South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By David Assad
Contributing Writer 

South Side one step from permit parking


November 16, 2004

The city planning commission gave its approval for residential permit parking in a seven-street area surrounding the Zone 3 police station in the South Side Flats at its Nov. 9 meeting on Ross Street, Downtown.

Richard Meritzer, a supervisor in the city planning department who administers the city parking permit program, was given the green light by the commission to proceed with plans for residential permit parking in a limited area of the South Side. Pittsburgh city council must also approve the permit-parking plan.

The area targeted for the program includes Edwards Way as the southern boundary, 17th Street as the western boundary, 20th Street as the eastern boundary and Jane Street serving as the northern boundary.

Meritzer's recommendation for permit parking in this area was unanimously approved through a motion by Jeff Letwin, a planning commission member. However, Letwin added an amendment to the original permit plan introduced by Meritzer, based on a request by South Side resident Bruce Kraus.

Kraus led a petition drive among residents 10 to 12 months ago, asking for permit parking between 7 a.m. through 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday with a 1-hour time limit for vehicles without a permit-sticker in the back window of their vehicle. The permit-sticker in other areas of the city, including Shadyside, Lawrenceville and Oakland, costs $20 per year although there is speculation the annual fee may increase next year.

Kraus, who lives across the street from the Zone 3 station, asked the planning commission to allow vehicles without a permit-sticker to have a two-hour grace period for parking in the proposed area. Kraus also asked that no parking restrictions be in effect on Saturdays.

Kraus, also a board member of the South Side Chamber of Commerce, believes this suggestion avoids penalizing people who shop and dine in the South Side. The primary reason for the permit-parking request is to eliminate commuters from parking all day in the neighborhood. The residents want commuters who work in the South Side or Downtown to stop parking in their neighborhood for eight to 10 hours per day.

The residents living near the Zone 3 building asked for permit parking because the patrol staff at the police station expanded after Zone 4 was shut down for budgetary reasons last year.

At the planning commission's Oct. 27 hearing to review this topic, several South Side residents living beyond the proposed parking area expressed concern with the permit program. They said they are worried commuters eliminated from parking in the designated permit area, will park on nearby streets not affected by the program. None of the South Side residents from outside the designated area spoke at last week's continued hearing.

Several South Side residents at last month's meeting also asked why the 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. limitation each day could not be expanded to 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. to restrict the “bar crowd” from parking in the neighborhood. The planning commission believes extending the restriction beyond 7 p.m. would not be fair to the residents since the Pittsburgh Parking Authority does not have the staff for ticketing cars without permits beyond 7 p.m.

The only resident at last week's session expressing concern about the permit-parking program was Michael Sally who lives on the 1800 block of Mary Street. Sally wants the permit-parking restrictions to apply to Saturday. He also wants the limit on non-permit vehicles to be limited to one hour.

“I don't think this goes far enough, but it is better than nothing. At least some progress has been made,” Sally said after the planning commission hearing. “I'm not sure how I feel about this. We'll have to see how it works.”

Residential permit parking in other parts of the South Side will likely occur in the next four to five years, according to Meritzer.

He is expected to speak at the South Side Community Council meeting about this topic November 22 at the Brashear Center starting at 7 p.m.

Steps needed for permit parking on Page 6.


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