Scenic Pittsburgh

Beauty is Good for Business

aka Scenic Pittsburgh   |   Pittsburgh, PA   |  http://www.scenicpittsburgh.org

Mission

Scenic Pittsburgh is a nonprofit organization that protects, enhances, and promotes the scenic beauty – both natural and built – of southwestern Pennsylvania. Our work is focused on the nexus where economic development, community health, and environmental and historic preservation meet. We serve the following counties: Allegheny, Armstrong, Butler, Beaver, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Washington,and Westmoreland. Scenic Pittsburgh is an affiliate of Scenic America, the nation’s premier scenic conservation organization, and a project of the Pennsylvania Resources Council.

Ruling year info

2015

Executive Director

Michael Dawida

Main address

100 Fifth Ave Ste 500,

Pittsburgh, PA 15222 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

47-2777641

NTEE code info

Environmental Beautification (C50)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Recognized as one of the country’s most livable places, the Pittsburgh region has a unique scenic topography characterized by beautiful country scenes, urban vistas, spectacular river views and architectural masterworks. However, this scenic beauty is constantly under threat. Those threats include the uncontrolled spread of billboards and unregulated signage, context insensitive development, tree and greenspace loss, unrestricted lighting and the proliferation of telecommunications towers and overhead utility wires. These blight issues jeopardize the region’s environmental and economic progress and negatively impact community health, civic engagement and quality of life. Established in 2010, Scenic Pittsburgh is the only organization dedicated to the betterment of the visual environment in southwestern Pennsylvania. As a chapter of Scenic America, a national organization founded in 1982, we believe our scenic resources should be valued and treated like other inherited treasures.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Zoning and Billboard Advising

Zoning. Zoning is the most powerful tool most communities have to preserve their scenic assets, prevent blight and asset destruction, and encourage development for a scenic future. We offer advice to any organization, individual or community on how to effectively update your zoning code, or create a new one, that reflects your community’s scenic values. We also offer counsel on how to handle zoning disputes.

Billboards. Billboards have a hugely negative effect on communities – reducing property values and scenic beauty. We are regional leaders in understanding the negative impact of billboards on scenic values, and how communities can protect themselves from multi-billion-dollar billboard companies. We offer advice on how to handle billboard disputes – and avoid them.

We subscribe to two main philosophies when developing solutions to scenic issues:

Legislation before litigation: Scenic Pittsburgh encourages community leaders to be proactive in combating scenic issues. Having laws and plans in place is the best way for a community to control their scenic environment.
Beauty is good for business, human health, and the environment. Ultimately visual blight negatively impacts every aspect of the vitality of a community, and prevents community development and recovery.
Services we offer:

Direct consultation with civic leaders and public officials regarding scenic policy
Education regarding the benefits scenic conservation to community groups, civic leaders, and policy makers
Community organizing around scenic conservation issues
Model legislation for signage control, tree cutting, scenic byways, scenic easements and view protection, telecommunications towers and utility wires, and light and sound pollution

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

We envision a future in which we, as residents of southwestern Pennsylvania:

1) Retain the distinctive character of our communities and countryside by rebuilding older cities, towns and suburbs as beautiful places in which to live and work; and conserve agricultural land and open space. Set aside open space for greenways, parks, trails and river corridors.

2) Foster new development that respects the special character of places as defined by their distinctive geographical features, cultures, climate and natural systems.

3.) Encourage a balance of regulatory and market approaches to protect scenic resources including rewarding land stewardship by property owners, local governments and corporations; and providing disincentives for practices that destroy scenic values.

4) Design a national transportation system that respects aesthetic values as well as economic and energy efficiency, social equity, and environmental qualities.

5) Prevent mass marketing and outdoor advertising from intruding on the landscape or community appearance.

6) Teach young people to value the visual environment and to create and respect places of beauty.

7) Actively engage business, industry, civic and professional organizations in the movement for a more scenic America.

Scenic Pittsburgh engages the southwestern Pennsylvania community on various levels to preserve, protect and promote scenic resources. We aim to provide community groups and leaders with all of the tools necessary to carry out this mission.

