There was an excellent post by Pippa Coom who is a member of the Waitemata Local Board on the Shape Auckland website.
How we regulate, control and plan for parking has a huge impact on Auckland’s urban design, the environment, housing affordability and our transport.
The subject provokes strong opinions and calls for free parking. Many decisions about parking have been based on myths, false assumptions and poor evidence. When defining issues in our city as “parking problems”, as “experts” we turn to more parking as the solution.
Regulations made with good intentions, have led to poor results, holding back our city’s potential.
We now have the opportunity, through the Unitary Plan, to put in place a best-practice approach to car parking that has the potential to unleash economic, social and environmental benefits.
UCLA economist Dr Donald Shoup (author of The High Cost of Free Parking) extensively studied parking as a key link between transportation and land use, with important consequences for cities, the economy and the environment. His thinking influenced Auckland Transport’s proposal for a city centre parking zone (implemented late 2012) with the aim of better managing on-street parking as a finite resource competing for other transport priorities. The scheme applies “demand-responsive pricing” and includes the removal of time restrictions, increased on-street parking prices and extended paid parking until 10pm.
It’s early days but all indications are pointing to success with greater availability of parking, a reduction in tickets and more casual visitors. The city also benefited from reduced maintenance costs with 62 per cent of parking poles removed. Other business centres are now looking at applying similar principles to free up on-street parking for customers.
At a Getting Parking Right for Auckland seminar in April we heard that parking supply is not the problem, rather poorly managed oversupply. A total of 80 per cent of off-street parking is privately owned, which hinders its effective use. For example, minimum parking quantities in our current district plans means some car parks are only used during the day by commuters and shoppers while other car parks are used only at night for entertainment. Using land for empty car parks is hugely wasteful.
Traditional city requirements to include car parking with affordable housing have also been a major barrier to higher-density developments as a car park is not always required by inner-city residents.
Parking in the draft Unitary Plan
So how is the draft Unitary Plan shaping up when it comes to car parking requirements? The plan requires that car parking be managed to support:
- intensification in and around the city centre, metropolitan, town and local centres and within mixed-use corridors
- the safe and efficient operation of the transport network
- the use of more sustainable transport options including public transport, cycling and walking
- the economic activity of businesses
- efficient use of land
It proposes that maximum quantities (with no minimums) apply in and around:
- City centre fringe area
- Centres zones: metropolitan, town, local
- Mixed-use zone
- Terrace housing and apartment buildings zone
Everywhere else minimum quantities apply with no maximums – except for offices (to discourage “out-of-centre” development motivated by the ability to provide parking).
The rationale is that in and around centres, maximums and no minimums supports intensification and public transport. Elsewhere the planners have explained that minimums are required as they are less willing to rely on the market to meet parking needs and are more concerned with the effects of “parking overspill”.
The removal of minimum quantities around town centres but retaining them for new developments appears to be a solution for today’s lack of public transport. But it creates a problem for future generations who will have to deal with the oversupply of parking and poor land use (plus the uneconomic bundling of car parking costs with housing).
The rationale for controlling the effect of parking overspill is poorly thought through. Instead we should allow the market to provide the right level of parking, allowing for overspill onto surrounding streets is a good use of otherwise empty road space. If that space reaches capacity – as has happened in our city fringe suburbs – the response should be to better manage the on street parking, for example, with a residents’ parking scheme.
When providing feedback on the draft Unitary Plan’s parking requirements, take the time to consider the evidence that emerges when parking is stripped back. Cities around the world are taking a different approach and being richly rewarded.
As I said, it was an excellent post, the only thing I am going to add is add in the tables from the unitary plan which show the exact requirements proposed in the Unitary Plan. For carparking it says
1. The number of car parking spaces required or permitted accessory to any activity is set out in Table 1. These controls apply unless the Unitary Plan specifies otherwise. The number of car parking spaces must:
a. not exceed the maximum rates specified in tables 1a, 1b and 1c in the locations where these apply
b. meet the minimum rates specified in Table 1c in the locations where these apply
c. meet the minimum rates and not exceed the maximum rates specified in Table 1c in locations where both apply.
2. Where a site supports more than one activity, the parking requirement of each activity must be separately determined. The parking rates for the parts of any activity must also be separately determined where separate rates are listed in the table which applies. If any activity is not represented in Table 1c, the activity closest in nature to the proposed activity must be used.
What’s interesting is to compare these requirements with what is being proposed for the new Convention Centre. The centre will sit on a 14,000m² site and have three floors (each with a height of 12m). At the most that means floor area of 42,000m². Under these rules the maximum parking allowed would be 200 spaces yet SkyCity are planning for 900. What is also odd is that the Heads of Agreement signed between SkyCity and the government actually states a minimum of 780 spaces, well outside even the current requirements of 1:150m² (max 280 parks). Anyway back to the Unitary Plan requirements:
Lastly the council has actually included some minimum requirements for cycle parking as well as other facilities to support it. Hopefully this will help in eventually making cycling more viable for a wider range of people however it is odd that medical facilities are singled out separately.