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Who is benefits from leasing or selling the parking garages?

favorite parking space
Image by UtopianLibrary via Flickr

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl‘s idea to lease the city’s parking garages (more here) has generated quite a bit of buzz in Pittsburgh and beyond.  The article from the PG was also picked up by Harvard’s Kennedy School here and on the blogs Milwaukee Talkie and Planetizen.

This idea has also been covered by some local bloggers:

  • Cognitive Dissonance – Ed notes that this idea never took off in Harrisburg
  • The Huddler – thinks this is a good ideas and that pensions in PA are out of control
  • The Pittsburgh Comet – Is leasing the garages an idea that sounds too good to be true?
  • Matt H – is worried about the parking prices going up
  • Pittsburgh is a City – asks if parking rates make a difference, and if this plan makes sense during a recession.
  • The Allegheny Institute – thinks that Ravenstahl is really thinking oursite the box with this idea.
  • The Angry Drunk Bureaucrat – is not sure if this is a good idea or not and maybe having less expensive parking is a good thing.

Yesterday, Councilman Patrick Dowd addressed this issue – expressing concern that no one from City Council sits on the Parking Authority board. (PG article here).

What no one is mentioning…

Many of these articles about leasing the parking garages have quotes from Merril Stabile, who owns Alcoa Parking.

That’s doubtful, said parking magnate Merrill Stabile, owner of Alco Parking Corp., Pittsburgh’s largest private parking operator.

“No private entity that comes in to run these things is going to raise the rates to a point that it chokes out business,” he said.

Anyone who knows local politics knows that Mr. Stabile is a frequent donor to local politicians.  In 2007 he gave $10,000 to Ravenstahl’s campaign (PG  article here.  See this PG article which notes that Stabile benefits from parking tax cuts.

Merrill Stabile, whose Alco Parking manages some city garages and benefits from parking tax cuts.

So this is a win win for Ravenstahl, Luke gets to claim he is addressing the pension issue while working on a project that might likely benefit one of his campaign contributors.  Even if Stabile isn’t the one who leases the garages – he would probably prefer to compete with another business than a public authority who is willing to not put profit first.

Would leasing the parking garages put David Onorato out of a job?

The other issue… Cost of Parking vs. Cost of Downtown Revitalization

We have spent and are spending tons of money trying to get people to live and work downtown.  Like some of the other bloggers, I would like to see more people drive less and take public transit.  The fact of the matter is that Downtown Pittsburgh is competing with all of the other developments in the county and almost everywhere else has free parking.  It is a waste of money to spend money promote downtown as a destination and to ignore the parking factor.  Pittsburgh needs to stop spending money in a vacuum.  All of these things are connected and it would be nice if some of our elected officials would talk about how each of these things impacts the other.

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  • Gloria

    Has Mr. Stabile contributed to any of David Onorato’s brother’s campaigns? In particular his gubernatorial campaign?

  • DonorFinder

    From the Commonwealth of PA Campaign Finance Reporting Website
    In 2008 Merril Stabile gave
    Jane Orie – $1000
    Kerry L. Gern – $1000
    John Boyle – $200
    John Pippy – $500
    Don Walko – $1500
    Joseph Scarnati – $1000
    John Perzel – $500
    Wayne Fontana – $500
    Mike Turzai – $500
    Frank Dermody – $2000
    Dave Levdansky – $1500
    Jack Wagner – $2500
    Mark Mustio – $500
    Dan Deasy – $650
    Keystone Leader’s PAc – $500
    Ed Rendell – $500
    John Pallone – $500
    Kim Ward – $1000
    Keith McCall – $1000
    Bill DeWeese – $500

  • Laura

    You are spot on regarding free parking.

  • kpos101

    the democrats in allegheny county will be the only ones thats will profit from this . let’s face it, the democrats in pa. are probably some of the most corrupt in the country and ravenstahl is lining his pockets with as much bribe and payoff money as he can. of course onorto isnt too far behind