Higher fees and more enforcement were among the recommendations made by the Pittsburgh City Controller’s office following a performance audit of the residential parking permit program.
“People generally feel that it is a good program,” said Controller Michael Lamb. “Particularly when you live in one of those areas that are impacted by a lot of nonresident parking.”
However, Lamb said there is room for improvement, starting with a recommendation that the Parking Authority begin taking permit applications online. He admits that verification of residency is a concern but he said the Parking Authority thinks it can implement a system by the end of next year to deal with that problem.
The audit also recommends the annual fee be increased from the current $20 to $25. However, he said that the system is hitting the break-even point depending on your definition.
“While the permit revenue itself does not cover the cost (of running the program), when you consider the enforcement dollars that come in for writing tickets, the city actually ends up a little bit to the good on that whole thing,” Lamb said.
The fee has not been changed since 1991.
At the same time, the report suggests that residents with outstanding parking tickets should not be issued permits until the tickets are paid and that the authority should increase enforcement, especially in areas such as the South Side, where parking demands increase in the evenings.
The Parking Authority’s enforcement in those areas tends to follow the complaint rather than being proactive, said Lamb. “People just seem to assume, ‘well it’s night time, no one is going to enforce right now,’ so it needs to be a little stepped up.”
The report also found that in some neighborhoods, more permits have been issued than there are spaces. Lamb said that should be reviewed despite residents filing very few complaints.
The audit also recommends the creation of a special annual permit for contractors doing business in the city, that City Council should consider creating visitors passes of different lengths and prices, and the creation of a “care taker” permit for family members taking care of loved ones for prolonged periods of time.