Parking

Byron paid parking to fix ‘third world’ infrastructure

On one hand the council needed money to upgrade “third world” infrastructure. On the other, it wanted to support local residents and businesses, said Di Woods.

“Drive around the streets and the infrastructure is like the third world,” she said. “If we don’t do (paid parking) where do we get the money from? The state government has said we can’t do a bed tax.”

Byron Shire Council has asked for a further report on a $4 an hour fee for on-street parking and in council-owned car parks, and an increase in the existing off-street parking residents’ $25 per year coupon increased to $100 per year approved last month.

 

Once established paid parking has the potential to deliver $2 million per year back to community infrastructure, it has said.

Mayor Simon Richardson said the community needed more context as to why council has to consider paid parking.

“Currently, council and our community are struggling against the continued failure of the state government to support local governments,” he said. “We are being asked to support more services with less funds.

“In our own backyard we’ve saved over half a million dollars a year on staffing cuts and using these savings in part to increase our road and infrastructure spending.

“But it’s still not enough and we need to generate more income to improve infrastructure backlog.

“The proposed paid parking scheme is more equitable than a special rate levy.”

Mr Richardson said money raised could be spent on increased road maintenance, parks, toilets and so on.

Paid parking is just another hot button issue in a shire that has recently seen outrage from some residents about the West Byron development and the Belongil rock wall.

Mrs Woods has struck out at ratepayers she says are spreading fear and misinformation.

“Some of what has been said is garbage, just ridiculous rubbish,” she said.

Paid parking in Bangalow and Brunswick Heads possible

EXTENDED PARKING: Casino shoppers now have two hours to do their Christmas shopping thanks to an extension of parking times. Photo Samantha Elley / Richmond River Express
EXTENDED PARKING: Casino shoppers now have two hours to do their Christmas shopping thanks to an extension of parking times. Photo Samantha Elley / Richmond River ExpressSamantha Elley

PAID parking in Bangalow and Brunswick Heads is inevitable if the number of residents and tourists continues to increase, according to a Byron Shire councillor.

Byron Shire Council has asked for a further report on a $4 an hour fee for on-street parking and in Council owned car parks, and an increase in the existing off-street parking residents’ $25 per year coupon increased to $100 per year approved last month.

Councillor Duncan Dey told The Northern Star he was personally in favour of a sliding scale, with the price of the coupon based on usage, but added he thought “paid parking in other areas will come” if the volume of residents and cars continued to increase.

Councillor Di Woods said it was possible paid parking could be introduced in other parts of the shire “but we would face the same major outcry and objections” as the council is currently facing in Byron Bay.

Mayor Simon Richardson said feedback from the community had indicated that there was confusion and concern on some elements of the paid parking scheme.

“Some of the issues raised include what are the costs for a sliding scheme?  What does an exemption scheme look like in other coastal areas? Could Butler Street Reserve be used for all day parking and options for locals to access?” he said.

“Let’s get a few more answers and see how we can get the best outcome for locals and still generate a positive financial return for infrastructure renewal programs.”

It is estimated that paid parking has the potential to deliver $2 million a year back to infrastructure.

Parking meters cause chaos in Byron council chambers

Cr Rose Wanchap during heated debate at last Thursday's  Byron Shire Council meeting. Photo Eve Jeffery

Chris Dobney

Byron Shire councillors spent an hour and a half yesterday demonstrating their (ultimately) violent agreement on the subject of parking meters in the Byron Bay CBD.

The subject of the debate was a seemingly innocuous mayoral minute asking staff to provide further information and options regarding the resident parking coupons that are to be made available when paid parking takes effect in Byron’s CBD later in the year.

There has been widespread resident concern over the four-fold increase in the cost of the coupons (currently $25), even though the new fee equates to $2 per week to avoid using the meters.

The motion was eventually carried unanimously, but that was not the point of the debate, during which the five majority conservative councillors appeared intent on showing minority mayor Simon Richardson that anything he put his name to would not get past them without extensive scrutiny.

