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What will they do about parking?

by Lindsay Shelton
The Wellington City Council announced a new parking policy this week. But it left us in the dark by failing to give any details of what the changes will be.

In the council’s announcement, Cr Jenny Condie, who’s in charge of parking, says the new policy is

“… a huge piece of work that effects everyone, whether you drive or not. It’s really about our public street space, what our street space is for and how we will go about prioritising the use of it.”

What does she mean? What’s going to change?

There’s perhaps one clue:

“LGWM will require extra space on our streets. Wellington streets are narrow and our geography means they are also often winding and steep. We don’t have a lot of spare space on our streets, or the opportunity to widen them. As pressure come onto uses of street space, such as parking, we need to be really clear what our priorities are for the greatest public good.”

How to interpret such evasive vagueness? Does she mean that parking will at last be cleared off some of our narrow streets? If so, why can’t the council bring itself to say so?

There’s a nervousness in the announcement. Dr Condie sounds defensive when she says

“The changes won’t happen overnight; they will be incremental and will align with other transport improvement projects.”

Andy Foster is equally vague. It seems there’s a new policy without any decisions for anything to change.

“This detailed framework will guide future decision-making on the management of all Council-controlled parking spaces across our city. It sets a hierarchy to prioritise spaces for different types of parking in different parts of our city.”

The minutes from this week’s council meeting don’t give a clue about what is to happen. And the forty page paper that councillors approved is full of diagrams, without any specifics.

But if you find the policy itself, there are a few more clues, such as this one on page 6.

parking policy

They don’t seem to want any more parking for planes. And private cars are way down the bottom of the chart – perhaps the council will be bold and will one day be banning them from parking on the streets? Walking and cycling are at the top of the priority chart – so when can we expect some decisions in support of this clear statement? For example, pedestrians have long waits at the CBD intersections with SH1 – does the new policy mean that it’s time to make the cars wait longer, and to organise a shorter wait for the rest of us on foot, breathing in the fumes.

Keep on reading, and you’ll find that the new parking policy has some Principles. For anyone who can read between the lines, here they are:

•Support shift in type of transport used – facilitate a shift to using active (eg, walking and cycling) and public transport through parking management and pricing, to move more people driving fewer vehicles.

•Support safe movement – facilitate the safe and efficient movement of people and goods by focusing on people moving along transport corridors rather than people parking or storing stationary vehicles.

•Support business wellbeing – ensure parking management and pricing controls support economic activity in the central city, suburban centres and mobile trades and services.

•Support city place-making, amenity and safety – ensure on-street parking design and placement supports overall city amenity, safety, community building, heritage, creative arts, good urban design outcomes and attractive streetscapes.

•Support access for all – ensure disabled people, older people, people who are pregnant, and people with babies can access the city, Council facilities, and venues. This will be achieved, in part, through an improvement in mobility parking across the city.

•Support move to becoming an eco-city – facilitate the uptake of car sharing, electric vehicles and other transport with low carbon emissions. Manage parking and incentivise a decrease in vehicle use to contribute to a reduced carbon emissions, better water quality, air quality, stormwater management and biodiversity outcomes.

•Deliver service excellence and a safe working environment – provide a high standard of customer service for people who use Council parking spaces to support users to make well-informed parking decisions. This includes introducing self-service and automated processes for all parking charges and permits to improve the parking experience (as technology allows) and improving the availability of parking information. Ensure a safe working environment for those who deliver the parking service

And if, like me, you’re still trying to work out what all these words actually mean, here’s one of the Principles of the Parking Policy. (Yes, there’s not only a Policy but also Principles and Objectives.) Slow’s the word, it seems:

Make iterative parking changes that are linked to improvements in the overall transport system, specifically improvements to public transport, walking and cycling. Any parking management changes will consider the effect that related changes in revenue will have on ratepayers. The city is in a period of transition where significant investment is being made to do this, but it will take time. Consequently, changes to how parking is provided and managed need to be made incrementally over time, in consultation with effected communities, and support and be aligned to improvements in the overall public and active transport system.The changes also need to consider the broader context of the Council’s funding, and the effect any changes could have on ratepayers.

There are seven other principles. One of them says that the policy should:

… primarily focus the Council’s role on prioritising existing space, not on increasing parking supply. This includes considering alternative higher-value use of the land currently used for parking.

It doesn’t sound as if the council feels any sense of urgency about clearing parked cars off our cluttered streets.

Roads for people, not parking

6 comments:

  1. Ralf, 28. August 2020, 10:44

    It seems to me that the Council sees the evidence and has gotten also the feedback (on the last consultation for parking, which I believe was mostly in favour prioritising humans over cars) but lacks the political will to push for the changes, since removing any car park will get a huge backlash from a vocal minority of voters and of the business community (who for some reason don’t look at the evidence).

     
  2. Pedge, 28. August 2020, 15:49

    Totally agree Ralf. I’ve often wondered what the cost would be to buy out Wilson Parking and convert the buildings to council parking. Parking on the streets these days seems so archaic. Free up the streets for light rail, walking and cycling. I’m sure it would be incredibly expensive, but over time the money they would generate would at least stay in Wellington, rather than go to some offshore conglomerate that’s been milking us for decades.

     
  3. Mavis, 28. August 2020, 21:28

    Hello Pedge. I remember when the Council owned a Parking Building and sold it.

     
  4. John Smith, 29. August 2020, 9:59

    The parking policy had to be prepared so that WCC could then quickly crack on with executing the Newtown Connections project, to enable cyclists and pedestrians to safely get around that suburb, and through to the central city/waterfront etc.

    Final consultations on Newtown Connections will likely be rolled very shortly, with the agreed plan implemented early 2021. Exciting stuff!! The micro-site explains it in a bit more detail.

     
  5. D'Esterre, 29. August 2020, 12:48

    Is there a wooden spoon award for gobbledegook, misspelling and just plain nonsense? If there is, this schlock would win hands down. Pregnant people! For heaven’s sake … One can only get pregnant if one has female – er – equipment. Ergo: pregnant women.

    Pedge: “…what the cost would be to buy out Wilson Parking and convert the buildings to council parking.” That sounds like a plan. And instead of all that waffle, it’s all that Council policy would need to state.

    I’d like to put the case for older people with impaired mobility. Many of us are in this situation: public transport isn’t always practicable. We must perforce rely on our cars. We want to visit the CBD, but need parking. I have no objection to using parking buildings, and such facilities would leave the roads free for other uses. But my impression is that the Council has no intention of providing any parking at all, unless it has its collective arm screwed up its back. Perhaps not even then.

     
  6. Wendy, 29. August 2020, 18:30

    Easy drive to the Hutt or North City where shoppers are welcome. At a time when less people are coming into the city to work and numbers are limited on public transport seems like a great plan not.