Battle over commuters' parking in Auckland

By Mathew Dearnaley

Residents' groups lobby Auckland Council to ban outsiders leaving their vehicles all day in inner-city streets

Peter Stewart and Christine Cavanagh don't want cars from outer suburbs left all day in Herne Bay. Photo / Dean Purcell
Peter Stewart and Christine Cavanagh don't want cars from outer suburbs left all day in Herne Bay. Photo / Dean Purcell

Residents' groups ringing central Auckland are ganging up on the city's transport authority to banish commuter parking from their streets.

The Auckland Inner City Suburb Parking Alliance of 11 residents' groups and the Ponsonby Business Association says commuters leaving cars all day in their streets are "destroying community amenity" and harming retail business.

It wants Auckland Transport to do more to encourage people to leave their cars at home and catch buses or trains to work.

"Parking in our suburbs should not be a cheap option for commuters," alliance spokeswoman Christine Cavanagh, of the Herne Bay Residents' Association, told Auckland Council's infrastructure committee.

"It is stressing narrow heritage streets not designed to cope with the increase in commuter parking."

Her plea follows Auckland Transport's release last week of a parking management discussion document suggesting it reserve up to 60 per cent of street parking in fringe suburbs around the central city for holders of residents' permits.

That would be along the lines of a trial in St Marys Bay where others can park for no longer than two hours, but which has sparked complaints from residents of neighbouring suburbs that commuter cars are spilling into their streets.

Ms Cavanagh, who led a successful campaign in 2012 for the Transport Agency to reopen the Wellington St entry point to the Northern Motorway after complaining of congestion through western suburbs streets, said a month for public submissions on the parking document wasn't enough.

She said 90 days was needed, along the lines of the Resource Management Act. But she accused Auckland Transport of acting outside that legislation by trying to set parking policy separately from its parent council's unitary planning process.

Ms Cavanagh said Auckland Transport had yet to make available research it had relied on in preparing its discussion paper. She called on it to allow for an independent peer review of its research, for a report to be made available to residents and businesses wanting to prepare submissions.

Infrastructure committee chairman Mike Lee, an Auckland Transport board member, said the concerns of people living in the central city had been put very strongly to the organisation "and I'm pretty sure they are listening".

An Auckland Transport spokesman said officials had met and briefed the parking alliance on the discussion document twice, and would welcome any submissions from it.


All-day price irks business

Inner Auckland businesses want the council to price commuters out of its parking buildings.

"If you are looking for money, crank it up to $20 [a day] — make it $25," Heart of the City chief Alex Swney told Auckland Council's infrastructure committee.

He was referring to "earlybird" prices for all-day stays by commuters arriving before 8.30am at any of Auckland Transport's (AT) three central parking buildings, now standing at $13.

"Earlybird parking adds to the congestion when it's worst, and the council will reward you with cheap parking when you get here."

He said "AT seem to have tarmac in their veins".

Auckland Mayor Len Brown, meanwhile, is trying to distance himself from support for a budget request from the council transport body to lift hourly parking fees in central city streets and parking buildings by $1 an hour, to raise $5.5 million towards a funding shortfall.

Although a budget paper in Mr Brown's name said the parking revenue proposal was "supported in principle", a spokesman said he was asking Auckland Transport to "present a much fuller report". Mathew Dearnaley

- NZ Herald

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