By Brittney Jackson | The Duquesne Duke
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto issued an executive order last week to revoke unrestricted parking passes given to city officials during previous administrations.
Pittsburgh budget analyst Mike Sterelic said the parking passes allow city officials to park at meters without paying.
City officials have designated employee parking areas in Pittsburgh, according to City Council president Bruce Kraus. The unrestricted parking passes gave nearly 300 employees access to free street parking. Employees could use their passes to park closer to the buildings they worked in, limiting spaces for Pittsburgh residents and small business owners.
Sterelic said the passes are issued by the Pittsburgh Parking Authority, and that nearly every government department had employees with unrestricted passes. The money from parking meters goes to the Pittsburgh Parking Authority to support its operations, albeit 5 percent of revenue which goes to the city.
Kraus said the Pittsburgh government understands the dilemma of the superfluous number of parking passes, which could have cost the city as much as $1 million in revenue.
According to Kraus, Peduto assigned chief operations officer Guy Costa to investigate the issue and determine who needs the parking passes. Kraus said the general criteria will be that only city employees who travel 24 hours per day for their job will receive unrestricted parking passes.
Kraus said parking passes are distributed annually on the first of the year, but that no final decisions have been made about who will and will not receive them.
“The number of employees who receive these unrestricted parking passes has exploded in the last several years and it’s past time to reign it in,” Peduto said in the order. “There are city employees who do need them, but the vast majority of those who have them now got them as favors or gifts. That is a waste of public dollars.”
Mary McKinney, director of Duquesne’s Small Business Development Center, said she was pleased to hear about Peduto’s executive order. McKinney said parking has been a problem for small businesses Downtown and fears that limited spaces and parking fees drive away clients toward shopping areas like the Waterfront, where parking is abundant and costless.
McKinney said that between the cost and high chance of not finding a parking space, many people generally avoid Downtown. She also said she hopes Peduto’s executive order will be an incentive to attract more customers to small businesses in the city.
“I think parking is a problem for Downtown Pittsburgh,” McKinney said. “It’s expensive and there’s not enough space. It’s a barrier.”