Parking management sounds like it’s pretty boring, but actually has huge impacts on both the transport system and the shape of our cities. Parking is, quite literally, where transport and land-use intersect, and we see how much space needs to be dedicated in our cities to vehicle storage.

Over the years we have talked a lot about the need to manage parking better – and there has been good progress such as the elimination of minimum parking requirements and Auckland Transport’s pretty good parking strategies and policies. Unfortunately AT are often reluctant to follow their own policies when it comes to parking (sound familiar?) and seem to have a particular aversion to actually enforcing their parking rules.

Managing parking is a challenge for all successful cities. If parking isn’t a difficult issue for an area, then it suggests that area is either failing or has completely sacrificed everything else so that people find it easy to park.

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

Complicating things further, parking management is often quite counter-intuitive. Steps that appear to be aimed at making it easier, such as building more parking, making it free or not having time limits, tend to encourage more people to drive and/or stay longer which ends up making it harder to find a space after all.

Furthermore, dedicating so much land to parking – land that has real value and could be used for something else if it wasn’t asphalt – acts as a giant hidden subsidy for driving, increasing the costs of goods and services whether you drive or not and undermining efforts to achieve mode shift as well as create high quality compact urban environments.

It’s in this context that Waka Kotahi have provided some useful guidance to help towns and cities around the country manage parking better. The guidance delivers one of the actions of Waka Kotahi’s Keeping Cities Moving mode shift plan released last year, and helpfully also coincides with the National Policy Statement for Urban Development’s removal of parking minimums (an excellent policy, but one which does need to be accompanied by more active public parking management).

The guidance document itself is quite detailed, and provides good information about a whole pile of things like how to set parking prices, how to assess the ‘resource cost’ of parking provision and how to maximise the benefits of new parking technologies. But perhaps what I found most useful was some of the more strategic stuff – around why it’s so important to manage parking well and what some of the key principles should be that guide parking management.


Good management of public parking is a crucial component of the overall transport system, and essential for creating vibrant and well-functioning urban areas. It is especially important in areas experiencing growth pressure because:

  • There will be a much stronger demand for public parking as urban areas experience intensification and consequential increases in travel activity.
  • As minimum parking requirements are removed from district plans following the recently released National Policy Statement on Urban Development (August 2020), private parking stock may not increase as fast as it has historically, placing more demand on the public parking resource. Progressive parking management supports ‘achieving more’ with less parking supply by better utilising supply and managing demand.
  • Parking takes up valuable land. Developing high-quality pedestrian, cycling and public transport infrastructure, or even increasing building stock to increase housing supply, is likely to involve reallocating areas currently used for parking. This reduction in parking will necessitate efficient management of the remaining parking supply.

Parking availability and pricing is a key aspect of travel decision making and can fundamentally influence travel behaviour. Strategic parking management can support (or hinder) uptake in a range of travel modes, which can, in turn, impact on demand for the parking supply. While parking can contribute towards the success of a place, poorly managed and designed parking can undermine efforts to create highly liveable urban areas by:

  • Subsidising and encouraging excessive demand for car-based travel, leading to congestion, increased vehicle emissions and poorer public health, as well as undermining investment in public transport and walking and cycling infrastructure.
  • Substituting parking for valuable floor space, thereby increasing development costs, and preventing higher value uses for land, (e.g. community facilities/social services or additional commercial and residential development that contribute more to broader urban objectives).
  • Eroding the sense of place and character of a town centre and/or limiting potential streetscape enhancement. The location and design of parking can lead to poor urban design outcomes.
  • Adding disproportionate costs to low income households, who may not own a car but pay directly or indirectly for the supply of car parking, either bundled with their housing or publicly subsidised via rates.
  • Increasing the direct financial costs to councils to provide and maintain car parking.
  • Creating safety issues for other users such as pedestrians (e.g. moving through off-street car parks) and cyclists (e.g. dooring and reversing).

