This is a Guest Post by Stephen Davis. It was originally published here and is republished with permission. It is a timely post given the government announced last week that it was considering getting rid of parking minimums as part of the proposed National Policy Statement for Urban Development.

Last year I wrote about why parking minimums are bad policy, and how easy it might be to end them. I also looked at the very different approach to parking taken in Japan, where parking is seen as an individual responsibility of the driver, and met through paying for unbundled parking at market rates.

This time, I want to look ahead and think past abolishing parking minimums to see what might happen to our cities here in New Zealand once parking minimums are gone everywhere.

The Short Term

What won’t change

On our first day without parking minimums, practically nothing will change. The number and position of carparking spaces will be what it was the day before. The number of cars will be pretty much the same. The trips people take will be the same. The appeal of alternatives to driving – cycling, walking, public transport, home delivery – will be the same. So it’s likely that businesses with free parking will keep offering it, paid parking lots will maintain their prices, and on-street parking will face about the same level of demand. So people will drive about as much as they did the day before, and park about as much, and pay about as much.

Urban development is not exactly a fast-paced business. “Rome wasn’t built in a day” is our go-to cliché for needing to have patience, after all. For a year or more, the developments actually being built will still have been designed and funded on the assumption of parking being required. Some developments may go back to the drawing board, but they’ll take longer. It will take some time before new buildings are built without parking.

It’s also worth noting that abolishing parking minimums will not automatically mean that buildings are built without parking. As long as driving remains dominant, parking is necessary. On-site parking will be more convenient, and a marketing advantage. How long that will stay true depends on how we respond to the new world.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

But the parking that existing buildings have is immediately up for grabs. Plenty of buildings will have resource consents that require a certain number spaces to be set aside for visitors, staff, or the like, but don’t actually use that many spaces regularly. They’ll have spare parking from day one, and start looking around for other ways to use it.

One obvious alternative use for an empty parking space is… parking cars. Just because one business has a surplus of spaces, doesn’t mean that its neighbours do. Renting out your surplus spaces or simply selling them is a quick way to get a return. In places that are still car-oriented, but with large stocks of existing off-street parking in excess of what regularly gets used, this will probably kill the construction of new parking spaces immediately, as renting or buying existing parks will be cheaper.

In places where even right now there genuinely is just too much parking, even for free, parking spaces can be reused relatively quickly for storage, for pop-up shops, food trucks, or other uses, and this is something that’s pretty common now in those New Zealand CBDs that already don’t have parking minimums.

ReStart mall in Christchurch

ReStart mall in Christchurch. Shipping container malls are a quick way to make a commercial return somewhere with surplus paved space and demand for retail or hospitality. Photo credit: amanderson2 on Wikimedia

In residential areas, garages and driveways will be up for grabs. Where there’s ample on-street parking, but rents are high enough to justify it, people will convert garages to extra rooms (as they already do illegally).

At this point, the amount of driving we do will probably be unaffected, and the direct price of parking to drivers won’t be changed. Where parking was required to be provided under old resource consents, those costs were passed on in the form of higher rents – they still will be.

The situation on the street

The original motivation for parking minimums was to address the problems with on-street parking. Too many cars cruising for spaces that aren’t there adds to traffic congestion, pollution, and wastes a lot of time. It can encourage people to park illegally on grass verges, fire hydrants, footpaths, and so on. It also doesn’t work: ultimately, if there are more cars than spaces, some people won’t get a park, and they won’t be able to make whatever trip they came to do.

So if we don’t have parking minimums, what happens on the street? The answer is pretty simple: whatever happens right now. Parking minimums haven’t completely killed off the demand for street parking, which is still usually cheaper and often more convenient than off-street parking. City councils deal with this by limiting demand: time limits, increasing the price of parking meters, adding new meters where they didn’t exist before, and setting aside dedicated spaces for disabled people, vehicles making deliveries, and taxis1. In general, in commercial areas, it seems likely councils will settle on prioritising short-stay parking, deliveries, pick-up and drop-off, and installing parking meters for the remaining spaces. The prices will probably end up roughly in equilibrium with nearby commercial off-street parking.

