Over the last few months, this blog has discussed parking policy a few times, with the general consensus being that it’s extremely important for us to get rid of minimum parking requirements – as they act as both a huge subsidy for driving and also as a huge barrier to land-use intensification. The need to undertake significant reform of parking provisions was recognised by the Auckland Spatial Plan – which gave a pretty strong direction in relation to how things should change:
Inappropriate regulations and inflexible standards can impact negatively on good design. They impede the development of more intensive housing and mixed developments. For example, at times traditional parking standards (minimum numbers of car parking spaces) are imposed in areas where alternative options (parking buildings or investment in public transportation) imply that such minimums are counterproductive to delivering the goal of intensification, mixed use and affordability. The Auckland Council intends to review its approach to parking, as part of the development of the Unitary Plan
There’s even a specific directive in relation to the issue of parking – though interestingly located within the spatial plan’s urban chapter rather than in its transport section:
Parking standards and innovative parking mechanisms should take account of multiple objectives, including the need to:
- facilitate intensive and mixed-use developments within strategic locations
- improve housing affordability
- reduce development costs
- encourage use of public transportation
- optimise investments in public parking facilities, civic amenities and centre developments
- foster safe, convenient and attractive walkable neighbourhoods.
This sets the scene, one would think, for a pretty dramatic change to the approach to parking – including the phasing out of minimum parking standards – one would think. Given this, it is pretty disappointing to read in the latest “Unitary Plan Update” report to the Council that the approach to parking seems like it will be relatively “business as usual” – with minimums only being removed in a number of centres. While getting rid of minimums in the city fringe areas and in some (most I think) centres is certainly a step in the right direction, this probably still ignored the vast majority of Auckland. In these other areas – many of which are served extremely well by public transport (especially on the isthmus) – minimum parking requirements will continue to stymie development, continue to subsidise driving and continue to undermine attempts to improve housing affordability.
All for what gain I wonder?