Here’s a light start to Sunday Reading from Alissa Walker at Gizmodo who has compiled a neat before and after series of images from Amsterdam,”Look How Much Better a City Can Be When It Designs for People Not Cars”. The images are from the Sustainable Amsterdam project.

Once upon a time, Amsterdam was just like every other city in the middle of the 20th century: planning for cars, paving parking lots, and proposing urban freeways. Then the oil crisis of the 1970s happened. To help its citizens save gas, the Netherlands implemented a nationwide “Car-Free Sunday” in November of 1973. For one day each week, the country’s three million cars were not allowed on roads, leading to some interesting photos of horses and bikes on the country’s highways. Like similar car-free days in other countries, seeing the positive impact from this weekly activity inspired residents to bring about permanent change.

This week the Washington Post published a series of mostly great articles on cities and mobility. Here are the snippets from the a few of them.

Jarrett Walker, “Why cars and cities are a bad match“.

Cars don’t work well in cities, and the reason is simple: 1) A city is a place where people live close together, so there’s not much space per person. 2) Cars take up a lot of space per person. 3) Therefore, cities quickly run out of room for cars.

Donald Shoup, “How parking requirements hurt the poor“.

Parking requirements reduce the cost of owning a car but raise the cost of everything else. For example, parking requirements raise the price of food at a grocery store for everyone regardless of how one travels. People who are too poor to own a car pay more for their groceries to ensure that richer people can park free when they drive to the store.

J.H. Crawford, “The car century was a mistake. It’s time to move on“.

Cars were never necessary in cities, and in many respects they worked against the fundamental purpose of cities: to bring many people together in a space where social, cultural and economic synergies could develop. Because cars require so much space for movement and parking, they work against this objective — they cause cities to expand in order to provide the land cars need. Removing cars from cities would help to improve the quality of urban life.

bi Ian Lockwood (@IanLockwoodPE)
by Ian Lockwood (@IanLockwoodPE)

Something we have been tracking but not writing too much about is the reform of evaluation and mitigation of traffic impacts under California environmental rules (CEQA). Development projects are evaluated on their impacts to traffic as determined by intersection delay. This “level of service” or LOS  resulted in a grade-school like score of A through F. From an environmental perspective this approach was both countersensical and counterproductive as it didn’t consider wider transport implications and resulted in unfairly promoting greenfield and fringe development over infill and transit-oriented development. The State of California has recently recommended changing this approach to using Vehicle Miles Traveled as the key criteria. Like parking reform, this is a big deal and will likely have global influence on conventional traffic planning practice. Here is a recent press release from San Francisco that spells out the justification.

San Francisco Planning Takes Lead in Modernizing Environmental Review for New Development Projects“, City and County of San Francisco Planning Department.

For decades, environmental analysis of transportation impacts focused on how quickly cars moved through a given intersection, a flawed approach that was expensive to calculate, did little to benefit the environment and promoted urban sprawl rather than smart infill growth. The new approach is more comprehensive, looking at the method of travel, how far the person is going, and how many other people are in the vehicle to determine the impact on the

“Vehicle miles traveled is a much smarter approach to identifying the direct environmental effects of car use,” said John Rahaim, Director of San Francisco Planning. “It will streamline CEQA review for projects that are designed to encourage public transit, promote pedestrian safety and help reduce the need for traveling long distances by car. This is tremendous progress for San Francisco, and ultimately the State of California. We are pleased to be the first city in California to adopt these new guidelines.”

On the topic of Vehicle Kilometre Traveled (VKT), here are impressive results from Vancouver where VKT is measured as a key target of their Greenest City Action Plan. Jeff Lee, “Transit, cycling, walking together rival the car for Vancouver travel”, Vacouver Sun.

At the same time, the total number of daily trips by people on transit, by foot and on bicycle rose from 893,000 to 905,000. Much of that came from a 20-per-cent increase in cycling from 2013 to 2014.

That puts the alternative forms of transportation in a statistical dead heat with the automobile, according to Jerry Dobrovolny, Vancouver’s director of transportation.

Coupled with the decline in daily auto trips, the number of kilometres travelled by vehicles has declined by 21 per cent since 2007. That, according to Dobrovolny, means the city has surpassed targets set under the city’s Greenest City Action Plan and Transportation 2040 goals of reducing vehicle trips by 20 per cent.

Here is how Vancouver describes the importance of VKT as a key target. This makes a lot of sense to me and highlights some relevant issues in Auckland. As we proceed with marooning future residents on the fringe, not only will the abstract measurement of VKT sky rocket, but it will have very real implications on city streets an neigbourhoods.


Here is a new research paper that looks fascinating but is pay walled. Here’s the abstract. Megan Smith “Cycling on the verge: The discursive marginalisation of cycling in contemporary New Zealand transport policy“, Energy Research & Social Science.

