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Residents take steps to expand permit parking in So. Side

 

South Side is one step closer to extending permit parking further into the neighborhood.

A petition drive to expand Permit Area DD from 17th to 22nd streets from Mary Street to Carey Way ended last week with 93 percent of the households voting “yes” – in favor of permit parking for their block.

Permit Area DD currently includes both sides of 17th Street from Carey Way to Edwards Way; 1700-1900 Harcum Way; 1700-1899 Mary Street; 1700-1899 Edwards Way; along with 18th and 19th streets from Jane to Edwards and 136-158 S. 20th Street.

Hours of enforcement for the DD area are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. with a two-hour grace period for non-residents parking in the zone. If approved, the expansion of the zone will have the same enforcement hours.

South Side is already home to a second residential permit parking zone, situated between 9th and 16th streets taking in the part of the neighborhood on the river side of East Carson Street.

A coordinated group of petition gathers knocked on 258 doors looking for support to expand the DD permit parking area, receiving only 19 no votes in the process. There were several people who gathered and submitted petitions to the city but did not communicate their results to this group.

Only one occupant from each single household-unit was able to sign the petition although each separate unit of a multiple-unit residential property is counted as part of the percentage needed to implement the program. Residents who don’t own a vehicle were also permitted to sign the petition.

Residents who voted yes understood that permit parking was not the ultimate or best solution to parking problems on South Side, but felt it was a good way to make their concerns known. This was validated by the number of residents with garages and handicapped spots who also voted yes.

The next step in the process is petition verification. Neighborhood Planner Ashley Holloway, coordinator of the Residential Parking Permit Program (RPPP) for the city of Pittsburgh, and his staff will be making calls to those who signed a petition to verify their vote.

The petition drive showed most, but not all, of the blocks in the expansion area support permit parking with the minimum 70 percent yes votes needed to pass. Mr. Holloway will now be sending letters to the residents of the streets that did not have the necessary 70 percent in favor, informing them they are surrounded by streets that will most likely have permit parking and as a result may be negatively impacted by it.

He said often in the petition gathering process there are blocks where the necessary amount of affirmative votes aren’t received to institute permit parking. When residents of those streets are contacted, it’s explained they may be detrimentally affected by being surrounded by a permit zone but have their block open to anyone at any time to park.

Those residents then have the option of voting, yes or no, if they haven’t voted already. If they have voted and would like to change their vote, they are given the opportunity to fill out a form to make the change.

All signatures on the petitions are verified not only to make sure they are residents, but also to confirm they are for or against permit parking on their street. Both options are on the petitions and people sometimes change their mind after checking their option.

All occupied units in an apartment building are considered as separate households and each get a vote. Vacant properties are not considered.

The legal definition of a block, according to Mr. Holloway, is a portion of the street between two intersections. A block equals both sides of the street and a block face is only on one side.

To gain a permit parking zone in a designated area, at least 75 percent of legal on-street parking spaces are utilized during peak periods and at least 15 percent of the current spaces are utilized by non-residents for more than two hours.

Mr. Holloway and city planning interns determine the number of legal parking spaces in a proposed area. They will also survey the proposed parking zone, taking down all the license plate numbers which are then sent to Harrisburg to determine whether the owner of the vehicle is a resident of the area. Vehicles with out-of-town license plates are automatically considered to be non-residents.

Following the survey, the process to get residential permit parking in an area includes a community management plan meeting to decide on the hours of enforcement and the grace period. In the case of the DD expansion, the hours will be the same as the rest of the zone.

Before a new or expanded district can go into effect, it will then have to go before the City of Pittsburgh Planning Commission and eventually City Council for approval.

Mr. Holloway acknowledged permit parking has a domino effect on a neighborhood. Often after the first permit zone is instituted in a neighborhood, more follow. He said one reason for expanding in this manner is the program is purely resident driven with the residents deciding if they want permit parking. The city won’t take the lead in creating additional zones.

Another petition drive for a new permit area between S. 22nd and S. 29th streets from Carey Way to Mary Street continues until September 27. In addition, interest has been expressed by residents in starting another zone from 23rd Street to 29th Street for the streets on the river side of East Carson.

If anyone is interested in helping with the gathering of votes, they may contact parking4southside@hotmail.com to help with the petition drive.

 

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