Calls for a loading zone as council cracks down on footpath use

3:38 pm on 16 January 2023
Craig Mckenzie stands outside a hotel in Tauranga.

Craig Mckenzie outside the Quest Tauranga Central. Photo: John Borren / Sun Media

Guests at a Tauranga hotel are being welcomed to the city with the threat of a parking fine.

Quest Tauranga Central director Craig Mckenzie said one of his guests has been fined for stopping on the footpath outside to unload their car.

"If that's the first impression a guest is going to get of Tauranga CBD, getting ticketed as you pull up to the hotel. It's just wrong.

"I've had two parking wardens walk in here very officiously, in front of guests, accuse the hotel telling guests to park on the footpath."

Mckenzie told the wardens: "I haven't instructed them [guests] to, but if they choose to, I can't control that."

He said 99 percent of the time guests are unloading or loading bags, not parking there.

The hotel on Devonport Road has yellow no parking lines out front and a wide footpath that guests and delivery vehicles use frequently because there is no loading bay.

Since opening in 2019 guests and good vehicles have been stopping briefly on the footpath without any issues, but Mckenzie said there had been a "sea change in attitude" in the past few weeks.

There was no communication from the Tauranga City Council (TCC) about the change in enforcement, said Mckenzie.

TCC regulation monitoring team leader Stuart Goodman said: "Any vehicles parking illegally run the risk of receiving an infringement if observed by a parking officer or via CCTV."

Parking on the footpath would incur a $40 fine and it was $60 for parking on broken yellow lines, said Goodman.

He said the council had issued one fine for parking on the footpath on Devonport Rd since 1 December, 2022.

Responding to the incident with the parking officer Goodman said: "Our parking officers always act in a polite and professional manner.

"On this occasion the person who was parked illegally was asked to move by a parking officer. The person asked our parking officer to speak with the hotel staff as they had advised them to park there.

"Our officer did so, and no infringement was issued."

A truck parts outside a hotel in Tauranga.

The council approved delivery vehicles stopping on the road while unloading. Photo: Supplied

Quest Tauranga Central has 42 rooms but only 14 carparks for guests, so it wasn't always feasible for them to unload in the carpark, said Mckenzie.

"Our 14 carparks were condoned by council, so they were aware there was going to be an issue for parking.

"They've created it, so I think they need to own it."

The other concern was the hotel's three linen deliveries each week because the truck couldn't access the carpark due to height restrictions, said Mckenzie.

Having the truck park in one of the loading zones further down the street wasn't practical because the cages of linen were too heavy for someone to wheel uphill, said the hotelier.

One option was to have the truck nudge into the driveway, which would block the footpath and "cause a raft of issues" and be "more unsafe", said Mackenzie.

What they were doing up until now was "completely safe and works".

He spoke with TCC about the issue and was told the linen truck could stop on the road outside for its deliveries, but not the footpath as they "couldn't permit vehicles to park on the footpath".

The council also told him: "Goods vehicles parked here for short periods of time will also help slow traffic."

Mckenzie said this was a "disturbing" comment on how Devonport Road was viewed by the council.

When the linen truck stopped on the road, motorists were tooting their horns and pulling out from behind it blindly, said Mckenzie.

He was also worried about the linen cages falling off the truck into the traffic.

"It's going to be dangerous. We don't think that's safe doing what we did this morning. We found that really quite dodgy."

Previously, when using the footpath as a loading zone, traffic could flow in both directions, and it was safer loading and unloading for goods vehicles, said Mckenzie.

Goodman confirmed the council supported delivery vehicles stopping on the road for unloading.

When presented with Mckenzie's concerns about the safety of this, Goodman replied: "We support this as a short-term loading zone until an alternative location is found."

Mckenzie would like to see the council create a formal loading bay outside his hotel which would service the upper end of Devonport Road as well.

Courier drivers and other service vehicles regularly stopped outside to deliver to other businesses, said Mckenzie.

"I urge council to act now and formalise a loading bay with urgency for the benefit of all local business, and safety on Devonport Rd."

In response to this, Goodman said: "Council is looking into options for a loading zone in the area."

Turkish To Go owner Mas Eden told Local Democracy Reporting a truck delivering supplies to his restaurant was fined for stopping on the footpath as well.

He has asked the council to change the parking out the front of his business to a loading zone or to 15 minutes maximum from two hours to increase turnover and make deliveries easier.

Eden said he had lost customers since paid parking was reintroduced in the CBD on 1 December last year.

"My business is completely down. I've lost like 60 percent of business, because of just this parking."

Business had been down since Covid hit in 2020 but the paid parking had made it worse, said the restaurateur.

Asked if council would consider changing the parking time limits outside Turkish To Go, Goodman replied: "Council does not support additional parking restrictions at this stage as the new parking fee structure supports short term parking and loading zone options are being considered".

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.