Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Parking Authority Forgets to Post 'Don't Pay' Message on City Meters

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Parking Authority Forgets to Post 'Don't Pay' Message on City Meters

Article excerpt

There was a parking Grinch in town Saturday.

Because the Pittsburgh Parking Authority forgot to change the city's electronic parking meters, possibly thousands of holiday shoppers paid for parking in the city Saturday even though they didn't have to, authority executive director David Onorato said Saturday.

Pittsburgh City Council passed a parking resolution -- sponsored by councilman Bill Peduto, who is the incoming mayor -- on Nov. 7 that was signed into law Nov. 19 by current Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

The resolution was supposed to make all metered parking free in the city on Nov. 30 in honor of National Small Business Saturday, an initiative that is supposed to get shoppers to patronize local businesses.

A copy of that resolution would have been sent to the parking authority, Mr. Onorato said, and the change to the meters should have been made because of it.

"It's not the city's fault," he said.

There were advertisements and some media coverage of the free parking resolution that might have helped some people know not to pay.

But the parking authority has the ability with the electronic parking kiosks to simply send a message that will post on each on of them informing everyone looking to park to not pay on certain days.

"We probably should have looked at it and updated" the parking meters, Mr. Onorato said. "It was an oversight on our part."

It didn't take a reporter long Saturday waiting near some electronic parking kiosks off Market Square to find people who had paid or were about to pay -- and were upset about it either way.

Colleen Hartbauer, 24, of West View was just about to pay $6 to park for three hours along Forbes Avenue a half block from Market Square when a reporter asked her if she knew parking was supposed to be free.

"No. I'm glad you stopped me," she said, on her way to meet her family and do some holiday shopping. …

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