Internationally there is a growing realisation that while many parking management initiatives are well intentioned, they may have done more harm than good when their wider impacts are understood. In particular, efforts to increase parking supply to make it easy for people to find a parking space have had wide reaching (and often negative) impacts on urban form and the overall transport system. Generous parking supply [is a] key part of the cycle of automobile dependency by inducing car-based travel demand, and thus parking demand.

This has led to a change in approach to parking management in many places around the world, which focuses on getting the balance right: providing the ‘right’ amount of parking, in the right place, at the right time, and at the right price.

For a long time parking has been managed in a way that simply thinks about the only problem being “there’s not enough parking“. What’s especially useful about the text above is how it highlights the wide-reaching impacts of parking policies on transport and urban form outcomes – as well as things we might not have thought about like adding disproportionate costs to people who don’t own a car but end up paying for parking indirectly.

This context is then turned into an overall objective for good parking management – which is then supported by a series of principles.


The overarching objective of good parking management is to:

enable an appropriate and efficiently used level of parking supply in a way that equitably supports wider transport and urban form outcomes.

Key considerations for achieving this overall objective are:

  • What is an appropriate level of parking supply? How might it vary by location? What are the negative effects of too much or too little available parking?
  • How can parking management help support wider transport outcomes? Is parking making congestion better or worse? Is parking supporting or undermining public transport, walking, and cycling?
  • How can parking management help support a better-quality urban form? Is parking undermining a sense of place and character? Is it helping support higher density mixed-use developments?
  • Is parking being supplied in an equitable way? Are those who benefit from it paying the true cost? Are those with the greatest need for parking being prioritised?

These considerations and questions help shape the key principles that should be applied to help deliver good parking management:

  • prioritise public space to deliver the highest value
  • efficiently use space dedicated to parking
  • prioritise those with the greatest need for parking
  • equitably pay for the costs of parking provision
  • ensure parking supports wider transport outcomes
  • ensure parking and its location supports a quality urban form
  • make evidence-based decisions
  • provide a high-quality user experience.

These all seem eminently sensible principles – and it’s particularly good to see recognition in the very first principle that in a lot of cases the highest value use of public space will not be car storage.

Waka Kotahi have published the document as a draft for feedback. If you have any suggestions, email them to by 12 March 2021.

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    1. That is one ugly apartment building! It looks a great success …. for the developer. I had to laugh at the part where the body corp manager knows “at least eight Daisy apartments where the residents don’t own a car” That is out of 33 apartments!

      1. The Stuff article says: “One Daisy resident had asked to use their staff gated parking for his Bentley because he needed covered parking for his insurance, Jones said.” Hmmm. I think someone is telling porkies here. Someone lives in a small apartment here in Daisy, but owns a Bentley ? There’s no law against it, but it just strikes me as…. untrue.

    2. There should be zero on street parking around developments like this. It would really cement the idea that you cannot own a car if you live here. Instead of giving a false hope that there is on street parking and it totally being abused making everyone angry.
      Also that is a Fuck ugly apartment block.

      1. Why stop at apartment blocks. How about all residential inner city streets?

        Anyone from 2021 onwards who buys/rents in these areas needs to pay for on street parking. You knew you had a car and that your place didnt have off street parking. So if you need it, pay for it.

    3. I don’t understand why people with cars would live there. The endless stress of trying to find a park isn’t worth it. Also if a business requires on-street parking to get by, they don’t have a good business model.

    4. This reminds me of an article, interview and slideshow from 2018 – ‘The Surprising Power of Parking Management”

      “Highlights of our discussion included:

      • The almost magical power of parking management to make a difference, especially as part of a wider integrated strategy of complementary steps.
      • Downtowns are relatively easy. The front line in parking management is inner or middle-ring areas undergoing transitions and infill. “

    5. So businesses that rely on street parking (don’t have their own) are having to move somewhere more appropriate than the city centre. I’m struggling to find the issue here… Also not sure who they are arguing with?

