Parking meter rates to rise in 9 Pittsburgh neighborhoods
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While Pittsburgh City Council has decided to forgo nighttime enforcement of on-street parking meters until summer, nine neighborhoods still will see increases in meter rates Jan. 2.
In the part of Oakland roughly bounded by Baum and Bigelow boulevards and Forbes and South Millvale avenues, the hourly rate for on-street parking will jump to $2, up $1. The rate elsewhere in Oakland already is $2.
The second biggest increase will be on the North Shore, where the hourly rate will go to $2.50, up 50 cents. In Allentown, Beechview, Bloomfield-Garfield, East Liberty, Lawrenceville, the Mellon Park area and the West End, the rate will increase to $1, up 25 cents.
These increases are the last in a series that city council approved two years ago as part of a pension bailout package. The five-year rate schedule staggered increases across nearly 20 neighborhoods from 2011 through 2013, but included no hikes for 2014 and 2015.
A parking authority consultant, however, has recommended increases in 2014 and later years. While officials have made no move to implement the consultant's suggestions, council has made clear that it hasn't yet identified a suitable combination of rates and enforcement.
Asked whether meter increases are on the table for 2014 or later, council President Darlene Harris said, "It's possible. We'll look at it."
As part of the equation, she stressed, the parking authority should increase rates at garages and metered lots across the city. The city owns about 7,000 on-street parking spaces and council sets the rates and enforcement hours, though the authority keeps most of the meter revenue. The authority owns the garages and most of the metered lots and keeps that revenue, too.
In addition to the on-street meters, the authority's consultant has suggested raising rates at the garages and metered lots. Mrs. Harris said authority garage rates are significantly below the average and due for an increase.
Council has sparred with the authority over revenue-sharing and last week delayed nighttime enforcement of on-street parking in seven neighborhoods, including the North Shore and Oakland, until July 1 in the hope of resolving that and other issues by then.
The city now receives 6.5 percent of on-street meter revenue and 90 percent of fine revenue -- amounts likely to total about $8.1 million next year. It also receives a $2.6 million subsidy from the authority. But council wants more money from the authority to compensate for other general fund revenues taken for the pension bailout.
Hourly rates for on-street parking range from $3 Downtown to 50 cents in Carrick. The Downtown rate was set in June 2011. The Carrick rate did not increase under the five-year schedule because the neighborhood shares the Brownsville Road business district with Brentwood, where the meter rate is 50 cents an hour.
Reaction to coming increases in the nine neighborhoods was mixed.
"I don't think this is going to cause any huge waves to crash against the shore," Rick Swartz, executive director of Bloomfield-Garfield Corp., said. "I think many restaurants have a very loyal patronage. If they're going to be scared off by a quarter- or 50-cent hike in parking rates, I'd be very surprised."
Mr. Swartz criticized those in other neighborhoods who have opposed nighttime enforcement and installation of new metered spaces, saying everyone must help the city improve its finances. He said the parking authority should turn over more revenue to the city.
Beechview residents and businesses aren't thrilled about an increase but can live with it, especially since the business district isn't among those slated for nighttime enforcement in July, said Phyllis DiDiano, president of Community Leaders United for Beechview and Beechview Area Concerned Citizens and a board member of Beechview Merchants Association.
Nathan Hart, president of Oakland Planning and Development Corp. and vice president of Oakland Community Council, said he's concerned about the potential impact on businesses in the Centre Avenue-North Craig Street area. He suggested that officials monitor use of spaces and adjust the rates if demand falls, just as they have agreed to do this year with on-street spaces in the vicinity of Carnegie Mellon University.
"I know there's a pretty heavy demand for parking, but obviously, everyone has a breaking point," he said.
First Published December 29, 2012 12:00 am