Mayor halts plan to install meters in Strip District

Free parking will continue along Penn Avenue

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Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has decided against installing new metered parking spaces in the Strip District that were proposed as part of a meter modernization program approved by City Council.

"I've directed the parking authority to not place new metered parking in the Strip District in places where there are not currently meters," Mr. Ravenstahl said Monday.

Strip District business owners said last week that the meters proposed along Penn Avenue would hurt them because customers used to parking for free would now have to pay $2 per hour.

The city parking authority's meter modernization program includes 519 new metered spaces citywide, and 338 were proposed for Penn Avenue, between 17th and 31st streets, a Strip District area where parking is now free.

Businesses along the affected stretch of Penn Avenue include Pennsylvania Macaroni Co., Jimmy & Nino's, Mullaney's Harb & Fiddle Irish Pub. The free spaces are used by people who patronize Penn Avenue businesses, and also by parkers who leave their vehicles there all day and walk or take a bus to work elsewhere.

City council approved creation of the spaces, along with a citywide series of meter rate increases, in December 2010. At the time, council was seeking new revenue sources as an outgrowth of a pension bailout.

Becky Rodgers, executive director of Neighbors in the Strip, said the addition of paid parking would cause disruption for some businesses in the Strip.

Joanna Doven, spokeswoman for Mr. Ravenstahl, said the mayor had directed parking authority director David Onorato to refrain from adding meters to the area.

"The only way this directive will change is if Strip District business owners would like the meters to be installed in order to improve 'in and out' parking that will boost customer circulation, or to prevent people from parking all day who are not necessarily visiting the business district, e.g., people parking in the Strip District in front of Penn Mac, who work three blocks down," said Ms. Doven.

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