  1. Topical:

    Unfortunately this is typical of the tone and sophistication of public discourse around parking management. According to Stuff a small apartment block that opened 2 years ago is just now creating carmaggedon. No mention of all the similar suburbs that have similar parking pressures without apartments.

    1. The developer should be congratulated,he/she can see the future.In 20/50 years people will ask ,why did you build a large windowless room on the front of your house

      1. To store all the stuff you used to store in your car/ute/truck etc.

        Seriously. It why the garage I’m adding to my place is north facing, below street level, with a deck on top, and will be able to be turned into living space and storage when the time is right.

        Assuming the house its attached to is still standing that is.

        And as the building code only requires buildings last for 50 years, thats not a given either.

    2. Council is so negligent. They need to take this conversation in hand, with strong communications about the cause of parking problems being single house zones and the car dependence and sprawl it creates, not compact development.

      Evidence shows that most businesses will actually adapt or find it doesn’t affect them, and that if businesses with unsustainable transport practices move out of the area it allows businesses with sustainable transport practices to move in.

      “Change is hard.” Sob, but change is required. In every sector, at every level, according to the IPCC.

      What’s needed is enforcement, and the streetspaces made liveable. put to good use. Unfortunately, AT…

    1. What happens after you remove them is more likely to be the same as what happened before they were brought in. The public gets annoyed and demands the local Council build public carparking areas. The councillors, who need to be popular, spend public money on them.

      1. Yes parking is Political and based on assumptions (a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof)
        Hamilton’s 1990s Town Plan explains min parking requirements, ‘These requirements do not necessarily represent the level of supply which would ensure the efficient or economic operation of any particular activity (4.2.3 page 91)’.

      2. Miffy, yes exactly right. We have a new 450 space parking building up the road, because despite the Auckland Parking Strategy and a consultants report saying we didn’t need it, local politicians said we did.

        As an investment it will be a dog. It opened about 5 days ago and today at 11am it only has 163 cars in it. And that is with an opening special of only 50 cents per hour with AT park. So currently parking is cheaper than on the flat piece of dirt that it replaced where you had to pay $5 per day (that flat piece of dirt that AT spent $30 million developing). Its cheaper than adjacent street parking.

        This is another stain on Shane Ellison. If this was the private sector someone would be sacked. Yes I understand the private sector where you sometimes build ahead of demand, but when most of the rest of the world is acknowledging that less driving and hence less parking is necessary decisions such as to build structures like this are appalling.

        Should the Auckland Parking Strategy be enshrined as a by law?

        1. Would it be a terrible idea to write across the outside of the new building – George Wood was here?

    1. Yes, not only are these fines way too low, they are hardly enforced especially in the suburbs (unless you make an effort to call them up and complain about a particular offence) from what I gather.

  2. Usually I catch a bus or walk to do my shopping or frequent eating or drinking establishments however sometimes I get lazy. I have to admit if I drive then I favour easy to use carparks or on street parking as long as it doesn’t require me too parallel park. I would rather park further away and walk than be involved in some intricate shunting maneuvers. Anyway businesses without good parking probably miss out. Not that my meager contribution to the commerce of New Zealand would be missed if I was to disappear. In my opinion we are completely over shopped and over cafed in this country. And I get sick of the whining.
    How do I get the spell checker to have proper English on this site not happy with the disunited states of america version.

  3. We have a community meeting on Thursday – it has been called by those angry about the large number of houses going in Te Atatu Peninsula with no car parking. While there are some distant plans for improved PT I suspect that will not pacify those arguing that we shouldn’t even be intensifying the area. Does anyone have any good suggestions for counterpoints- saying people need houses, unfortunately only go so far with a baying mob.

    1. @vinny – if existing residents have off-street parking, then no problem right – they just park off-street as per usual. In fact if they have spare capacity, they might make a few dollars leasing some car park space.