Debate was extremely heated, with Greens defector Cr Rose Wanchap repeatedly shouting at Cr Richardson and at one point accusing him of verbally insulting her.

Cr Wanchap wanted the minute to request a review of the parking meter rate which, at $4 an hour, she said was too high, would see a mass exodus of shoppers from the CBD and force shops and small businesses to close en masse.

The mayor repeated several times that councillors had already agreed the $4 rate was the one and only lever the council had to raise revenue from tourists and a keystone in its Fit For the Future strategy (ultimately a test of whether Byron can remain as a standalone council).

He added the entire focus of his minute was on the resident parking coupons.

But that was not sufficient for Cr Wanchap, who continued to press her point, often aggressively, resulting in the mayor suggesting she ‘get off your behind and create your own report’, to which she retorted, ‘so you’re insulting me now!’

Other highlights of the meeting included pro-business Cr Sol Ibrahim describing Byron United chamber of commerce (BU) as representing ‘a fraction of the total number of businesses’ in the town.

The surprise comment came in relation to discussion about the consultation process, with GM Ken Gainger repeatedly stating there had been extensive consultation with Byron Bay businesses through BU.

On numerous occasions he had to remind the councillors there had already been extensive debate and consultation on the issue but he agreed with the mayor that, ‘we can’t adopt a system like this without making sure there’s a clear understanding of how it applies.’

‘We might have to tweak some of the detail of how we apply the $100 levy. A lot of what I’ve been hearing has been misinformed and I think we have a duty to explain to people how it’s going to work before it starts,’ he said.

The GM also said there was little room to move on the $4 fee as the considerable cost of installing the parking meters was predicated on them paying themselves off in the first year of operation.

He said the parking scheme was expected to bring $2 million annually into council’s coffers, whereupon Cr Wanchap asked how much of this would be through fines.

‘I don’t know about that, I’ll have to take that question on notice,’ he told her.

Cr Wanchap retorted, ‘I believe it’s $900,000′, apparently plucking the figure out of the air.

The GM did tell Cr Ibrahim that if the coupon price was ‘tinkered with’ it was unlikely the money could be recouped through increasing the parking meter rate further.

‘We need to show we have made an effort effort to raise revenue to close gap on our infrastructure need,’ he implored councillors. Paid parking is the only way.

‘Our capacity to tinker with exemptions is limited. We reach a tipping point, going through these processes and the costs of installation, where the return is not at a level that covers that revenue gap.’

Cr Dey supported the motion saying that paid parking was also about traffic control and that it would actually improve traffic flows and parking availability in the Bay.

But it was up to Cr Paul Spooner to call for a little intelligent consideration in the chamber.

‘We do have an infrastructure issue. The community understands we’ve reached our capacity around what council can deliver and understands the tourist economy doesn’t contribute to council,’ Cr Spooner.

‘Business wants this as well, based on our feedback. It’s not just about explaining the system but also what is possible with this revenue. That is the other side of the equation – what is it that we can provide with this revenue.

‘Sometimes in this chamber, it’s not about following community sentiment, it’s about leadership. Let’s face it, if we don’t have this revenue we don’t have any other options about Fit for the Future.’

Nevertheless, debate continued for about 45 minutes following this stirring speech, much to the puzzlement of a swelling gallery of immigrant residents who had come to witness the mayor’s signing of a Refugee Welcome Zone declaration.

Eventually the mayor called a temporary halt to the fiasco for the signing, which appeared to take the wind out of his opponents’ sails and the motion was quickly put and passed after they vacated the chamber.

Paid parking will go ahead in Byron Bay

A PAY parking scheme for Byron Bay town centre has gotten the go ahead, aiming to improve car parking turnover and finances for Byron Shire Council infrastructure programs.

