Night Shift


f you’ve lived here for any length of time, chances are you have encountered a situation where you simply have more cars than you have space for them.

Mt. Lebanon prohibits overnight parking between the hours of 2 and 6 a.m.  Several other communities in the area, including Upper St. Clair, Bethel Park and Green Tree, also have overnight parking bans.

Mt. Lebanon’s restriction aids in public safety and public works efforts, allowing faster response for emergency vehicles, giving patrol officers a better chance at spotting criminal activity and making it easier to clear snow and ice from the roads.

It also prevents storage of cars on the street, a problem towns face when they allow 24-hour parking.

Residents with special circumstances—out-of-town guests or work being done on their homes—can seek permission from the police department to waive the restriction temporarily. Also, overnight parking restrictions are lifted when a street is under construction. However, residents who do receive permission to park overnight must remove their vehicles from the street during snow accumulations of more than one inch.

In the past, requests for overnight parking were done by phone, and the department granted the requests on a case-by-case basis. Several years ago, Mt. Lebanon automated the request system, allowing residents to apply online. Following that change, requests spiked from 60 to about 300 per night.

The surge in overnight parking exacerbated the safety and public works concerns. Patrol officers who are charged with the task of verifying on-street parking approvals are now wading through a long list of approved requests, checking each street-parked car’s license plate to make sure it’s on the list.

“As our officers get tied up with other calls, the first thing that doesn’t happen is overnight parking enforcement,” said Police Chief Aaron Lauth.

Residents complained that the increase in overnight parking was creating congestion that affected early-morning trash pickup.

Mt. Lebanon Commissioners began discussing the issue in 2017. At a 2018 public hearing, several residents spoke against any kind of ordinance restricting overnight parking, citing too-small driveways and congested areas as reasons for the need to park on the street. Others were in favor of overnight parking regulation. After the hearing, the commission decided to defer making a decision in view of a new majority of commissioners who came aboard in 2020.

A review of the overnight parking permission process, going back several years, shows that about a third of all requests come from 10 streets in the municipality. Rather than taking advantage of the off-street options available to them, residents are making requests on a nightly basis to park their cars on the street.

“The majority of this is caused by people who have parking available to them, but choose not to use it,” said Commissioner Craig Grella.

Each evening, police officers must compare license plates to a long list of approved overnight parking requests. The addition of license plate recognition software to some patrol cars could automate that task.


Residents can purchase overnight parking passes in parking garages and surface parking lots for $38 to $40 per month.


to apply for a parking permit, go to
and click Parking Permit

Some individuals make hundreds of requests per year, Grella said. In addition to overnight guests and construction, reasons residents have been using include “acorns that put dents in my car” and one request that was simply “made-up reason #149.”

“We need to improve the overnight parking request process,” said Grella. “We need to be reasonable with people who have legitimate parking problems that are not going to be solved with a restriction and an ordinance.”

The Commission discussed the issue at meetings in September and November, and is expected to pass a retooled ordinance early this year. One suggestion is to limit the number of times a resident can receive approvals to 20 per license plate. “That would cover the majority of people who have real issues,” Grella said.

Another possibility is the creation of overnight parking zones for residents who live more than a quarter of a mile from available overnight parking. Residents who live in the zones would be able to buy parking permits.

In addition to modifying the ordinance, Mt. Lebanon is also looking at ways to streamline enforcement. The municipality is set to equip police and parking enforcement vehicles with automated license plate recognition (ALPR) cameras, which would automatically scan the plates to determine whether a vehicle is parked legally. The change would eventually move the responsibility for overnight parking enforcement from patrol officers to parking enforcement personnel.

ALPRs can read 95 to 98 percent of all plates they encounter, in any kind of weather. The reader ties into the parking software system to confirm parking status and length of paid parking time remaining on the vehicle.

The police department was primed to purchase the cameras in March of 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic put that purchase and several others on hold. Originally intended just for parking enforcement, the department looked at extending the use of ALPRs to patrol cars.

“With the real-time things we need to do, looking for wanted people, stolen license plates, Amber Alerts, the amount of retrievable data LPR contains is of high value,” said Deputy Police Chief Jason Haberman.

The department already has several stationary ALPRs installed in high-volume intersections and other spots around town, and they have been instrumental in aiding investigations. The addition of mobile ALPRs will increase their effectiveness by allowing camera-equipped cars to tie into the stationary camera feed.

“We needed a platform with a bunch of data that our investigators could go out and look at without having to dig through multiple systems,” said Haberman. “The mobile LPR would allow us to fill that gap.

“The LPR is a force multiplier,” said Lauth. “If you have a system in place that will alert the officer if there is a need for enforcement, you have an officer who is more engaged in driving around, interacting with the community, as opposed to looking for overnight parking violations, and they can concentrate more on the community-based activities they’re doing and less on data gathering.”

Photos By Ken Lager