This is another guest post from reader taka-ite. You can read his first one on Manukau’s Ronwood Ave carpark here.

The Writer

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.

Background Information

Panuku Development will develop a 450 space multi level parking building on the Gasometer site.


Given the poor economic performance of the Ronwood Avenue Car Park that I posted on previously I have examined this development.

  1. 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.
  2. 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 …”)
  3. 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?
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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).
  7. 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.
  8. I note that the Auckland Transport Parking Strategy provides that, “Use demand responsive pricing and charge the lowest rates possible to achieve occupancy targets.
  9. 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.
  10. 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?
  11. Car movements to the proposed gasometer parking building are likely to be detrimental to bus movements.
  12.  AT used to believe that demand for parking in Takapuna could be met by pricing mechanisms.
  13.  AT have recently consulted in Parnell to manage demand for parking by using pricing amongst other things.
  14. 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).
  15. 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.

“Executive Summary

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

Inadequate Planning

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?

Increased Congestion

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.

Carbon Emissions

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.”

Solutions

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.

Conclusion

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.

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30 comments

  1. “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.”

    This is incredible, really, isn’t it? Car parking provision induces traffic. Why wouldn’t they model the effects of that induced traffic?

    The effects will be mode share shift to cars from PT and active modes, added congestion, delays to buses, danger to active road users. Why is AT burying its head in the sand to avoid acknowledging this?

    1. I believe that the Gasometer site is the best site for the light rail station for the proposed Takapuna spur line advocated in the Congestion Free Network and as such it would be premature to build any carpark on the site…………….because once it has gone it’s gone and haven’t we done that far too often in the past.

  2. If they do a single purpose carpark building it will be a disaster.

    Did shorecity want to expand the mall by building a mall on the site and by joining up the new site to the old mall by an overbridge? First level can be street retail and top floors to be residential and offices. Let the car park be the basement.

      1. They can do an overbridge on Como st/lake road intersection.

        Alternatively they can buy the burger king site and use that.

  3. Do you have a link to the flow report, Taka-ite? I have found this: http://www.flownz.com/Projects/TakapunaTransportStrategyStudy.aspx

    The extra carparks will particularly undermine these “directions” of the Takapuna Strategic Framework:

    Manage the parking supply in a way that could support a shift to other modes of transport
    Improve pedestrian legibility and amenity in all street environments
    Achieve better connectivity between the Akoranga busway station, Barry’s Point and Takapuna
    Develop a safe on street cycle network around Takapuna that utilise its (relatively) flat topography
    Promote the design of streets (within Takapuna) to minimise severance effects of traffic on local communities
    Continue to seek improved bus services for those needing to access the Takapuna centre
    Investigate ways of improving connections to Takapuna’s western catchment area
    Promote the design of streets to maximise flexibility for the range of users
    Promote a balanced approach to providing road capacity and public transport improvements
    Support the investment in the bus rapid transit system with appropriate land use changes

    Does AT not see that by undermining all these directions, the cost to ratepayers is enormous? We’re trying so hard to provide transport options, shift mode-share away from driving to sustainable modes, make safety improvements, and it’s all costing money. But it all costs MUCH MUCH MORE when AT is making decisions like this that induce traffic and undo all the good work.

  4. Suggestion: Ask for the business case for the car park. This sort of investment should have a business case outlining costs and expected return based on proposed pricing.

  5. They should look again at the New Lynn model.

    When this was redeveloped, the 3-storey car park had a full floor of retail on the ground, plus future-proofing to take a 12-level apartment block on the top.

    The apartment block was completed about 2 years’ later, with 90% of apartments being sold off plans.

    Panuku can support the AT parking outcomes, but they should structure the deal and the development to ensure that a high level residential development can occur there to revitalise the town centre.

    New Lynn is a reasonable example of transit-oriented development, and is the right example for Panuku to turn to.

  6. Build a limited underground carpark of say 400 spaces (including 100 for residents) and build a 20+ level apartment building above it.
    Potentially leave a space for a future rail link to that site.

    1. Underground car parks are even more uneconomic than above ground – totally financially infeasible. Multi-level underground car parks even more so. Don’t even mention it.

  7. Clearly it is not viable and ratepayers should not be subsidising parking for long term lease. A case may be made that the council should provide some short term parking, so as to set a benchmark price for other operators. However given the amount of on-road parking in the vicinity its doubtful that a multi-storey carpark is justified for this purpose, especially if it does not pay for itself.
    Keep up the good work.

  8. May want to contact private parking companies.
    They may have reports they will let you see/use in support. After all, the more public parking reflects commercial costs, the more money they are also likely to make.
    Presumably there could also be illegalities in AT’s actions if government funding is subsidising against commercial activities.

  9. As people go about their business in the big city, it’s not the government’s job to find them a park any more than it’s the government’s job to pay for their coffees when they have a break.
    If the traders of Takapuna think that a shortage of parking is holding back their business, let them form a cooperative to develop a commercial paying carpark. If the numbers don’t stack up to make that viable, that shows it isn’t needed.

    1. Exactly.

      What’s the bet the people rallying against the loss of the council carpark are the same that resent the council for “wastage and over-spending”

    1. Yip, I’m pretty down about it today. The hoops the community has to go to just to get AT to stop wasting our money inducing traffic and creating sprawl!

