14 May 2024

'The streets are contested': The residents who back the end to free parking in Auckland's centre

9:49 am on 14 May 2024
Parking machine.

A residents' group says it is a "win-win" situation. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

Businesses are concerned but some residents are welcoming the changes to parking around the city centre.

From 1 July, there will no longer be free curbside parking in the central city outside peak hours, overnight and at weekends. Instead, vehicle owners will need to stump up between $2 and $3 an hour.

Auckland City Centre Residents' Group chair Adam Parkinson said the best thing for local businesses was a turnover of visitors.

"If we really want it to work and function properly, we need to make sure that those parking spaces are available and that they're turned over regularly - that's the crux for us. There's no right to park a private vehicle on any street, there's certainly no right for that to be free," he told First Up.

It might be okay in suburbs, but "in big cities ... it's not realistic" to have a free public car park outside apartments. Residents could either get a place with a carpark, or lease one out, he said.

"The city centre is highly contested space. The streets are contested."

City centre businesses like retail, arts, hospitality would benefit from high car park turnover, especially after 6pm, he said.

"Parking turnover is all about different types of people parking over a shorter period and providing that vibrancy, variety. It's great for retail, great for business.

"We're going to benefit from it, too, because more businesses will stay open, more businesses will open, and we'll have a more interesting life as residents here as well. So those are all win-wins."

He said AT's initiative was passed in May 2023 and the parking strategy that came out of it was not a surprise.

"They probably could have done a little bit better on preparing us. I think this has been through a pretty strong political process already, which the AT board have approved. So it's a shock probably to some, but it's not a surprise to us."

Auckland city centre had a population of 40,000, and about 100,000 came in everyday, he said.

AT should go back and consult with affected parties over its new overnight on-street parking changes, deputy mayor Desley Simpson said on Monday.

Simpson said AT's strategy had been "poorly executed".

No one had directed AT to bring in 24/7 parking charges without consultation, she said.

Mayor Wayne Brown said at the weekend he had no idea the changes were coming.

But AT chief executive Dean Kimpton told Morning Report on Monday that he personally delivered the news to Brown in April, and the plan had been "out there" since 23 April as part of AT's parking strategy.

"Auckland Transport needs to find $73 million worth of savings in the year coming - that includes cost reductions, but it also includes looking at revenue sources, and this is one of those," he had said.

"If we don't find those savings, the ratepayers - including the business ratepayers inside the central city area - could face up to 3 percent increase on rates."

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