Don’t Park Here, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from planetschwa’s photostream

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.

1. Using Dynamic Pricing to Manage On-Street Assets

We know that many of our neighborhoods offer shops, entertainment venues, and restaurants that are one-of-a-kind. In commercial corridors like Downtown, Oakland, and East Liberty, I will examine our on-street parking policies to look for opportunities to innovate. One encouraging idea is dynamic pricing. Working with the Parking Authority and partners such as community development corporations and chambers of commerce, we can adjust parking rates based on demand to increase customer turnover to local businesses and improve traffic flow. Cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, and New York are integrating dynamic pricing elements in their parking systems. I am currently working with students and professors at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business to study the technology’s viability in a section of Oakland.

2. Creating Parking Ecosystems

There are many stakeholders in the parking conversation. I will investigate opportunities for dynamic pricing that look at all of the parking assets: garages, lots, and street parking. Bringing all parties together will help us design solutions to our systemic parking issues in the neighborhoods. We can create programs that incentivize the use of parking garages for those staying for longer periods of time, freeing up street meters for short-term visitors.

3. Reduce the Need for Parking

Parking is just one piece of the larger transportation picture in Pittsburgh and the surrounding communities. A robust transportation infrastructure, including River-to-River Rail, Public Ferries and a Circulator System will make sure that visitors, shoppers, and commuters can get to our neighborhoods without overburdening our residential neighborhoods.