Central city parking is in the spotlight with the city set to spend hundreds of thousands on the problem. Sonya Bateson takes a look at the issue.
Tauranga City Council will ultimately spend almost $300,000 revamping central city parking.
The aim of the work is to stop cars parking on central city grass berms.
Side streets in the Tauranga CBD are lined with cars parked on the roadside and on grass berms on weekdays as motorists try to avoid parking fees.
Tauranga City Council transportation operations manager Martin Parkes told the Bay of Plenty Times this had damaged berms and repairs were gradually being made. Parking on the grass berms would be illegal once the work was finished.
Work included building formal parking bays, tidying up berms, putting in new street lights and putting up "no parking behind the kerb" signs.
Damage on Arundel St has already been fixed at a cost of $170,000. Monmouth St is undergoing works which will cost an estimated $80,000 and after that, work will be done on Brown St, costing an estimated $20,000 - a total of $270,000.
Mr Parkes said damage was being done to the grass, to service covers on water valves and to trees along these streets, including some that had died from damage to the roots.
"On roads like Park St, Arundel St, Monmouth St, the concentration of parking has been pretty heavy in the last few years which has had a detrimental effect on the trees. There are a whole lot of reasons why we are trying to sort out parking in those areas."
An additional 64 all-day parking spaces will be made available over the coming weeks as the Cliff Rd courts are converted into parks and will cost $2.50 per day, $3 less than most other central city outdoor parking lots. This will help make up for the loss of berm parking.
Drivers who used to park on Arundel St's berms were now moving to other areas.
"On Arundel St, we found that a mixed situation is occurring. Some people are getting there earlier and taking up space in 4th Ave, others are parking further out in Memorial Park or 5th Ave. Some others have decided they will pay for parking at the all-day parking rates. It's relatively cheap to park all day."
Smiths Sports Shoes employees Mark Bollen and Rebekah McLean avoid paying for parking by leaving their vehicles at Memorial Park and walking to work from there.
The walk takes them about 15 minutes each way.
Miss McLean said they used to park in Arundel St and walk from there but they had got a ticket so have started parking further away.
"It's annoying if you're running late. Even if you park at the cheaper parks like Dive Cres, it's still just as far to go so we may as well go where it's free."
Miss McLean said it sometimes felt unsafe walking that far and there had been a time when they had been confronted by a group of people.
"It's fine in summer but not when daylight savings finishes."
Mr Bollen said they chose to walk as there were no car parks near the central city that were free for workers.
"It's too expensive, we walk every day and with a group of people. Memorial Park is the nearest free parking that's still got spaces when we arrive."
Mr Bollen said it would be nice if there was an area set aside for workers to park for free, or if they had some sort of card they could use to park in the available areas.There is a total of 521 paid all-day car parks in the rough boundaries of 2nd Ave, Harington St and Cameron Rd.