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Four reasons why residential parking permits are unwise

The release of Auckland Transport’s draft Parking Discussion Document has stimulated some much-needed debate on parking issues. Various aspects of this debate has been covered in a number of media articles and blog posts. This article  from Friday, however, caught my attention.

It discussed a topic that is close to my heart, namely residential parking permit schemes. I feel passionately about residential parking permits because they seem – at least to me – a very, very unwise public policy. But first a necessary disclaimer: I am employed as a transport consultant by this company, which provides parking advice to many wonderful clients across Australia and New Zealand. As such, the views expressed in this post must not be construed as representing those of my clients or even my colleagues. They are mine and mine alone.

In the rest of this post I will present four reasons why I think residential parking permits are unwise. First let’s define what we’re talking about, i.e. what do I mean when I say “residential parking permit scheme“? The concept is pretty simple and probably well-understood by most of us: In areas with high demand for on-street parking, Councils will often provide preferential access to on-street car-parks for people who happen to reside in the surrounding area. This is typically managed by way of a permit that people display on the windscreen of their car. The area covered by the St Mary’s Bay parking permit scheme (where permits cost a ridiculously cheap $155), for example, is illustrated below.

st-marys-bay-map

The AT website explains the purpose of residential parking permit schemes as follows:

Central Auckland’s residential parking policy provides a way to fairly share on-street spaces between different users, especially in areas where parking is in short supply. The goal is to establish a balance that accommodates the needs of all users, including residents, visitors, business and commuters.

But what does AT mean when they say “fairly share”? In my opinion there is nothing “fair” about residential parking permit schemes. Indeed they are the opposite of “sharing”. What these parking permits do is reserve, or quarantine, on-street car-parks for a select group of people. And in the process cause a lot of issues that may only crop up years down the track.

Let me present four reasons why residential parking permits are unwise, at least when they are heavily discounted from the market value of the on-street car-park.

First, residential parking permits are unwise because they are unfair. More specifically, they take a public resource (on-street parking) and reserve it for a particular group of people who have no more right to that resource than anyone else. Think of the public opposition if we tried to manage public off-street parking this way, i.e. we took the Victoria Street car-park building and – instead of being open to the public – we reserved it solely for local residents at a cost of $155 per year.

victoria-st-carpark

Think of all the employees, businesses, and shoppers who would be adversely affected by these car-parks being taken out of the public pool and instead dedicated to residents. Think of the revenue that would be lost to council, revenue which would then need to be covered by higher property rates on everyone else. But the key message residents need to understand is this: You don’t own the street in front of your house; it is a public resource that needs to be managed in the interests of wider society, not just you.

The second reason I think residential parking permit schemes are unwise is because of the inherent “first mover advantage”. Put another way, residential parking permits are great when 1) your area is the only area that has them and 2) not many other people in your area want them.

Consider the St Mary’s Bay example, and now think about a situation where Herne Bay, Ponsonby, and Freeman’s Bay also had their own parking permit schemes. The end result, when you generalise parking schemes across the inner-city, is that it becomes very cheap and easy to parking your car close to your house, but very difficult to drive it anywhere – therein undermining the very reason why you want to own a a car in the first place! In my experience the people who advocate for residential parking permit schemes never consider this “end game”, where they get in their cars and go to drive somewhere else that also has a parking permit scheme, only to find they can’t park and are subsequently hugely inconvenienced. Think also what would happen if the number of applications for parking permits exceeded supply? Yup, we’d need to find another way to ration the allocation of permits (which is discussed in more detail below).

The third reason I think residential parking permit schemes are unwise is because they create poor incentives and are difficult to administer. By this I mean they enable people who qualify for the permit to use a very valuable resource very inefficiently. Think of households that go on holiday and leave their car parked on street for weeks. Instead of reconsidering how many cars they actually need, new residents might simply bring vehicles with them and park them on-street. When confronted with artificially low prices for on-street parking permits, residents might decide to redevelop their garage into a detached unit and park their car on-street. Administration is also a major headache, mainly because permits create a massive incentive for scamming. Compare the cost of parking downtown (say $2,500 p.a.) to the cost of a parking permit (say $100-$200 p.a.).

There will surely be residents who don’t need parking permits but who apply for them anyway on behalf of friends/visitors, or even worse sell them to a commuter. Examples of parking permit scams abound in the U.K. and Australia. Of course, attempts to scam the parking permit system could be managed through increased enforcement and administration, but these create further costs for Council.

Fraud

 

The fourth and final reason why I think residential parking permits are unwise is because they don’t tackle the underlying problem. That is, calls for parking permit schemes usually arise in cases of high demand, especially where commuters are competing with residents. What parking permits do is simply displace commuter demand with residential demand. Of  course the latter will be happy because they have been bumped up the preferential parking pecking order. Nonetheless the underlying demand (and difficulty involved in finding a space) will likely remain – it’s just that now people will be competing with residents rather than commuters.

