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By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Update on permit parking expansion at S.S. Planning Forum

 


Details on a proposed enlargement of an existing residential permit parking district in the South Side led off the Nov. 12 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum.

The presentation was conducted by Pittsburgh City Planning’s neighborhood planner, Ashley Holloway.

The district’s current boundaries are 17th St. to 20th St ., and from Jane St. to Edwards Way.

The streets being proposed for inclusion are: S. 18th St. to S. 22nd St. from Carson St. to the railroad tracks. Also, all of Jane St. between 17th St. and 22nd St ., and Sarah St. from 19th St. to 22nd St. would be included.

Before considering whether to expand the permit parking boundary, a petition drive in which residents went door-to-door in the proposed area was completed.

At least 70 percent of the households in the proposed district must sign the petition to proceed, as well as 70 percent of the households on each block in the proposed district.

The resident-driven permit parking program is a way to give residents of a designated area a better chance to park near their homes. However, it will not guarantee anyone a parking space. Its main purpose is to help alleviate non-residents from parking on residential streets.

Mr. Halloway visited the proposed area on Nov. 13, and noted the license plate numbers of all cars parked on the street.

Once he receives registration information back from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles on where the owners live, he will determine how many cars belong to residents in the proposed extension, and how many belong to commuters.

If 15 percent or more of parked vehicles are commuters parked two or more hours, it signifies a parking problem.

If that is the situation, Mr. Holloway will go before the City Planning Commission, followed by City Council, and then the mayor for final approval for the extension.

Under the program, individuals who own cars with permits are permitted to park anywhere in the program area all day and night except for local restrictions like street cleaning.  A permit costs $20 per program year per vehicle.

A visitor’s pass is $1 per program year per household and is for a visitor within the program area.

Each household receives a maximum of one visitor’s pass. Those without a permit may park for only a limited amount of time, which may be no longer than a two-hour period as determined by residents.

Residents within the area choose the enforcement hours and days. Enforcement is by the Public Parking Authority of Pittsburgh using hand-held computers.

There is no parking enforcement on holidays.

To a question of whether businesses can get parking permits, Mr. Holloway said the program focuses on residential needs. But businesses are allowed one permit and one visitors pass.

He is looking at best practices in other cities. But to allow employees to get permits “defeats the system,” he said.

Instead, there are multiple parking facilities in the South Side, with leases available through the Parking Authority. There are also four public garages.

Mr. Holloway said the city is not required to provide parking, and the employee or business should make parking arrangements.

But a consultant may be hired to address future South Side transportation issues, he said.

In the other presentation, city Councilman Bruce Kraus discussed the new “social host ordinance” which will become law in the city in 10 days.

Its purpose is to reduce underage possession and consumption of alcohol by imposing penalties on those who host parties which include underage drinkers. Any such host will be subject to a fine not to exceed $500 and, in the event of nonpayment, imprisonment not exceeding 72 hours.

On a related topic, Mr. Kraus also held up a handout from Duquesne University entitled, “Making Good Neighbors: Duquesne University and the South Side.”

“This is a good step forward,” he said.

At last month’s Planning Forum meeting, Mary Ellen Solomon, the university’s new director of government relations, said Duquesne has a student code of conduct, and students are reminded about respecting South Side residents and property.

For issues with students, residents should contact Tim Lewis, director of commuter affairs, at 412-396-6660 or lewis@duq.edu.

In the report of the Development Review Committee (DRC), Peter Kreuthmeier reported on Garage #5 at South Side Works, and on Miller’s Pittsburgh Ale House.

Regarding the ale house, he said it is not going forward as there was an ownership change, and the project was $1 million over budget.

With Garage #5, the building will have 18-feet-high retail space on the first floor, with five decks of parking above. Its three basic components will be: main parking/retail structure; elevator toward near eastern end, with a storefront window system for safety; and to east of elevator tower and wrapping southeast corner of structure -- a perforated metal panel with a huge number 5.

The project is most likely going to a City Planning briefing on Nov. 26, with final approval scheduled for Dec. 10.

In her city news update, Candice Gonzalez, neighborhood initiatives coordinator in the Mayor’s Office, said Mayor Ravenstahl’s proposed $480 million budget is balanced, contains no new tax increases or layoffs, and advances the city’s commitment to investing in neighborhoods and infrastructure.

The budget has been approved by the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (ICA) of the city, and Act 47.

City council has until Dec. 31 to pass the budget or make modifications.

Next, Adam DeSimone of the South Side Bar and Restaurant Association (SSB&RA), reiterated last month’s wish to see the organization have a seat at the Planning Forum table.

Forum Chair Hugh Brannan said he shared recommended admissions criteria from the neighborhood plan for community-based organizations (CBO) with Mr. DeSimone. They include: the CBO should be multi-issue in focus rather than a single issue, advocacy organization; and the organization must be in active operation for more than one year and be able to document a positive track record of constructive neighborhood engagement.

Mr. Brannan said he expects a formal request from the SSB&RA.

In announcements, he said the Brashear Association is collecting applications from needy families for food vouchers for November. In December, it will do the same, with vouchers and toys distributed.

The Brashear Association’s annual Holiday Open House will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 12 at the Brashear Center, 2005 Sarah St.

Attendees are asked to bring new toy or gifts. There is a high need for toys for older children ages 10 to 12.

Christine Gaus of the Brashear Association said she is confident the U.S. Marines will provide toys through Toys for Tots for distribution again this year.

Last year, 700 children from the South neighborhoods received toys.

“There is not a toy that doesn’t find a home,” she said.

At meeting’s end, Mr. Kreuthmeier said Mr. Kraus organized a meeting between the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA) and the city’s Public Works Dept. regarding demolition of most of the Monastery St. steps.

SSSNA members were quoted in local newspapers as saying they were outraged and blindsided by the demolition, especially in light of the organization’s support of city steps.

“It’s in flux, but it looks like we’re moving in an agreeable fashion,” Mr. Kreuthmeier said of the meeting’s outcome.

The next forum meeting will be on Dec. 10.

 

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