Moreland Parking Strategy
This opinion piece by Carlo Carli may be read in conjunction with the objection he later submitted to Moreland council. For background, go to the end and follow the "up" link to the parent article.
Robert Durkacz, 30 Jan 2020
Moreland Parking Strategy
Carlo Carli, 24th October, 2019
Intellectual debates are often captured by the one big idea, as in the current debate about car parking requirement in inner Melbourne. That big idea is the elimination of the car-parking minimum for new residential and commercial developments. It is assumed this action will lead to reductions in demand for car ownership and trigger modal shift. The Green Party and certain urban planners have largely driven the policy and it rests on the quixotic mission to increase the number of high-rise apartments while dramatically decreasing car ownership.
The theory is that the market will provide as many parking spots as there is demand. It also seems to assume that future residents will be young and healthy or else the market will provide the necessary car parking needs for the disabled, people with chronic illness and their carers. However if this were true that the market will provide the most efficient outcome than Council would not need to impose time parking restrictions throughout major parts of the suburb. The reality is that in some cases developers and landlords will save $60,000 to $80,000 per car park, while many tenants will scramble for whatever off street parking is available.
The response to the proposal has been particularly heated, mainly because it involves the massive expansion of permit parking and restricted parking with increased enforcement to protect local streets from increased pressure on parking, a direct consequence of reduced parking requirements in new developments. The expectation is that the market will deliver the appropriate number of off street car parks for both residential and commercial developments.
There are already examples of the failure of current flexible, negotiable, non- mandatory parking standards meeting parking needs. One major problem is there is not sufficient market incentive or market signals to provide parking for commercial uses since commercial uses are often only provided due to planning requirements for mixed use. Developers make their money from the residential element of mixed- use developments and therefore have few incentives to provide for commercial developments. Currently there are dozens of empty shells in new developments in Brunswick, which have failed to be utilized for commercial purposes; it is unlikely developers provided these sites with sufficient parking.
Donald Shoup argues for paying the full cost of road space, that is NOT what is happening in Moreland. Parking Restriction Zones are being introduced and they are unfair and not what Shoup argued for. Instead of sharing road space between different users and allocating road space according to people's willingness to pay, Moreland Council is taking a public resource (on-street parking) and reserving it for a particular group of people, the eligible residents, while other users like carers, workers, visitors, commuters, churches and sports clubs have time restricted access. Moreland model fits into Donald Shoup's theory and practice.
Donald Shoup is critical of allowing non-residents free on street parking but is equally critical of the use of residential parking permits and restricting parking for non-residents. He names both positions as the two extreme positions. He suggests a compromise, creating Parking Benefits Districts, which would combine permit parking for residents with variable, demand driven paid parking for non-residents. Moreland has chosen an extreme hybrid, which favours resident permits over other parking uses, however beneficial and important they are to community well being.
A planning system that provides too much parking is as harmful as one that provides too little. I would have thought the appropriate strategy is to manage parking supply and not just deregulate parking for new developments, (and parking should be priced appropriately not just reserved for certain residents with parking permits). Such a strategy could mean in some circumstances reducing the amount of parking needed at a particular location. Unfortunately Council’s approach is cumbersome and inflexible and by providing short term fixes it just highlights the inherent problems. The administration of this system is going to be a headache and the use of residential parking permits is going to create a massive incentive for scamming.
There is no problem in reducing the parking minimum to reflect local demographics, which is what Council can do now. For example standards can be reduced for housing that serves lower-income people, students and elderly or for housing in more accessible locations (such as near public transport and in mixed-use neighborhoods); in developments that have carshare services, and where parking is priced.
Moreland’s proposals intend to impose a Parking Restriction Zone. Such a zone will have devastating impacts on employees, businesses, shoppers, visitors, the disabled, sport clubs, carers and others.
On a matter of social equity the deregulation of car parking and the Parking Restriction Zones should be opposed for these reasons:
- Parking Restriction Zones are unfair. Instead of sharing road space between different users, Council takes a public resource (on-street parking) and reserves it for a particular group of people, the residents, while other users like carers, workers, visitors, commuters, churches and sports clubs have very restricted access.
- This market driven, neoliberal approach to parking provision disproportionately impacts disabled people and people with long-term health conditions and their carers.
- Residential parking permit schemes have a “first mover advantage”. They are great when your area is the only area that has them and not many other people in your area want them. Once everyone has them traffic is shuffled between one area and another seeking parking opportunities.
- The removal of parking minimum codes do not provide for the needs of disabled residents or those with chronic illnesses and their carers
- The proposed parking restrictions will detrimentally and disproportionately affect community services in the municipality such as child-care, aged care, health care, sporting clubs.
- Permits enable people who qualify for the permit to use a very valuable resource very inefficiently. People can now go on holidays and leave their car parked on street for weeks. Rather than reducing car use new residents might simply bring vehicles with them and park them on street including transferring permits to non-residents.
- Administration is also a major headache, mainly because permits create a massive incentive for scamming.
Most households in Moreland own at least one vehicle and therefore need residential parking. Simply expecting the developers of new developments to radically reduce car parks and thereby getting rid of vehicles is unrealistic. Even non-drivers want parking for visitors. We have workers, shoppers, the disabled, the aged, sports clubs and others that place demands on on-street parking. It is therefore important that parking policy reforms be realistic and avoids creating new problems.