You're just ducking into the city centre to run a quick errand. Do you pay for parking or just risk the ticket? If your answer was the latter, you could be one of the 6100 people who were issued tickets for either overstaying the parking limit or not paying the applicable fee in the last financial year. Reporter Zoe Hunter looks into what message this is sending to people shopping and dining in the CBD and finds out what the city's new mayor thinks
It is going to take more than just addressing parking issues in Tauranga's CBD to revitalise the city centre, new mayor Tenby Powell says.
Free parking and a lack of car parks have been blamed by retailers as one of many reasons for a downturn in the CBD.
Some shop owners were leasing car parks for their customers in a desperate bid to bring people back, while others were shutting up shop because of the decline in foot traffic.
Figures obtained by the Bay of Plenty Times under the Official Information Act revealed there are currently 3680 car parks in the CBD.
But the city centre has lost 26 car parks while the new parking building on Harington St is being built.
Tauranga City Council has issued 6100 tickets for parking in a paid area for longer than what was paid for or not paying the applicable fee in the last financial year.
A total of $248,116 worth of parking tickets were paid for in that time and there were 1113 parking infringements still outstanding.
Tauranga's new mayor Tenby Powell agreed there was limited street parking in the city centre and said parking limits downtown were "unnecessary in its time".
But Powell said there was more to be done to help breathe new life into the CBD, which included transforming it into a sophisticated dining and entertainment precinct.
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"We do need to encourage that investment in the CBD," he said.
"But Tauranga should not try and replicate the Mount. Tauranga should be offering something different."
Powell said retailers needed support through what was "a tough period".
"We have to find ways of bringing people into the CBD. It should be the heart and soul of Tauranga City," he said.
"But it won't happen overnight. We need to plan. We need to be able to think forward. As we build out, we must build up and that has to start with the CBD."
Jill Briscoe from Breathe Salon and Spa on Grey St suggested making the first hour of parking free and any time after that should be paid for.
"People accept they have to pay for car parking. The problem is there is no parking."
Briscoe said she had leased four car parks for her staff and clients to use to help with the lack of parking.
Julie Hammon from Hammon Diamond Jewellers said parking had always received a bad reputation because it wasn't free, but that was just one of many issues in the CBD.
"Overall there is enough carparks. It is just getting them turned over regularly," she said.
Hammon said her jewellery shop, which had operated in the city centre for 33 years, had lost a "significant amount" of business since the street closures and construction.
"It all happened at once," she said.
But Hammon believed the city centre could be revived.
"It is going to happen. It is going to be amazing. It is going to be world-class," she said.
"There are many businesses in the CBD who rely on people not giving up on the CBD. We will regain that thriving bustling city centre."
However, Raye Drake said she has had to close the doors to her shop Bridal Solutions on Devonport Rd this Christmas because of the downturn of the CBD.
"There are no customers. People aren't coming into the CBD. There is no foot traffic at all," she said.
Drake said the main issue was there was not enough carparks.
"Unless we pull four times the car parks and for free, I can't see things changing. You still have to find a carpark," she said.
"The people who we have lost we are never going to get back."
Downtown Tauranga chairman Brian Berry said issuing parking tickets as soon as paid parking starts at 9am was not a good look.
Berry said it wasn't entirely the council's fault but pointed fingers at the Durham St upgrade and the Harington St transport hub as well as the Farmers development.
"It is the associated road closures and loss of car parks and accessibility issues that have been causing the issues."
He said retailers had also faced the brunt of new or expanding shopping malls.
"[But] it needs to be realised that this is a transitional stage as the city centre moves to a better and more modern offering."
Tauranga City Council acting chief executive Paul Davidson said staff allow a 10-minute grace period for people to organise their parking payment.
"We want to make it as easy as possible to pay for parking in the CBD," he said.
"We also always consider individual circumstances surrounding a disputed infringement. As a result of this approach, a number of these would have been waived."
Former Tauranga mayor Greg Brownless said a three-hour parking limit was reasonable.
"The real issue isn't the payment, but the supply. The main issue is the shortage of parking, which will be alleviated to some extent by the new parking building."