Good for Auckland parking part 2

Good for Auckland parking part 2

I’ve spoken in support of good for Auckland parking many times over the last decade.  Most recently when the Auckland Council Planning Committee signed off  a parking discussion document in November  (Good for Auckland parking part 1). I was at it again at the Committee meeting to endorse Auckland Transport’s Parking Strategy consultation document.

Speaking in support of endorsing the Parking strategy for public consultation (my notes with some additional links).

This should really be a very straight forward decision to endorse the Parking strategy going out for further consultation.   The strategic direction for the parking strategy  has been well thrashed through workshops and previously endorsed. If doing our job to establish the policies and principles for planning, supply and managing on street parking is “virtual signaling” [as claimed by Cr Newman in speaking against the strategy] then I am here for it.

What is in the strategy is based on solid evidence and  lived experiened but it has of course made for a few good clickbait headlines because parking is such an emotive topic and, as we have heard, the key aspects of the strategy have been misrepresented.  I must acknowledge here that AT’s Andrew McGill who has done an excellent job fronting the media to explain the facts.

I’d like to make a few points chair about the parking strategy and why it is a GOOD thing.

If we get parking management right we unleash a whole lot of positive outcomes for  land use planning,  urban design and the operation of our transport system.  Importantly a best practice parking strategy with road space prioritization is an essential part of our pathway to meet our emission reduction targets.

Parking is a just a means to an ends. This is expressed in the look and feel of the document and shows how far the strategy has progressed [from earlier versions with pictures of parked cars] .

An evidence based parking strategy is:

  • Good for drivers -arterial routes are less congested when not blocked by a few parked cars
  • Good for mobility of all Aucklanders as we prioritise the most efficient means of moving around the city
  • Good for business – promotes turn over and more customers . It improves freight reliability and deliveries.
  • Good for communities – that will benefit from improved PT and active transport options and improved parking on residential streets . It improves equity as wealthier household benefit the most from free parking and are subsidised by poorer households that drive less and own fewer cars
  • It is good for the 30% of Aucklanders who don’t or can’t drive including  people with disabilities

What has to be acknowledged is the very real need to ensure  a just transition for those who rely on parking and don’t have options at the moment or  who have been caught in a trap of relying on “free” parking.  Such as those homeowners who brought a discounted home with no car storage on the promise or expectation of free on-street parking.  Renters too who get caught out relying on “free” on-street parking that isn’t guaranteed.  Or workers who aren’t connected to PT who have to factor in the cost of parking .  It also needs to be just transition for the  business owners who currently rely on short term parking.

There will be drivers who will be forced to adjust as the strategy is rolled out.  This strategy recognizes that by ensuring consultation happens and that adverse impacts will be taken into account and addressed through comprehensive parking management plans.

We also know that it is on us to get the planning right so that homes are accessible and well designed. This work sits outside the strategy but is coming to us under a separate item on the agenda.  [item 11 changes to the Auckland Unitary Plan to deliver better quality intensification]

It is difficult to take something away that has been perceived as “free”.  In having that conversation with Aucklanders we have to communicate that there is a high cost to “free” parking.   The costs are just hidden and drivers are receiving a huge subsidy. That needs to be quantified and it is good to hear some of the analysis around the cost of the 900 hectares of public land used for parking – we need to get more of the facts out there.  This also goes to communicating the bigger picture as mentioned by Cr Bartley and the comments regarding bringing the community along.

I find the arguments to maintain Park and Ride  free especially curious when all the evidence doesn’t support that position. It is inequitable to make access to PT dependent on the ability to arrive by 7.30am.

This discussion  highlights that the strategy is not actually  radical as the ability to charge for Park and Ride has been available to AT since 2015 – it just needs to be implemented.  [it has already been implemented on Waiheke and at Devonport]

My enthusiasm for the parking strategy  however is tempered by the fact it proposes a very slow roll out over 10 years and as I have mentioned is what is already in the current parking strategy including how we manage parking as the lowest priority on arterials – this is the default . Voting against this consultation doesn’t make the existing strategy go away .

We are undertaking a long drawn out process and rounds of consultation  . All we are being asked to do today is get the parking strategy out for consultation.

The Committee voted 13: 10 to endorse the strategy for public consultation.

More reading and information about the parking strategy:

Auckland Councillor Richard Hills on proposals to remove parking RNZ interview

Auckland Council approves parking strategy after close vote  Todd Niall in Stuff 1 April 2022