Free or just cheaper?

Half of income from meters, the rest is fines

Half of income from meters, the rest is fines

Just a dollar: That is what district councillor Larry Foster would like to see charged for parking in the CBD, to try to revitalise Gisborne’s business heart. He and other councillors want the cost to the public reduced after a period of public consultation on developing a parking policy.

Picture by Paul Rickard.
File picture

FREE parking for a limited time in the central city will be among options to be consulted on by Gisborne District Council as it looks to develop a parking policy.

A staff paper presented to the environmental planning and regulations committee yesterday prompted calls from committee members and retailers Larry Foster and Malcolm Maclean for at least some free parking and a drop in the present $2 an hour fee for the central business district.

Four options presented

Four options for parking in the CBD were presented to the committee by policy advisor Elke Thompson:

  • free time-restricted parking,
  • first-hour-free parking,
  • cheaper parking ($1.50 per hour) and
  • the status quo.

The committee was told the car park occupancy was well below the desired rate of 90 percent. The meters were 20 years old and needed to be replaced, and there were requests from the community to revitalise the CBD through free or cheaper parking. Many councils were installing new pay-and-display meters that accepted credit or debit cards, and payWave charging.

Community consultation was planned to last for 14 days and would include social media and an online submission platform.

Financial implications

Larry Foster wanted option three changed from $1.50 to $1 an hour. This was what it used to be and there had never been any complaints until it was changed. It would encourage people to come into town.

Andy Cranston said the council must look at the financial implications. If the revenue from the meters was lost, ratepayers would have to make up the difference. Financial information should be part of the consultation. Amber Dunn said the council should consider a combination of the options, not just a case of either/or. Malcolm Maclean supported Mr Foster.

“We want to be a vibrant city. We are far from that,” he said. “Come into town on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday and you can park anywhere you like.”

Saturday mornings could be free — there was a captive market with the Farmers’ Market and that could be extended into town.

Committee chairwoman Pat Seymour said a large part of the parking meter income was from fines. The council should look at Whakatane where there was one-hour free parking.

Impact on businesses

Gisborne retailers had complained for years that parking fees had a negative impact on their businesses. There was little parking done in town on the first three days of the week and she questioned how the council would get to the goal of 90 percent occupancy.

“I think we should be saying we will not spend $1 million on new technology — there will be free parking but it will be monitored. We just have to listen to what we have been hearing for the past couple of years.”

Mr Maclean said he was not talking about making parking totally free.

“We are suggesting $1 an hour for a maximum of two hours, then you have to move on. All I am suggesting is to have it free on Saturday mornings. You are not going to get any more income if we don’t do something different.”

Amber Dunn wondered if there could be other ways to make money, such as leasing some parking spaces to businesses.

Enforcement manager Jim Single said last year the council had $1.3 million in revenue, of which 50.4 percent was from meters and the rest from fines. A targeted rate from businesses could offset the loss of income.

Ticket enforcement

Josh Wharehinga favoured sensible application of the parking rules. He had feedback that people were being ticketed when the area they were in was mostly empty.

Mr Single said this was governed by the Act, which only specified a time limit. People could always write to the council with an explanation. Pat Seymour said the officer would not know if someone had pulled out of the nearby park a moment before.

The council had to support its officers administering council policy.

FREE parking for a limited time in the central city will be among options to be consulted on by Gisborne District Council as it looks to develop a parking policy.

A staff paper presented to the environmental planning and regulations committee yesterday prompted calls from committee members and retailers Larry Foster and Malcolm Maclean for at least some free parking and a drop in the present $2 an hour fee for the central business district.

Four options presented

Four options for parking in the CBD were presented to the committee by policy advisor Elke Thompson:

  • free time-restricted parking,
  • first-hour-free parking,
  • cheaper parking ($1.50 per hour) and
  • the status quo.

The committee was told the car park occupancy was well below the desired rate of 90 percent. The meters were 20 years old and needed to be replaced, and there were requests from the community to revitalise the CBD through free or cheaper parking. Many councils were installing new pay-and-display meters that accepted credit or debit cards, and payWave charging.

Community consultation was planned to last for 14 days and would include social media and an online submission platform.

Financial implications

Larry Foster wanted option three changed from $1.50 to $1 an hour. This was what it used to be and there had never been any complaints until it was changed. It would encourage people to come into town.

Andy Cranston said the council must look at the financial implications. If the revenue from the meters was lost, ratepayers would have to make up the difference. Financial information should be part of the consultation. Amber Dunn said the council should consider a combination of the options, not just a case of either/or. Malcolm Maclean supported Mr Foster.

“We want to be a vibrant city. We are far from that,” he said. “Come into town on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday and you can park anywhere you like.”

Saturday mornings could be free — there was a captive market with the Farmers’ Market and that could be extended into town.

Committee chairwoman Pat Seymour said a large part of the parking meter income was from fines. The council should look at Whakatane where there was one-hour free parking.

Impact on businesses

Gisborne retailers had complained for years that parking fees had a negative impact on their businesses. There was little parking done in town on the first three days of the week and she questioned how the council would get to the goal of 90 percent occupancy.

“I think we should be saying we will not spend $1 million on new technology — there will be free parking but it will be monitored. We just have to listen to what we have been hearing for the past couple of years.”

Mr Maclean said he was not talking about making parking totally free.

“We are suggesting $1 an hour for a maximum of two hours, then you have to move on. All I am suggesting is to have it free on Saturday mornings. You are not going to get any more income if we don’t do something different.”

Amber Dunn wondered if there could be other ways to make money, such as leasing some parking spaces to businesses.

Enforcement manager Jim Single said last year the council had $1.3 million in revenue, of which 50.4 percent was from meters and the rest from fines. A targeted rate from businesses could offset the loss of income.

Ticket enforcement

Josh Wharehinga favoured sensible application of the parking rules. He had feedback that people were being ticketed when the area they were in was mostly empty.

Mr Single said this was governed by the Act, which only specified a time limit. People could always write to the council with an explanation. Pat Seymour said the officer would not know if someone had pulled out of the nearby park a moment before.

The council had to support its officers administering council policy.

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