This is why way residential parking permit schemes are almost always accompanied by pay parking. And it’s the latter which actually maintains demand at reasonable levels, rather than the permit scheme itself. In this context, the primary effects of residential parking permit schemes is to force up the price of parking that must be paid by everyone who does not qualify for a permit, i.e. the residual non-preferred users. And as inner-city areas intensify, then the demand for permits will only increase, which in turn increases 1) the price paid by everyone else who parks and 2) the value of the permit subsidy to residents (which in turn will exacerbate the incentive issue mentioned earlier).

To provide an extreme example of just how resident parking permit schemes can go wrong, we only have to look to places like Amsterdam. There, some inner-city areas have a five year waiting list for a parking permit. The iAmsterdam website (which is generally designed to promote Amsterdam to visitors) provides the following warning for new residents:

Please note that in some districts, for instance in the centre of Amsterdam, the waiting list for a parking permit can be so long that it takes several years before a permit is issued. 

I checked out the wait list for parking permits in Amsterdam and found that they actually ranged from 6 months up to 4.5 years (core blimey!), as illustrated below (NB: “Geschatte wachttijd ” and “jaar” translates as “wait time” and “year” respectively).

Cition CV

Think of how incredibly inconvenient this situation is for new residents. You move into a new suburb and want to get a permit but must wait 4.5 years. People may argue that Auckland is nothing like Amsterdam. But I tend to disagree: Auckland’s inner-city suburbs are very much at densities that are not too dissimilar from Amsterdam. The latter also has lower vehicle ownership, which would in turn reduce the demand for on-street parking. Moreover, Amsterdam is not intensifying greatly, whereas Auckland is – hence our need to manage on-street parking efficiently will increase in the future.

So whenever I hear calls from resident groups asking for a parking permit scheme I just shake my head and try and emphasise the following points:

  1. Residential parking permits are unfair, insofar as they prioritise a public resource for a particular group of people based simply on where they live;
  2. They are also inconvenient, insofar as they make it easy to park your car in the area where you reside, but less convenient in other areas where you might travel;
  3. They also create poor incentives and are difficult to administer, insofar as they discourage residents from managing the demand for on-street parking and encourage cheating; and
  4. They also are not an enduring solution, insofar as they do not tackle the underlying problem (excess demand) and instead ration access based on location and first-mover advantage.

So you may well be wondering what I would do instead of parking permits?

Well, in situations of high demand I’d simply implement pay parking and set the hourly price at a level that kept demand at a high but not over-saturated level. This would mean you could almost always find a park when you needed it, but you’d just have to pay for it. Payment need not be made via meters, which are expensive, but could instead be processed by a much cheaper “phone and pay” system. Under such a system you would be required to text your number plate to a special-number after you’ve parked. You then text when you leave and subsequently get charged the appropriate amount (possibly to your AT HOP account).

In such a situation I would allow people (anyone, not just residents) to buy an annual parking permit, but the price of this permit should not be discounted too much from the market price, i.e. what can be earned from casual users. Instead, it should be discounted to reflect lower collection/administration costs for Council.

Voila! We have an effective, efficient, and comparatively sustainable policy for managing demand for on-street parking. Aside from pricing, there’s other innovative things AT could do to encourage a well-functioning market for parking resources. Some of which I discuss in this paper, which was written a few years ago for a Canadian public policy institute. I think the paper provides a useful synopsis of many of the issues discussed in this post, if I do say so myself.

Appreciate hearing your thoughts, even if you disagree. But I can’t help but warn people how residential parking permits appear to be a real minefield that Auckland would do well to avoid.

80 comments to Four reasons why residential parking permits are unwise

  • Sanctuary

    My personal view (as a resident of an inner city suburb with it’s own little unauthorised weekday park’n’ride scheme) is simple. When you buy a house, you don’t buy the road as well. The roads are public assets available to anyone who pays their registration. Otherwise, what next? Putting up locked gates and fences to reserve Pt. Erin park for permit holders with swipe cards? People should be able to park anywhere on a public road they wish as long as it isd legal. If you don’t like the influx of cars between 7-8am on weekdays, go live in a house somewhere else.

  • Simon

    I disagree with 1 and 2, but agree with 3 and 4. Having lived in inner cuty neighbourhoods with residents schemes I agree with them. Even though I now commute and compete with them I can still see their value. The allow inner suburb residents the same option as residents in suburbs further away – a park outside your house. Generally there’s limited garaging in these places so some on street parking is needed. Whether these schemes are priced right is another question entirely. It may be in the best intetests of the city overall to discourage car ownership in the inner city. Maybe regular reviews of pricing of resident’s schemes are needed to optimally manage demand.

    • Stu Donovan

      some comments:
      1. Why do we need to offer inner-city residents the same on-street parking as someone further out? Why? Why? Why? It’s not like we try and “equalise” for most other locational differences. In fact we tend to assume that people will sort themselves out by choosing to live somewhere that best aligns with their preferences.
      2. Do you not think people are aware of limited garaging when they purchase their house? It’s fairly obvious how many garages a house has … and do you not think that offering cheap on-street parking will reduce the amount of off-street garaging that is provided? Why provide for your own needs off-street (at significant cost) when you can get cheap on-street? Cue bad incentives.
      3. Yes, you are correct that pricing is the primary issue. I have no issues with permits in of themselves; it’s when they are 1) significantly discounted from the market value and 2) restricted just to nearby residents that all of these problems/issues arise.