      People moving into the area can decide if they want to live without car parking or not.

      If they are using the on-street parking (for free storage of their vehicles), then becomes a very NIMBY argument; I want to park my vehicle for free on the road, but not other people. Most people have enough insight to recognize that argument is hypocritical at the very least.

      1. Yeah understand this, I guess the problem is that the PT always lags behind the housing- so people need to get around and then are habituated into using cars for every trip ( alternatives either non existent or viewed as unsafe) Hasn’t helped that the bus routes in Te Atatu Peninsula were moved and now are further away from the intensification zones.

        1. That is the crux of the problem isn’t it – not parking, but alternatives to having to use the car everyday. Otherwise more housing in the peninsular, (and there will be more housing given Auckland growth regardless of what locals want), just means more cars using the same roads. And adding peak time capacity to roads is not only brutally expensive but also damages the environment.

          So really, locals you would think would see that having those people moving into the neighbourhood discouraged from car ownership, and demanding better public transport and cycling links would be a good thing.

          If Twyford had got on and light rail was underway to better connect West Auckland and/or joined up thinking that had fast frequent buses getting people off the peninsular, would be easier to have that conversation

    2. “If they are using the on-street parking (for free storage of their vehicles), then becomes a very NIMBY argument; I want to park my vehicle for free on the road, but not other people. Most people have enough insight to recognize that argument is hypocritical at the very least.”

      If they aren’t using the street for that, then why should developers be able to force an externality (e.g. the costs and difficulties of provisioning for carpark) into a public space? It’s not like you can assume the residents will be catching Light Rail, is it?

      1. “why should developers be able to force an externality (e.g. the costs and difficulties of provisioning for carpark) into a public space?”

        It is a good point, but they are doing it anyway; if they are providing a multi-car garage with every new house, then the rate payers are expected to pick up the tab for dealing with roading congestion.

        By not providing caparking, the developers are sending a clear signal to potential customers, that if you are car dependant, these places might not be for you. Buyers can choose based on their own circumstances. I personally would be OK, given that my primary vehicle was a motorbike, and if I was working in the CBD, would probably look at an E-Bike and use the NW cycleway.

        So a developer would no-doubt argue that there is less externality if buyers choose not to have a couple of cars parked in a garage, and use of cars (in particular EVs) is made more difficult.

        Around Ponsonby, the original workers cottages didn’t provide a carpark or stable, as most workers were expected to walk, cycle or take trams to work. Fairly valuable area to live in now though.

        1. With Ponsonby, this is kind of working now partially because residents have successfully blocked new development in much of the area. This leaves them able to park their cars on the street for cheap in perpetuity.

          The root cause is AT giving away on-street parking for free (or for almost no money) and then of course running out of it.

        2. I think the issue is not all buyers are wise.
          Some buyers who are car dependent still believe they can just park on street.

          I think one solution is the put a P120 sign on all residence streets. Existing residence can apply for exemption parking permit.

          New consented townhouse will have resource consent condition to disallow the new residence to apply for such permit.

          This makes it clear to those who buy the units they will not get on street carpark. So it forces the developer not to abuse the on street parking.

        3. “By not providing caparking, the developers are sending a clear signal to potential customers, that if you are car dependant, these places might not be for you. ”

          Let’s not forget who benefits here. By not providing car-parking you can add more units, incur less costs for things like drainage and foundation work and safely know no one is going to be put off if there’s unrestricted on-street parking they can use instead. This is what’s happened in the West Edge development in New Lynn – one car park per unit, but the side street permanently totally parked over because people can – and that’s within spitting distance of a train station. Te Atatu Penn is not exactly the most connected place on the planet.

    3. A biggest issue is the agent selling the units tell buyers they can easily found a on street carpark.

      I can see this will become an big issue. Because people buying those houses has an expectation the on street parking will always be available.

