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Parking: Caught in the ACT

By Mike Jeffreys - 26 August 2014 22

parking-sign-stock

A major bonus of life in the ACT up to now has been that there is enough road for the cars (most of the time) and adequate reasonably priced or no charge parking. This is not the case in Sydney and Melbourne, where officials have been publicly proclaiming for years that there are “just too many cars”.

Not true – there are about as many motor vehicles as you would expect to find in cities of comparable size elsewhere in the developed world.

Rather than acknowledge what they were elected or employed to do: i.e. provide adequate infrastructure, politicians and bureaucrats instead attempt to modify human behaviour.

This of course is what is happening in the Parliamentary Triangle and other areas of Canberra courtesy of the NCA.

Chances are though; if Sydney and Melbourne are any guide to Canberra’s future you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Researching for an appearance on Channel 9’s Morning program this week I investigated this instance of just how far administrators are prepared to go to punish motorists.

The City of Melbourne has been using QC’s and SC’s to win cases against drivers who have incurred parking fines. Individual lawyers representing the council have been submitting invoices of more than $21,000. Total cost to the council since 2012: $123,000. Size of the fines: as low as $61. One Councillor likened the act of “unleashing” QCs on the public to using a sledgehammer to crack an egg.

Well, yes.

Most common reason for citizens daring to take on City Hall: controversial in-ground sensor technology, which alerts parking inspectors as soon as a vehicle has overstayed.

My contribution to the discussion was to recall the case of a judge in the US years ago required to rule on whether private motorists should be allowed radar detectors. His Honour was firmly of the opinion that they should, saying “If the government is going to spy on its citizens, then the citizens have a right to fight back”. In that spirit my suggestion for Victorians is an App which senses the sensors then times the length of stay so the motorist has evidence to present to the court if there is a dispute. The app should also tell the taxpayer the name of the councillor(s) responsible for installing these electronic dobbing devices in the first place.

Or consider this: the toughest suburbs in Australia in which to find a place to park are Potts Point, Elizabeth Bay and Darlinghurst.

One remedy the City of Sydney is applying is to deny permits to residents previously entitled to them if their building is renovated. Not new – but an existing building renovated. The Wentworth Courier this week quotes developer Robert Wechsler who undertook the renovation of a 38-apartment building in Tusculum St, Potts Point. Before a lick of paint was applied, according to this report, every resident was entitled to a City of Sydney resident’s parking permit but, once work was complete, permits were denied. Mr. Wechsler says: “If you follow this line of thought, only slum dwellers who don’t renovate will be entitled to park their cars in the streets.”

The City of Sydney has also committed to an increase in car sharing to 10 per cent of all households by 2016. A spokeswoman said car sharing was an efficient use of parking space, and it also reduced the number of cars on the road and competition for car spaces. This is the mantra of course: reduce the number of cars on the road and make private car ownership less and less attractive.
But at least the anonymous spokeswoman is being reasonably candid when she explains the aim.

National Capital Authority chief executive Malcolm Snow says the pay-parking scheme will increase the number of spaces available to visitors to national institutions, including the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Old Parliament House, the National Museum and Questacon. And: ”The new parking arrangements will mean everyone will spend more time enjoying the central parts of Canberra, and less time circling car parks.”

Presumably the real world translation is that more people will share the available parking spaces and some people will give up taking their cars altogether. This does not address the issue or in any way recognise what is needed: i.e. more places to park cars.

With the way Canberra is going (see “infill”) the quality of life is being steadily downgraded for residents and visitors, not to mention made more expensive for those who work in the affected areas.
Analysis by The Canberra Times this year found that public servants would need to receive pay increases of $4000 a year to cover their outlay for pay parking in the triangle.

I’ve now come to realise “urban planning” is just another phrase joining the lengthening list of oxymorons in the English language.

What’s Your opinion?


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22 Responses to
Parking: Caught in the ACT
1
mcs 8:50 am
26 Aug 14
#

I’m sick of hearing about this debate.

People in large parts of the rest of Canberra in particularly civic, have been paying for parking for years. What’s make people that work in the Parliamentary triangle so special that they should be exempt – especially considering I’d expect the average wage of workers in that part of the city would probably be the highest of the lot across Canberra?

If we all had free parking and the Triangle was being charged by itself, I’d be fully supportive of the whining about this. But you’ve had a free ride for a long time, and now the NCA is finally catching up to the rest of the city. Boo hoo I say.