  • Simon

    I agree that residents of inner city suburbs don’t own the roads and don’t have an automatic right to park there, but I think residents parking schemes recognise that if those suburbs were being built now the developments (rightly or wrongly) would be required to include parking, we’ve taken away the street car infrastruture that used to support living there without a car, so to fil the gap we’ve provided preferrential parking. This is manageable if not too much of the street resource is given over to it.

    • Stu Donovan

      but that still does not answer why residents who live nearby should have priority over commuters. You’re still making a value judgement that people who live nearby have more right to use that public space, without any supporting justification.

  • My understanding is the low price on the St Marys Bay scheme is due to some legislation which doesn’t allow AT to charge anything more than an administration fee for a resident parking scheme. That means all parking schemes will be way underpriced.

    For the areas that have it I also wonder what impact it has on property values. Essentially they seem to be transferring value from a public asset to private ownership and that wiil only see values rise even faster in the suburbs that have them. You kind if hint at this by saying it could lead those with street parking available to redevelop that parking.

    • Oliver

      Only being able to charge admin costs would probably explain why in the parking discussion document AT have needed to propose such a convoluted methodology for determining how many residential permits each household can apply for. Cos it’d be a whole lot easier just to let the price of the permits rise if demand outstripped supply (and this would be consistent with the demand-based pricing proposed generally in the document).

    • Stu Donovan

      yes you’re correct. But legislation can be changed: Every year there are numerous minor amendments to bills that get passed by MoT. The on-street parking admin fee rule is one that could be gone by lunchtime if MoT knew the ridiculous nature of the current situation.

  • Jon Reeves

    Works perfectly well across cities in Switzerland. The permits are issued to the numberplate of a particular vehicle – no sharing it with friends!

    • Oliver

      It’s the same here (in Grafton at least) with residents’ permits, they’re linked to a number plate so you can’t share

      • Stu Donovan

        as a former resident of Grafton I’d disagree. I found them very problematic as there was never any on-street parking for visitors. And this problem will get worse as the area intensifies, which it’s sure to do ;). At which point entitlements to residential parking schemes will have to be tightened (e.g. one car per household) or some other form of rationing will have to be found (e.g. prices and/or wait-lists),

  • Harvey Specter

    I agree. Look at the issues it is creating on CGR where residents think that the road is their carpark since they have been entitled in the past. This despite the fact that they have a commercial carpark next door that charges in less than a month, more than they pay for a year of on-road parking.

    If it must go ahead:

    – it should cost more. So people think whether they really need – it should cover the cost of that piece of land included admin, rates, lighting etc
    – should be linked to a vehicle (sticker affixed to window with license plate number displayed)
    – Consider if they should be rotated? if there are 10 houses and 5 carparks, is it right you get to have a carpark just because you have lived their longer? After say 3 years, you go to the bottom of the list.
    – obviously limited to 1 per household.

  • I think Stu that you have misunderstood the proposed residential parking scheme. It is not a residents only parking scheme but rather a residents exemption scheme.

    Without some sort of controls, inner suburbs within walking distance of the central city or close to high frequency bus routes get parked out for much of the day by commuters parking for free. This really started to kick in for suburbs such as Ponsonby, Freemans Bay, Parnell and Grafton with the advent of the Link bus in the 90s. As a member of the Western Bays Community Board I was yelled at by some very unhappy residents of Freemans Bay so I am well aware of the impact of this on residents of these streets where many houses have no off street parking, and those that do subtract from the available kerb side spaces. The scheme we came up with was voluntary – only those streets where a majority of residents agreed to the scheme had their street included in the programme which divided the kerb-side into a mix of three categories: time restricted (say P120) to deter all-day commuter parking; resident parking (first in best served) and un-restricted. Residents who chose to pay for a resident exemption sticker could park in the time-restricted area without penalty (some called it their “get out of jail free card”). The exact mix varied for each street as it was tailored to local conditions – such as proximity to nearest bus route, availability of off-road parking, density of housing. Only a few streets bought in to the scheme at first, but gradually residents in neighbouring streets requested to be included, triggering a design process for their street and a poll to confirm majority support before implementation.

    I believe that the current “St. Marys Bay” scheme is a refinement of the earlier scheme. It may not be perfect – but it is surely better to have some form of rationing process than none at all.

    • Stu Donovan

      Graeme, I don’t see the difference? You’re exempting residents from parking controls, e.g. prices. Why? Because they come from a certain area. I personally consider this preferential treatment to be immoral, but anyhoo …

      On a practical level I think it’s unnecessary. Why not implement pay parking as the only rationing mechanism?

      • George D

        Because they come from a certain area.

        Why is that wrong?

        • Sailor Boy

          Because we all pay for the street but they receive all of the benefits?

