Government & Politics
5:15 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

City Council Members Tackle City’s Parking Woes

Whether in Lawrenceville, Downtown, the South Side or the Strip District, many Pittsburghers and visitors to the city complain about parking; either the lack of it or the cost of it.

City Councilman Dan Gilman held a post agenda on the issue Tuesday. Pittsburgh Acting Police Chief Regina McDonald said one of the problems is crowded neighborhood streets.

“On some streets, specific streets, where we have numerous cars being parked because homeowners have one, two, maybe three vehicles at their residence that are being parked on the street, and if you multiply that by five, 10, 15 homeowners, you can see that parking becomes a serious issue and concern,” she said.

Compounding the problem in some of the neighborhoods is commuters or shoppers who come in and park, leaving residents scrambling to find parking.

The residential parking permit program has eased the problem in some neighborhoods. There are 34 residential parking permit areas in the city. Officials are working to determine if expanding those or establishing new areas would help with parking issues. Another issue is ambiguous signage in some areas of the city.

McDonald said city planners need to be proactive and clearly mark where people can and can’t park.

“Make sure that we have current signage on those streets; where yellow lines need to be painted, they need to be painted so that enforcement can be completed, but fairly so that people understand that they can’t park there,” she said

Gilman suggested that more warnings might be helpful.

“Simply a little orange card that can go on windows as police officers drive around that say, you know, here’s a reminder ‘you must park X feet away from a corner or a crosswalk,’ in the neighborhoods it’s a common complaint, and understandably, in a lot of neighborhoods, if you get home after 8 it’s about your only option – to kind of risk it [parking illegally].”

McDonald said warnings are a good idea, along with a public campaign reminded residents of where and when they can park. But, Pittsburgh Parking Authority Director David Onorato said it could be a slippery slope.

“The warning, I think, you have to be careful. I mean it could lead down a road where you’re giving warnings instead of tickets,” said Onorato.

He added that people, for the most part, are aware of laws, “like the street cleaning this year – we don’t do it until April first, but come April first, we don’t start warning them. The sign tells them that come April first you can’t be there – we don’t start with warnings, you get the ticket.”

The Parking Authority and police chief discussed ways of working together on enforcement of the city’s parking laws. Councilman Bruce Krauss said one part of planning needs to be encouraging more of a transit and walk-heavy community. Gilman said that is part of a two-pronged approach to planning.

“What is our long-term goal for our city? I agree it’s about public transportation, it’s about reduction in cars, those are all critical goals that I support, but we also have our residents living here today and we need the laws and the ability to create strong quality of life in our neighborhoods today,” said Gilman.

City Council members and city planners also briefly discussed suggested plans for dynamic pricing throughout the city. That could include getting rid of time limits at meters and charging more as more time passes in the space, or charging different prices at specific times of day.