Parking concerns expressed to police at Arlington Civic meeting
The quarterly meeting of the Arlington Civic Council (ACC) had a public safety focus with Zone 3 Commander Karen Dixon, motorcycle officer Dale Ruble and officer Christine Luffey. In addition, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and State Representative Harry Readshaw also made brief remarks.
ACC president Debra Neumeyer-Morgan immediately opened the floor to questions for the police officers with Officer Ruble up first.
A Spring Street area resident complained about cars with two and four wheels parked on the sidewalk, recently forcing a young mother and her baby in a stroller into the street to get around. The same cars are parked on the sidewalk every day, she added.
“When you see things like this, call 9-1-1,” Officer Ruble replied. “We can come up and cite them, tow them, whatever has to be done.”
He acknowledged in some of the city’s narrow streets cars sometimes have to park on the sidewalk, but it was “ridiculous” to be completely blocking the sidewalk.
Another complaint voiced by the audience was cars parked beneath Stop Signs at corners, making it difficult for other cars to make the turn from the cross street. Officer Ruble said he didn’t want to overwhelm Zone 3, but to call 9-1-1 for the offences. If he was in the area, he would answer the call.
Another resident complained she has seen police cars pass by parking violations without stopping.
Commander Dixon explained, if the car was going to a call the officers wouldn’t stop for the parking violation.
“I think everyone over here thinks ‘this is how we’re going to park’ and they don’t realize people are frustrated and you want this addressed because it is a safety issue. This area, when it was built, cars weren’t in play. Now you have houses that you see single-family homes that have three or four apartments and each one comes with one or two cars,” she said.
“I got quite an education when I got here on how parking works.”
Officer Ruble said generally if he gets a parking complaint, he will “run the plate” and try to talk to the owner and tell them they can’t park that way.
“If I have to cite them, I will cite them, but I try to give them the benefit of the doubt. As you know, parking inside the city is horrendous,” he added.
The commander said they have neighborhoods come to them with surveys about what they want addressed, but “the 9-1-1 call is better.”
There were also resident concerns about drivers not stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks, particularly on Arlington Avenue. They also reported cars were passing buses and coming close to hitting people crossing the street.
The motorcycle officer said people have to actually be within the crosswalk not on the sidewalk for cars to be required to stop. When people are passing the buses, he said they’re not thinking someone may be crossing the street at the same time.
Ms. Morgan asked how they can get Crosswalk and Yield to Pedestrians signs. The commander said to request them through a 3-1-1 call or through their councilman.
Neil Manganaro, chief of staff for City Council President Bruce Kraus, said if they had specific crosswalks they were interested in having signs placed he would put in a request with the city’s traffic engineer.
On Arlington, the group would like to see signs placed at Fernleaf and Eleanor streets.
Speeding on Arlington Avenue was also a problem according to the residents.
Officer Ruble said since there were lines on the street to measure the speed of cars, they could do more enforcement. He explained that without the lines, it’s nearly impossible for him to charge someone with speeding; he would have to follow the speeder for too long to note the speed. In that time in the city, the driver would notice him and slow down or have to stop for a Stop sign.
“I know they’re speeding, but I can’t enforce it as speeding,” he said.
Commander Dixon was asked if Zone 3 would be getting more officers in the new year. The zone currently has 85 officers and will be getting an additional 10 at the end of January. She tempered the announcement with a comment the zone may also lose some officers to retirement.
She said Zone 3 is consistently the busiest zone in the city with 3,800 to 4,000 calls every month.
The commander said they are trying to get more officers in the zone to do the things “you want us to be doing” instead of just chasing 9-1-1 calls.
In his brief remarks, Rep. Readshaw said there is some confusion after reapportionment about who is living in the 36th Legislative District. He said whether or not people are living in the district he represents, they are welcome to come to his office at 1917 Brownsville Road if it is convenient for them.
County Executive Fitzgerald said “we’re entering into uncharted waters” with regards to Washington and didn’t know how it could affect the county as far as human services dollars and with the Trump Administration.
“I think all of us, our representatives, our senate leaders, congressional delegation, Congressman Doyle, Mayor Peduto, all of us working together, it’s how we’ve been able to do a lot of good things in this region and we continue to do that,” he added.
“We’re bullish on where we are in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County.”