This is another guest post from reader taka-ite. You can read his first one on Manukau’s Ronwood Ave carpark here.
The writer has been a resident of Takapuna for about eight years. He is a fervent proponent of intensification and is not worried that some of it might occur in his backyard. He currently lives adjacent to a mid rise apartment and two other are being developed within 400m of where he lives.
Panuku Development will develop a 450 space multi level parking building on the Gasometer site.
- This proposal originated when Auckland Council decided to proceed with redevelopment of the 250 space car park at 40 Anzac Street and AT determined that it was necessary to provide at least 400 replacement spaces elsewhere. While this seems intuitive thinking a previous report commissioned by AT (the flow Report) suggests this is not so.
- AT currently controls about 2300 parking spaces in Takapuna and current peak demand is about 1500 short stay spaces, projected to increase to 2000 in the long term, which is by 2046. (AT publication “Have your say …”)
- Despite this huge number of car parks available, currently there are 11 vacant commercial premises on Hurstmere Road alone. Maybe masses of parking spaces are not the answer to commercial success?
- Current pricing for the leased gasometer site is $155 per month. This price level suggests that it will be extremely difficult for a multi-level structure to produce satisfactory returns.
- Current gasometer site parking prices are very comfortably the cheapest in the area. Because of this, demand for these spaces seems to way outstrip supply and this is indicated on AT parking sites.
- While the gasometer parking prices are at $5 per day, or $7 per week day, every other privately operated carpark in close proximity to the gasometer site is $12 or $14 for a daily earlybird space. (Yes that includes one 20m away).
- AT appears to believe that it has an obligation to provide cheap parking. At a presentation for the redevelopment of Hurtsmere Road an AT official informed me of this. AT have denied this when responding to an OIA request, but the Parking Strategy clearly facilitates very cheap parking as evidenced by the Victoria Street car park.
- I note that the Auckland Transport Parking Strategy provides that, “Use demand responsive pricing and charge the lowest rates possible to achieve occupancy targets.
- The gasometer site is about 200m from the main transport hub that brings people to Takapuna by bus from every direction apart from the sea.
- AT will (finally) implement the new northern bus timetable in October of this year. Given that it is largely the proposal that AT proposed is it safe to assume that it represents the public transport changes that AT thought most desirable?
- Car movements to the proposed gasometer parking building are likely to be detrimental to bus movements.
- AT used to believe that demand for parking in Takapuna could be met by pricing mechanisms.
- AT have recently consulted in Parnell to manage demand for parking by using pricing amongst other things.
- North Shore councillor Chris Darby says in June 2014, ACPL failed to get favourable terms with supermarket Foodstuffs. (This suggests that a car park of this scale simply wouldn’t stack up as a commercial proposition).
- Nowhere has there been any acknowledgement of the effects of climate change. The proposal in its simplest form says; let’s increase the number of car parks by somewhere around 25% and, of course, car movements will increase by the same amount.
My Letter to the Mayor
Concerned that the proposed car park was likely to be a fiasco much as arguably the Ronwood car park is I wrote to the Mayor.
I have reproduced this (with minor alterations) from a previous post as it encapsulates on a high level the issues regarding this car park.
The proposed Gasometer car park building is a $30 million project including land cost. The analysis done for a project of such a scale seems woefully inadequate with the fundamental component, demand, not established. AT has acknowledged that.
It is strongly arguable that AT can not met the other test required to allow the project to proceed, that the project will be commercially viable. Of course, this factor will be determined by the first.
I do not need to tell you what your Council Plan, AT’s Statement of Intent or Panuku’s Vision Statement say, but it is difficult to see how this project sits within these parameters. I am particularly appalled that it can be considered part of Panuku’s Vision Statement for Takapuna.
These projects (another car park on the 40 Anzac St site is still a possibility) appear to fail miserably against all standards that might be expected: adequate planning; acting in accord with current policies; reduction of congestion; reduction of vehicle pollution; reduction of carbon emissions; preservation of land for housing; and sound financial management.
Why These Projects Just Don’t Stack Up
My first concern is that the decision to proceed with the proposal is based on car park demand analysis done in 2016, which was prior to AT increasing prices in 2017. (That analysis was part of a report prepared by flow Transportation Specialists and I shall refer to this as the flow Report). Those price increases were supposedly to reduce demand. (A letter of 30 October 2017 obtained under an OIA request says, “It should be noted that AT has introduced a new pricing regime in Takapuna since the Flow report was undertaken. Accordingly, the demand context may have changed somewhat in the intervening year”.)
AT then proceeded to make projections for parking demand in 2046. The projected demand for parking they used is based on a car mode share of 75%, only slightly down from the current level of 82%. It should be noted that the ART assumption is 59%. Both of these figures seem bizarrely high given that the recently released Auckland Plan predicts a car mode share for the city of only 27%. It will not be lost on you that Takapuna is accessible from all directions, save the sea, by public transport and it is hard to see the cause for such pessimism that people will feel compelled to drive to Takapuna.
I cannot tell from my enquiries whether AT is legally required to provide public car parking on the 40 Anzac site. Could AT be in the situation that they are building two car parks simultaneously to meet demand only predicted in 2046?
Of course the more significant issue is 75% car mode share of what. ART predictions show that the number of households in Takapuna is likely to be four times the current number by 2046 and employment will double. Potentially carbon emissions could increase by 300% in respect to vehicle traffic to Takapuna.
Another issue identified by the flow report was that the road corridors to Tapapuna are unlikely to be able to cater for the demand caused by significant extra vehicle traffic caused by more car parking. This point was addressed in an internal AT email dated 22 February 2017, “limited capacity for traffic growth on the corridors leading to Takapuna logically leads us to put a cap on parking”. This simply hasn’t happened.
