Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson has thrown his weight behind a review of parking in Byron Bay that recommends a flat-rate fee of $2 per hour throughout the town centre.
Cr Richardson says the study, which was released last week, found that the majority of people who sought parking in the town centre were there for a quick trip and used a car park for less than an hour.
‘One step is to increase the number of shorter term car parking spaces,’ he says.
‘A quicker turnover in car parking means that a greater number of locals can get in and out of the town centre faster and spend less time circling the block,’ he said.
And while demand is high, he says another step could be expanding the paid parking area to gain significant financial returns to council and the community.
‘With in the parking review, the consultant proposed a flat rate of $2 per hour throughout the town centre.
‘The resident parking coupon would still be in place and means that locals can park there for free for up to four hours.’
‘The new paid parking income stream could see a minimum $1 million annual return to council and the community each year for improving maintenance or providing seed-funding for new infrastructure. It potentially means new toilet blocks, better gardens, roads and footpaths.
‘If implemented, paid parking would not apply after 6pm and therefore would not impact on the night time economy with people heading out to dinner or a band.’
Mayor Richardson also said that a modest fee would be a more equitable way to share the costs of infrastructure between locals and visitors.
‘With 729,000 domestic day trippers arriving in town each year, their impact on the community and infrastructure is significant but financial input to council is minimal.
‘We can’t do a bed tax but we can collect a couple of dollars from each visitor through the extension of paid parking.
‘Similarly we’ve managed to keep general rates to the rate pegging limit for the past five years and we have not asked ratepayers for any additional increases.
‘Council would like to keep it that way and raising some revenue for infrastructure from parking users rather than all Byron Shire residents is part of the solution,’ he said.
But the proposed changes could affect those who park in town and work 9am-6pm.
The mayor says all-day parkers – except those with their own private parking – would need to park on the perimeter of town or find a new car space when the time limit was up. Mayor Richardson acknowledged that the proposed changes to parking arrangements could have consequences for residents, workers and visitors, which will need to be managed carefully.
Comments from the public are now sought, and for more visit www.byron.nsw.gov.au.