          • Stu Donovan

            exactly. Residential parking permits are a blatant example of pork barrel politics, aided and abetted by uninformed politicians who have a democratic incentive to focus on the needs of their local area above and beyond the needs of wider society.

            What if the Domain was reserved just for people who lived in Parnell, Grafton, and Newmarket? Hmmm you can imagine how well that would go down …

  • JimboJones

    I disagree that these residents should have to pay the market rate for parking. I get off street parking in front of my house every day for free, and while it isn’t reserved for me, its always available. It is effectively subsidised by the council, they could instead make the road more narrow and pay less to maintain it and sell the remaining land.
    I’m guessing the residents of St Mary’s bay pay a lot in rates. That obviously doesn’t mean they should get special treatment, but having to pay thousands a year to park outside the front of their house in addition to 5k+ in rates seems a little mean.

    • Harvey Specter

      Jimbo – make the road narrower? Good idea – lets remove parking from one side of the road and install bike lanes. 😉

      • NigelTwo

        These residential parking permits seem to imply some sense of “ownership” and the “rights” that come with that. Try and plan a bike lane when every every resident claims these “rights”.

    • Stu Donovan

      it’s pretty simple: The street in front of your house is no more “yours” than your neighbour’s property.

      And the rates someone pays does not “buy” access to public resources, even if in our crony-democracy it buys you political influence ;).

      • JimboJones

        Well put Stu.
        All I’m saying is that the fee charged to reserve a park should take into account that most other people in the city do get a park for free. Charging market parking rates seems a little harsh.
        I’m definitely not saying car parks should be reserved for free or that the current price is adequate.

        • JJ, different properties in different parts of the city come with different advantages and disadvantages. If free on-street parking outside your house is vital to you then I suggest that will be part of the consideration in deciding where to live. If on the other hand proximity to the city is more important then that will have to balanced against the likelihood of having free parking on the street. Free parking on public land is not a right, it is a benefit some can more easily have than others, like having a short walk to a beach, or a library, or a cafe. Some have it some don’t.

        • Sailor Boy

          Everyone else in the city does pay market rates, it is just that where they chose to live the market rate is zero because supply is so much larger than demand.

  • obi

    I think there is a fairness issue here too. If you live in a residents-parking area and I don’t, then it means I can’t park in your neighbourhood (or have to pay to do so) but you can park in my neighbourhood for free. I’d be happy if vehicles covered by the scheme needed a non-removable sticker to park in their own street, but that also banned them from parking in any other street in the city. They’d still be able to park in off-street business and retail parking and in parking buildings… just not on the street.

    • Stu Donovan

      precisely Obi. And this is where it breaks down: Because you will then demand a parking permit scheme for your area.

      Technically I think it’s a form of prisoners dilemma, whereby everyone would be better of without any parking permit schemes, but it’s always in your individual interest to advocate for such a scheme – especially if you are the first area to do so.

  • Jon Reeves

    Actually l am all for road narrowing. Reduces medium to long term costs to council. It is a natural traffic calming measure. It may make parking harder, thus encouraging public transport use. Gray Ave in Mangere East is a classic road, extremely wide, speeding, school located on it. Why not narrow it???

  • Thanks for providing a considered and informed argument on this issue. I was completely in favour of this type of scheme until I read this post, but can now see an alternative point of view. I agree that permits fixed to cars (like we have in Sandringham for big Eden Park game days) would appear to solve the problem of scamming and fraud, but also that an easy way of administering metered parking would be better. It would still stop people doing as they used to (near Eden Park) and parking cars in the streets nearby that morning for ease (ha!) of getting home post-match, and leaving nowhere for residents guests (or child sitters!) to park. Or in this case making it less affordable and practical than PT or CBD parking to park on CBD fringe all day.

  • Brett D

    It is probably also worth noting the existence of the residents parking scheme around Eden Park (https://at.govt.nz/driving-parking/parking-permits/resident-parking-permits/eden-park-parking-permits/) which serves a difference purpose.

  • Simon

    Some of the issues discussed are mitigated if resident’s parks are limited to say less than half the available parking on a street. That’s common here in Wellington with less than half resident’s parks and the rest coupon.

  • Simon

    I see coupon parking schemes as just giving inner city residents the same rights as suburban residents i.e. a reasonable chance of getting a park near your house.

    • Stu Donovan

      that’s incorrect. The market value of on-street parking in many suburban areas is zero. That’s why it’s free.

      In inner-city areas the market value of on-street parking is greater than zero, hence why it should be priced as such. And those prices should apply equally to all drivers no matter where they happen to originate. If free on-street parking is very important to people then it’s very easy to get: Go live in the suburbs.

      We need to get away from the idea that it’s the Council’s role to provide parking for every house. The number of car-parks someone needs is, just like the number of bedrooms, a personal decision that is best made by individual households based on their preferences, incomes, and prices.

  • Hi Stu I have put your post on the Freemans Bay resident assoc website, they have a few meetings about this.
    http://www.freemansbay.org.nz/news/urgent-parking-meetings-for-members-and-residents/
    I hope your views are considered.