Saying all that its not that I agree with paying to park either, but that is the way of the world these days.

Also, just how does infill degrade the ‘quality of life’ for residents? I’d be intrigued by your supporting evidence for this statement. Theoretically, greater infill should provide greater choice in terms of housing for people in the market – therefore, as long as there aren’t significant barriers stopping people from matching their (which of course their are to some degree) preferences to the types of houses they like, then overall welfare may indeed be increased from greater diversity in building types (i.e. greenfield vs infill).

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2
davo101 9:52 am
26 Aug 14
#

And coming up next we speak to the man who has built the world’s smallest violin….

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3
Maya123 10:29 am
26 Aug 14
#

The Parliamentary Triangle has a great bus service; far better than most of Canberra. King’s Avenue for instance has a bus every few minutes; sometimes even more frequent than that, connecting to Civic. I checked the bus timetable at a bus stop and was amazed just how VERY frequent! There are also frequent buses on Canberra Avenue; plus route 3 that I know of. I am sick and tired of the spoilt people working in this area complaining.
I have never worked in an area so well supplied. My last job I had to walk 1.4kms from the bus to work, and my place of work before that I was 2 kms from the bus stop. I didn’t complain; in fact I took it as positive I got a bit of exercise.

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4
watto23 11:34 am
26 Aug 14
#

I work in the triangle and am sick of hearing about it. Plus also sick of people saying to me I’m a contractor so I can afford it. Sorry most private company employed people are on far worse conditions than their PS counterparts. People in Canberra need to realise just how lucky they are and how good it is to live here. I personally was sick or circling car parks myself. All these people who complain about the inability to catch buses to work because of kids yet they seem to have no issues leaving early in the morning to get a car park.
I agree it would be nice to have maybe a newsagent/small supermarket etc in the area. But realistically, say its over towards Kings avenue, which is the most likely place due to the number of people working there, would the people from the other side of the triangle even use it anyway?

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5
Madam Cholet 12:13 pm
26 Aug 14
#

watto23 said :

I work in the triangle and am sick of hearing about it. Plus also sick of people saying to me I’m a contractor so I can afford it. Sorry most private company employed people are on far worse conditions than their PS counterparts. People in Canberra need to realise just how lucky they are and how good it is to live here. I personally was sick or circling car parks myself. All these people who complain about the inability to catch buses to work because of kids yet they seem to have no issues leaving early in the morning to get a car park.

My household has very decent income thank you very much and we shell out about $3k on parking. One of us works in the PS. Saying that PSs deserve a pay rise to cover the cost of parking is saying that other workers who pay have this already factored in by their obviously very generous employers. Not true.

The issue for me is not the amount or the fact that we have to pay, it’s the hoops to actually do that. 3% extra for paying by card (really, it’s 2014), and having to put in your rego (yes, of course a non govvie car park, but still…). Upping the price three times in the space of 6 months. Car parks that are clearly not well maintained for the price we pay. All of those things are issues, not the fact that there is payment required. and this all because the ACT Gov sold the car park to a developer who this far has declined to actually develop the land and instead lease it to Wilson Parking (I suspect lease unless they on-sold it).

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6
arescarti42 12:27 pm
26 Aug 14
#

Parking is expensive to provide (from both a direct $ cost and opportunity cost perspective). It’s really, really expensive to provide in high demand, high value areas like town centres and the parliamentary triangle. And yet you somehow think it’s your god given right to have it provided to you for free, and damn the expense to everyone else?

Not everyone drives cars, and not everyone that does parks in the parliamentary triangle. Why should the broader community be subsidising those that do?

Lose the entitlement attitude and get a grip.

Note: I work in the parliamentary triangle.

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7
Felix the Cat 1:52 pm
26 Aug 14
#

“National Capital Authority chief executive Malcolm Snow says the pay-parking scheme will increase the number of spaces available to visitors to national institutions, including the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Old Parliament House, the National Museum and Questacon. And: ”The new parking arrangements will mean everyone will spend more time enjoying the central parts of Canberra, and less time circling car parks.”

Presumably the real world translation is that more people will share the available parking spaces and some people will give up taking their cars altogether. This does not address the issue or in any way recognise what is needed: i.e. more places to park cars.”

NCA are right and you are missing the point, Mike. We need less not more cars on the road and in the carparks and having pay parking will go someway to acheiving that as some people will say “stuff it, paying for parking is too expensive and it’s cheaper to catch the bus/ride a bike/get a lift with a friend or colleague.” So there will be less people driving to Parliamentry Triangle and therefore more parking spots available for those that still do drive.

