overnight parking rules may change

On-street parking has been prohibited in Mt. Lebanon between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. for decades because of public safety concerns and public works operational issues. Before everyone became computer savvy, residents with overnight guests or who were temporarily unable to use their driveways or garages called the police department and gave a human being their license plate number and their reason for needing to park overnight on the street.

A few years ago, in an effort to make it easier for people to request overnight parking, the department created another option of allowing residents to request permission online. And that’s when problems started.

With the creation of the online option, the number of requests soon jumped from an average of 60 to 300-plus per night. This became a burden for officers on overnight patrol, who need to check the license plate of each car parked on the street against a printed list of permissions requested each night. Complaints about excessive parking congestion, missed garbage or leaf collection and access difficulties for public safety and public works vehicles also began to multiply.

After numerous residents filed complaints with commissioners and municipal officials, analysis began to determine if changes to the current ordinance were necessary. Through this research, data confirmed that many residents with access to free or reasonably priced parking where they live or who are eligible to purchase overnight permits in convenient municipal lots, garages and zones were abusing the system. Unacceptable reasons for requesting overnight parking, which until now sneaked by the online request system, include things such as, “I have too many cars,” “My SUV is too big for the space in my apartment lot,” or “It’s inconvenient to have to move my wife’s car in the morning.” One person’s reason was, “Because I am an American.”

For several months, the  commission has sought public input and looked at ways of improving the current overnight parking system. As a result, a new ordinance will be proposed at the Tuesday, April 10, commission meeting with a public hearing likely scheduled in May. If passed, the ordinance will mandate a procedure that should ease the burden on police, allowing them to tend to more pressing public safety needs without unduly penalizing residents with valid overnight parking needs.

Under the proposed ordinance, residents could park on the street three times a year per license plate. Overnight parking requests will be taken online, as usual, but new software will advise when a license plate has reached the limit and provide a number the resident can call between 9 and 5, to request additional temporary overnight parking. The municipal manager may approve or deny those requests. Cars with license plates not included on the overnight list will receive parking citations.

Residents with valid reasons for needing additional temporary overnight parking—because of a construction project or for a healthcare provider, for instance—will be encouraged to make their requests as far in advance as possible.

To read the proposed ordinance and related FAQs about overnight parking, go to the homepage at www.mtlebanon.org.

photo: iStock.com/ImagineNationLLC