I note that AT, rightly, have set ambitious targets for the reduction of vehicle carbon emissions. It is hard to imagine that these might be achieved if the metropolitan areas where success should come more easily cannot achieve those targets.
Restricting Public Transport Flow
Both of these projects lie on the current bus route and so significant traffic movements due to accessing car parks is likely to impact bus movements. An internal AT email of 22 February released in an OIA request shows that no modelling of traffic impacts has been done despite traffic from both proposed car parks likely to impact on bus movements.
Current Lack of Responsible Pricing for Car Parks
Very arguably the current shortage of car parking in Takapuna is due to AT’s current pricing of car parks. Car parks are full because they are too cheap. The flow Report said, “it (the high utilisation of the Anzac St park) could be the result of the pricing being low and not sufficiently managing the demand”.
The long stay market is distorted by the ridiculously cheap prices that AT charge. The gasometer site is $155 per month or $5 per day. Compare this with the three private sector car parks within 200m of this facility that are $14 per day (one seems to fluctuate between $12 and $14). As you might expect with such low pricing there are significant waiting lists for the AT sites.
The current pricing begs the question, for whose benefit is AT operating these car parks. It is certainly not for the benefit of rate payers.
AT has Acted contrary to Expert Advice
Without being disrespectful, AT received the “flow Report” in 2016 that suggested AT should address the problem of increased demand by decreasing the number of long term parkers using pricing mechanisms. AT has done nothing and appears to intend to do nothing. A recent OIA request reveals that currently AT has no plans to increase parking prices for the Gasometer site.
More importantly, what AT has decided to do is directly contrary to the advice of their commissioned report, the flow Report which advises against a “predict and provide” approach. At page ii, “This approach would also require significant investment in parking buildings, and tie up significant areas of land for parking, rather than land uses that contribute to the metropolitan centre.”
AT’s Non Adherence to Current Policies
I note that the AT Parking strategy is to transition away from long term commuter parking. This will not be addressed by the current proposal. Reasonable consideration of current demand suggests that long term leases will be required to make the new buildings appear to work.
Policies 1B, 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D and Table 5 of the AT Parking strategy are clearly the factors that are relevant. I am not going to comment on all of these items individually; suffice it to say that the flow Report looked at these factors and came up with entirely sensible, better options.
As mentioned earlier, this whole premise is built on very rocky ground; what is and would demand be if AT managed parking prices in accord with the aforementioned policies?
The strategy also states that new off street facilities must be both commercially viable and justified by demand. AT seems unable to meet the second criteria because they simply don’t know what demand will be. In my view AT will also fail to meet the test of being “commercially viable.” The words need to be read together first of all. The Cambridge Dictionary defines commercially viable as, “the ability of a business, product, or service to compete effectively and to make a profit:” It is enormously problematic whether either of these buildings can achieve that. In response to an OIA request AT informs me that the Ronwood Avenue carpark has only a 0.4% return on the cost of land and buildings. The predominant reason for that seems to be that the cost of parking is just so cheap, as it is in Takapuna, and adding 450 car parks won’t allow prices to rise anytime soon, presuming AT had a will to do so. While the Ronwood Avenue car park is said to make a profit this is completely disingenuous as it ignores the cost of capital.
Loss of Valuable Housing Land
Both 40 Anzac Street and the Gasometer site represent excellent opportunities for high or medium rise apartments or commercial facilities (and therefore represent outstanding land use and I am completely supportive of this). And the flow Report agrees. “This would tie up significant areas of land for parking, rather than land uses that contribute to the metropolitan centre.”
The development of 40 Anzac Street will at some stage displace 250 vehicles. It is difficult for me to comment with any degree of accuracy regarding solutions because I simply don’t know how Panuku intends to develop the 40 Anzac St site. If this is a progressive development then significant parts may initially remain available for car parking use in the short term while AT progresses alternatives.
A part of the initial solution lies in the document, Takapuna Parking Strategy (supplied under an OIA request, seemingly undated); “4.3 This could be readily made up from the transition of leased parking from the beachfront to short term management” and at “4.4 AT lease parking will eventually be transitioned to short stay.”
Again the flow report is helpful. The flow Report recommends “the conversion of some long term parking spaces to short term spaces.” It identified that the primary way to find additional short term parking spaces was to reduce or eliminate the amount of long term parking. It is useful to note that flow believe the situation could be entirely fixed by the latter approach. Not only is this a no cost solution for AT, but is likely to be highly profitable as they manage demand with price increases.
Perhaps part of the answer lies in what AT proposed only last year in Parnell. Faced with a significant shortage of parking, AT proposed that on street parking to be priced at $5 per hour after the first two hours. (Takapuna pricing is only $2.00 per hour and so there seems considerable scope for movement. Based on the price elasticity provided by an AT email of 12 October of -0.2 (i.e. a doubling of cost produces 20% less demand) any immediate shortfall in parking caused by redeveloping 40 Anzac could be instantly met by this measure alone.
This is just a superficial consideration of the solutions available; and these are already known to AT; so the need for this very expensive project seems completely unjustified because there are so many realistic alternatives.
I hope that you will see that these projects are wrong in so many ways and will request AT / Panuku to find different solutions.”
The Way Forward
AT is caught in an unenviable position. Currently coming from one direction is a group of local citizens who believe that they have been conferred a right to have parking on the site at 40 Anzac St, seemingly in perpetuity. They are pursuing this action in the High Court. I am contending that the AT Parking Strategy does not permit AT to build on the Gasometer site.
Regardless of the politics of the matter AT and Auckland Council are required to arrive at a solution that complies with their operating procedures.
I have advised AT that I intend to lodge a complaint with the Ombudsman.
If anyone has any useful suggestions to form part of my submissions I welcome your comments.