It’s 6am on Grey Lynn’s Scanlan Street and the kerbside is already crowded with commuter cars.
This is the morning parking frenzy in Grey Lynn, intensified in recent months by the implementation of a residents parking scheme in neighbouring Ponsonby, Freemans and St Marys Bay. In an effort to free up space for residents and customers, daytime parking has been limited to 120 minutes for all those without a permit.
Yet while the results have been positive for those suburbs, commuters have now moved into Grey Lynn and Arch Hill, where some of the heritage streets are struggling to cope with the pressure.
“Commuter parkers have been pushed further into our area,” says David Batten of the Grey Lynn Residents Association. “A high proportion of properties have no off-street parking and residents are now having to compete with commuters for a small, finite pool.”
Auckland Transport is aware of the situation and is planning to expand the residential parking zone further out. Parnell and Grafton are currently being consulted and Grey Lynn and Arch hill are earmarked for later this year.
Waitemata Local Board chairwoman Pippa Coom is an advocate of the scheme and feels it will benefit the community and wider Auckland, where the focus should be on public transport options, rather than driving into the city. “The expectation that you can find free, unlimited parking in central Auckland needs to end. It’s not good for businesses, it’s not good for locals.”
Rather than being implemented on a street-by-street basis, the proposed scheme will cover zones within Grey Lynn. Residents can apply for an annual permit to park in the zones for $70 a year and coupons will be available for visitors and trades people. Otherwise, it’s short-term parking for everyone else.
In Collingwood Street in Freemans Bay the effect is obvious. On a Tuesday at noon, the road is quiet and large stretches of parking space are available beneath the zoning signs.
“The result and the reception of the scheme has been extremely positive,” says Trevor Lund of the Freemans Bay Residents Association. “In the past we’ve had mums with kids who have had to park streets away from their house. Now they can park outside.”
For the commuters who now park at 6am in Grey Lynn, options will be limited further after the scheme comes into effect there. Paid parking or public transport will be the only alternatives left, a reasonable prospect for some, but difficult for those who live beyond the transport routes.
“We sympathise with commuters,” Trevor says. “Because the public transport system does not cater for many of them. But Auckland Transport has a difficult job, and they are doing great with the resources they have. They’ve been very helpful in pushing the parking scheme through.”
Not all residents are quite as taken with the permit scheme. Clare Norton lives on Murdoch Road in Grey Lynn where a residents parking scheme under an old initiative has been in effect for several years. She pays $155 for an annual permit, but still has to compete daily with businesses and commuters, many of whom endure the occasional infringement fee because its cheaper than paying regularly for parking.
“Some days you walk down the street and almost every car has a ticket,” she says.
“My partner refuses to get a permit because we shouldn’t have to pay extra to park in our own street. And a park isn’t even guaranteed.”
This old scheme, which applies only to Murdoch Road and a few other neighbouring streets, will be superseded after the new one come into effect. But its success will evidently be dependant on strict enforcement by Auckland Transport.
Yet, while these parking schemes may be successful in creating space for residents, they reflect a significant attempt to break the ingrained car dependency that currently chokes Auckland and encourage public transport.
“There must be balance,” says Freemans Bay resident Dr Bruce Hucker.
“The parking scheme is a rationing device. But care must be taken to ensure that social relationships don’t suffer.”
In a major city rapidly outgrowing its infrastructure, the residential parking schemes are seen by many to be inevitable and essential. But so, too, is balance. The challenge is getting it right. (MICK ANDREW)