Community Profile: Brentwood Borough
Brentwood Tackles Blight, Invests in Community
Located directly south of the City of Pittsburgh, Brentwood Borough boasts excellent transit service, a walkable main street, numerous retail destinations, green space, and ample parking for residents and their families.
The Borough has taken an active role to improve and build upon the quality of life for its residents, including taking aggressive action to remediate blight within municipal borders. In 2013, after spending several years revising landlord registration rules, Council enacted a rental property inspection program to ensure that landlords keep rental properties in safe conditions. The program requires the borough’s code enforcement officer to inspect each rental property at least once every five years. Now in its third year, Brentwood Borough Manager George Zboyovsky notes that the program resulted in tens of thousands of dollars in repairs to rental homes by landlords and rental companies. Eric Peccon, Brentwood Assistant Borough Manager, comments, “the rental list is nearly complete, with both big and small landlords and companies. Brentwood Borough Council has supported this process as well, and overall, this has improved the perception of renting in Brentwood.”
Another step that Brentwood Borough has taken to combat blight includes the establishment of a Landlord License requirement that can be revoked for various offenses ranging from outstanding borough taxes, sewage, etc. to code violations. This requirement has been successful in ensuring that property owners keep their properties up to code.
These initiatives have been a joint effort between Council, the Mayor, the Borough Manager, the Police Department and the Code Department, and Peccon notes that “we’ve been seeing results. There are still issues, but they are smaller in scope. There has been a discernable difference since we started to take more proactive approach to addressing blight.”
Recently, the boroughs of Brentwood and Whitehall completed a streetscape enhancement overlay zoning district along Route 51 that requires new commercial development to install pedestrian-scale lighting, landscaping, trash cans, benches, and bicycle racks, among other amenities. Both municipalities invested their own funds into this project, and received grants from the PA Department of Community and Economic Development, as well as the Local Government Academy.
Finally, Brentwood’s investment into amenities including its public park (recent improvements totaled over $6 million), pool, and other recreation facilities has been substantial, and they believe these investments have brought in visitors and new residents. “From a community development standpoint, in order to attract residents, we can’t just worry about marketing and the quality of individual homes, we must also have amenities, places for our residents to go and things for them to do. This can have a residual effect, with newcomers spending more time here.”