Our permit parking system for residential neighborhoods was developed in the 1980s and is long overdue for an overhaul. As more large institutions and job centers move into areas bordering residential neighborhoods residential parking pressures have increased and longtime residents are fighting for neighborhood parking with commuters. We want to make the city viable for increased economic development and job growth. We also need to find better ways to preserve parking for long-time neighborhood residents. If we’re going to fix this issue, we need 21st century solutions. The one-size fits all residential permit parking system currently being employed is not working for everyone. Neighborhoods throughout the city have different needs, and a cookie-cutter RPP program does everyone a disservice.
In 2004, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed the Transit Revitalization Investment District (TRID) law. This law allows municipalities and redevelopment authorities to create TRID Districts so new revenue can be utilized to expand and create new public transit opportunities. Stakeholders in East Liberty are working on implementing the city’s first TRID District in conjunction with new developments in the area. The TRID will allow a portion of the new property taxes created through redevelopment efforts to be dedicated to improvements in public transit, pedestrian, and bicycle infrastructure in the surrounding area. Our hope is that this TRID District becomes a model that can be used in other neighborhoods. But creating TRID may not be enough. To supplement the district and ensure that the development within it is in line with the goals of expanding and creating transit opportunities, I will work with our City Planning Department to create the city’s first Transit Oriented Development zoning overlay.
Pittsburgh has a success story to tell. We have turned around a total collapse of our economy and reemerged as a leading city in medicine, education, technology, and the arts. And the media has taken notice. Pittsburgh has been named the “Most Livable City” numerous times, been featured in national newspapers including the New York Times and Washington Post. Recently, I was even interviewed by the Canadian Broadcasting Company about the community efforts to restore East Liberty. The one thing missing from this success story is a Mayor and a city government that engages with other cities around the world on economic development, policy issues, and arts and culture. It’s great to have positive media promoting our city, but we need to think bigger and begin engaging with cities across the United States and beyond.
A world-class city deserves world-class transportation. A major deficit in our current transportation system involves our taxicab industry. Across this city, I hear from residents, visitors, and business owners that they want more transportation options. Taxicabs are definitely a part of that puzzle. With a more robust taxicab system, we can get more cars off the roads, freeing up parking spaces and reducing the impact of the nighttime economy on our residential communities. But anyone who has sought out a taxicab in Pittsburgh, especially in the evening, knows how difficult it can be. We should change that and make sure that we are providing enough taxicabs to give people an additional transportation option.
Traffic calming is a critical part of a complete streets approach to designing our streets, sidewalks, and bike lanes. Traffic calming can take a variety of forms and can be implemented on residential neighborhoods streets as well as in our busiest corridors around the city. The key is to take an approach that keeps everyone safe – from drivers, to pedestrians, to bicyclists – while keeping traffic flowing. Pittsburgh is an old city and many of our major thoroughfares were designed before modern traffic calming measures became commonplace, so we have some catch-up work to do to make sure that our streets are safe for everyone. The recent upticks in traffic incidents involving cyclists and pedestrians clearly mark the need for a more aggressive approach and we have the know-how and the partnerships to make it happen.
We have dozens of community organizations across the city, from block watches to concerned citizens councils to full-time community development corporations. And though every neighborhood is unique, we face many common challenges. We need to collaborate and build off of each other’s success if all 90 neighborhoods are to truly equal America’s most livable city. We have much to learn from each other. Talking can often lead to new partnerships, new initiatives, and new solutions to common challenges.
The City of Pittsburgh is the population and economic center of Allegheny County and tens of thousands of Allegheny County residents come to the city every day to work, visit restaurants, and attend events. The city and county are inherently linked in many ways, including in many of the challenges we face. Issues like the water quality of our rivers and streams, the flooding that plagues many of our neighborhoods, the funding of our public transportation system, the assessment of property taxes, and economic development planning require close cooperation and good working partnerships between officials at the city and county levels. As Mayor, I will build on existing relationships and create new ones to strengthen our partnership with the county to the benefit of all residents of Pittsburgh and the region.
Pittsburgh City Councilman Patrick Dowd will endorse his colleague Bill Peduto for Mayor today during a 9:30 a.m. press conference on the portico of the City County Building, stating need for next mayor to be able to work with all levels of government.
“Never before has it been more crucial for city and county government to work shoulder to shoulder on issues such as water and sewer system reinvestment, transportation and economic development,” Dowd states as the foundation for his endorsement.
Encouraging pedestrians to get out and walk their neighborhoods is one of the best ways to increase public health, keep eyes on our streets, and keep our neighborhood business districts vibrant. However, most of our way-finding and place-making infrastructure is geared toward drivers, is outdated, and was created in a top-down manner without much input from residents and community groups. We should gear our way-finding tools to appeal to and support pedestrians and cyclists as well as drivers. These tools should help find innovative ways to get residents and neighborhoods involved to promote local attractions and businesses and to create a stronger, more vibrant, human-scale city.
There is no doubt that parking is a perpetual problem in Pittsburgh. Our Residential Permit Parking system can’t keep up with demand and development, our neighborhood business districts create parking pressure on nearby residential streets, and large institutions with tens of thousands of employees can’t always provide the parking necessary for people who need to drive to work. While there is no silver bullet to solve all of our parking woes, I believe that we can learn from best practices around the country to make our system smarter and decrease pressure on our business districts and residential neighborhoods. We should be able to provide adequate parking for everyone without having to construct more unsightly surface parking lots or invest tens of millions of dollars in hulking parking garages. We can utilize free-market-based pricing technologies to provide the parking spaces needed and incentivize behavioral changes that will benefit everyone.