The other possible response, which is far from inevitable but I think would be good, would be repurposing a lot of that on-street parking as well. Most cities have dismal provision for cycling, and a lot more cycle lanes could be built by removing a bit of on-street parking. Other reuses for on-street parking include:

  • bicycle and scooter parking, including dedicated spaces for dockless cycle and scooter share systems to keep them off the footpaths.
  • outdoor seating, street trees, and parklets.
  • wider footpaths, which often would simply be undoing older narrowings of those same footpaths.
  • bus lanes and light rail tracks.

In more suburban areas, often there’s ample on-street parking space. In which case, nothing need immediately change: we have those spaces, we might as well use them.

The in-between level is interesting. It’s likely many inner suburbs that currently have no restrictions will gain residential parking schemes or pricing for the first time. That’ll be politically interesting, but it’s likely inevitable anyway. There’s plenty of streets in Auckland, for example, built with one or two off-street spaces per house, but now occupied by flats with four, five or six cars between the tenants. Parking minimums or no, city councils will still need to do something to address the issue through managing on-street parking.

A residential street in Auckland full of parked cars.

One way or another, big cities will end up with cars parked wherever they are allowed, if parking is free or unmanaged. Photo credit: Brad Fults on Flickr

The Medium Term

Putting a price on parking

But reducing parking minimums is not just about making more efficient use of the parking we already have. Once parking competes for land space with other uses of land, sooner or later, private parking that doesn’t make a financial return will be replaced with something that does. In denser city centre areas, this will happen immediately. In suburban areas where everyone has a surplus of on-site parking already, it may take considerable time and redevelopment (which we’ll see in “Changing The Shape Of Our Cities”, below). But it will happen2.

Making a return on parking doesn’t necessarily mean putting up parking meters. There are New World and Countdown supermarkets in the Wellington and Auckland CBDs, built after the abolition of parking minimums in the particular areas they sit in, and they provide free customer parking now. They’re working on the assumption that most of their customers will still drive. They’re paying for parking either way: but bundling the cost of the parking into the goods in the supermarket is less hassle than establishing a paid parking system, which customers are often averse to.

Those supermarkets exist in an environment where the other parking around them is expensive, and so they have to pay for their own parking enforcement, checking that only customers park in the spaces they provide. Other businesses in that situation choose to monetise this. The Westfield 277 mall in Newmarket (now closed for refurbishment) offered free parking for customers, but also paid parking for non-customers. Either way, you’d take a ticket on the way in. To leave again, you’d need to validate the ticket. Customers would have the ticket “validated” when they made a purchase, non-customers would need to pay at a machine.

I think for retail, especially outside of city centres or transit hubs, this model will probably continue for big retailers even when it’s not required. Large-format retail is generally set up as a driving experience, most customers will still drive, and convenient “free” parking will still have marketing appeal.

But once parking minimums are optional, other options open up. Both Countdown and New World also offer “metro” stores in the CBDs, without parking. The prices are the same, generally, but the stores are in a better location. Other supermarkets also exist – particularly Asian supermarkets and specialist fruit and vegetable shops, and they compete on price. Customers have options.

Countdown Quay Street, in central Auckland. The developer was not required to provide customer parking when it was built, but chose to anyway.

Countdown Quay Street, in central Auckland. The developer was not required to provide customer parking when it was built, but chose to anyway. Photo credit: Richard001 on Wikimedia

Unbundling parking

The experience in the CBDs with no parking minimums is that aside from some retail, parking has generally just become “unbundled”. Apartments have residents’ parking as an optional extra. Office workers increasingly pay cash for spaces at work, or simply lease them from commercial parking buildings.

This unbundling of the cost of parking isn’t necessarily key to the longer-term benefits of abolishing parking minimums, but it is likely, and it is a good sign.