      1. Heidi, change always starts somewhere. These days influencing someone is only an email address or social media post away. Carbon zero is going to happen and it will dramatically change Auckland. With 40% of emissions coming from fuel the way we travel has to change.

        I have another three or four posts regarding parking in development. It may not change much, but at least it might make some think.

  10. Fantastic post taka-ite – hope to see more from you in the future! I had missed your original post on Ronwood Avenue, which is also good reading.

    One thought, reflecting on this, is that parking pricing is a pretty good ‘trial run’ of what might happen if we put congestion pricing into place. There are some theory papers that show (reasonably convincingly, in my view) that optimising transport infrastructure supply will be a major source of economic gains from congestion pricing.

    But that’s contingent upon transport agencies trusting that price signals provide useful information, and that they can be used as an alternative to pouring concrete. The mixed record with parking supply suggests that we’ll probably end up leaving money on the table.

    One additional thought: There might be a case to build a consolidated parking garage in advance of deman demand, if it solves a ‘coordination problem’ for site-by-site redevelopment. It might give landowners confidence to redevelop sites with less or no parking, thereby avoiding a fragmented urban form. But I’m not sure that’s what’s going on here.

  11. Thanks Peter.

    I think that the introduction of congestion pricing will produce a very interesting discussion. Look at the battle to move petrol by 11 cents a litre.

    I agree with you that congestion pricing could produce huge gains for the economy. What if it reduces the need for an extra lane on the motorway? What if the money saved was spent on subsidies for public transport?

    Here’s a piece about Vienna where most of the spending is on PT and not roads. Here is a city where PT costs less than $2 per day and ridership is in excess of 950 million trips per year. A very different way to invest money with a very different result. Here, using the revenue from congestion pricing and applying it to public transport spending seems to be a great alternative to pouring concrete, using your words.

    A comparison between the development of operating cost subsidies from the
    City of Vienna and that of transport revenues (see diagram 2) reveals a markedly
    divergent pattern. While operating cost subsidies remain relatively constant, the
    average gradient of the transport revenues is approximately 4.1% per year. In
    2001, the transport revenue per passenger amounted to 0.43 Euros; by the year
    2012, that same parameter had risen to 0.53 Euros. Currently, that corresponds
    to almost 50% of the enterprise’s aggregate revenues. The operating cost
    subsidies contribute 29% of the aggregate revenue of Wiener Linien.
    16
    Table 4: Operating Figures 2001, 2006 and 2011
    (in millions of Euros)
    2001 2006 2011
    Transport revenues 312.0 367.3 458.4
    Operating result -130.0 -124.9 -127.4
    Financial result 13.4 36.8 7.7
    EGT -116.6 -88.1 -119.8
    Equity ratio (%) 89.1 90.3 86.7
    Investment intensity (%) 92.3 96.3 92.6
    Source: Wiener Linien, own compilation.
    Table 4 shows important operating parameters. Despite the significant
    operating cost subsidies from the City of Vienna and positive financial results,
    Wiener Linien reports a markedly negative operating income as a sole result of
    capital depreciation and other non-liquid expenditures.
    Over the past ten years, the total annual investment volume of Wiener Linien
    has oscillated between nearly 300 and just over 450 million Euros.

    1. So Vienna’s PT fares are low but due to high levels of ridership fares pay over 70% of operating costs? Am I reading that right?

      If so, that’s a great performance. No PT systems in the New World get much over 50% farebox recovery, and they generally achieve that with higher fares and much lower per-capita patronage.

      1. But don’t they also start with a different premise in their planning? Is there a New World city that set out to radically reduce its carbon emissions, or do they just try to offer travel choice?

      2. In Vienna and it’s ilk you can attribute it to land use and density. All of Vienna sits inside an area about 15km across, the same as Albany to Britomart. While we have a busway with five remote suburban or light industrial stations and one significant demand centre at one end, they’ll have a transit line with twenty-odd dense residential districts and/or demand centres all the way along.

        I wouldn’t be surprised if their ridership per service-km is an order of magnitude higher than ours, especially on their local buses.

        One caveat, they’ll also have a huge whack of capital invested in extensive transit infrastructure that allows for efficient operations, I guess that isn’t captured in the farebox equation.

      3. Peter having used the system I believe the Vienna cost recovery figures. It is heavily used all day, not just the peaks. When you run a good quality RTN system you can get higher cost recovery. Dublin and Nice LRTs both make a profit. Nantes LRT gets 70% cost recovery. Don’t look at US or UK examples; they are hopeless.

  12. Good post! The city has shown us that the way to improve retailing in a depressed centre is to get more population in the walk up catchment. So no to the car park and yes to medium/high density residential. Otherwise we are spending money creating another Albany.

    Council needs to move from being a supplier of parking services to a manager of parking demand. Parking in the past has been a net earner but, as Ronwood has shown, that is changing. With LRT to Takapuna, AVs, and changing behaviour, it may become a stranded asset.

    This whole thing sounds like it is about appeasing ocal shop keepers. Ok so if needed give them each a local parking permit. But don’t stuff up the strategy for the whole centre to appease one small group.

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