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Proposed zoning change would make it easier to open child cares in Pittsburgh residential areas

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - 10/27/2023

Oct. 27—A proposed zoning amendment aims to make it easier to open child care businesses in Pittsburgh's residential areas.

Council members Bobby Wilson, D-North Side, and Deb Gross, D-Highland Park, introduced legislation Tuesday that would allow for child care facilities within neighborhoods zoned for single-family residential uses. It also would eliminate parking requirements for such child care facilities.

"Being a father of three young children, I understand the challenges many families face in finding high-quality, accessible child care within their neighborhood," Wilson said. "Removing these burdensome zoning and parking requirements in residentially zoned neighborhoods allows us to provide child care services to working families right where they live."

The measure, he said, "is an obvious first step to making child care more accessible" throughout the city.

The zoning code now requires the zoning board of administration to issue a special exception to allow for child care facilities in single-family residential neighborhoods. The proposed legislation would allow facilities that will care for up to six children to be permitted by right within residential neighborhoods.

It also would exempt child care accessory units from current home occupation standards when they take care of no more than three children and the home is the child care provider's primary residence.

If the legislation is approved, it would remove off-street parking requirements for child care sites.

"These amendments to the zoning code eliminate unnecessary barriers to starting a child care facility, businesses that are overwhelmingly owned and operated by women," Gross said. "Allowing for these business owners to operate out of their homes, and in the communities they serve, is vital to increasing access to child care for our residents."

A 2021 report indicated that more than three-quarters of American families report they have had difficulty finding a spot for their children in child care facilities.

Pittsburgh City Council in 2019 allocated $2 million to establish the Child Care Quality Fund, which has helped support child care facilities citywide through the pandemic. City officials earlier this month allocated money to provide city employees with free child care when Pittsburgh Public Schools close unexpectedly and to offer child care for parents attending certain community events sponsored by the Mayor's Office.

The legislation will come before City Council for further discussion at a committees meeting next week.

Julia Felton is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Julia by email at jfelton@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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