Despite the potential of utility cycling to contribute to a more resilient, just, and environmentally sustainable transport system, its mode share in New Zealand has remained persistently low. Efforts to increase utility cycling have been pursued by government authorities through a range of supportive strategies. This paper explores the disparity between this policy intent and outcome. It draws on a discourse analytical approach to examine how utility cycling has been positioned in transport policy documents alongside other priorities. Transport-related policy and strategy documents for the period 2008–2013 from central government, and regional and city councils are analysed. The analysis reveals how changing use and meaning for the term ‘sustainable’ has narrowed transport objectives, restricting outcomes that address the pillars of environmental and social sustainability. It demonstrates how transport policy has been framed as a driver of economic growth, how this has been interpreted as requiring a narrow range of transport policy solutions, contributing to the devaluing of utility cycling, despite its potential (and existing) impact on health and well-being, social justice, and environmental sustainability. These practices have systematically privileged motor vehicle use, helping to legitimate and maintain that privilege, while marginalising utility cycling as an effective mode of transport.

Please add any other interesting things you’ve seen this week in the comments. Have a great Sunday.

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  1. The day that California formally prioritises declining VMT over vehicle traffic LOS is the day the 20th century finally dies. The implications and consequences of this change are profound. And limitlessly positive.

    1. Isn’t VKT a poor proxy measure? If all vehicles shifted to electrics, co2 would go down regardless of VKT

      1. If, and in NZ or anywhere where electricity is made without burning coal etc. And I agree it is if, but more importantly is the question, when? Cos we haven’t got time.

        This, quite frankly, is too long:

        1. I actually think VKT is a damn good proxy anyway 😛
          (couldn’t resist)

          However there’s the risk of going too far the other way. Before we overly privileged LOS. Now we overly focus on reducing VKT. Have to be careful the environmental gains don’t offset the loss of utility.

  2. And so the anti-car tirades continue. Until there is a real viable alternative for people who use their cars for all sorts of things (not just work commutes) cars (and tradie vehicles, trucks and all manner of vehicles) will be around for a long time to come. I never cease to be amazed that a so-called ‘Transport Blog’ is so anti cars. Cars are a form of transport – which I am sure you all use at some time, so why you do not champion ways to increase the efficiency of their movement too is beyond me. You really should rename the blog to the ‘Anti-car – Pro PT and Cycling Blog’. Ever wondered why people got cars in the first place?

    1. Lucky there are valiant people such as yourself prepared to fight for the rights of cars against the All powerful anti car movement.

    2. Tradies need vehicles, and we need delivery vehicles too – but people driving kids to school or commuting to work create ridiculous burden on the infrastructure. So let’s give them better alternatives and let tradies actually get from A to B more easily.

    3. Sure cars/trucks/ambulances/buses are needed and to be sure no one wants to take away your car, and you thinking that is pure projection on your part. There are already real viable alternatives for people who use cars, you just need to be willing to put down your car keys and use them. There is also the befuddling issue of car drivers demanding alternative to cars yet insisting the alternative is another car.

    4. 1.24 million people die worldwide from traffic accidents nearly 3 times the number killed in wars and murdered, and you wonder why, my wife’s 8 year old brother was killed by a car and still three quarters of a century later at nearly 80 she still wells up with tears when she thinks of him, it is just as devastating for families as war.

      Cars and road transport should be separated like rail is from pedestrians and cyclists, and if it can’t be done it shouldn’t be done, cars don’t make a country efficent just lazy.

    5. White people will continue to be policed but no one advocates specifically for white people because they already enjoy an immensely preferential treatment. Same with cars. You don’t advocate for something that has unfairly been the sole focus for 7 decades.

    6. In an urban context, focusing only on cars has not notably increased the efficiency of their movement. We’ve spent 50 years focusing on cars at the expense of letting anything else become a ‘real viable alternative’, and the outcomes have been not great, to say the least.

      Providing viable alternatives for the large percentage of journeys that don’t need to be made by car increases the efficiency of the transport system for everyone – including the efficiency and ease of driving for tradies, emergency vehicles, people with mobility problems and anyone else who still needs to drive.

    7. I have a car, which I love, but I don’t think it should be the only form of transport in NZ. I think that’s this thing called ‘car dependency’. Maybe there are a few people out there who are anti-car, but I think many just want the development of more choices. A bit like those who don’t want to be forced into quarter-acre section housing.

    8. Visit Los Angeles is you want to see how bad car dependency can get. We should be doing EVERYTHING we can to avoid the same scenario here! I still have nightmares about that place, gridlock on 10 lane freeways…

    9. “why you do not champion ways to increase the efficiency of their movement too is beyond me”

      That’s funny, I seem to remember writing a lot of posts on congestion pricing, which economists agree is the best way to improve the efficiency of urban road networks.

      See e.g.:

    10. Anti-car tirades are easy to understand. Just look at the pictures. Or go figure out the top-10 of problems in cities. I’m betting at least 8 of them are a consequence of too many cars.

      But fear about catering for cars less is also understandable.

      The problem we now have after all that time is that most of Auckland is built to be accessible by car only. I’m living in the city centre, as central as it gets, and I can still assure you that not having a car would be a crippling limitation. There is, even in the CBD, no meaningful PT network (note how CBD residents by definition don’t need to commute into the CBD from outside the CBD).