For drivers, this all probably sounds pretty off-putting – the experience of constantly paying for things that you currently do not need to pay for. It’s worth remembering that, actually, you doalready pay. All the free parking at shops, homes, or workplaces still costs money, and it’s still you who pays. The cost is just hidden in higher prices, higher rents, and lower wages.

You’ll often also be able to avoid paying these costs in future, which you can’t at the moment. You can avoid them by not driving – which brings us to:

Reaping the rewards

Driving has costs and benefits. The benefits flow entirely to the person doing the driving, in getting to their destination further (or getting to their destination at all, if it’s far enough away and there’s no alternative method). The costs are spread fairly widely. In non-monetary ways, there are costs from the impact on the environment, the injury and death from collisions, and the wasteful use of scarce urban land.

The costs are large in a lot of monetary ways, as well: the cost of building and maintaining roads is vastly higher if the roads have to handle car traffic rather than pedestrians. Traffic cops need to be paid, ACC needs to be funded, cars need to be inspected to make sure they’re safe. Most of those costs we attempt to pass on to the drivers themselves. They are the ones who reap the benefits, they are the ones who should pay the costs – it’s only fair.

But it’s also expensive directly. As well as paying the taxes to cover the costs above (and even then those taxes only cover part of those costs), cars cost thousands of dollars every year in depreciation, insurance, and servicing, before they’ve travelled a single metre. Then you’ve got to fuel them.

Unbundled parking is just another step in our attempts to put the cost of driving on drivers, in proportion to how much of that cost they cause, rather than onto the general public equally. But all this mounts up to a pretty amazingly big bill, to run a car.

But that means it also adds up to a pretty big saving you can make, by owning one car instead of two, or zero cars instead of one. Even just reducing the amount of driving you do will provide savings from not parking it as often.

But reducing the driving you do relies on having some alternatives to driving.

Central and local government have spent decades talking about encouraging alternatives to driving. Cycling and walking are (obviously) already cheaper to users than driving. People avoid cycling because they perceive it to be dangerous. People avoid walking because most of our urban areas make walking unpleasant, and because all of the space used for cars means our cities are just too spread spread out, and most destinations end up farther than a practical walking distance. In Auckland, often beyond cycling distance too.

Public transport, though, often isn’t cheaper than driving. With driving being relatively more expensive, by paying for parking, public transport becomes more attractive by contrast. This will get more people on public transport, which will bring in more money (and more political will) to fund improvements to public transport, in a virtuous cycle of improvements.

Part of the problem with public transport is the high fixed costs. With higher ridership, public transport services can end up with better quality services, lower fares, and lower government subsidies – simply because the costs are spread over more people.

But the big wins won’t come from just changes in the relative price of alternatives. If there’s nowhere to walk, people won’t walk no matter how much it saves. If the bus takes three hours versus half an hour driving, people will still pay a fortune to drive.

The true benefits of removing parking minimums will come much further in the future, when we build vastly less parking – because we simply don’t need nearly as much parking.

Two standalone car garages in a leafy setting.

Owners of existing carparks may find it more lucrative to rent them out or convert them to other uses. Photo: Author

The Long Term

I’m pretty confident about the short and medium term. We’ve had experience with removing parking minimums in some small ways in New Zealand already, and this serves as a good guide. Wellington almost completely abolished minimums for commercial uses in 2000. Auckland has attempted to abolish most commercial minimums in town centres, and in higher-density residential zones, although there is still court action over this change. Those two cities and many others, including Christchurch, Tauranga, and Queenstown, have all abolished parking requirements completely in their city centres. There’s also plenty of overseas jurisdictions to look at that have abandoned or never had parking minimums.

The benefits even in the short term make abolition worthwhile. Even if the amount of driving doesn’t reduce, eliminating parking minimums will still lead to more efficient use of urban space, and a fairer distribution of costs.

