A high-ranking bureaucrat at Auckland Transport says the council-controlled organisation will not back down on plans to remove parking spaces for cycleways and bus lanes.
"We do have a predetermined agenda. Our predetermined agenda is to create easy journeys for Aucklanders," AT's head of integrated network planning Andrew McGill told the Herald.
"We are not going to back down simply because somebody is not going to like it," he said.
McGill was commenting about the impact on small shopkeepers who have struggled through two years of Covid and now face the prospect of losing customer parking outside their doors.
Under a controversial parking strategy, AT is proposing to eliminate kerbside parking on main arterial and feeder roads across the city.
At a meeting of the planning committee yesterday, councillors and two members of the Māori Statutory Board voted 13-10 to endorse the parking strategy for public consultation this month.
AT is working to the principle that kerbside parking is the "lowest priority" on strategic roads and will automatically be "repurposed to provide space for projects that increase the movement of people and goods, except under exceptional circumstances".
Town centres will be able to develop parking management plans with AT but small shopkeepers face a David versus Goliath battle to keep kerbside parking.
Phill Pirie is a butcher who knows all about the impact of Auckland Transport's projects on small, independent businesses. The loss of parking and extended bus lanes and hours led him to shut up shop in Mt Eden Village and move further down Mt Eden Rd to a small block of shops.
He said Covid-19 had been immensely challenging and was now facing rising fuel costs, freight and supply issues and an increase to the minimum wage.
If AT took away the five parking spaces used by the four businesses in the block, Pirie said it would be the "straw that breaks the camel's back".
"People need to park, parking is key. Take that away and it's taking away my bread and butter," said Pirie.
A city-bound bus lane runs outside the door of Pirie's Butchery from 7am to 10am, but it hardly bothers the butcher because after 10am customers can park outside the shop and, most importantly, during the busiest time for sales after 3pm.
When the Herald told McGill that Pirie needed parking spaces for his shop to survive, he said: "That is his opinion and I don't necessarily agree with that. There are lots of situations where businesses can continue to thrive and survive where they don't have a car park right out the front of the shop."
Asked if he knew better than the local butcher, he said: "I'm saying our role is to make sure these valuable public spaces are allocated to the benefit of the maximum number of Aucklanders.
"Why should people in a bus who might outnumber the people who want to park outside the butcher, have to sit in traffic congestion to suit one or two people wanting to use the car park?"
"If you rely entirely on one or two car spaces out the front of your business (that) is a little bit bizarre because I don't think any shop gets its entire custom from the utilisation of one or two car parks.
"People walk up, especially in an area like Mt Eden Rd, having people parking in side roads, people arriving on a bus. I have yet to see any evidence that this would lead to the elimination of customers," McGill said.
When the Herald told McGill there are already peak-hour bus lanes on Mt Eden Rd, which works well for commuters and allows customers to park outside shops in the off-peak hours, he said: "What may work now may not work in the future."
McGill said Mt Eden Rd has a lot of side streets and suggested AT could put in short-term parking for businesses to stop those streets being filled with all-day resident parking.
He acknowledged AT needs to do more detail on what was meant by "exceptional circumstances" and how it would be applied.
"We need to understand, for instance, are struggling businesses going under and weigh that against the benefits for other people; getting people to places faster, more safely and providing better travel services.
"We have to manage finite space with an almost infinite demand and find a way to keep Aucklanders moving around their region," he said.
Robbie Kainuku is one of two owners of the Blue Rose Cafe on Sandringham Rd. The cafe has a Māori and Pacific-influenced menu and won awards for its hangi pie and Samoan cupcakes.
The cafe has about 300 weekday customers and more at the weekend who come from all over Auckland for its specialty pies and food.
Covid cost the cafe most of its catering business, said Kainuku, who didn't find it easy but survived the pandemic.
"If our customers couldn't park, and there is not enough parking on side streets, it would be devastating. It would ruin us," he said.
The full list of affected roads
Hibiscus Coast Highway
Matakana Rd (from Sandspit Rd to Green Rd)
East Coast Road (from Carlisle Rd to Glenvar Rd)
Rosedale Rd (from Bush Rd to Apollo Dr)
Glenfield Rd (from Pupuke Rd to High Rd)
Northcote Rd (from Takapuna Golf Club to The Avenue)
Lake Rd (from Esmonde Rd to Albert Rd)
Customs St West
Lower Hobson St
Wellesley St West
Wellesley St East
Tamaki Dr (from The Strand to Ngapipi Rd)
Khyber Pass (from Park Rd to Broadway)
Broadway (from Khyber Pass to Alpers Ave)
Manukau Rd (from Alpers Ave to Mount Albert Rd)
Great North Rd (from Ponsonby Rd to Crummer Rd)
Richmond Rd (from Surrey Cres to Parawai Cres)
Old Mill Rd (from Surrey Cres to West View Rd)
Garnet Rd (from Old Mill Rd to West End Rd)
Point Chevalier Rd (from Meola Rd to Great North Rd)
New North Rd (from Morningside Rd to Symonds St)
New North Rd (from Blockhouse Bay Rd to St Lukes Rd)
St Lukes Rd (from New North Rd to Morningside Rd)
New Windsor Rd (from Tiverton Rd to Maioro St)
Richardson Rd ( from Owairaka Ave to Maioro St)
Stoddard Rd (from Maioro St to Sandringham Rd)
Mount Albert Rd (from Owairaka Ave to Sandringham Rd)
Mt Eden Rd
Mount Albert Rd (from Mt Eden Rd to Royal Oak Intersection)
Hillsborough Rd (from Dominion Rd Extension to Mount Albert Rd)
Coronation Rd (from Waterfront Rd to McIntyre Rd)
Coronation Rd (from Taylor Rd to Walmsley Rd)
Bader Dr (from McKenzie Rd to George Bolt Memorial Dr)
Kirkbridge Rd (from McKenzie Rd to Ascott Rd)
Atkinson Ave (from Princes St to Great South Rd)
Ti Rakau Drive
Te Iriangi Drive
Great South Rd (from Te Iriangi Drive to Ronwood Ave)
Davies Ave (from Ronwood Ave to Putney Way)
Murphys Rd ( from Stancombe Rd to Ormiston Rd)
Redoubt Rd (from Hilltop Rd to Mill Rd)
East Tamaki Rd (from Spring Rd to Hills Rd)
Preston Rd (from East Tamaki Rd to Ormiston Rd)
Ormiston Rd (from Preston Rd to Jarvis Way)
Smales Rd (from Allens Rd to Sir William Ave)
St Lukes Rd (from New North Rd to Morningside Rd)
Great North Rd (from Rosebank Rd to St Jude St)
St Jude St
Rosebank Rd (from Mead St to Great North Rd)