Prime on-street shopper carparks are being lost in Tauranga's CBD by workers paying to leave their cars in one space all day long.

Tauranga Mainstreet chairman Glenn Tuck said the city centre needed more car parking. The removal of time limits on carparks had resulted in some workers feeding the meter all day.

Two or three carparks close to his shop Bronco's Outdoor were being taken over by the same cars. ''People are lazy by nature.''

Mr Tuck said it was up to the council to find places for the public to park because building developers put enough skin in the game and should only have to provide parking for staff, not the public.


If there was not enough parking for staff, the businesses should look at options like a park-and-ride bus service, he said.

Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby said the council has done an ''average job'' on the issue of parking in the CBD.

''We are currently under pressure but it's a healthy problem.''

Mr Crosby, who was not seeking re-election as mayor, said the planned new parking building in Harington St would not be enough.

Although they would always need more carparks, he wanted to improve the Hopper bus service into the CBD. ''We can't keep on putting up more parking buildings.''

Mr Crosby defended the council decision to abolish the planning formula that linked the floor area of new developments with parking requirements - leaving it to developers to decide how many carparks went into a building.

''It was the right move,'' he said.

On the issue of free time-restricted parking, he said it had made no difference to rejuvenating CBDs where free parking had been tried by other councils. However, the pricing of parking was sensitive and had to be constantly monitored.

''Parking buildings are full and the demand for leased parking was growing daily.''

Free parking advocate and downtown retailer Bill Campbell suspected the council would need another parking building almost as soon as the Harington St building opened. He highlighted the loss of off-street carparks in Durham St to the planned tertiary campus.

''Retailers will bear the brunt of whatever happens.''

Mr Campbell said the council's rebranding of the downtown as a commercial rather than retail centre was dodging the bullet because no city in the world had commercial without retail.

''Retail brings people, people create vibrancy and people need parking,'' he said.

A huge parking issue was looming if developers continued to not put enough carparks into their buildings. ''Parking will get worse before it gets better if all the developments come to fruition.''

Tauranga architectural designer Phil Green said the current parking problem would be exacerbated by the development of the civic heart and the loss of carparks behind the old civic building.

He said it would be a different story if the new Harington St building was only for public use, but he suspected that with the number of new businesses coming into the CBD, half would be leased.

The elephant in the room of the civic heart project was what would happen to the bus transportation centre because it clearly would not remain in Willow St. ''It should be on the radar now, but it's not even in the equation. Public transport was the key to resolving parking issues in the downtown.''

Mr Green said the Harington St building should have been built two years ago. ''We are always behind the eight ball. We should be planning for another one, particularly with all the changes coming up in the next five years.''

''We need to have fresh eyes, we need to be looking 50 years ahead, not five years,'' he said.

What Tauranga's mayoral candidates said about city parking issues:

Doug Owens: ''People love their cars, the freedom it gives them, the sound it makes, the bluetooth music, the hands-free phone system, which gives them stuff to enjoy when stuck in traffic. Cars are the greatest thing since Adam was an Eskimo and buses cannot compete, unless of course, you cannot afford a car. This is becoming a trend complicating peoples' lives as many are forced by the increasing cost of housing to live further from their work. Shopping centres need parking, people need free buses or free driverless cars - the demographic is changing, a revolution is coming and we shall all be part of it.''

Greg Brownless: ''Parking inconvenience in the central city can cause people to go to malls where the parking is paid by the businesses through their rents. Another CBD parking building is needed and projects in the city should either provide onsite parking or contribute to the cost of that new parking building. The new tertiary campus must provide adequate parking itself, especially as Council gave the land to build on.''

Murray Guy: ''There is no valid justification for the discriminatory kerbside charges while not at alternative successful shopping/business precincts. All costs for kerbside parking have been met, and any charges are double-dipping, revenue collecting and a disincentive for CBD potential customers. As Mayor I'll continue to advocate for 'parking parity' throughout Tauranga and the refocusing of the parking enforcement team to apply a less threatening and ambassadorial management role. I would prioritise a review of the Tauranga CBD main street to ensure it was meeting expectations. CBD Developers must contribute to the parking needs they create.''