The long term effects of getting rid of parking minimums are harder to predict, although it has potentially even greater benefits. So what follows is what I want to happen, which is also what I think will happen. It will depend on other policies as well, not just the abolition of parking minimums.

Before we look at the future, though, let’s look at the past.

We changed the shape of our cities

Our cities were not always built around the car. In was a process that started in the 1920s and 30s, when cars rapidly went from being a niche hobby for eccentrics to being de rigueur for the upper middle class. It became quickly apparent that there was not enough room on existing city streets for cars, and traffic congestion undid the benefits that cars might have for their users. People genuinely thought motoring, and only motoring, was the future. There was no talk, then, of a “balanced” transport policy, or that driving was “revealed preference”. Driving was something to be encouraged, whether individuals liked it or not.

New Zealand for the next half-century or so followed the model the United States was setting: remake cities to make cars useful. Streets were widened, parking garages were built, and parking minimums were first introduced. Cities expanded outward, and the new suburban areas were built from scratch for the car. At their worst, they had street networks designed to make buses and trams impossible, no footpaths at all, and high-speed roads with no separation for cyclists. Parking minimums were a crucial part of this: if everyone must drive, everyone must park, so there must be enough parking. All that parking, in turn, just made it harder to walk, by spreading destinations out further.

Aerial view of Botany, Auckland, a place with most of its land devoted to storing or moving cars

If your city looks like this, most people will still drive, even if they have to pay a bit for parking. Photo credit: Auckland Council.

I would describe this entire process as a mistake, and I think many of the people reading this would agree. But there are still people now who think that we were right to encourage driving, and only driving. That walking or trains are old-fashioned3. I don’t have much to say to them: they’re a small minority we will probably not convince.

But I think the more popular view, particularly among policymakers of the last few decades, simply is a muddled view of the history, or a lack of understanding that the utility of cars comes from a city specifically designed to make cars useful. The idea that almost everybody drives for almost every trip is seen as an unstoppable force of nature. “Aucklanders love their cars” was a popular refrain of the 1990s. Driving has not been deliberately designed: it has won some sort of pure free-market competition4 for hearts and minds, and the government has no choice but to reluctantly go along with it.

It’s for these people that I think ending parking minimums will be an eye-opener.

We can change the shape of our cities again

Building our cities around cars took decades. Undoing it, and building our cities around people, will also take decades. But I don’t think it will be necessarily as hard to undo as it was to do. Doing it required massive state expenditure and coordinated political will.

Cars are not just a negative imposition on non-drivers in cities, but I think they’re actually not very practical for drivers, either. Making driving practical requires vast expense, but also requires cities to be designed in a particular form where only driving is practical. The problem with cars is space, and in cities, space is scarce. But we don’t see that tradeoff when parking is free: we see parking itself as a scarce resource that needs protecting. Once parking has a price, we see more clearly that parking is not just a thing of value, but also a burden.

Cars, if they don’t suffer congestion, and there’s adequate parking, allow people living in the city to access more space. But they also use vast amounts of space, and in denser cities (like Auckland!) the space they use outweighs the space they open up. More than two-thirds of the land in Manukau is dedicated to moving and storing cars: and even that is not enough space devoted to cars to be able to eliminate congestion.

In short: cars are useful for covering the long trips that are only necessary because everything is spread out, because things need to be spread out to make room for the cars.

Perhaps, our cities can change shape for us

So if cars really do just not work in cities, undoing the motorising of cities can also perhaps be partly a natural, organic process. Every step of the way heaps a larger proportion of the costs of driving on drivers, and does less to insulate drivers from the inherent problems of space that cars cause.

Every marginal little change will remove a driving trip here, a parking space there. Those slivers of space from parking spaces and traffic lanes add up to an extra apartment here, a bike lane there. Those each remove more driving trips and more parking spaces, in a virtuous cycle.