      If you have to go a bit further, the situation is as follows. A typical journey on PT is probably a 20 minute walk (*) + wait, then a 20 minute bus or train ride, and then a 20 minute walk. By car the same journey would maybe be 15 or 20 minutes. Or 40 minutes in congestion, which is still much faster than the bus. So if we would decide to cater for cars a bit less, and we mess up whatever grand PT plans we have, we might very well end up with a choice of a 60 minute car drive in worse congestion or the same 60 minute bus ride + walk. Oops. Yes, that is assuming PT doesn’t improve. When looking at the proposed “new network” on the North Shore, that seems to be a fairly safe assumption for now.

      Also: shifting the balance of the streets away from cars doesn’t rule out finding ways to make cars more efficient. Dutch cities have done a lot of work catering for people outside their cars. But they are still coming up with systems to make streets more efficient for cars, like smarter traffic lights.

      (*) no that’s not ridiculous. Remember, there is no cross-town service in the CBD. It’s a long walk between the Hobson ridge and Symonds Street. Even longer to any train station.

  3. Great that the City of Vancouver is doing so well but beware of comparing apples with apples as the City of Vancouver has only 26% of Metro Vancouver’s population, roughly analogous to the Auckland Isthmus in relation to the whole of Auckland. All too often there is accidental/deliberate conflation of the City of Vancouver with Metro Vancouver. That said, the City of Vancouver does very well with a 48% car driver mode share in the peak (viz. 66% for Metro Vancouver). For commuting, over half of Metro Vancouver’s walking trips are in the City of Vancouver and fully two-thirds of all cycling trips (Data is from the 2011 National Household Survey when only part of the protected bikeway network was completed). While it is very impressive by Auckland and NZ standards to have a one-third non-car driver mode share for commuting in Metro Vancouver, Victoria, the provincial capital of British Columbia on Vancouver Island with a population of 336,180 actually does slightly better than Metro Vancouver with 65% drive alone mode share for commuting. Victoria’s Biketoria project is likely to further significantly increase already one of North America’s highest bike commuting mode shares so is definitely a city to watch but regrettably Victoria is not as good at blowing its own trumpet as Vancouver.

  4. I love Shoup’s argument that parking requirements raise the cost of groceries for everyone. Maybe it’s different in his quaint university area but here you will always expect lower prices at Pak n Save or Countdown than you get at a corner dairy built for walk-ups.

    1. I’d hardly call UCLA a quaint university town. For me Tai Ping on Dominion Rd is way cheaper than Countdown.

    2. Your logic is faulty.

      In the absence of MPRs, there would be nothing to *stop* supermarkets from providing large carparks if there were indeed advantages to doing so. There is therefore no reason to believe that MPRs make grocery prices cheaper relative to a deregulated alternative.

      However, MPRs act as a barrier to competition in the retail market, as new entrants are required to provide significant amounts of parking. This makes it more difficult for new shops to start up, including small-scale grocery stores, which often offer cheaper vege prices than the major chains. Reduced competition (or threat of competition) is associated with higher prices in most markets. Is there any reason to believe that retail markets are different?

      1. Let’s posit 2 scenarios – both with no MPRs
        A: shop A has 100 carparks; shop B opens next door without carparks. Shop B shoppers use shop A capark – this means shop A is subsidising shop B
        B: shop A sets up with zero carparks in a residential area. Previously the road-side parks were used for residents. Now shoppers use them.

        Unless you also bring in additional regulation e.g. residents passes, towing… it can be problematic

        1. Let’s posit two additional things:

          1. Shop A is not run by idiots; they start validating parking for their customers and charging others. Voila: no subsidy for Shop B!

          2. On-street carparks aren’t the exclusive property of neighbouring residents; they’re public property. Consequently, there’s no reason to prefer them to be allocated to one citizen (a neighbouring resident) in preference to another (a shopper). As long as the road controlling authority is not run by idiots, they can implement time limits or paid parking to manage any excess demand.

          Both of these things happen in practice. Here are real-world examples from Auckland:
          * Westfield Newmarket’s validated parking for customers – its response to the removal of MPRs from Newmarket
          * Auckland Transport’s Parking Strategy, which sets out specific targets for when it will implement and adjust parking management policies. (I think you’ll like this document, incidentally – it’s very much in line with your “set the targets and then pull levers until they are met” approach.)

        2. Early the economists here all think you can charge for parking or control who uses your parking without any costs. None of them have ever tried it! The reason people provide free parking to their customers is that the benefits exceed the costs. Those successful retailers need the neighbours to provide their share of parking to avoid free riders. In the absence of parking larger format stores just dont happen. So instead you get to pay dairy prices for your food. My guess is that Mrs Shoup does the shopping and Don just writes about it.