    • Stu Donovan

      Thanks Andy, good to stimulate discussion even if I can’t carry the day, simply because people’s attitudes (expectations of free parking outside their house) are so embedded.

  • Harsha

    While I agree with you in general, I would like to point out that there are ways to get around the problem of “if the whole city was divided into areas each with their own resident parking permits, then no one could park on-street anywhere other than their home (and other public parking places).” One solution that I’ve seen in Boston is that the resident parking permit gives you to right to park overnight. That way people who own cars but dont have car parking in their houses have space to park at night, and everyone can use it during the day.

  • Alex

    Completely disagree, residential parking permits are the way to go. This blog talks about street amenity and liveable communties, but how is that going to happen with street after street of inner city suburbs being a free carpark for those who drive in and park on these roads. It is not fair for those living in these communities who are affected by this. As a Wellingtonian living here, I am amazed that there is no residential parking permit system here. A permit would force those who drive in to either park in the CBD or take public transport. A permit is a revenue gathering mechanism and therefore, I would expect that the revenue would be used by Auckland Transport to fund further transport projects or speed up ones in the pipeline i.e. expanding park and rides.

    • John Polkinghorne

      Alex, you’ve missed a big part of Stu’s argument. He is saying that the permit scheme doesn’t solve the main problem (demand greater than supply), because the permits are so cheap that everyone will take them up anyway. At the same time, the council should start charging for on-street parking, which is arguably more important in matching demand with supply. Stu’s not advocating for “inner city suburbs being a free carpark” at all.

  • Benidorm

    A permit cannot be a revenue gathering mechanism. As Matt L says above by law, the permit charges are only allowed to cover the implementation and administration costs of the scheme. With permit schemes there is no additional revenue.

    If it’s a straight forward paid parking scheme then you can set the prices based on demand and this will typically this provide a revenue surplus which can then be reinvested in other transport improvements.

    • Stu Donovan

      yes you’re correct, at least based on current legislation.

      My suggestion is that the best way forward for AT and Auckland is as follows:
      1. Advocate to central government to change legislation governing parking permits so that the price can be set at the maximum of A) administration cost or B) the market value. This would give AT the flexibility to charge higher prices for permits where their value was higher.
      2. Meanwhile, resist all efforts to expand parking permit schemes, and do not award any new permits.Put the blame on central government: Until they get their legislative house in order, we’re not going to issue permits. Primarily because they are not an effective or sustainable way to manage on-street parking resources.

      • Steve D

        > Advocate to central government to change legislation governing parking permits so that the price can be set at the maximum of A) administration cost or B) the market value.

        What’s the legislation prohibiting charging more than administration costs for permits? Wellington’s Coupon Parking system (as opposed to resident’s permits) charges at “market” rates ($7.50/day or $120/month), and trade permits for the CBD cost $40 (i.e. all day at the same $4/hour as parking meters, which are normally P120).

  • JimboJones

    I wonder if we had better PT if these schemes would even be needed? If it is indeed people driving to inner suburbs and then catching the bus, why aren’t they just catching the bus from home? My guess is because:
    a) Its too expensive to catch the bus from further out
    b) Its slower due to too many stops, too many cash fares, indirect routes
    c) Buses are too infrequent and never on time as they get stuck in traffic
    Probably wouldn’t cost much to fix these issues; remove a few bus stops, paint a few new green lanes, increase cash fares, decrease longer distance HOP fares, make the routes as direct as possible. It would be nice if AT had managed to make at least one of these changes by now!

    • And sometimes there is wonderful public transport and people just don’t want to use it. For example, at Smales Farm buses arrive from a best frequency of 1 minute to a maximum of 15 minutes. And yet surrounding streets are clogged by cars of people who work at Smales Farm.
      I think that it is reasonable to have non resident coupon parking to provide an incentive to use the public transport.

  • mfwic

    If you charge people to park in their street during the day then you incentivise them to drive to work and park there instead. Voila more peak hour traffic

    • Stu Donovan

      so your suggestion is that increasing the generalised cost of driving (by charging directly for parking) will result in more driving overall?

      That’s an odd suggestion. In the short run it would discourage commuting by car and vehicle ownership in the affected suburbs. Can’t see that increasing driving overall. And people who receive free parking at work are likely to already drive to work.

      • mfwic

        Ahh but parking is the opposite of driving. Not driving = parked. So yes if you increase the cost of leaving your car in one place you decrease the opportunity cost of shifting it elsewhere.

  • jonno1

    I initially presumed this was an historic area with limited off-street parking, but looking at satellite view that doesn’t appear to be the case, although that might be a problem in parts of Ponsonby or Freemans Bay. So overall I’m inclined to agree with Stu’s assessment. There is all-day commuter parking outside my house (not in any of those areas) that doesn’t bother me at all, and I certainly don’t consider the road to be mine! Well, on one frontage it is being a private road (with no parking), but not the other. There is another option: where my son lives in London there is unlimited roadside parking except between 11am & 1pm when a resident’s permit must be displayed. That system seems to work well in deterring all-day commuter parking.