      The reality is once there is more and more such units are built, the on street parking will be all occupied. The unwise people who bought those house trusting the agent’s sales pitch will regret.

      1. It will backfire, the people who bought those units will complain, the existing residence will complain.

        Ironically the developer and the agent who sold those units already profited and moved on.

        Sooner or later the council will have to bring back minimum parking.

        1. The answer isn’t car parking minimums. The answer is to manage car parking better.

          Here’s a good video from Stu Donovan who is doing a PhD in car parking.

          • Car parking is highly emotive and this is reflected in (ostensibly rational) policy.
          • Minimum parking standards often reflect the panic of trying to find a space. You are trapped in your car with no choice (everyone has had this experience at some point).
          • Free parking causes socioeconomic damage (land-wasting, car-dependency) as well as psychological damage (attachment/addiction to free parking).
          • The land use benefits of efficient parking policies are nine times greater than the transport benefits.
          • Price optimisation parking in San Francisco was used to manage demand. It lowered the average cost of parking and was more efficient.
          • Parking should be priced to manage demand, not maximise revenue.
          • Get the communications right.

        2. Kelvin, the number of cars we have per capita is extraordinary. It’s not normal. And it’s due to poor planning, such as minimum parking requirements. The way to deal with this involves planning, and working steadily to provide people with options as we reclaim space from cars and reduce people’s dependency on them. Can you try to envision something better?

        3. I am not saying we should build many carparks.

          What I am saying is developer selling new builds in car dependent suburbs and expects buyers to park their cars on the public on street parking.

          To address the issue, the public on street parking should be managed.
          New build without carparks should not be expected to park on the on street parking.

    4. Sorry I’m late to this, Vinny. Is there any way the meeting can be chaired by someone skilled in starting with a discussion on common goals? If barriers can be broken down because people get to respect that they’re all caring people, first, that’s a good start.

      Then a little bit of evidence-based research – not too much, is key. I would limit it to two points. Not just that people need housing, but that:

      1/ putting that housing out in sprawl will create bigger negative effects on existing residents than putting it within existing suburbs (the latter brings many benefits for existing residents such as more customers to support more amenities);
      2/ giving every new home a car park or two will create bigger negative effects on existing residents than providing homes with no or few carparks (eg 1 share space in 5).

      Feeling the effects of limited parking is very localised; the effects of all the induced traffic from 1/ sprawl and 2/ more parking provision are less able to be pinned on a particular development. But they are far larger.

      I think because everyone understands that what we’ve been doing isn’t working, and something has to change, some people will accept and consider these thoughts as long as the meeting is managed in a way that they don’t need to get into a defensive frame of mind.

      And importantly, people who are there to support housing with no parking will feel far more empowered to say things.

      Another idea that might help is that in Oslo, any new parking must be located a short walk away from a new residence, because this reduces car ownership and driving rates. Perhaps there’s a solution for the suburb like this? A public carpark somewhere that the suburb could ask to be leasable to residents, at rates that reflect the true value of the land, as long as it is over 300m from their house (or whatever the number was.)

      1. Thanks Heidi, yes don’t know how this will be facilitated – basically some residents have been pushing the issue via social media and so Phil Twyford has agreed to meet them on a street corner ( not sure if this is best location for a constructive chat).

  4. Owning a car and moving to a place with no car parking for residents is even more insane than moving next to Eden Park and complaining about the stadium.

  5. Must have been written by an economist. Nobody else would think dynamic pricing is a realistic proposition. Coca Cola tried it once with vending machines that charged more for a can on a hot day. It is economically sound but a sure-fire way of alienating your customers.

      1. The difference there is you agree a price weeks before the service is provided and they tell you you are getting a discount for buying early and for travelling at an inconvenient time. Try it with parking when people turn up to do some shopping and they will probably figure that next time they will go somewhere else so they don’t have to give money to a greedy bunch of price gougers. One of the rules in life is don’t annoy your customers.