          1. Ah, the dreaded free riders! There was a long thread on this on 21 July 2015. I liked one commenter’s analogy to minimum parking requirements: you run a bakery in the shopping centre. As a promotion you offer a free bun with every purchase. You put the buns on a table outside your shop. You notice that passersby sometimes take a bun without coming in to make a purchase. Your solution? Demand that every other bakery in the centre should also be forced to offer free buns, to reduce the number of people pinching yours!
            Ridiculous, isn’t it? That’s what minimum parking requirements are.
            Your property, your responsibility to manage it. Pay parking is perfectly feasible for anchor businesses that are bothered by free riders. Where I live (Canberra) it’s all over the place. The idea that the cost of maintaining a ticket machine and boomgate might be a deal breaker for an anchor business turning over tens of millions a year is implausible.

          2. John, that’s victim blaming. Nobody has a responsibility to protect their own property. We all have a right to not have our property infringed on. If I have to monitor my carpark that’s an additional cost to me.

          3. Where do you get all these strawmen from? Noone says there arent additional costs to managing your parking. The implicit assertion is that the costs associated with managing your own parking is outweighed by the costs of MPRs. At least that is the assertion if you want to take a value free look at things. If you want to look at things from the point of view of liberty, then the assertion is “Don’t tell me whether or not I should devote part of my property to parking!”, with expletives added for effect if you so choose.

    3. Shoup’s quoted comment is about how the supermarket’s ‘free’ parking (paid for through the price of the goods) benefits drivers at the expense of non-drivers *when they’re both shopping at the supermarket*

      The corner dairy is in a different market and its existence has nothing to do with the point that Shoup is making.

      You seems to be implying that the lack of parking at the dairy *causes* its prices to be higher. But correllation does not prove causation. There are many differences in the economics of the dairy vs the supermarket. Smaller shop > fewer economies of scale > higher prices. The shop survives because there is a niche market for convenience shopping at higher price. There’s no reason to think that its higher prices are caused by lack of parking.

      1. The dairy has higher prices because it serves a smaller catchment. The supermarket has a bigger catchment because it has a big carpark. To assume that a supermarket would still exist without parking in most places is just daft. The comparison is valid – lots of little shops charging high prices or a few bigger ones as well charging lower prices. Yet the Shouptwitsters want a price on all private parking and dont see onstreet parking as a common resource.

        1. The two supermarkets without parking in downtown Auckland don’t exist. And also supermarkets without parking in big cities all around the world don’t exist either. They’re just illusions.

          1. Are you seriously suggesting that is the norm? I accept there will always be a few but take another look next time you are there. They are very small and without the subsidy they get from being part of a large chain with branches in the surburbs they wouldn’t offer the prices they currently do.

          2. Subsidy? Are you suggesting that Foodstuffs has opened the New World downtown out of the goodness of their hearts and the shoppers of Henderson Pack n Save are somehow paying for it?

        2. “Shouptwitsters”

          Your frustrated condescension is showing, John!

          “dont see onstreet parking as a common resource”

          Parking – on-street or not – is not a public good. It is rivalrous – two cars cannot park in the same space at the same time. And it is excludable – there are many mechanisms for keeping unwanted cars out, from parking permits to gates to parking meters.

          Sure, there is a cost to excluding people, but that’s irrelevant. Saying that parking should be treated as a public good (or actually, a common-pool good) because excluding people has a (small, and easily recouped) cost is like saying that your gym should let non-members in because the alternative is spending money to hire a receptionist. In other words, totally absurd.

          1. My point stands Peter. Shoup is making a ceteris parabus claim when he says non car drivers are subsidising car users at supermarkets. The problem for him is supermarkets exist because of parking. In a shopping area that relies on cars and has multiple owners mprs distribute the cost of providng parking across all owners. The transaction costs of pricing every space is probably going to work out too high in many places. My prediction for the outcome will be lots of failed local centres as $2 shops enjoy the chance to open without contributing to parking and a few very successsful centres that are large and privately owned where the owner has full control over their parking. So it will be St Lukes and Sylvia Park at a whole new level and a bunch of stuffed local centres where local people then demand the Council does something.

          2. How is *any* of that a rationale for MPRs? If some business models are genuinely more successful than others, why is public policy *also* needed to make those business models mandatory? Seems like a matter for the market to resolve.

            “The transaction costs of pricing every space is probably going to work out too high in many places.”

            True, but other, lower-cost management regimes are also available, including but not limited to:
            * Residents parking permits
            * Time-limited parking
            * Simply not managing on-street parking

            Furthermore, the cost of parking management is falling due to technological changes. Smartphone payments will increasingly take the cost of installing and operating meters out of the equation, while induction loops in the pavement can reduce the cost of monitoring parking occupancy.

          3. Because it is probably a good idea to have some successful local centres. The choice you are offering seems to be to accept that convenient shopping will only be available if you drive to the biggest malls. Mprs were simply a means to get private businesses to provide parking rather than leave it to the public to provide. That they were applied to all sorts of places where they shouldnt have been doesn’t make them a bad idea, just a good idea misapplied. I bet you a beer that within 5 years of the PAUP going operative the Council will be back in the business of building suburban carparks using ratepayers money. They will do it because it is better for them to spend ratepayers money than for them to put up with the grief they will be getting.