  • Benidorm

    That’s one option for residents for whom the combined cost of on-street parking and additional fuel costs is cheaper than paying the on-street charges and for whom driving is more convenient than PT, biking or walking. There are a whole bunch of other scenarios that might result in a reduction in demand and have no impact on peak hour travel.

    a) Some residents will have sufficient off-street parking but choose to garage their car on-street so they can use their garage or driveway for other purposes – charging them will make them reconsider this and some will choose to garage their car off-street.

    b) Some residents have the option of leasing off-street parking but choose not to because garaging their car on-street is free or much cheaper. Charging market rates will reduce the price differential and some will choose to lease car parking space.

    c) If on-street parking is charged some residents will be prepared to garage their car on-street further away from their property if it cheaper or free, this spreads the load to streets with less demand.

    d) Some residents choose to own a car because they do not have to cover the costs of garaging it. Charging market rates for on-street parking may make them reconsider whether they prefer to own a car. This is form of freeloading of other ratepayers (especially those who also pay additional rates for their garage).

    e) Some residents work from home. They will not have the option of driving to work.

    Not saying you’re wrong, just that it’s not quite that simple. It would be interesting to survey residents in areas where paid parking has been implemented to see how many now choose to drive to work. I’m not aware of any studies into this, if anyone does have some references please share.

  • mfwic

    Four reasons why residential parking permits are wise:
    1/ It denies the spaces to commuters. Commuters are the people most able to switch to public transport as they make the same journey each day, they are more likely to have a bus service available for their trip and are less likely to need a car during the day. It is easier for Auckland Transport to put on additional bus services for commuters to the main centres than it is for them to provide for the trip residents might wish to make in their cars during the day.
    2/ If on-street parking isnt available residents will be more likely to build a driveway and carpark on their own property (removing one space of the street. In effect the public resource is privatised and then never available to others.
    3/ Any area that has no off-street parking and no available on-street parking is a shit place to live. People dont move in and do up the old houses and the area is held back.
    4/ A lack of parking for residents is regressive. Poorer people who live there cant buy or rent a space in the area so miss out on owning a car and miss out on the benefits car ownership gives them including being able to shop around for goods, take better paid jobs outside their own area or drive their kids to a better school. Wealthy people have choices. Poor people dont.

    • Harvey Specter

      Re your point two – are parking permits restricted to those that dont have offstreet parking (measured by not having a driveway)?

    • jonno1

      Point 2 is an interesting one. Assuming that a vehicle crossing more or less equates to a kerbside space it would be reasonable to allocate that resident one permit, as it’s effectively neutral. Of course this doesn’t guarantee the resident access to that space.

      • Except most Auckland sites that can have off street already do, even in our oldest suburbs, so in practice there won’t be much change.
        3. is the funniest claim though, as no one is suggesting resident parking for anywhere that could conceivably called ‘a shit place to live’. Sure V8 man mightn’t like St Mary’s Bay, but there’s clearly plenty that prefer it to Pakuranga or all those other places with plenty of mandated parking. By definition anywhere under pressure from hide’n’riders is the reverse of ‘shit’ and not full of people covered by point 4. either.

  • mfwic there you go again confusing car ownership with something universally essential like oxygen, or running water, or wifi; do let us know when you’ve when entered this century….

    • mfwic

      I think you are exaggerating again. Car ownership is not like oxygen. It is more like bread!

      • Sailor Boy

        More like beer actually.

        Many people go without, but often face social ostracism for the choice, we cater quite heavily to consumers of beer in our society, and excessive consumption is damaging on a personal and societal level.

        • Brucey

          Ha ha good analogy

        • An excellent analogy.

          I also like to compare cars to junk food.

          A little bit of junk food is fine and can be a convenient way to eat when you are short of time. However if everyone is eating junk food/driving their car you get a lot of problems – we know this is true, it isnt a theory.

          One of them is this: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=11263969

          Obesity is a combination of too much bad food and too little exercise.

          Saying that people should be able to choose to do things that we know will cause obesity is not right. We stop people from doing lots of other things with their bodies (illicit drugs, underage drinking) because we have decided they are bad, both for the person and society.

          • Sailor Boy

            We actually don’t stop underage drinking, there is no drinking age in New Zealand, only a minimum purchase age. Thpough I agree, we attempt to minimise the impacts of negative individual choices.

          • mfwic

            So do I have this right? People who live in inner city suburbs who would like to own a car but dont have off street parking are like obese junk food eating under age drinkers who need rules to make them do the right thing? Or did I not get it again?

          • ‘People who live in inner city suburbs who would like to own a car but dont’ Show me such a person. Here’s the math:

            ‘Live in inner suburb’ = can afford a car. Ergo ‘Live in Inner suburb’ + ‘don’t have a car’ = clearly don’t want one.

            And these people certainly exist, two inner suburb living non drivers I know: Hamish Keith and Carol Hirshfeld.

            It’s more live in inner suburb because here it is more possible to live well without a car. Carless people in inner suburbs have chosen proximity over auto-mobility.

            Only in Auckland would this need spelling out.

          • Sailor Boy

            +1, many of the students I know living on such areas are also carless.

