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Expanse of cars, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from JohnathanLobel’s photostream

The Lower Hill District is set to undergo a radical transformation over the next decade. The proposed development of the 28-acre former Civic Arena site is just one part of that transformation. If done in the best interest of the community, this could spur new development throughout the Hill District. Regardless of the changes, over the next decade we know a lot of people are going to be parking their cars in the Hill District. The temporary parking lots at the former arena site and those provided to patrons of the Consol Energy Center represent thousands of cars and thousands of dollars in revenue. The vast majority of this revenue goes to the Pittsburgh Penguins who operate the parking lots. The Hill Consensus Group, recognizing that this parking is not going away and that it is a significant source of revenue for the Penguins, believes the residents and business owners in the Hill should share in that prosperity. They have proposed a plan called A Dollar A Car that would direct some of that revenue to address the real needs of the community. I endorse this plan and, as Mayor, I will work with the Hill Consensus Group and other stakeholders to ensure it’s effectively implemented.

1. A Parking Benefit District for the Hill

Parking Benefit Districts have been used across the country to allow residents and business owners to share in the revenue generated from people parking in their neighborhoods to shop, attend events, or go to work. It works a little bit like a Business Improvement District. However, instead of assessing a fee on business owners to help supplement city services, you place a fee on people parking their cars and divert that money into a fund for use by the community.  I will work with the Hill Consensus Group and neighborhood stakeholders to develop a Parking Benefit District for the Hill that will make the Dollar A Car campaign a reality.

We can earmark the money generated from the Parking Benefit District for specific initiatives based on the needs and wants of Hill District residents and business owners. I envision creating several separate funds dedicated to fulfilling this goal. For example, one fund could assist residents with home renovations and repairs, saving some of the Hill’s historic homes and providing help to struggling families. Another could be dedicated to improving public transit in the neighborhood. We could even use one of these funds to provide small business loans through the Office of Small Business services for entrepreneurs who dream of opening a business in their neighborhood.

The Dollar A Car Parking Benefit District is a fair, legal way to make sure that Hill residents and businesses share in the prosperity of redevelopment efforts. Let’s make it happen.