        3. I am saying they can offer the same low prices in town because they have buying power due to having all the other car based supermarkets. Take them away and the supermarkets in town would charge you big city prices. (Sorry that is a reply to Conan)

          1. You can make that point about any individual supermarket, the commute mode of the majority of customers is irrelevant!. The Countdown in Huntly only survives because of the buying power of the rest. Take away the supermarkets in Auckland and Huntovians will be paying more.

            The Pak’N’Save at Botnay Town Centre only survives because it has buying power of the chain. Take away all the others and the motorist consumers of east auckland will be paying much more for their groceries!

  5. But people still need cars for stuff like taking their children to the hospital, going camping, supermarket shopping for a whole family or emergencies. I’m pro most of the stuff this blog says, but you guys go a bit too far in saying that cars should be gotten rid of completely. Couldn’t we have underground car parks under apartment buildings?

    1. Clearly you haven’t committed to the cause properly and are in need of a political reeducation. Say it with me “Two wheels good, four wheels bad!” The mistake you are making is to put practical realities ahead of dogma. When these people get real power you could be arrested for that.

      1. In the days before we all had cars the doctors made house calls and would come out in the middle of the night if it was serious you didn’t need cars in a world that evolved to function without them.

    2. No one is saying banning cars, just that spending billions of dollars on roads & motorways will create less desirable outcomes (Health, Environment, Urban Amenity, Land Use & Congestion) compared to investing in PT & Active Modes in Urbanised areas. You will find lots of people here support Waterview & the Western ring as it is an orbital motorway not a radial one. Also no one is saying you can’t build carparks, we are only saying the law should be let the market decide rather traffic engineers forcing people to build car parks as it is current law (MPR’s) some which are so bad as to force bars to provide minimum parking (face palm). Also you don’t need lots of parking to do the above, the Hospital/Supermarket & Camping trips could be done through car ride-sharing, visits can easily be done via PT & Walking I recently caught trains to Grafton or walked from the CBD over Grafton bridge to visit, Middlemore is right next to the station. If less mandatory parking was required maybe more people would have Countdown deliver to them which would create higher economies of scale for food delivery making it more cost effective in the LR.

    3. Who said anything about banning cars completely? Are you Mfwic in disguise?

      As an earlier post in this thread said, cars have been prioritised for 70 yrs. To suggest pushing something else to the front of the queue is banning cars and “anti car” is quite the hysterical reaction. Totally irrational, really.

      1. Yeah mwfic is straw-manning hard today. For the record, the editors of this blog love cars. We just think in an era of soaring property prices and climate change (with all of the socio-economic consequences) that we should think twice about subsidies for cars. Minimum parking requirements are one such subsidy.

        P.s. mwfic’s claims that pricing parking is difficult are incorrect. Many businesses do it now and this will only increase in the future. He also fails to consider that even if pricing car-parks was difficult, the costs of mprs may still outweigh their benefits. He’s effectively talking about parking in complete isolation from both reality and the wider policy context. His arguments are also inconsistent, as has been demonstrated on this blog many times before. I wouldn’t take him seriously.

        1. Wait, you accuse me of being arrogant and now say we shouldn’t take another poster seriously?
          I think all posters deserve the honour of having their posts treated on their own merits rather than be given a blanket designation

          1. You are arrogant.

            And yes i am suggesting people shouldn’t take mfwics views seriously. Why? Well, in the several years weve been debating the question of mprs on this blog he’s never presented any evidence to support his views. Neither have you, for that matter. Hence why i don’t take your views seriously either. You’re entitled to them of course, but i place them in the same category as homeopathy and astrology.

            Im sorry if you find that reality confronting.

          2. Except that any argument AGAINST MPRs can also be used again ANY regulations.

            Why should a building where the risk of an earthquake in any given year is say 1% be designed to EQ standards? I’m willing to be the actuarially-calculated harm is less from not retrofitting than it is from not doing so.

            Why should we licence teachers when (a) the vast majority of harm to students is done by licenced teachers i.e. there is proof the regulation doesn’t work?

            I don’t care about MPRs. I think they should probably be removed. Probably. But the fact is mfwic is entitled to have each of his posts treated on its own merits. I don’t know what his background is but he seems to be a planner of some sort and have inside knowledge. If he’s wrong, you defeat his points. Play the ball not the man.

          3. Every regulation is up for debate! However on this blog the debate tends to be around transport and land use regulations only, funnily enough.

          4. You’re not making any sense now.

            We’re not making *any* old argument againsy MPRs, we’re making very specific and detailed arguments that are supported by evidence, which we’ve linked to many many times on this blog. Id suggest you look it up.

            You and mwfic, on the other hand, simply rock up and say “i think xyz about parking minimums yardi yardi yah”. Rinse and repeat as nauseam. No (independent) evidence, no analysis, no data.

            But you’re welcome to keep digging mate, its quite entertaining. And helps us explain the reasons for our position to new people for whom this discussion is relatively new.

