Who is benefits from leasing or selling the parking garages?
|January 27, 2009||Posted by insider under Community Development, Pittsburgh, Sustainable Development, Transportation, Urban Planning|
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.