Pittsburgh parking patrols to resume Thursday
A strange desire to use parking spaces has struck Becky Rodgers on the past two days.
“I wanted to go out and park for five minutes in every available spot I could find,” said Rodgers, executive director of the nonprofit business association Neighbors in the Strip.
Parking was not free in the city on Tuesday and Wednesday, but it might as well have been.
The Pittsburgh Parking Authority, which has taken heat in recent months for collecting money when it shouldn't have, put a freeze on parking enforcement because of frigid weather. The temperature dipped as low as 8 below zero on Tuesday, and the wind chill was minus-8 at midday Wednesday.
“I don't know how anybody could work outside for six or seven hours and do their jobs in this,” said authority Executive Director David Onorato.
Parking enforcement is expected to resume on city streets on Thursday.
The authority collected about $30,000 on Tuesday anyway, down from the $46,000 it collects from the city's 8,700 metered spaces on an average weekday.
Onorato said the authority did not post notices at meters or on its website about the enforcement moratorium. Downtown garages remained at or near capacity, as usual.
“All I did was suspend enforcement. I didn't create free parking,” he said.
The authority was criticized last year when it failed to post signs or to program meters to alert people that parking was free on Nov. 30, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Council enacted the parking holiday to encourage people to shop and spend money in the city.
The authority is mailing refunds.
Onorato said suspended enforcement was not the only reason for reduced collections. He said he suspects frigid conditions kept people away from Downtown for entertainment, dining and shopping.
Rodgers, who resisted the urge to go on a parking spree, and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership's Geof Comings said they did not hear complaints from business owners who depend on turnover in on-street spaces so customers have spots to park.
“I don't think it was a big issue because demand for spaces was lighter than usual,” Rodgers said.
The authority asked enforcement officers to make up the lost days on the next two Saturdays or use accrued vacation, personal or sick days to forgo work but still get paid, Onorato said.
“We wanted to give them options so they would have an ability to make their paychecks whole,” he said.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 84, which represents the workers, did not return calls.
Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or email@example.com.