Thursday, September 11, 2008

Car Towing

For those of you waiting in suspense to find out what happened to my car, here the issues:

Yes. My car was towed. Not only did I have to pay the tow pound $100+, I had to pay the city police just about as much. You see I was towed, but I was also cited! Not the good kind of citation, as in publish or perish, but rather the bad kind. So why was I towed? Well the answer to that question was sort of a mystery to me. The technical reason was known: variance posted. But what does that mean?

Well on Tuesday, I tried to find out. First I called the Pittsburgh Parking Authority. Mistake. As it turns out, two both the Pittsburgh Police and the Pittsburgh Parking Authority have the power to issue parking tickets in this city. If you call one, asking about problems for the other, they will yell at you. How can you tell? Just remember this helpful little rhyme: "Ticket is Pink? PPA's the link! Ticket is Yellow? Tell a policeman, fellow!"

So I called the Municipal Parking Court. Not only did they have no idea which variance was posted, they didn't know who I should call. They told me to call 311, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's Response Line. That was better. They told me to call the Zone 4 Pittsburgh Police Non-Emergency line. There, a slightly angry man told me that there was a parking variance for three spots on Howe street so that someone could move. In other words, they had the exclusive right to park in those spaces that day. Okay, I can deal with that. (And indeed I did; I ended up paying the fine.)

But I did want to know how many days in advance they were obligated to post the sign! I saw nothing on Monday night, and I was towed on Thursday. Turns out, the Pittsburgh City Code says nothing about the concept of parking variances. Neither does any other official Pittsburgh city web site. Boo this man! If anyone can find out the real skinny, please, let me know!


  1. Wow! This is profoundly ridiculous!

    If you'd like to start a letter-writing or fire-bombing campaign, I am always available.

  2. Yes! Outrageous is what it is! But at this point, having paid lots of money, I am trying to put the entire thing out of my mind...