A Pittsburgh City Councilman is coming out strong against a plan to privatize parking in the City of Pittsburgh.

City Council Finance Chair Bill Peduto warns that skyrocketing parking rates under the mayor’s plan will, in essence, drive companies out of the city and shoppers to the suburbs.

He says that would mark the end of what most call the Pittsburgh Renaissance.

Solving the city’s parking issues are almost as important as resolving the city’s pension crisis, Peduto says, criticizing Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s long-term lease of city garages and meters.

“If this plan happens, if we go with the mayor’s plan, and we jack up these parking rates to the highest in the nation, then there should be a sign outside Pittsburgh that says, ‘Pittsburgh Renaissance: 1946 to 2011,'” he said.

Peduto says the mayor’s proposal, with its skyrocketing parking rates, will kill the Pittsburgh Renaissance as businesses move out of the city and neighborhood business districts fail.

“People who have offices downtown will choose to locate elsewhere and our neighborhood development, our business districts that are the lifeblood of our communities, which make us unique from the suburbs will suffer, possibly to a point where they can’t come back,” he said.

At a taping of the Sunday Business Page with KDKA Money Editor Jon Delano, Peduto displayed a chart, claiming that Pittsburgh’s future parking rates would far outpace comparable cities.

“There is something fundamentally wrong with this,” he said.

Peduto’s concerns echo those of City Controller Michael Lamb who says the mayor’s plan forbids the city from constructing new garages downtown.

“We do have a demand for downtown parking. We need additional parking and under the mayor’s proposal we have a non-compete clause that doesn’t allow us to build new garages,” Lamb said.

While alternative plans are being floated, none seems to have enough votes yet.

“Is the mayor’s plan dead?” Delano asked Peduto.

“I wouldn’t say any plan at this point is dead,” he said.

Now City Council has several ideas on the table. So far, none of the plans have the five votes needed to pass.

Next week, the public will get a chance to sound off. Neighborhood hearings begin on Tuesday and then on Monday, Oct. 11, council will hear from anyone in council chambers at 6 p.m.

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