  6. I support massive intensification and much greater spending on PT infrastructure, I’m just saying we need to give people the option to have a car (which is essential for people with a family who need it for the large shopping trips and visits to the hospital to deliver babies). There are other ways we can encourage PT use – road tolls, congestion charges, making PT much more efficient. PT should be used for travel the great majority of the time I would argue. What I really object to is this thing of allowing the market to set a low bar of standards for peoples lifestyles. Saying we should not regulate developers to build car parks is a heavy handed, compassionless way of discouraging car use.

    1. But forcing developers, and therefore ultimately the end user, to pay for car parking they may not need is not heavy handed or lacking in compassion?

      1. But we already regulate a range of other things (earthquake resistance, watertightness, fire retardness) – all things that people “may not need”

        Until there’s a clear principle about what should and what shouldn’t be regulated it’s hard to make blanket statements

        1. On the contrary providing a safe and sound building is exactly what we should be regulating for. Not nice to haves.

        2. Regulation of building standards is justified on a number of fronts (not saying I agree with them): Difficulty or impossibility of purchasers and users in determining the soundness of the building. Its pretty hard to know how much reinforcing steel is in a beam once it is poured. Even if you did know, you still need specialist knowledge to know how safe the building is. These things are also often about life safety – something that society prizes fairly highly. It is also about public safety, if a building falls down it could kill passersby (as happened in Christchurch). Similarly fires may spread from one building to another.

          There simply are not arguments of similar weight for regulating carparking.

  7. Early commuter on parking freeloaders: ‘We all have a right to not have our property infringed on.’ [implying that it’s reasonable to ask the community to help the individual protect that right, by regulation]
    Agree in principle, but in practice I have limited sympathy for anchor businesses who demand a solution by regulation (blanket minimum parking requirements), when –
    – the regulation has other deleterious effects, as discussed on this blog ad nauseam;
    – a solution by private action, without the deleterious effects, is pretty easy (pay parking).
    I have more sympathy for smaller businesses whose plans are stymied by being forced to provide parking that maybe neither they nor their customers want
    MPRs are a serious imposition on people’s right to deal with their property as they see fit. The question is whether the mischief that prompts the demand for regulation is serious enough to justify that.

    1. Exactly. Or put another way, whether the benefits of the regulation (mprs) outweigh its costs. This is the question mwfic (and ec) seem to dodge everytime.

      1. Perhaps I’m a pragmatist, but I’d prefer more analysis before removing regulation

        One only has to look at Russia post-1991 to see what “shock therapy” can do

        1. One only has to look at the Auckland CBD post the removal of parking minimums in the 90s, to see what the removal of parking minimums might do!

          How exactly is the fall of the Communist Russian Empire relevant to parking minimums?

      2. Stu the regulation is only a cost to those who cant get a dispensation and dont want to provide the parking. ie bottom feeders who want to use spaces but wont pay. If you dont create a demand you get a dispensation, if you have good PT you get a dispensation, if you cant physically provide it on your site you get a dispensation. Your approach has always ignored the simple fact that mprs dont get applied to those who dont need parking or cant provide it. You assume they are a dead weight cost to all and that pricing each space is the alternative. I promise you in a city where people dont want 3 storeys next door they also dont want a parking shortage and they will make Councillors back down if they try to give them a shortage.

    2. How are mprs a “serious imposition on people’s right to deal with property as they see fit” ? People have an obligation to ensure that any adverse effects they create are avoided remedied or mitigated. That trumps any right you believe they have. If you create activity that uses up a resource needed by others you get the privilege of dealing with that. mprs are one way of managing those issues. The idea of pricing everything as proposed by economists leads to a bit of a shit world where you get nickled and dimed and it relies on being able to set and efficient price. AT can’t do that with large parking buildings that experience almost constant demand. How do you think small business people will do that? Finally do you in your dreams think people like the good folks of St Heliers will let the Council screw up local centres parking problems and not even comment let alone make them fix things? We live in a real world. The only people who miss out under mprs are those who actually create a demand (so they cant get a dispensation) and are too cheap to address it.

      1. “People have an obligation to ensure that any adverse effects they create are avoided remedied or mitigated”

        The property owners aren’t the ones trying to park cars, it is customers. The property owner isn’t causing this effect, the customer is a sentient human being making their own decisions about how they will travel somewhere. At most it is a pecuniary externality and therefore not policy relevant.

          1. Dead serious. All “environmental effects” arguments for developments around parking and traffic are essentially the result of unpriced or underpriced parking and road-use markets respectively. I know it is all too real when it comes to planners and the council, but it is ridiculous.

            Imagine if you will a world where the government gives bread away, and everyone gets their bread from the government. Their means of distribution is to leave a pallet of loaves at each street corner. The number of loaves to be left at a given spot each day is fixed by “Auckland Bread”, a CCO, which has a severely constrained budget. As a result they rarely change the number of loaves left in any given area, although they might increase supply once a decade or so if enough additional demand develops in an area. Of course in a lot of areas bread is in good supply and people naturally use it to feed their pets, as compost for their garden etc.

