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Politics & Government

Parking Meter Enforcement: 6 PM or 10 PM?

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Nearing the end of the year...facing a deadline over parking in the city of Pittsburgh.....sound familiar?  

Two year ago at this time the City Council and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl were grappling with a state-imposed deadline to find away to bolster the city's underfunded pension plan.  Mayor Ravenstahl wanted to lease all city-owned garages and on-street parking meters and use the infusion of cash to boost the pension plan over the mandated 50% funded mark.  Council balked at giving up control of parking facilities and instead approved a plan to dedicate parking revenues to the pension fund.  Part of council's plan was to extend enforcement of parking meters from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. in seven neighborhoods:  Downtown, the North Shore, Oakland, Shadyside, the South Side, the Strip District and Squirrel Hill.

Council is now revisiting the enforcement issue. The extra four hours took effect in June 2011 but later that year council returned to the 6 p.m. cutoff after businesses complained.  However, the extended enforcement till 10 p.m. is to resume January 2 unless council approves a bill proposed by Bill Peduto that would keep the 6 p.m. cutoff enforcement throughout the city.

"Traditionally the enforcement period for parking ended at six and it has to do a lot with the the shifts of the parking enforcement officials," said Peduto.  "That's also the time that our residential parking time periods end as well."

Peduto said it's uncertain how much revenue the extra four hours would generate.  "You also have to understand that there are extra costs involved--one and obviously the biggest one is the meter enforcement officials that need to be out there."

In addition, there is a question about where those extra revenues would go.   The mayor has said the revenues are already included in the 2013 budget, but Peduto said he's not sure about that.  The city owns the on-street meters, the Parking Authority operates them.

"There is still no agreement with the Parking Authority for the revenues to go into our pension fund,"  Peduto said, "nor a memorandum of understanding."  

The Authority has also not completed installation in the seven neighborhoods of the new meters that accept credit cards.  

Peduto said there's also the impact of the extension of enforcement hours on residential permit parking--visitors not parking in the business district but instead on nearby residential streets.

"I know there's a lot of people especially in the South Side that want to see the enforcement go to 10 p.m. but at the same time the unintentional cost of that is that you end up seeing people park in front of your house."