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.
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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.
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.