speculators expect the taxpaying property owners to pay for their projects while sitting patiently by and suffering one more financial hit after another.

The Pittsburgh Area New Direction Alternative's proposal is to immediately stop the subsidies for real estate speculation and to use our scarce resources, instead, to build upon our existing assets rather than demolishing them.  Carpetbagging speculators may seek to hide their profiteering pillage with glitzy publicity campaigns, but we must elect new leaders who can see through them.  We, as a public, must look to region's traditional communities which are its strongest assets.  Instead of undermining them, we must immediately implement a new public policy which has their revitalization as the number one agenda item. 

The PANDA vision is to focus inward, restoring our traditional communities to health and vigor so that they naturally attract residents from within the region and beyond.  At the heart of the PANDA vision is for the region to quit trying to be something it isn't and, instead, focus upon being itself.  Rather than pinning its economic hopes upon becoming a "tourist town," PANDA has a better option: 

The region still sits in the heart of the primary zone for investment in new manufacturing in the U.S. and it could once again expand the manufacturing segment of its economy, if it would merely reverse the present effort to turn the old industrial sites into new suburban resort-style communities and low density office campuses.  By applying the modern rail transportation technologies of today (not waiting for a speculative new mode of transportation to be perfected sometime next century), by using existing rail lines and rights-of-way to connect the hearts of our traditional communities, the old industrial sites, Downtown Pittsburgh, and the new and old airport terminal buildings, the Pittsburgh Area would have the basis of a healthy, sustainable future which could easily attract people and investment without using the gimmickry of the region's present, charlatan speculators.


Comparison:  Item by Item Table

It is our intention in coming weeks to include a table which provides a direct item by item comparison between PANDA and our present public policy.

You may use the comment section of the PANDA Contact/Participation Form to give your suggestions or requests for either general or specific comparisons.

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