Wednesday, August 01, 2007

City Council looking at parking permit program, its costs

City Council looking at parking permit program, its costs City Council looking at parking permit program, its costs
Parking is the third rail of politics in Pittsburgh's South Side for some. Not me.

When a gathering occurs, parking becomes a topic. Whenever two or more should gather in the name of parking, you've got a situation of holy magnitude.

I am against the expansion of the parking permit program for the South Side because it is only a back-door tax. I was against the permit program in the past years because I knew that they would raise the rates.

The cost for every car was $20 then and there were promises that the rates would increase. Those promises can't be kept. Politicians around here can't make promises and stick to their word.

Even the Act 47 overlords could say that the parking permits for residents should increase to $50 or more and the city would have to follow along with the parking hike.

I'm sure the suburban member of the state house would be keen to have the parking tax drop from its recent high of 50% (now 45%) and shift the tax to residents. The parking tax is a burden to downtown office workers who live outside the city and commute to the city. They'd rather have city residents pay the high amounts, not the visitors.

Raising the ticket price to $35 rather than $25 is a another sure way to anger the suburban commuters too.

People are going to stop visiting the city with the constant waves of fees, tickets, red tape, fines, penalties, survailence, traffic jams, detours, high costs of parking and water main breaks.

One of the ways to fix the problem of a program that is not sustainable is not being talked about (in the article at least). The programs should be sustainable in that the costs should covered by the incomes. However, those on city council only look at the incomes. They wonder about how the city can make more and more money. None on council wonder and work to make the program less expensive. Drop costs. If necessary, drop the programs outright.

The program costs $562K to maintain in 2006, so they say. I'm not too confident of that amount. But, if that is the case, why does it cost so much? The program has not expanded in years. The signs are up. How much does a few stickers costs?

Enforcement is the big cost, I'm sure. That means pay checks. That means jobs.

I'd look into empowering the residents tp write the tickets on their own streets to those who are abusive to the parking zone.

I'd look into a wholesale elimination of the resident permit parking program.

I'd also look into getting "cronic parkers" and "multi-car residents" more parking off the streets. There are a lot of folks who own a lot of cars that sit constantly on city streets.

Parking on the street isn't 'ideal' for many reasons. It takes the parking away from visitors. It is bad for the car. It is a worry and bit of trouble.

I'm interested in starting serious conversations about a new program -- 'In-Fill Parking.'

The city has many properties that it owns. Some of these properties are abandoned lots. Many of those lots could be re-used for off-street parking. The cost would be next to nothing, if done with some adjusted policy efforts.

Tinkering with the zoning code is hard work. Too bad those on council are more interested in making new taxes, not finding new solutions that require heavy lifting, research and creativity.

I'm confident that the South Side's parking problems could be improved in dramatic ways with an "Libertarian In-Fill Parking Program" that looks at the grounds around us, the hunks of rusting metal that fills them, and the flow of traffic throughout our communities.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Pittsburgh City Council weighed some options yesterday for bailing out a popular but money-losing permit parking program.

Councilman William Peduto said there is a backlog of 26 streets or parts of neighborhoods that want to institute permit parking to reserve on-street spaces for residents.

"These are all neighborhoods that have been waiting now, some for as long as two years," he said. The city needs to make the program self-sustaining so it can expand it, he said.

Residents in neighborhoods that have the program pay $20 per year to park on streets, plus $1 each for visitor passes, each good for five days of parking. The program is popular because fines on violators deter students and commuters from snatching on-street spaces.

The program cost $562,000 to maintain in 2006, said senior planner Richard Meritzer, and generated only $244,000 in fees, running at a $318,000 deficit. Enforcement, handled by the Parking Authority, makes up most of the cost.

The city has held off adding new permit parking areas until that deficit is addressed.

Mr. Peduto said an increase in the fine on people who lack permits but park in those areas anyway could erase the deficit. The fine is now $25, and he said a hike to $35 would be enough.

City Planning Director Noor Ismail said that increase would bridge the shortfall but wouldn't provide money for expansions.

Councilman Dan Deasy said the $1 visitor parking pass fee should be revisited.

"I would think that's the first place you've got to look. A dollar -- that's got to go up," he said.

Out of the question, said Councilwoman Tonya Payne, is any hike in the $20 fee for residents of permit parking areas.

"Twenty dollars to park on your street, for a lot of people, that's a hindrance," she said.

Mr. Peduto said he hopes to float a menu of options in coming weeks and formally propose a fix during the fall budget process.

Rich Lord can be reached at or 412-263-1542.