Something for nothing for a while

They are the meter cheats.

They don’t want to feed the meter or pay at the parking building, and they have cunningly avoided the gaze of the city’s parking warden. For the moment at least.

“I want to park as close to work as possible,” says one young office worker, “and I don’t want to pay or get a parking infringement.”

As such, the meter cheats are arriving at the top of The Strand each morning and parking on the berm. Sometimes there can be a dozen cars parked on the grass between the road and the railway line, and they do it with impunity.

Visitors to Tauranga can take in the rose gardens, the waka and an array of randomly-parked, late model shopping basket-type cars.

The spaces with the 60-minute restrictions remain empty, as do the 120-minute parking spots, for a while at least.

“If we park there and forget, we get a ticket,” says our meter cheat. So they crowd the berm. They even park beneath the trees to keep their cars out of the sun.

They are untouchable, because if an area, such as the cul-de-sac at the top of The Strand, is not listed as prohibited or doesn’t have time restrictions, then people can park there for as long as they like without receiving a fine.

“There are multiple areas in the city centre where ‘no parking behind the kerb’ restrictions apply,” says Martin Parkes, Tauranga City Council’s acting general manager of infrastructure. That means you can’t park on the berm.

“However, the restrictions do not currently apply to this particular berm at the top of The Strand.”

So it is being abused, for now, because the issue has been flagged by parking officers. “It’s being considered by our transportation team,” says Martin. “Any change to the bylaw would take approximately three months to action.”

This probably means that time is almost up for the kerb crawlers in this part of town.

Council has acknowledged the pressures on parking in the city centre by implementing a number of initiatives, including a P180 zone and free parking on Saturdays.

One of the key projects currently underway is a new car park building on Harington Street. Once completed, the parking building will offer an additional 550 parking spaces in the city centre.

“Transportation, public transport and parking are key strategic issues for a growing city,” says Martin, “and management of all three is a complex and continually evolving challenge.”