It won’t happen overnight. Removing parking minimums is the start of an evolution, not a revolution. There’s also plenty more other than parking policy that affects driving: probably the biggest factor in big cities is the allocation of street space between different modes of transport. In those larger cities, the government will also need to invest serious money in building capacity and improving speed in public transport for longer trips. It genuinely is an investment, though – without subsidised driving, investments in better public transport will pay off more readily in higher ridership and thus higher fare income.

Perhaps someday, we can have a transport system that does not require subsidy, for cars orpublic transport.

Better yet, we can hopefully have a transport system that does not cost as much for its users, and generally does not kill them from collisions or air pollution, change the climate of their planet for the worse, or isolate those financially, physically or mentally unable to drive.

To the extent that there can ever genuinely be a competition on a level playing field for the “best” form of transport in cities, I think that cars generally will lose, except in the odd minor niche. They will never entirely disappear, but for the majority of trips in big cities, people won’t choose cars.

Parking minimums are not the only obstacle to this goal. But they are the biggest obstacle that prevents us from starting, and something that will keep sabotaging any alternative to driving as long as they exist.

Vulcan Lane, Auckland, full of people and empty of cars

If your city looks like this, most people wouldn’t drive if you paid them. Photo credit: ChewyPineapple on Wikimedia


Notes

  1. By taxis I also include “rideshare” systems like SuperShuttle, Zoomy, Ola, and Uber. It’s possible cities will increasingly look at having spaces specifically for picking up and dropping off passengers, since taxis are increasingly hailed by apps rather than walking to a rank of waiting cars. 
  2. In truly rural areas where cars are the only practical way to get around and space is cheap, parking will probably remain free indefinitely, as it’s simply not worth the bother of charging for. 
  3. That said, this piece turns that view around and suggests that maybe we can see walking as being the most modern and high-tech form of transport
  4. The 1980s and 1990s were the high-water mark in politics of insisting that everything about the world, good or bad, was simply “revealed preference” that people liked whatever it was that was happening to them. Therefore the government should do nothing and/or keep doing whatever it was doing before. 
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38 comments

  1. Well said. How much space in the cbd is taken up with parking? Would love to know how the proportions stack up against other similar size cities.

    1. I don’t know how much space is taken up by parking in Auckland city centre, but I have seen data on comparative numbers of car-parks in different cities.

      Turns out Auckland’s city centre has about the same number of car-parks (say around 60,000) as Sydney and Melbourne, which are cities almost three times as large.

      So it seems that beyond a certain size, density, and level of accessibility, the number of car-parks exhibits diminishing returns. Also worth noting in Sydney and Melbourne they apply annual workplace parking levies of ~$2,000 p.a.

      1. Interesting, Stu. I’ve seen lower figures for Sydney and haven’t looked at Melbourne. Can you link to those figures?

      2. @Alex: an estimate of space occupied is fairly easy to identify from Stu’s count. Rule of thumb is each space averages at 30m2 (allows of associated share of moving aisles etc). 60,000 spaces is therefore around 1.8 million m2.

        Commercial bay has around 57,000m2 of tower commercial and retail floor area (their website), so the 60,000 spaces is equal to more than 31 Commercial Bay developments.

        Quick calcs, apologies to any errors or omissions.

      3. How would each of the three options the Govt. is consulting change the current level of parking in the CBD?
        Option 1 (name it the “Scary Option” Put in to Make the Others Look Reasonable) won’t change decrease the current parking levels because none of the existing parking spaces are required by any rule. The number of spaces could increase if the market supports that.
        Option 2 (name it “Julie-Anne Agenda”) – there would be no decrease in parking as it isn’t required by any rule, the maximum rules would limit additional parking. So no real change in the CBD.
        Option 3 (name it “The Pro-Active Do nothing”) – would not increase or decrease would happens now in the CBD.

        1. You missed the 4th option

          Option 4 (name it the Miffy option) – Moan about it on the internet without offering any ideas or solutions.

