Some Pittsburgh-area shoppers get free parking for holidays
By Matthew Santoni
Published: Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012, 11:38 p.m.
Circling the edges of a mall parking lot repeatedly to find a spot can turn the jolliest elf into a grinch, but officials in Pittsburgh and some of its suburbs hope that parking perks lure holiday shoppers to their stores.
Pittsburgh Parking Authority offers free parking in its garages on Saturdays, and some suburban business districts are lessening parking meter enforcement to encourage shoppers to visit small-town Main Streets.
Starting Nov. 30 in Sewickley, authorities will stop enforcing meters at 1:30 p.m. on weekdays instead of 5 p.m. Free parking on Saturdays and Sundays will continue.
Earlier in the day, shoppers won't have to worry much if they miss feeding the meters, said Jennifer Markus, vice president at Sewickley's Village Green Partners.
“Our parking tickets are cheaper, too. It's only $5 if you get one,” she said.
In Dormont, parking at street meters will be free from Dec. 18 through Jan. 2. Some parking lot meters will be covered so drivers will know they don't have to pay, said borough manager Jeff Naftal.
Oakmont will extend its two-hour parking limit to three hours in a 60-day trial starting next month, said Summer Tissue at the Oakmont Chamber of Commerce.
“We have all the signs ready to go in,” Tissue said. “We're hoping it happens as soon as possible.”
Mt. Lebanon won't offer free parking for the holidays but will give customers one hour of “amnesty” after their meters expire.
“We want the parking meters to turn over in the business districts so that more people can patronize the stores,” said municipal spokeswoman Susan Morgans. “People should definitely not count on getting the extra hour, but it could be a nice surprise.”
On Saturdays through Dec. 22, Pittsburgh Parking Authority will waive fees at its 11 garages in Downtown, Oakland and Shadyside — forfeiting about $125,000 to $150,000 in revenue, said Executive Director David Onorato.
The city's street meters and the authority's metered parking lots will be free this Saturday, which is dubbed Small Business Saturday in an American Express promotion. The lots, however, will operate as usual during the remainder of the holiday season.
Business owners said free parking provides incentive for shoppers to go someplace other than the malls.
“When you think of ‘Small Business Saturdays,' I think Shadyside exemplifies that,” said Richard Rattner, president of Shadyside Chamber of Commerce. “Shadyside 10 years ago had a rap as someplace it was hard and expensive to park, and I don't think that's the case anymore.”
The chamber will vote on Tuesday on whether to sponsor valet parking along Walnut Street, he said.
While Shadyside will offer free parking in its garage on Bellefonte Street, Squirrel Hill shoppers must pay to park on the streets and at one of five metered lots along Murray, Forbes and Phillips avenues.
Joel Sigal, owner of Little's Shoes on Forbes Avenue, hoped City Council would OK more free parking in December for the meters and surface lots.
“In this neighborhood, those are our garages, basically,” Sigal said.
For those who brave the shopping malls, construction at a couple of them may change parking availability.
At South Hills Village in Upper St. Clair and Bethel Park, construction of a Target store in the former Boscov's space has closed a portion of the mall's parking lot. It won't reopen for the holidays, officials said. Shoppers used to park in the Boscov's lot and go in through a nearby mall entrance, but that entrance also is closed for construction.
“I think that will have an impact on parking here,” said shopper Candi Shearer, 56, of Bethel Park. “That lot pretty much fills up during the holidays.”
Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.