South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

A community meeting to discuss a potential residential parking permit program in the Armstrong Field area of the South Side Flats drew about 50 people to the Brashear Center on Feb. 8.


February 14, 2012

A community meeting to discuss a potential residential parking permit program in the Armstrong Field area of the South Side Flats drew about 50 people to the Brashear Center on Feb. 8.

The meeting was conducted by Pittsburgh City Planning's new neighborhood planner, Ashley Holloway. A colleague, Richard Meritzer, who started the program 28 years ago, was in attendance, as was city Councilman Bruce Kraus.

Permit parking is a way to give residents of a designated area a better chance to park near their homes. However, this will not guarantee anyone a parking space.

Its main purpose is to help alleviate non-residents from parking on residential streets.

"The parking space in front of your home does not belong to you. Everyone has a right to park there.

"If you get a handicap sticker in front of your home, anyone with a handicap sticker may park there," he said.

The proposed streets for inclusion are: S. 10th St. through S. 16th St .; and Breed, Sarah, Bradish, Freyburg, Roland, and Mary Ann streets.

Not all the streets may be included; it depends on the petition signatures of those who reside on the streets.

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.

Mr. Mertizer said it is the lowest cost in the U.S. for such a permit. What pays for enforcement, he said, is the tickets for those who are parked without permits.

When three or more people living in a residence have three different last names, only three can get permits.

A visitor's pass costs $1 per program year per household, and is for a visitor within the program area. It may not be used for more than three consecutive weekdays on the same vehicle.

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. The hours range can from 7 a.m. to midnight, with residents choosing as many hours in that range as they like.

Enforcement is by the Public Parking Authority of Pittsburgh using hand-held computers. There is no parking enforcement on holidays.

Mr. Holloway said it is up to area residents, and not him, whether the program is instituted in the area.

The next step is a 90-day petition drive in which residents go door-to-door in any street in the proposed area asking if they support or oppose a parking permit program.

Whoever resides in the home must sign, not simply the owner. Proof of residency must be shown.

If there are four residents in a house, and one signs in support, that becomes a "yes" for the household.

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

During the petition drive, a block includes both sides of a street. Mr. Holloway then verifies the votes.

Letters are sent to all who signed stating they did indeed sign the petition. City Planning asks to be notified if they did not sign the petition.

Recertification of the program is done every four years. If after a year the residents decide they don't like it, they can re-petition and have the area removed.

A resident said she owns a duplex and rents upstairs. Is that considered two households?

Mr. Holloway said yes.

To a question of what happens if a resident has many people coming to their house for a party, the answer is to call the enforcement office in advance of a special event.

A woman said she owns a day business in the area with three employees and clients. Mr. Holloway said "we are open to that."

"There is no perfect solution, but it's something," he said of the program.

Mr. Kraus said when he first took office, the number one complaint he got was about the bars. Now, it is parking.

He is a resident in a permit parking area in South Side.

"I think it's been successful," he said.

He especially likes the support it gives seniors in that it frees up daytime parking.

"This is not going to solve all your problems, but it will help," he said.

Mr. Kraus said the city is in negotiations with the PAT and UPMC lots to set up shuttle service to help with the South Side alcohol saturation problem. The city has a commitment from the district attorney's office to help.

Part of the district attorney's plan, he said, is to look at the one-way streets and maybe change them to force traffic off the residential streets and onto the main streets.

He is also in favor of using the old Zone 3 police station as a night court. The city needs approval of the county court system for that to occur.

The meeting ended with a request for residents interested in taking petitions around the neighborhood to sign up in the back of the room.


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