        2. Huh? I like the current set of rules. I think they got it mostly right. the only improvements would be to make the assessment criteria more obvious and clearly worded and then provide some staff training to AT and the Council so they criteria are applied properly. Getting the correct discretion out of some of them is like trying to pull teeth out.
          If we can’t have that then the only justifiable option is option 1 which takes complete control away from the Council.

      4. Hi Stu,

        Where did you get the 60,000 from?

        It would be really good to understand what that number is made up of… i.e on-street, off-street (office tower, residential, public parking etc). 60,000 seems like a lot of spaces.

        The case for retaining on-street parking in the city centre is pretty difficult to sustain when it could be used for something else. I’m guessing there is ample off-street supply.

  2. In related news you may be interested in the NPS Urban Development discussion document where it is proposed to remove minimum parking requirements to a greater or lesser degree

    https://www.mfe.govt.nz/consultations/nps-urbandevelopment

    (p40)

    “It is proposed that the NPS-UD include a policy that limits the ability for local authorities in major urban centres to regulate the number of car parks required for a development. We are consulting on three possible options:
    • Option 1: removing the ability for local authorities to regulate the requisite number of car parks.
    • Option 2: removing the ability for local authorities to set minimum car park requirements.
    • Option 3: removing the ability for local authorities to set minimum car park requirements in areas providing for more intensive development.

    1. Option 1 and 2 are preferred.

      Be wary of option 3: It sounds reasonable but will do. pretty. much. nothing.

      I also don’t know why the NPS only applies this to major cities. Many of New Zealand’s smaller cities are growing fast and it would be good to enable them to do so without baking in such high-levels of car-dependence.

      1. Agree. And I also understand that this might be the ‘default position’ internally in the government, as well as something Auckland Council demands. In terms of Auckland it would effectively be the status quo – no minimums in THAB, minimums in other zones.
        If people favour no minimums at all, like I do, then you should seriously think about submitting on this.

    2. They will go for option 2 because most of the people who claim there is no economic justification for parking rules seem to make a lot of supporting noise when the council wants rid of parking minimums. But those same people go very quiet if someone points out their same economic arguments support getting rid of maximums.

      Oh and don’t mention bike parking. For some reason minimum bike parking rules are ok even though they are a rule requiring a minimum consumption level. Go figure. Maybe these people have an agenda.

  3. … in before Miffy’s head explodes.

    Great post, one of the best discussions of why parking minimums are dumb that I have come across.

    1. Not exploded yet but…
      This policy requires parking congestion to work (or only works if there is parking congestion.) If parking isn’t needed or wanted then the rules already don’t apply, the assessment criteria remove the need to provide parking.
      So the real goal is to allow development that creates parking demand to be built without providing any parking. The assumption being that if people can’t find parking then they will still come but will change mode. More likely is people will drive further to where there is parking and in the longer term centres will campaign for parking areas built from the public purse like almost every pre-war centre did as their customers started to use cars.
      But hey what has revealed preference got to do with anything? It is not like it shows people tastes and preferences or anything like that.

      And I particularly liked the posters idea that you can increased the competition for use of on-street parking and still manage to re-purpose it for other things. I am looking forward to watching that shit fight, (seriously I am).

      1. Well that’s complete horseshit Miffy. I applied for a subdivision where I didn’t want nor need parking, and there is no parking congestion in the neighbourhood either. However, the rules still applied and there was no ability to not build off street parking. Exactly because of the minimum parking requirement.

        This forces a poor utilisation of the site that affects the building footprint, forces a lot of land area to be paved for the requisite manoeuvring space, and cost a bomb in construction costs and inspection fees to cut kerbs and build crossings.

        All in all, the minimum parking requirement amounts to an increased price of an extra $100k per unit in my case. So someone is going to pay an extra hundred grand to buy a compromised home that has a legally mandated parking spot they probably won’t actually use.