        1. Agree, they work well when you know up front what you are paying even if it varies each time you pay.

    1. Dynamic pricing worked well.

      “A detailed evaluation of the program occurred in 2014, finding that the program lowered average parking rates, improved parking availability, made it easier to find parking, and decreased greenhouse gas emissions and vehicle miles traveled. In 2018, the SFMTA’s board voted to expand the pilot project to the rest of the city’s parking spaces and make it the permanent policy of the City.”

  6. What about the right to own a car? I’m really for reducing the reliance on driving to work or to other places if there is good accessibility by PT or walking or cycling but you should be allowed to store a car at your home – so why remove minimum parking at dwellings – you are only going to fill up cul-de-sacs etc with cars parked on street!

    1. This doesn’t take away the right to own a car, there are hundreds of thousands of properties in Auckland with space to store a car. It simply introduces the right to buy a property without carparking.

      Maximum parking requirements would take away the right to own a car, especially if they were set to zero and made retrospective.

      1. It makes it harder to own a car, it will have an affect on the property price. It’s also incredibly stupid when people change over to a BEV, if they don’t have an off street parking spot how do they charge at home?

        Public charging points are not the solution. Public charging points are good for when you need a charge, but only using them is a lot more expensive than charging at home overnight.

        Its interesting that in Norway and the Netherlands when people transition from an ICE vehicle to a BEV they end up driving more than they did with their old fossil fueled vehicle.

        1. Agree, but none of what you have said is a reason to legislate. If someone wants to buy a house with lower resale value that’s their choice, if someone wants to buy a house with no way of charging of BEV, again that’s their choice.

          If you own a car buy a house with parking, if you don’t own one don’t.

    2. Minimum parking requirements are effectively a subsidy for driving. They aren’t the answer to parking problems.

      If you’re interested in the details, do have a look at ‘The High Cost of Free Parking’ by Prof Donald Shoup. It’s about 600 pages long, but for a shorter read, the three main recommendations are as follows:

      1) Charge fair market prices for kerb parking
      2) Return parking revenue to neighbourhoods for community investment
      3) Remove requirements for off-street parking for new development

      1. There is no moral high ground here. The same knobs who removed parking requirements for cars introduced minimum parking requirements for bikes.

        1. Minimum parking requirements provide a subsidy for the respective transport mode. Do we need more driving in Auckland? No. Do we need more cycling? Yes.

        2. There is moral high ground. Car parking, helipads, and stables cause adverse environmental effects, cycle parking causes positive external effects.

    3. Well since “the right to own a car” doesn’t exist, I think that is a rather moot point. What about my “right” to ride a bike onroads that are safely designed for that? Or my “right” to access efficient public transport? How are they not rights?

    4. Another point to add to those above. This doesn’t impinge on your right to own a car because you can still build a new property with as much car parking as you want. And all the existing car parks at existing properties. Removing the minimum parking requirements gives people more rights, the right to not be forced to pay for a car park they don’t use when they buy or rent a place.

  7. When wide street available it will be colonized by trucks and long trailers. Imagine the breaking system to wake you at any time . Truckers are kings of street. They are protected by limping n unfair laws. They should be banned from parking in suburbs n residential areas. Causing disruption: shaking houses, damaging roads etc. They should be parked in their own yard. Waitakere is always be abandoned n treated unfairly.

  8. TruckS or heavy vehicleS parking rules in NZ residential or suburbs.especially Waitakere should be restricted or fixed. The bylaws is inhumane as it’s only support the Truckers not the residents. They can arrive n depart at anytime they want 11pm 2 am 4pm. …they disrupt residents sleep, sending fumes, shaking houses. Nothing can stop them because of the limping n unfair bylaws. Where is our human rights as residents? Our mental well being are disrupted for many years especially people with underlying conditions. Please make a change to make it fair for all.

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