            Because of this state of affairs, as part of any resource consent application, all new developments have to make an assessment of existing bread capacity in a given area together with the additional demand that will be placed on the bread resource. It is a very important part of the resource consent application and is one of the most common themes in submissions from neighbours.

            Kind of ridiculous right?

          2. Wonderful story except for the simple fact that any potential or actual effect caused by the use of land is an effect. If you create a queue or a crowd or a demand through your use of your land then that is on you. You can’t assume it away as being due to other people.

          3. Well I suppose you would be earnestly writing bread capacity reports in that world wouldn’t you.

            I wasn’t talking about crowds and queues I was talking about traffic and parking. i.e. the movement and storage of large motor vehicles.

            Pecuniary externalities are not policy relevant. If they were, every economic activity under the sun would be creating externalities by the truckload. Does a research lab not get consent in case they invent a product that uses a certain mineral thereby increasing demand for said mineral and increasing mining activity? Where do you like to draw your arbitrary line?

          4. You kind of missed the point that in areas outside the CBD most commercial activities are car based. You can hate that if you want or think people should walk or cycle but it doesn’t change facts. Those businesses have all established and made decisions to invest based on the availability of parking. Without parking many of them are screwed. Parking in most of those areas is unpriced (Newmarket excepted) , not to offend economists but because the cost of pricing it exceeds the benefits of pricing it. The parking is an enabler of business activity so of course people are interested in how it is managed and provided. If you can only think of it as a parking market then you will never get that simple point. Kill the parking and some businesses will leave so even those who don’t drive will be worse off. The mprs gave a means to ensure additional parking at a reasonable rate without ratepayers having to foot the bill. Get rid of them and that will all change.

          5. No one wants to kill the parking. Just not force people to provide it.

            Do you think of these places as “car based”, in the same way you think of humans as carbon-based? Not sure what you are getting at there to be honest except to note that there are many other places in the world that show us that places can thrive without as much car use as we have here.

            Parking may well be an enabler of businesses. In which case they have a very strong incentive to provide it! Let them decide for themselves. It seems bizarre that parking is so critical to our economy but so virtually worthless that we cant put a price on it. You could make similar arguments about electricity but we still happily price that.

            Re the cost of pricing and benefits of pricing it – Yes the costs of pricing clearly exceed the benefits of pricing it where no one is pricing. Thats easily observable. But that is in the presence of MPRs. If MPRs didnt exist would it be worth pricing it? Presumably and if it isnt that is not a reason for MPRs. Pricing parking is neither new nor difficult.

          6. You seem to think it is a choice of mprs or pricing. But if you look at the history of it the third option is the most likely outcome. Mprs will be removed. Parking wont be priced and the Council will be pressured into providing it on the ratepayers dollar. That is how it used to be and the only way of avoiding it occurring again is if Councillors ignore the voters and listen to economists- fat chance!

          7. You have a habit of arguing policies on merit and then switching to arguing about expected political outcomes. Those are two different kinds of debate – both useful but best thought about somewhat distinctly.

            Anyway. We now have priced water – that didn’t exist before it didn’t exist. We also already have priced parking! We even have nominally market based pricing in the city centre for street parking. Things can change.

            I drove over to Takapuna yesterday. My wife (a north shore native) was telling me how I was going to struggle to find a park down by the beach because it was such a nice day. She was right. But the absurd thing was, even with pricing infrastructure in place (pay and display) the whole area had free parking. Hopefully the council will extend their market based pricing model elsewhere soon.

          8. They are the same debate. Theory and models are only any use if they convince people to implement change. But history is actually more useful as you know it actually happened. I am all from pricing congestion as that would allow people to make choices based on their own effects. But the price and decision and impact of that decision all fall on the same people. Parking affects a lot more people and in my view at least shouldn’t be used as a third best policy option to get people off the roads. Dig below the surface and you will find a lot of opposition to mprs is actually people who think they can improve society by reducing the utility of the car. Shoup himself has said parking is a blight on America. That is a value judgement if ever I heard one. Claiming poor people are the losers from minimum parking requires a hell of a lot of assumptions.

          9. Sure but there are two different questions 1) Is it a good idea, 2) Can you convince people to go with it? 2) is fairly speculative. Did anyone think Douglas could do what he did before he did it? Political leadership is important. Our current crop at the council (at least some of them) believe in witchcraft when it comes to the housing market. Goodness knows what they think about the parking market.

            As for other peoples motives in arguing for a policy. That is one thing that definitely doesn’t change the merits or otherwise of a given policy.

  8. Exactly. Or put another way, whether the benefits of the regulation (mprs) outweigh its costs. This is the question mwfic (and ec) seem to dodge everytime.

    On a related note, do the benefits of the regulation (MUL) outweighs its costs? The basic argument is the same, both impose high costs for a supposed reward. I cannot see the merit in either being highly proscriptive, because they both destroy the profitability of constructive competitive growth.