        1. Then you haven’t read the AUP. Assessment criteria are listed in E27.8.2(5) a thru g.
          Secondly parking is required for activities not subdivisions. nobody cares if you hold an industrial site in one title or 6 titles, there is no requirement for parking until you put an activity there. If you are doing a residential development of small sites that isn’t permitted then you might have to show you can meet the activity rules. the problem you would have there is showing that a future owner didn’t need the parking. Saying you don’t want to provide it isn’t sufficient and why should it be? Perhaps I should have said “if parking isn’t needed and wanted” rather than or for correctness.

        2. Yes I read, applied, argued, and employed consultants to argue the case also.

          The subdivision requires the vehicle crossing, even if you don’t plan to put anything on it you must build the vehicle crossing and prove the parking can fit. They won’t process a subdivision without the land use indicated.

          I even argued that was crazy because I don’t know where the buyer might want their driveway to suit their house. The councils response was “you have to build the driveway or we won’t sign off the title survey” and suggested the next owner could apply for a building consent to rip up the driveway and rebuild it elsewhere if they wanted something different.

          Speculating on what a future owner might or might not want is pure idiocy. If they want a house with a driveway they can buy one with a driveway, or where one can be added. Shall I be forced to paint my kitchen pink just in case a future buyer wants a pink kitchen? Shall we make en-suite bathrooms mandatory because a future owner might want a second shower in the house?

          Those poor retarded house buyers, imagine accidentally buying a house without looking at it first, only to discover it doesn’t have some of the things you wanted.

        3. Yes I understand, a title can only be issued to a site that has access. That was done years ago to avoid the Wellington type thing where a site is on top of a cliff with no way up there. People have managed to get approvals showing walking access only on some sites. There is practically no discretion on the access issue but total discretion on the number of spaces. So weirdly you can get a resource consent for no parking but still not get a title if access isn’t possible. I don’t think the proposed National policy helps you there as it isn’t minimum parking rules that are stopping you.

        4. The site is a corner that has access from two street frontages, that’s not a problem. It’s the requirement to allocate land to driveways and circulation space to build off street parking that is the problem.

          If there was no minimum parking requirement, I would be able to build more, better quality housing for a cheaper price. Instead I’m forced to pave over a significant proportion of the land and make the building footprints smaller and more compromised, all for extra parking that isn’t needed in a neighbourhood where 25% of households don’t even own a car. Storage of cars meeting the regulations is paramount, but not once did that have anything to say about the storage of people. I don’t even have to show what the housing might look like, but I do have to design and build the exact location of the parking to get a title.

          I know you like to say that the rules are there to be broken and that there is discretion etc… except in practice there isn’t, because a council officer simply refers to the handbook and demands it all meet the rules. Nobody ever got fired for pointing at the rule book, no council ever got sued for business as usual backed up by statutory documents.

        5. I sympathise.
          What I’ve heard in Auckland is that pedestrian access isn’t considered sufficient in terms of subdivision. Only vehicular access. Seems a bit inflexible.

  4. I summarise them as:
    Option 1: No maximums or Minimums, anywhere (ie market can decide)
    Option 2: No minimums, anywhere (ie let the market decide, but maximums could be imposed)
    Option 3: No minimums in specific locations (in intensive locations let the market decide, but maximums could be imposed , but parking regulated as per now elsewhere)

    Option 3 is pretty much where the AUP landed, and that has made a significant difference in some cases, so i dont think its far to say it will do nothing, and i also think its probably a reasonable compromise for most places in NZ. However as it only applies to specific cities (based on an arbitrary list) maybe option 2 is better? Option 1 is a bit to far beyond current accepted practice to be politically palatable IMO

      1. Heidi, in what case were they overridden? I wouldn’t mind reading.

        BTW, Great to see the environment court making decisions that both over ride the plan of the democratically elected Auckland council & are detrimental to the environment.

        1. Hi Donny, it isn’t just the AUP parking maximums that are overridden; I believe the parking maximums in the earlier plan were as well.

