Parking meter warfare in Balmoral

PCI has been closely following the heated debate between Mosman Council and residents regarding the installation of parking meters at Balmoral Beach over the past six months (see our previous blog posts, A metered debate? and Head out of the sand please, Mosman residents!). The story has taken an uglier turn recently, with the Sydney Morning Herald reporting yesterday (Wednesday, Dec 9) that the meters that have now been installed along Balmoral Beach have become victims of un-Mosman-like behaviour. Local community groups and residents claim to be upset about the meters being placed only along the beach front, and complain that the side streets are becoming congested with drivers trying to avoid payment, and residents being stung with fines when they forget to collect and display their free parking tickets at the beach.

These issues however cannot justify the acts of vandalism that the machines have been subjected to. According to the SMH article, damage includes spray-painting over an instruction panel,  tickers being placed over coin slots, and foam cement poured into the ticket dispenser windows. Unbelievably, two machines were doused in petrol and set alight.

Mosman Council is refusing to back down over the parking meters, swiftly replacing them every time they are damaged. Council claims that the revenue from the meters was meant to fund projects in the area, such as the free community bus. The Deputy Mayor of Mosman, Simon Menzies, said if the meters were removed ”the community will suffer, because they will have to wait longer for the infrastructure projects to be completed”.

PCI and many of its consultants are long-time residents of Mosman and we can state for a fact that congestion around the side streets of Balmoral predates the introduction of paid parking. The advantage of the new system is that it encourages turnover, which in turn is good for businesses in the area. Furthermore, the fact that residents are entitled to free parking (if they can take the trouble to obtain a ticket) effectively means that they are able to continue to enjoy their lattes and walks along the promenade just as they did before the meters came into effect.

We have previously expressed our opinion on the whole paid parking issue and we find it difficult to believe that such behaviour should occur in one of our more “genteel” suburbs. As a famous professor said: “Parking is all about space, time and money” (Prof. Donald Shoup, “The High Cost of Free Parking” p. 471). How much value do you place on YOUR time when looking for a convenient parking space?

If you want to hear Professor Shoup speak about parking fees and their (positive) impact on the communities where they are implemented, put November 2010 in your calendar as he will be coming to Sydney to speak at the Parking Association of Australia’s next Convention. For more details please go to www.apc2010.com.au

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