The end is nigh for Tauranga CBD’s free parking

SunLive - The end is nigh for Tauranga CBD’s free parking - The Bay's News First 

Two years of free on-street parking in Tauranga's city centre will come to end at the start of December to encourage a higher turnover of car parks.

At a Tauranga City Council meeting today, the commissioners unanimously voted to remove free on-street parking in the city centre “core area” from December 1 2022 as part of the council’s Parking Management Plan.

Parking will change from two hours free parking to $1 per hour for the first two hours, then $5 per hour after that from 8am - 6pm Monday to Saturday (variable on-street charges).

This will change to $2 per hour for the first two hours from February 1, 2023.

The core area encompasses the land between Harington Street and Second Avenue from Cameron to The Strand and Tauranga waterfront.

Director of Transport Brendan Bisley told the meeting the plan aimed to change the on-street parking to “high turnover customer-based” carparking.

The free parking trial was established by the previous council in mid-2020 in response to Covid disruption.

The decision to remove the trial is based on discouraging workers parking for free all day instead of in the long-stay carparks, and encouraging people to use other modes of transport.

Parking fees in the council-owned parking areas range from $6 for a day at the Cliff Road carpark to $17 per day in the parking buildings on Elizabeth and Spring/Durham Street.

The trial resulted in workers using the carparks for extended periods, and created the situation where few carparks are available for customers of stores and businesses in the city centre, according to the report prepared by Bisley and council service transformation manager Paul Dunphy.

On-street time limits are enforced through a licence plate recognition vehicle with fines sent to the registered vehicle owner via the post.

An infringement for overstaying a time restriction varies between $12 to $57 depending on the length of the overstay.

The average infringement value issued in the city centre is $15 due to the time period that the parking restriction applies, according to the report.

“Some motorists are happy to pay this cost as it was lower than the parking building charge,” said the report.

The hope is all-day parking charges and the $40 fine for failing to pay for parking would “act as a deterrent to stop workers using the carparks for all day use”.

Bisley said the move toward user pays was to create “cost neutral” parking and paying down debt.

“We’re not looking to make a profit.”

He said running the trial resulted in council loosing around $1m per year because supplying carparking "does cost".

Commission chair Anne Tolley said the idea of a vibrant CBD was to have "constant turnover" which is what they were "trying to get back to" with the implementation of parking charges.

She said her worry was $1 “is pretty cheap” and suggested changing this to $2 per hour after the Christmas period, from February 1 2023.

“We have to get back to being neutral, that parking pays for itself.”

Bisley said the $1 per hour was "recognition" of moving from a free parking model to paid, and transitioning to $2 per hour was "sensible".

Commissioner Bill Wasley agreed with the increase to $2 per hour.

According to the report the forecasted budget for the 2022/23 financial year is a loss of $981,567.

This includes $1.2m in forecasted revenue created with the implementation of variable on-street parking, based on the $1 per hour model.

The forecast is also based on an average 4 hour stay, assuming 50 per cent occupancy, Monday to Saturday charging, and a 10 per cent uptake of the Elizabeth Street carpark building utilisation for workers.

If the free trial were to continue the forecasted loss was -$1,937,828.

As part of the plan, no parking behind the berms will be implemented, for the entire city centre from Marsh Street to 11th Avenue from December 1 as well.

Wasley supported this extension and said sometimes the city looks like an “utter shambles” with cars parked behind the berms.

The plan will also see two hour parking restrictions across the city centre fringe and wider areas in the Te Papa penisula up to 11th Avenue, including Memorial Park from November 2023.

Paid parking will also be introduced from November next year in the city centre fringe, which includes the area between Park Street and Harington Street, Cameron Roadd and State Highway 2 and between Second Ave and Arundel St.

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