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Permit parking works in Pittsburgh's North Point Breeze

| Friday, April 19, 2013, 12:12 a.m.
Tony LaRussa | Tribune-Review
The new residential permit parking zone along parts of eight streets in the city's North Point Breeze neighborhood has helped make more on-street parking available for residents by limiting the hours people from outside the neighborhood can park their vehicles.

In the week since James Brown moved back to Pittsburgh from Fayetteville, N.C., he discovered how hard it is to park near his North Point Breeze apartment.

“We usually pull up to the intersection and do a quick scan, but there's rarely an open spot,” said Brown, 47, as he surveyed the 6700 block of McPherson Boulevard, where vehicles lined both sides of the street at mid-morning.

“I think it would be fantastic if we had a way to park closer to our place,” he said.

Around the corner on a section of Thomas Boulevard that is designated as permit-parking area, there were plenty of open spaces.

Residents along parts of eight blocks in North Point Breeze petitioned the city to designate the on-street parking restrictions. There are 30 other permit areas in the city.

In addition to part of Thomas, crews recently installed permit-parking signs along sections of North Linden, Fifth and Penn avenues; June Way; Conover Road; and Hastings and Elysian streets.

“I think it's worked pretty well so far, but time will tell,” said Kathryn Romey, a homeowner on Thomas Boulevard for 47 years who helped petition the city for permit parking. “Before the signs went up, it was pretty bad. You almost never found a place to park near your house.”

Romey, who is in her early 70s, suspects suburban commuters were using many of the spots to save money.

“One of our neighbors moved to the North Hills a few years ago,” Romey said. “But he would drive back here in the morning, park his car and take the bus to work. I think there's a lot of people doing that.”

Permits cost $20 a year for each vehicle and $1 for a visitor's pass, according to city planner Ashley Holloway, who oversees establishment of the zones. He said 70 percent of households on a block must agree to the designation.

Jeff Wetzel, a board member of Point Breeze North Development Corp., said although some commuters might park in North Point Breeze and ride public transportation, most residents complained about college students who park in the neighborhood.

The permit-parking area is across Fifth Avenue from Chatham University's Chatham Eastside building, which opened for the 2009-10 academic year.

“The university charges students a fee to park in their lot, so a number of them were parking in the neighborhood and walking to school,” he said. “That compounded the fact that parking was already at a premium because so many of the large houses in the neighborhood have been converted into multi-unit apartments.”

Pittsburgh Parking Authority officers enforce permit areas, issuing $45 tickets to motorists who park beyond the grace period posted on signs, said authority Director David Onorato.

Eleanor Covert, whose Linden Avenue home lies in the permit area, noticed dramatic change.

“This is incredible,” Covert, 37, said of the few cars parked along her block. “Before, this street would be completely packed all day long.”

Tony LaRussa is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7987 or tlarussa@tribweb.com.

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