    This was a conversation I was having with Peter Nunns last week, it was going okay until Peter asserted that the median land price for a section in Auckland is $250,000 and I suggested that it was more than $600,000. Peter and I stopped talking shortly after that.

    Would anyone be interested in having that conversation?

    1. Peter is a good guy but you just have to remember his world view is as an economist. It is called the dismal science for a good reason. Economists are trained to assume away all the hard bits of society and boil everything down to a price versus quantity model. They all agree you should try to maximise utility but they dont know how so instead they try to maximise money, which is a very different thing. Then they try to apply this narrow way of thinking in every area of social science, a kind of imperialism, where they argue the incumbents are always wrong because their reasoning does give an efficient outcome. (efficiency in terms of $ not utility). The best bit is they usually qualify their models by assuming ceteris parabus or everything outside their model is kept constant. That is the easiest way to deal with all the holes in your thinking.

      1. Makes sense – if someone were to assume the price of land is fixed, an MUL will be marvellously beneficial. If land price is fixed an MUL will force development into a central location AND this development will occur at a fixed rate. Then it just becomes a problem of removing additional barriers to development to lower costs and increase the rate.

      2. And then there were the sophists……. they know all the tricks of arguing but many lacked a moral code -

      3. These discussions get really interesting after you have to drop the assumption that humans behave in a rational way.

        Spot the rational behaviour: suppose you can park in some car park building for a couple of hours for $5. What will you do? Try to find a free ($0) parking spot (even though you know from experience that you’ll waste a lot of time), or just park in that building?

        Or: shop A has free parking, shop B has parking but you have to pay a few dollars. Where do you go?

        1. Even more interesting when it isn’t a competitive market. Court house A in Manukau doesn’t have to provide any parking and their customers get thrown in prison if they don’t show up. Do the customers not show up or do they park across the road in a shoppers carpark provided to enhance the shopping centre’s income? Same goes for Council Controlled Organisation B located in Henderson, why would they provide parking when they can just let their visitors park at Westfield? Economists can only deal with one market at a time so they say the problem is the parking market isnt priced without figuring out what cost that has on the retail business that has no interest in running commercial carparks.

          1. If Westfield is concerned about freeloaders, they can easily put up a boomgate and charge for parking Then they won’t care who parks there, because they’re paying a fair price. Westfield’s carpark effectively becomes a communal commercial parking garage for the whole town centre. That’s efficient, because peaks in demand for the various businesses around might be at different times, so the resource can be used more intensively. The transaction costs of oiling the boomgate etc will be a fleabite in proportion to Westfield’s turnover. They can refund their own customers if they wish (as an approximation to
            that, the supermarket near me gives the first hour free. I suppose they figure that’s enough for the grocery shopping, but you’ll end up paying if you walk down the street to have a coffee as well).

  9. Maybe MPRs are a secondary regulation designed to mitigate for less than ideal primary regulation.

    – Primary regulation – a city regulates people to live in dispersed single dwelling accommodation so the vast majority of people use cars as their transportation.
    – Commercial aspect – a supermarket offers lowest cost goods to attract a high volume customers, car-parks are a fixed cost that the supermarket wishes to avoid.
    – Secondary regulation – the supermarket parking will be over subscribed at some times, this will cause queues of cars to impinge on the surrounding streets – impeding traffic flow. The secondary regulation (MPR) acts to mitigate the problems caused by overflow.

    The ideal solution is to fix the problem with the primary regulation, so that the secondary regulation can be lessened.

    1. So MPRs are actually congestion busting tools? You think the provision of more parking will somehow reduce congestion? This is novel, but some evidence of this in practise would be good to see.

      1. No, they are congestion mitigation tools. Congestion busting tools are alternative modes of transport that can be supported within cities of reasonable density. However we live in Auckland and actively price density out of existence. Therefore we get to enjoy congestion and all its attendant regulatory failures – like these.

  10. Mfwic on economies of scale: Okay, I think I see what you’re getting at now: the big car park allows the supermarket to serve a large catchment area, which allows economies of scale, which allows it to offer cheaper prices, which benefits all customers including the non-drivers.
    All true – but again, it’s not relevant to Shoup’s point, which is simply that free parking at the supermarket makes the non-driving customers subsidise the drivers (since they all pay for it in the prices at the checkout). The fact that they all enjoy prices cheaper than the dairy doesn’t change that.
    I don’t think anyone is suggesting that suburban supermarkets should be prevented from providing as much parking as they want. No-one is suggesting that anyone should be forced to go back to shopping at more expensive dairies. ‘Charge for parking separately at the point of use where it’s practical to do so, so that price signals are clear’ is *not* the same as ‘artificially restrict the supply of parking’. [tbc]

  11. … Or is your concern that if the supermarket did institute pay parking, that would damage the economics of the business in some way that would effectively force people back to more expensive dairies? I think that’s unlikely. The grocery market shakes out between the supermarkets and dairies for many reasons to do with people’s price/convenience tradeoffs. A fee of a few dollars at the supermarket carpark (most which you would get back in lower bills at the checkout) isn’t going to change the shape of retailing noticeably.

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