Paid parking - a necessary evil?

By: Blogger

Straight from city council
A personal view,
by Councillor Steve Morris

It’s 1963, and Keith Holyoake is Prime Minister. Tauranga town has a population of 22,000 and parking meters have been installed in the CBD. A young man puts a penny in a shiny new meter; 54 years later, Cr Terry Molloy walks these streets again, clipboard in hand.

You could be forgiven for confusing the well-dressed, elder statesman of council for a ‘meter man’, but he’s doing what comes naturally to him. He’s left the rarefied air of council and is talking with retailers. He’s carrying a survey and asking what would make our CBD better. Unsurprisingly, parking is blamed for turning customers away.

By 1984 it cost 40c to park for two hours ($1.26 in today’s dollars). Some 33 years later, the price has risen 74c in real terms to $2. Have people really changed where they shop for the sake of 74c over a generation?

Mall owners don’t provide parking on expensive land for nothing, and the cost is rolled into the lease paid by retailers who then make it back through their customers.

In the CBD it is council who provides user-pays parking buildings. If we reduce prices, the cost goes on all ratepayers whether they shop in the CBD or not.

If parking meters have been around since 1963, what’s changed? An extra 110,000 consumers are living here, incomes are higher, malls have cropped up to service the suburbs along with large retail outlets like The Warehouse, and council is building a third large parking building. It’s 2017, and I’m asking you Terry’s question: What will make our CBD better?

Email: steve.morris@tauranga.govt.nz or phone: 542 1602.