Deborah Hill Cone

Deborah Hill Cone is a Herald columnist

Deborah Hill Cone: My fight with City Hall keeps me awake

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Battling with bureaucrats at Auckland Transport over parking permits the stuff of nightmares and night sweats.

Photo / APN
Photo / APN

This is crazy. I'm writing this at 3am because I can't sleep because I'm fretting about, of all things, local body parking restrictions. Get a grip girl.

This year I've managed to deal half-way reasonably with worries over my mum dying and my dad having a stroke and my son being half-deaf, but what has turned me into a dribbling insomniac stressbucket has been a battle with the bureaucrats at Auckland Transport over parking permits.

I've become like a parking-obsessed character in Seinfeld: one entire episode consisted of Kramer driving around and around the block trying to find a park. That will soon be me.

I live in one of a row of dinky old cottages in Parnell which open directly on to our narrow little road. (It's not the John Key bit of Parnell.)

You're not allowed to build a garage here. But one of the reasons I chose this house three years ago was the parking directly outside it: there's a yellow-lined area set aside for residents.

Until now, this has worked well; surprisingly for the inner city we have a down-to-earth community feel in our street which is full of boisterous families.

But last month I got a surprise letter from Auckland Transport, saying, boom, it had decided to get rid of our residents parking area.

No hand-holding consultation or karakia or due process or none of that.

We'd no inkling that this was in the offing.

On the contrary, two years ago the council painted longer yellow-lines to allow my neighbours to fit two more cars in.

Before I go on, I acknowledge this seems a first world white girl luxury kind of problem. But for me, it's still a Bloody Big Deal.

My whole life is going to change as the street is always chocka and there will rarely be anywhere near my house to park.

This would not have mattered a jot to me when I was a gadabout bus-hailing Gina Hardfacebitch singleton, but with two small children and a large dog it is another matter.

What do you do when you arrive home with two sleeping children in the car and a bootful of groceries and there is nowhere to park in your entire street?

You can't pick up your tired child from kindy because when you return there'll be nowhere to park. Granted, if this is now a blanket policy across the city, I'll just have to suck it up along with everyone else.

But curiously, our street appears to be the only one in Parnell which has not had its yellow residents parking lines repainted. It doesn't seem unreasonable to expect an explanation.

So my neighbours and I sent in a letter which was a model of Zen-like restraint - not written by me, natch - but this polite communication did not get past the customer service centre and did not even get a letter in reply.

I only managed to get any kind of response from Auckland Transport when I pulled rank as a journalist, which is hardly something everyone can do.

Even then all I gleaned was that there was a consultation five years ago. Seems a long time ago to me, but even so, why two years ago did the council extend our residents parking?

It's confusing and infuriating.

Look, I'm not expecting a yummy mummy support group to be set up or anything. All I want is that Auckland Transport show some respect for its ratepayers by listening to us.

Tell us why this is happening and why only to us. Tell us how this policy supports families trying to make a stable life in the inner city.

I wonder if there is a council bureaucrat awake worrying about this, just like me? I suspect not. I'm not sure they realise how these decisions affect people's real lives, their children's lives, their families and their real life concerns.

I don't want to sound like a special snowflake. But if I'm going to be kept awake at night I would really prefer to be worrying about something other than town planning regulations. Night.

- NZ Herald

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