For the time being at least, Pittsburgh City Council has decided to forego nighttime enforcement of on-street parking meters.
The city-wide enforcement cutoff will remain at 6 p.m. through June 30, under compromise legislation that received preliminary approval after a rancorous discussion today.
A final vote is scheduled for next week.
Under a 2011 law, nighttime enforcement as of Jan. 2 was to be extended four hours, until 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, in seven neighborhoods: Downtown; on the North Shore and South Side; and in Oakland, Shadyside, the Strip District and Squirrel Hill.
Councilman Bill Peduto, citing the potential impact on small businesses, two weeks ago introduced legislation to permanently forego nighttime enforcement. In the end, council agreed to a compromise that ends enforcement at 6 p.m. through June 30, when officials may revisit the issue.
Councilman Ricky Burgess estimated that foregoing nighttime enforcement for a full year would cost the city $1.2 million in meter and fine revenue, and he called Mr. Peduto's legislation an effort to "reward the rich and punish the poor."
He meant that Mr. Peduto would prefer to give a break to shoppers and diners in wealthy neighborhoods while foregoing revenue that could be used to help the poor.
"This is a $1.2 million giveaway to the richest communities in the city of Pittsburgh," Mr. Burgess said, suggesting that the money instead be used to expand the Summer Youth Employment Program.
In December 2010, council approved a five-year citywide schedule of meter rate increases and expanded enforcement in the seven neighborhoods. The increases and added enforcement took effect in summer 2011, but council quickly suspended the nighttime enforcement until January 2013 because of public complaints and disagreements with the parking authority over revenue-sharing and other matters.
Some council members believed that it was appropriate to resume nighttime enforcement at this point, but Mr. Peduto, who represents Shadyside, one of the city's busiest neighborhood shopping districts, disagreed.
Council President Darlene Harris said she wonders why she has pushed to raise revenue through a billboard tax and contributions from nonprofit groups "if we just keep giving it away during elections" -- a reference to Mr. Peduto's run for mayor next year.
"It is not being financially responsible," Mrs. Harris said, though she agreed to postpone a permanent decision until after the spring primary.
Mr. Peduto noted that the dispute over revenue-sharing, a reason for suspending nighttime enforcement in 2011, has not been resolved. If that was a valid reason for suspending nighttime enforcement then, he said, it made no sense for some council members to get so upset today.
Joe Smydo: email@example.com or 412-263-1548.