          The problem occurs because the Environment Court accepts that the traffic is detrimental to the environment, but it believes the traffic is induced only by the activity, not by the parking provision. And as a way to mitigate the traffic induced, it requires parking to be provided. Of course, this excessive parking provision then induces more traffic.

          https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2016/01/the-strongest-case-yet-that-excessive-parking-causes-more-driving/423663/

          An example is the Sky City Convention Centre, which under the old plan would have been limited to 280 parking spaces, and under the AUP would have been limited to 200 spaces (correct me if I’m wrong, anyone). According to the website for the casino: “The SkyCity Main Site Car Park is Auckland’s biggest Car Park with 1,960 parks”… but they still applied to have 1415 new parks at the convention centre, significantly more than the parking maximum.

          Council rightly resisted this: “Auckland Council had argued that the 1415 parking spaces in the development would have an effect on traffic and pedestrian access,” but the independent commissioners insisted that the extra carparks would not have more than a “less than minor” effect.

          So the consent didn’t even need to be publicly notified, and we’ll be even further away from the low-traffic environment we need in the city for safety.

        2. Amazingly, the 1900 car parks were not enough to meet Sky City’s minimum requirements when they obtained consent in the early 90s. This required at least 2500 car parks to be provided.

        3. Rules are overridden every day. That is why the AUP contains assessment criteria- so you don’t have to conform to a rule written in advance that might not be relevant to your development. The AUP is full of discretionary activities. If the assessment criteria are not relevant then the Act lets you make an application for a non-complying activity. None of this is new. Even prior to 1991 the old Town and Country Planning Act allowed you to apply for conditional uses or a specified departure.
          This is why people’s aversion to minimum parking rules is just so daft in this country. In the USA they don’t apply them with flexibility, here it is all about flexibility. But people like to read shit on the internet and copy what americans do.

        4. I’ve no problem with a set of guidelines that are applied flexibly but carefully to achieve good outcomes. Adding 1415 carparks there is not a good outcome.

    1. Option 1 would politically be the be the more intelligent option for the current government. As the centre right would be basically arguing the free market is a bad thing if they are against the policy.

  5. The impressive thing about that aerial image is that it only shows half the parking of that shopping centre. You can almost feel the optimism from when that was built. Surely that would be wide / large enough to never congest.

    The case of Les Mills building that parking lot is interesting. Not just for the irony. I understood the plan is to still provide free parking. How many membership fees do you need to collect to pay for just that parking? Why not charge for this parking? But also, walk around in the area. Look at what the surrounding city looks like. I don’t blame them for building that parking lot.

  6. “But I think the more popular view, particularly among policymakers of the last few decades, simply is a muddled view of the history, or a lack of understanding that the utility of cars comes from a city specifically designed to make cars useful.”

    Great article. It’s a shame that the policy makers have displayed the muddled view you mention, in proposing an 18 month phase-in period for the removal of parking minimums. As you say nothing will instantly change on day one after minimums are removed, it’s not a ban on parking, and tonnes of parking will continue to exist. Unlike something like getting rid of plastic bags no phase in is required at all because the rules only apply to future development and developers can still provide parking if they choose.

    But the 18 month delay will mean we will have another 2 years of forced oversupply of parking. Over 2 years over 50 000 houses are likely to be built in NZ, meaning thousands of additional parking spaces will be built that may not have been if not for this rule.

  7. Great article.
    ” Just because one business has a surplus of spaces, doesn’t mean that its neighbours do. Renting out your surplus spaces or simply selling them is a quick way to get a return.”
    Yes there is a website/app I think that helps with this – allowing the offering & booking of parking sites in Auckland IIRC – was looking at the other week.

    1. Parkable is the only one I know of. I suspect it’d take off post-minimums, and maybe get a few competitors (if there aren’t any already).

      There’s a big catch for now in that many existing spaces that were built because of parking minimums still have resource consent conditions that require them to be used only for people who live or work or are visiting the same site. Usually not the case for residential areas, but it’s frequent to have that condition in city/town centres.

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