Scenic Pittsburgh works on all levels of policy creation and enforcement to ensure that appropriate scenic conservation policies are implemented into law in order to protect the region’s irreplaceable scenic resources. We work with lawmakers, community leaders, organizational leaders, and others to encourage better policies and enforcement.

Scenic Pittsburgh conducts full Scenic Asset Inventories for communities. The Scenic Asset Inventory is a survey tool developed by Scenic Pittsburgh to evaluate the scenic assets and deficiencies within a specific geographic range.

Scenic Pittsburgh created the Southwestern PA Scenic Awards program to recognize excellence in preservation, enhancement, and promotion of scenic resources in the region. We hope that the example provided by the award winners can help other communities in making the most of their own scenic resources. - and keeping southwestern Pennsylvania beautiful for us all.

We have 3 full-time staff members, plus two interns - one full-time and one part-time. Scenic America's capacity has increased over the last year with the addition of a full-time communications and outreach professional and a full-time intern from Public Allies.

We now have 10 years of experience advising communities on preserving and leveraging their scenic resources, and our leadership has built relationships with local nonprofits, community leadership, and funders.

Direct Community Outreach and Advocacy. Over the last year, Scenic Pittsburgh reached out via email, phone, and U.S. mail to 30 mayors and community leaders across 10 counties. We chose to target leaders of the largest cities in each county of our 10-county region. As a result, we scheduled 7 meetings, had in-person meetings with leaders of 4 municipalities, and are currently working on projects with two of them.

Public Testimony. Over the last year, the Assistant Director has testified at multiple council meeting and public hearings in favor of pro-scenic legislation. Scenic Pittsburgh has opposed variance requests for oversized signage at 5 Zoning Board of Adjustment hearings and obtained denials of these request all 5 times. Attendance at ZBA hearings is mandatory if it becomes necessary to appeal a decision. We have addressed Pittsburgh City Council 4 times on blight and greenspace issues. We have appeared at multiple Pittsburgh Planning Commission hearings and the Historic Review Commission to oppose building signage and support restoration of Allegheny Commons Park.

Program Development. In August of 2019, Scenic Pittsburgh debuted the Southwestern PA Scenic Awards program to recognize excellence in preservation, enhancement, and promotion of scenic resources in the region. We awarded the first Award for Community Scenic Achievement to the City of Connellsville during a ceremony on October 16, 2019 at the Connellsville Canteen on West Crawford Avenue that attracted more than a hundred people.
In May of 2020, we developed and submitted a proposal for zoning ordinance analysis services to the City of Latrobe and the Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation. We hope to offer this more comprehensive level of zoning analysis and project management to interested municipalities going forward.

During winter and spring of 2019-20, after multiple site visits and in consultation with representatives of the City of Aliquippa, we developed an initial Beautification Plan for their historic Franklin Avenue business corridor and are in the process of finding funding for full plan development and an eventual partnership with the City of Aliquippa and their Community Development Corporation that will serve as a model for our work with other distressed and Act 47 municipalities.

We continue to refine and pursue funding for the development of a new 2-acre greenspace in Pittsburgh’s Fineview neighborhood on unused City property.

Campaigns. In cooperation with PRC and Allegheny CleanWays, we have developed and are promoting the CleanPGH plan, which we kicked off September 5, 2019. Collaboration and Partnerships. Since becoming a chapter of Scenic America in 2019, Scenic Pittsburgh has taken steps to share costs and capacity for a forthcoming new website, organizational and fundraising support, and other nonprofit services. We will be debuting our new website in June 2020 and we will have access to new state-of-the-art outreach and fundraising systems.

Financials

Scenic Pittsburgh
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Scenic Pittsburgh

Board of directors
as of 2/26/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Daniel Sentz

Tyler Chilcott

Kathryn Vargas

Lenny McAlister

John DeSantis

Ken Wolf

Emily Kinkead

Frank Dawson

Claire Smith

Byron Falchetti

Richard Wendell

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 11/05/2020

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data