Lawsuit alleges Pittsburgh’s inclusionary zoning ordinance is unconstitutional


Just 10 days after Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey signed an inclusionary zoning bill into law, the Builders Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh filed a federal lawsuit against the city alleging it improperly shifts the burden to fund low- and moderate-incoming housing to residential real estate developers.

The lawsuit alleges the ordinance violates constitutional due process, as well as the city’s Home Rule charter. The group is seeking an injunction against the city from enforcing the ordinance.

“In short, the ordinance does not pass constitutional muster and does not comport with Pennsylvania law,” the lawsuit said. “It cannot be permitted to stand.”

A spokesperson for the city did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The ordinance, approved by City Council in April, requires that market-rate housing developments with 20 or more units in Bloomfield and Polish Hill incorporate 10% of their units as affordable housing. A similar measure was put in place in Lawrenceville in 2019.

The legislation is intended to “promote the public health and welfare by increasing the supply of affordable housing for a range of family sizes and promoting economic integration within the district boundaries.”

However, because it requires that inclusionary units be rented or sold at below-market rates, it causes potential economic harm to developers, the lawsuit said.

The requirements on the inclusionary units, the complaint said, will last at least 35 years.

Even if the goal is laudable, the builders’ group said, it is improper to place the burden of curing the affordable housing problem through the use of developers’ private property.

The complaint alleges that the ordinance will disincentivize developers from investing in city neighborhoods because of increased development costs. That, in turn, will limit the supply of new units, increase housing prices and limit housing for moderate-income families.

The association has about 400 members in Western Pennsylvania.

Paula Reed Ward is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paula by email at or via Twitter .

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