The move was approved at last week’s council meeting, with the scheme to be set at $4 per hour for on-street parking and in Council owned car parks.

The scheme will also see the existing off-street parking residents’ $25 per year coupon increased to $100 per year.

The exemption will apply to all off and on-street locations within the pay parking area and includes a limited on-street area west of the rail corridor and most on-street locations east through to Tennyson Street.

The pay parking area will cover over 1,500 car spaces within the Byron Bay town centre.

Mayor Simon Richardson said the pay parking scheme has a two significant benefits for Council and the community.

“Firstly we can expect to see an improved usage of car parking spaces in the town centre which will make it easier for us to find a park,” Cr Richardson said.

“Plus, there are substantial financial gains with a potential $2 million each year that can be used to pay for the impacts of tourism and to provide better amenities for us.

“Pay parking is now the norm in areas that have high visitations and for Byron Bay, these are funds that our community needs.

“From March 2015 tourism statistics, we know our area has over 900,000 day trippers each year with a total of 1.5 million visitors.

“Whilst the solid tourism figures are good for our local economy, we also have significant impacts on our infrastructure from visitors and unfortunately Council cannot introduce a bed tax, or an e-tag toll.

“Charging for parking is one way we can get a return back to Council.  It’s a way we can generate funds for improved infrastructure.

“Plus from the parking study conducted, changes in parking behaviour are expected that will lead to greater parking turnover and better utilisation of existing supply.

“Improved parking turnover will save Council investing limited funds into building more car parks.

“Whilst pay parking will not be popular with some, the decision has been about finding a balance to support our roads, drainage and parks.

“Residents will review their parking habit and weigh up whether they are prepared to pay $100 a year – $2 a week- for the parking permit, or pay as they go on-street.  It will come down to a personal decision.”

Mayor Richardson also pointed out that the current state government local government review was adamant that councils needed to find new ways to generate income and become ‘Fit for the Future’.

“If Councils cannot demonstrate how they will become financially sustainable, then they run the very real risk of being amalgamated,” he said.

“The pay parking scheme is a key cornerstone to help show how we are working towards improved finances and improved infrastructure.”

It is estimated that the pay parking setup costs in the first year will be about $1.5 million, Cr Richardson said.

The major cost is associated with $1.2 million for the machines and data/network infrastructure.

An additional $300,000 has been allowed for changes to parking signage, line marking, modifications to kerbs and blisters and additional paving or upgrades.

For more info head to www.byron.nsw.gov.au

Parking Review- Submissions Needed NOW

We have all been frustrated with trying to find a parking spot in Byron Bay town centre. We have all been frustrated with trying to find clean public toilets or inspired public spaces.

Currently, Council is seeking input and feedback on consultants recommendations to help reduce this pressure and improve the look of Byron Bay at the same time. We know that the majority of people seek parking in the town centre for a quick trip and use a car park for less than an hour. Thus, as a quicker turn over 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, would it be wise to increase the number of shorter term car parking spaces?

Also, in order to raise over $1 million per year to Council and the community for better toilets, seating, pathways, road maintenance and general beautification, the councils review recommended shorter parking limits and expanded, $2 per hour parking. We need you to provide feedback. Where should we put all day parking to suit workers and do we need better lighting and connecting footpaths to access them? Should locals pay the paid parking? If not, should we pay more for our coupons to access parking? If we don’t want to pay anything, how else should we raise revenue to pay for toilets and amenities? Nothing is settled, nothing is determined. We need feedback, input, ideas and sober understanding and acceptance of our situation. Submissions close this week.

Click here to make your submission on our interactive map here:

1 July, 2014, Echo Net daily

Byron Bay parking charges could raise $1m a year

Hans Lovejoy

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.

 

One Response to Parking

  1. stephen swan says:

    This is not on we live in this town we pay enough
    this proposal should not go ahead i for one will go to ballina to shop
    Everyone i have told who do not live in the shire just laugh at the idea
    Worst council for years

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