It's a big step for the city, with lots of dollars attached. It also could have a profound impact on Pittsburgh's visitors and commuters, not all of it beneficial.
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's plan to privatize city parking garages -- which we've recommended for exploration -- could net $200 million for Pittsburgh's chronically ailing pension fund. That much is a good thing.
But there's a potential downside in how much freedom a long-term leaseholder -- say, 50 years -- might get in raising parking rates and operating the facilities. For one thing, the city of Pittsburgh deserves a quality operator in such a sensitive role, and not an outfit that got there through a friendly political deal.
All of which argues for greater participation in Pittsburgh's request for proposal that is crafted -- including input from City Council.
Councilman Patrick Dowd has introduced a plan to give the nine-member council 60 days to review and approve a request for proposals to lease parking facilities if the proceeds benefit the city. Up until now the subject has received attention from the Ravenstahl administration, the city parking authority, the pension board, private consultants and the state Legislature.
Council also deserves a seat at the table.
Mr. Dowd may be a skeptic of the plan, but putting a lease proposal before council is more about giving it the hard, public look it deserves than erecting a roadblock to its adoption.
Any mayor committed to open government would agree.