Letters to the Editor

IMPROVE THE PARKING

Editor:

I retired from the Air Force on Jan 1, 2003. Just prior to my retirement, we bought our home. We could have chosen to retire anywhere, but had visited Bellevue several times during my active duty years. We were attracted to the community, and liked its proximity to the heart of Pittsburgh. I currently work for the Veterans Administration, and am proud to be able to continue my service to our country. I am a citizen that believes our community is struggling to improve, and is making some small strides. At any rate, here are some of my thoughts concerning parking in Bellevue.

On Tuesday, Sept 14, 2010, I received my first Bellevue street sweeping parking ticket of the year. I took advantage of the reduced fine by paying the ticket within five days of issuance. It’s a wonder that I haven’t had multiple violations this year.

I work at the VA hospital in Oakland as a Diagnostic Radiographer. My shift is 3:30 p.m. through midnight. So, on a street with multiple apartments, duplexes, triplexes, and single family homes, what would you imagine parking availability to be like after midnight? If you guessed “zilch,” you are correct. There are normally no spaces on either block of my street, and nothing on the immediate surrounding streets either. So how have I avoided tickets in the past? This is the process:

I get off work, come home and look for a legal place to park. Normally, there is nothing available within several blocks. So, I park across the street from my house in a spot that will be considered illegal by 8 a.m. At any rate, I’m home. I relax a bit, and fall asleep about 2 a.m. I set my alarm to wake up after approximately five hours rest, get up, and hunt for a parking spot. Would you think it’s pretty easy to get back to sleep after that? If you guessed “no,” you are correct. Imagine doing the same thing once a week for six months each year, over the past five years. Let’s say you normally go to bed at 10 p.m. How are you feeling about getting up at 3 a.m. to re-park your vehicle?

Work… sleep for five hours…hunt for parking. Rough way to start each week.

I suppose there are alternatives.

1) I could cruise Bellevue and hope to find a spot. I could walk home from wherever I parked (now there’s an adventure -- walking Bellevue’s streets, alone, after midnight).

2) I could just leave the vehicle parked illegally, and live with the potential $260 annual parking fine.

But it’s the law. I know. If I park illegally I will be ticketed. It’s the law. It should be honored. The matter of “where not to park” is clear. The matter of “where to park” – not so clear, and, my fellow citizens, where to park is not the borough’s problem.

This law does not work well for me, but probably serves the majority of our citizens well. Nonetheless, I know that many of my friends and neighbors struggle with street sweeping parking. I believe there might be some ways to better manage our residential parking. I understand that the apartments in Bellevue are required to provide off-street parking. Could the residents of those dwellings be encouraged to use the available off-street parking? After all, private parking is quite a perk.

Could we consider knocking down a few abandoned properties in our community and turn the space into permit parking lots for the immediate neighborhoods? An annual fee for parking could be established. The lot might actually operate at no cost to the community, while enhancing the quality of life. I know that there are hurdles involved in seizing abandoned/condemned properties, but the town of Flint, MI seems to have found a way to make it work. Perhaps we could capitalize on their model.

On the other hand, perhaps my case is so isolated that it doesn’t warrant discussion. Perhaps it is an issue that is impossible to address under our home charter government. Maybe this matter is simply my problem, and of no consequence to the community. Still, I think that if we want to “Improve the Vue,” the quality of our entire community is worthy of consideration.

Jim Anderson
Bellevue