Noel Peterson: ''I would like to have free parking in the city, including for staff who work in the city. Staff parking would be located in parking buildings to free up street space for shop customers. Another parking building built, with a phase-in of smaller electric vehicles to reduce congestion. Who pays and how to be openly discussed by the new council. Folk are fed up with the current setup which is effectively another tax. A proper suburban park and ride to the city would further reduce congestion.''

Steve Morris: ''Council has budgeted and construction will begin next year of a new $25 million, 650-space carparking building at Hamilton St funded by user-pays. It's vital we don't elect leaders who will remove this important project for commuters. In addition, we've recently added a further floor of 110 parks to the Elizabeth St carpark and opened our carpark buildings 24 hours a day with improved lighting and CCTV coverage. We've also added an additional 73 parks on Cliff Rd and another 30 on Dive Crescent. Alltogether these represent a 25 per cent increase in CBD parking.''

Larry Baldock: ''The issue of downtown parking has been debated for a long time.
More parking buildings are needed to ensure sufficient parking space is available and the capital cost has to be recovered. Those who call for free parking on the basis of parity across the city ignore the fact that retailers in the malls pay higher lease costs to enable free parking. Council staff have trialled many innovations over the past six years to try and assist CBD retailers. Ultimately this will be addressed when we see the hotel and conference facilities operating and more apartments with people living there. The university in the CBD with student accommodation will also help.''

Graeme Purches: ''I keep hearing about parking issues, yet on the many days I have come into the CBD for meetings, I have never had any difficulty finding a park in the parking buildings. What would improve things even further would be the introduction of park and ride, and a rehashing of public transport timetables and routes so that people can rely on buses to get them from where they are to where they want to be quickly, reliably, and at reasonable cost. We also need cycle park and lock facilities in the CBD. As matter of interest, I have spoken to around 300 or so people of the last few days, and only one has remarked about parking congestion in the CBD.''

Max Mason: ''A free circular shuttle to assist the elderly and infirm get from the bus station around the city centre. SmartCity technology to manage traffic flows, parking supply and demand, and make use of temporary vacant leased parks. Develop park-and-ride facilities as a matter of urgency to reduce congestion and parking issues. Make bus fees a flat fee of $2 anywhere in the city or all day pass for $5, special family passes so big families don't use cars, more direct bus routes, and better carpooling incentives. Work with the private sector to partially fund another parking building by selling the parks.''

Kelvin Clout: ''In previous years the key call from retailers and others was for free parking, as the feeling was that the CBD was dying and needed resuscitation. Now the emphasis has changed to parking availability as the CBD was beginning to flourish and finding a park is the major problem. The movement of Trustpower into the CBD has been unfairly targeted as exacerbating the car parking problem, I see it as a great boost to the CBD. Giving cars the best view of our harbour is a crying shame and the sooner we reclaim the waterfront carpark the better. The council continues to invest in, and advocate for, a move towards active transport options such as cycling and walking.''

Street View: Do you have any issues with parking in Tauranga's downtown?

''Absolutely. For workers it is the cost and availability of carparks. If I come in about 9.15am there are usually no carparks [in the parking building] and the majority are taken up by workers. You have got to get here early.''
- Kelly Egan, 40 Welcome Bay

''I have lived and worked in London, so this is a lot more laid back and parking is a fraction of the cost.''
- Myles McHugh, 33 Otumoetai

''Not with the cost. It is the availability of parking. I think parking has been used as an excuse for far too long for not developing the downtown, as symbolised by empty shops. It is a pretty city and should be thriving.''
- Cushla Randle, 67 Bethlehem

''I have just been riding around for 20 minutes looking for a park, and I had to get to an appointment. There is a shortage of car parking. It is the growth. I have lived here for 12 years and Tauranga has grown substantially. There are not enough facilities for everyone.''
- Beverley Waterston, 50 Ohauiti