Selling Auckland Council's inner-city carpark buildings will undermine plans to make the central city more pedestrian-friendly, says the local business association.
Heart of the City is opposed to a plan by mayor Phil Goff to sell or lease the council's four carpark buildings to help pay its share of a $1 billion blow out in the cost of the City Rail Link.
It is calling on council to review a proposal to sell the carpark buildings - Downtown, Civic, Victoria St and Fanshawe St - which have 4500 parking spaces and a book value of $224 million.
"Given the aspirations to further pedestrianise the city centre, carpark buildings are strategically vital if we are to reallocate on-street parking spaces for pedestrian use," said Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck.
She said the availability of affordable, off-street carparking is key to the council's "Access for Everyone" concept, which calls for all non-essential vehicles to be kept out of the inner city.
The approach involves an "open streets" approach, which means opening the streets, to pedestrians and other users by closing them to traffic. Trials are planned for Queen St and surrounding streets.
Beck said Heart of the City were great supporters of public transport, but the reality was it is important that people, including parents with children and the elderly, who needed to come into the city by car had access to affordable short-stay off-street parking.
"This is about ensuring the city centre is accessible for all and maximising the ability to reallocate on-street space for other users," she said.
Beck said Auckland Transport had been prioritising short-term parking in its carpark buildings and pricing them cheaper to reduce on-street congestion.
Parking buildings have also been earmarked for other users to support growth, such as delivery lockers and spaces for tradespeople.
"While longer term it may be appropriate for these buildings to be sold, in the medium term they should be utilised to support the city centre's transformation," said Beck.
The Automobile Association is warning of potential price hikes for commuter parking if the buildings fall into private hands.
Auckland councillor Daniel Newman is also wary of selling carpark buildings in the central city, describing it as "the great Goff garage sale to raise money for the City Rail Link".
"We will be selling our body organs next," he said.
Newman said the sale is going to cause monopolistic behaviour and drive up prices.
"It will hand over the market to a couple of industry players who have no incentive to offer car parks for short-term stays," he said.
In a statement, Goff said the sale of some council carparks is one option being put to councillors. Lease opportunities and concession arrangements are also being considered which would ensure off-street carparking is available in the central city.
"Council will consider carefully all options to fund the CRL before coming to a decision next week," he said.