For more than three months, the Pittsburgh Parking Authority has been able to give tickets to cars at unpaid meters until 10:00 PM every Monday through Saturday.
The four-hour ticketing extension will be short-lived, after Pittsburgh Council unanimously voted to repeal it during its Tuesday meeting. Meters will once again be watched from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM until January 1, at which point Council must revisit the issue.
The 10:00 PM enforcement limit began June 1 as one way to earn extra money for the city's pension fund, which now requires an $8 million yearly contribution from the Parking Authority. Council also passed a measure to raise parking meter rates over time.
Councilman Bill Peduto said the price increases will remain on schedule, but the nighttime enforcement was unnecessary.
"The additional revenue the Parking Authority will receive through modest increases at the garages and the changes that Council made at the meter will be far more than $8 million," said Peduto.
Jeff Cohen, co-owner of the Smallman Street Deli, said Council should scrap the 10:00 PM limit when it discusses the matter this again in December. "All it does is hurt business," said Cohen. "I'm telling you that when you enforce parking meters at night in small neighborhoods 'til ten o'clock at night, it'll eventually slowly burn those businesses. They'll end up closing early, or laying off employees, or closing in general."
Cohen said if Council decides it must reinstate the late enforcement to fund the pension plan, it should make nighttime tickets less expensive.
Councilman Peduto said the 6:00 PM ticketing deadline also gives the Parking Authority time to modernize. He said the Authority should create a collection system based on kiosks that accept multiple forms of payment for large areas, a move he said would generate 20-30% more revenue than the meter system.
"Without the meters being modernized, you just couldn't carry enough quarters in your pockets in order to be able to pay the rates," said Peduto. The District 8 Councilman said the kiosk system would also allow individual neighborhoods to "tailor-make" different parking rates and rules, such as making the first fifteen minutes of parking free, or making the first hour of parking cheaper than the second.