Sure, other options like taking public transport or riding a bike isn’t convenient for everyone, but for a lot of people, it can be a viable alternative to driving a car. People just need a little “encouragement” to do it!

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8
bigfeet 1:59 pm
26 Aug 14
#

I’ve got no problem with this provided it is enforced fairly and without discrimination throughout the Parliamentary Triangle.

If one particular group is permitted to park illegally, camp, dump shipping containers or light fires on NCA land then the NCA has no right or moral authority to be enforcing restrictions on others.

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9
Maya123 3:04 pm
26 Aug 14
#

bigfeet said :

I’ve got no problem with this provided it is enforced fairly and without discrimination throughout the Parliamentary Triangle.

If one particular group is permitted to park illegally, camp, dump shipping containers or light fires on NCA land then the NCA has no right or moral authority to be enforcing restrictions on others.

You are just bringing this up because you want to continue to park for free.

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10
bigfeet 3:34 pm
26 Aug 14
#

Maya123 said :

bigfeet said :

I’ve got no problem with this provided it is enforced fairly and without discrimination throughout the Parliamentary Triangle.

If one particular group is permitted to park illegally, camp, dump shipping containers or light fires on NCA land then the NCA has no right or moral authority to be enforcing restrictions on others.

You are just bringing this up because you want to continue to park for free.

Well of course that would be my preferred option! But if that is not going to happen then I want the laws and restriction applied equally.

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11
Ryoma 3:54 pm
26 Aug 14
#

This is yet another symptom of Canberra’s growing pains. Every time there is economic/social/cultural change, there are people who defend the status quo (often because they have invested resources into it), and those who support the change (often because they suffer from, or are locked out of benefitting from the status quo.

And so it is with parking. In a smarter, less arrogant city, this change would have happened back in the 70’s or 80’s before congestion became an issue. By the same token, there would have been a move to higher densities and better public transport during that time frame too.

But we (as a city) didn’t make these changes, and now we are locked into path dependence – quite literally. Those who have bought low-density housing far from public transport are horrified to find out that economic common sense is starting to prevail at a time when Federal. State and local budgets are tightening.

Paid parking saves government money that can be better spent elsewhere than building yet more carparks, raises further money from those who have had a “free ride” for a very long time, and helps to shift the economic balance around transport. If the ACT Government is using urban planning to gradually turn Canberra into an actual city, rather a bunch of suburban clones, then I’m all for it.

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12
gooterz 9:58 pm
26 Aug 14
#

We can do one of two things, make parking more expensive or make buses cheaper.

The revenue argument is wrong, rates just go up to cover transport.
The overall cost of making buses free is less than paid busses as there is no cost of the ticketing system.
The overall cost of reducing parking costs is that you need less ticket inspectors, officestaff QC’s and lawyers, court time etc.

However making buses free means that its pro-tourist, pro-bus, pro-parking.

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13
Leon 5:48 pm
27 Aug 14
#

“Rather than acknowledge what they were elected or employed to do: i.e. provide adequate infrastructure, politicians and bureaucrats instead attempt to modify human behaviour.”

Politicians and bureaucrats bend over backwards to modify our behaviour by providing cheap parking that encourages us to drive rather than walk, cycle or catch buses.

Here are just three local examples:

1. They have given permission for 200+ commercial parking spaces around the Northbourne Oval.
2. They turn a blind eye to the 219 parking spaces, that breach the Braddon Precinct Code, on the former Braddon Club site.
3. For many years they have breached the Territory Plan to provide a parking lot at the corner of Watson St and Barry Drive in Turner.

For an analysis of the cost of “free” parking, see http://www.sensibletransport.org.au/project/high-cost-free-parking-seminar

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14
Aeek 11:54 pm
27 Aug 14
#

It’s not helped by the anti-bus design of many suburbs. The main roads that don’t go into the suburbs, to discourage rat-running, and yet we expect the buses to do exactly that.

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15
harvyk1 8:50 am
28 Aug 14
#

Maya123 said :

The Parliamentary Triangle has a great bus service; far better than most of Canberra.

Exactly, the Parliamentary Triangle has a great bus service, of course unless you’re planning on catching a bus from one part of the triangle to another, or going to either Woden or the City, you will be required to use the “far worse” service available to the rest of Canberra, as you mentioned in the second half of your sentence.

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