          • mfwic

            Patrick your extremely good at taking people out of context. The rest of the sentence said “would like to own a car but dont have off street parking”. So they buy a car and then have to park it on the street. There are plenty of people in that category. Not all inner suburbs people have adopted the anti-car hair-shirt. Every couple of years I have to figure out some nutty way of squeezing a car onto a property that wasnt intended to have one parked there. And I do it because people want the parking because they cant park on the street anymore. The net result is one more off-street space and one less on-street. If the Council had more residents schemes then everyone would have been better off. And remember I only see the hard cases that need retaining walls or decks for parking, most people just pave a part of their front yard.

          • Stu Donovan

            Bollocks everyone would be better off. Commuters would clearly be worse off. As would visitors – because residents cars now clog the streets. In fact the only group that is better off is residents.

  • Brucey

    ha ha – good analogy

  • Nosey Parker

    Sorry, but I don’t agree at all. I don’t know the exact situation in St Mary’s Bay – but I am familiar with the residents parking schemes in inner Wellington. Here’s a rebuttal to your arguments:
    1. Re. your argument that the permits are “unfair”. It’s fair, in that it gives inner-city residents the same option to own a car as those in outer suburbs. Most older inner-suburb housing doesn’t have off-street parking, and having to pay, say, $2500 per year to park would be a major disincentive for anyone to want to live in such a house (especially for renters). In turn, this would further encourage the demolition of heritage housing stock in favour of new developments that include off-street parking.
    (I’m fully aware that you’d love people to give up their cars entirely, and that’s a laudable goal but the emphasis should be on developing attractive alternatives, rather than blackmailing people to give up their cars through the use of higher parking fees.)
    2. Re. your argument that it’s inconvenient to visit another suburb with resident parking – a well-set up zone should include a mix of resident and general parking spaces within the suburb.
    3. Re. your argument that the low cost creates an incentive for fraud by encouraging people to buy a permit then “sell” it to a commuter. A well-administered scheme avoids this by tying the permit to a particular car – you have to prove the car is yours through the registration, and prove you live at the address by way of a rates bill or tenancy agreement.
    4. The issue of over-demand can be solved by (a) raising the price of a parking permit (but you don’t need to raise it to the same price as what a commuter would be expected to pay) and (b) placing restrictions on the number of permits per household. As an aside, I’m not aware of over-demand being an issue in the Wellington resident parking zones.

    • Stu Donovan

      1. People who chose to live in inner-city suburbs make their choice in full knowledge of the fact that car-parking is scarce. It’s not society’s role to run around and assume responsibility for the decisions of individual households. Just like we let people decide how many bedrooms they need, we should also let them decide how may cars they need. And pay market rates accordingly. And you’re incorrect: $2,500 would not be a major disincentive to live in these houses for people who don’t want/need a car. Or who have sufficient off-street parking. Why do you presume everyone has a car? They don’t – and more important the people that don’t should not be subsidising residential car ownership for people who can’t take responsibility for their own decisions.
      2. Right. And what happens when demand grows for either permits and parking? What do you do then? Yes that’s right – you need to increase the number of permits and increase the price. And the latter will need to go up a lot because there’s now less spaces available. So you may find a car-park in another zone, but you’ll be paying through the nose for it.
      3. The schemes in the UK were tagged to a “car”. There’s many ways around such rules: E.g. you let someone who lives in the burbs register their car to your address. Of course all these scams can be managed, but it’s expensive, Much more expensive than simply charging a low price for all car-parks and letting people sort themselves out.
      4. Yes raising prices and further limits on permits will reduce demand. But what is the end goal? What happens when you can’t even give one permit per household? As is the case in Amsterdam, or at least not for 5 years. And what happens when the price of on-street parking reaches $10 per hour simply because half of the available parking is reserved for residents?

      Apologies for pointing out the obvious, but Wellington does not have a problem because 1) it’s not a real city and 2) it’s not growing at all ;).

      • Nosey Parker

        I’m assuming that your last comment about Wellington not being a “real city” wasn’t serious – but just in case it was, let’s point out the “obvious” fact that (a) the Wellington CBD has almost as many workers as the Auckland CBD, (b) Wellington’s inner suburbs are about as dense (or possibly more so) than Auckland’s inner suburbs, and (c) although it’s growing more slowly than Auckland, the great majority of that growth is in the inner city rather than further suburban sprawl.

  • Hmmmm

    What’s the big deal? Wellington has had this system for years. On the odd occasion I have borrowed a car and parked on the street it has cost a few dollars for a month permit. Permits are only needed during the weekday if you park longer that 2 hours, so it doesn’t bother visitors. To get one you just take proof of address and a form with the car details to council, takes about 5 minutes or you can do it online. The city is broken into small permit blocks so have never not had a park near my house. Seems to work, isn’t very innovative and there’s no need to look to exotic locations for examples.

  • Ted E

    It is much more expensive to build a flexible carriageway than to build a parking paved area for cars. Just as we should not allow the parking of heavy goods vehicles on footpaths. I feel that narrowing of carriageways does slow opposing traffic and there is merit in the closing up of lanes so there is need to get over the idea that the road and road reserve outside our property is rightfully ours.
    An entirely different argument is the maintenance of our road frontage, where some people in the city have had their road frontages maintained by the city others in the esxtended city which were formerly rural towns have always maintained their road frontages. this was left over from the county days where the landowner was expected to maintain the road to the centre line.

  • Waspman

    Four reasons why Auckland Council are even considering this, Tax tax, tax, and more tax. They are short on income after some big and frankly flawed spend ups. Similarly Len Brown has no pull in Wellington any more and they know he is history with little if any public support. So in desperation AC cut back on stupid things that save little money like cleaning and then have a bunch of Einstein’s who think in the most basic of terms of a thug lurking in an alley way ready to mug the next person who comes their way, e.g; how can we relieve the citizens of Auckland of more of their money?

    In an era and spirit of flagrant corporate speak dishonesty they will tell us its to encourage public transport use but unless you are an undiscovered grouping of stone age cave dwellers you know this is about extracting more money and NOTHING to do with PT!

    Its not rocket science. Put parking limitations in all of Auckland (eventually) and give permits to the locals to stop a rebellion, then send around a bunch of underpaid anorak/sun hat wearing parking/revenue wardens to ticket any motorist who breaks the new law. Sounds like hunting in royal forests in the Medieval period doesn’t it, but its just the same!

    Politely F%#k off Auckland Council and try much harder

    • Patrick R

      Enjoyed your rant but the facts just don’t support most if it. The changes to parking in central city last year (trial for the announced changes) increased parking availability (by increasing efficiency of space use- turnover), led to no change in gross revenue through higher fee income but lowered fine income.

      Surely people prefer to pay a fee to park over getting walloped with a fine? And isn’t a more efficient use of a Council asset also a good thing? Additionally a whole bunch of costly to maintain and ugly street signs were able to be removed.

      Looks like increased happiness to me.

      • Waspman

        Interesting and it depends what AC were really trying to achieve. I mean there is a fair bit of reluctance to be upfront nowadays and its seems no local body politician wants to be honest and say, we’re bloody short on revenue and charging you lot more to park would be mighty useful.

        What your facts suggests obviously is less people parked in the central city and so I assume avoided it altogether (Unsure of any stat’s relating to the actual numbers of people in the central city before and after changes to parking). I recall a drop in people frequenting the central city was flagged as a possible negative outcome of hiking parking fees. What I don’t know or if anyone knows, was this the outcome AC wanted or did they think or more likely hope that life would go on as before and everyone would just suck it up and pay more and continue to come to the CBD, equally attracting parking violation opportunities vis a vis more revenue?.As I said before I don’t entirely trust the reasons given for their motives.

        It seems that the logic now is that people can’t hide their cars away from AC in other shopping/business areas if, potentially, a lot of Aucklands CBD, metropolitan and town centre fringes becomes a parking lot to be taxed.

    • Stu Donovan

      What a strangely uninformed and aggressive way to end the thread Mr Waspman. Now back to reality: Residential parking permit schemes will tend to reduce Council revenue compared to what I am proposing: i.e. pay parking when demand is high.

      The other thing you need to realise is that revenue raised from efficient management of parking reduces the revenue that needs to be raised from rates. Hence it’s not at all clear that an increase in parking revenues is a “revenue grab”. Not unless new items of expenditure are added to the annual plan. But from what I can tell this annual plan is reducing expenditure so as to reduce rate’s rises.

      So any increase in parking revenue just means we can have even lower rates going forward. I think that’s a good outcome, especially because this revenue would be associated with more efficient use of an important asset, namely on-street parking.

  • […] Residential parking permits are common in other big cities and were a bit of a pain for us in Toronto, but people here aren’t super keen on the idea… […]

  • Streetscapes and People

    i’m all for some basic controls being applied to residential parking, and not for revenue-generation — this is, sadly, because of:

    1. rampantly unplanned market-driven conditions (e.g., four independent people renting a house together with five cars between them in a suburb designed in the dignified times when there were zero or one cars at each family home)

    2. this is ugly car-culture, self-centredness, and the violation of the enduring principle that if your car is your problem (because it is big or because you have to move it when your flatmates want to go out) then it that is your problem to bear, not your problem to make somebody else’s by:
    * making a traffic-congestion-causing narrowing-funnel of cars on the street
    * blocking your neighbour’s wheely-bin spaces on rubbish-collection days
    * preventing visitors (typically young families) to your neighbours from parking near to their home
    * noise and unsightliness

    3. public spaces are public spaces, and i’m thinking here of things like playgrounds and sports fields, but parking your car on the side of a road is something altogether different, and a private/selfish/privileged act that’s ultimately not in the public good — those who make an effort to have a single car and to use public transport are essentially being exploited because they’re doing the right thing, but the wastrels are parking all over the place, detracting from the streetscape and essentially stealing space time love goodness from our communities.

    BLUE LINES, i’d like to see blue lines painted throughout the suburbs that restrict parking outside of properties to one car that is associated with the property it’s outside of.

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