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Parking – the battle for space and should we change the system?

Friday, 3 February 2017 2:52pm

Parking on one side of the street and missing on the other … Flooring Centre flooring installer Mike Kerr heads into the building site at Science I (Chemistry building) in Union Place.

As a host of building projects on the Dunedin campus put more pressure on parking, Property Services is working hard to tackle the complex issue – including seeking an independent review.

The review, by Abley Transportation Consultants Ltd, has raised several options:

  • Reviewing pricing arrangements
  • Use of ‘licence to hunt’ parking, so instead of staff having a personal individual park, they lease access to a parking area
  • Providing casual parking on campus for staff and students who only occasionally use a car, and for visitors
  • Providing new parks where possible as part of developments

University of Otago Property Services Division Resource Planner/Policy Advisor Murray Brass said, in a presentation to the Dunedin City Council (DCC) this week, the University also strongly supports measures to improve public transport, cycling and walking in the wider city, which over time should improve the travel options for staff and students, and reduce the need for parking.

Reserved parking in St David Street.

Parking agreement

The University must supply a set number of parks under an annual agreement with the DCC, based on the number of staff and students.

While the University has always reached the target, it is struggling now because of the building projects on campus, which could lead to the DCC charging the University at least $7,000 for each park below the total.

Currently, the campus has about 400 fewer parks than needed, a situation that should be remedied by November this year, Mr Brass says.

Property Management Manager Murray Gray says about 130 of those parks are disappearing permanently, including at the Faculty of Dentistry where the new building will be on top of them.

“We have managed to find alternative parks for the majority of people affected by the building projects. This has been quite a challenge for our staff.”

Park numbers and the waiting list

The University usually has more than 2000 parks reserved for staff, including about 200 on its other campuses and some at residential colleges.

However, the hive of building activity has prompted Property Services to review the waiting list for car parks.

People often say the list is five years long but Mr Gray says that is actually a misconception, only a few people wait that length of time because they want a very specific park or area of campus.

Property Services has extensively reviewed the waiting list and halved it to about 400 people – and about 100 people on the list do have a park already but want another one closer to their office or for some other reason.

A sign warning people unauthorised vehicles will be towed.

Scattered parks

Most University parks are scattered around the campus – in pockets of between six and 80 spaces – because they were created as the campus developed.

The University is even leasing some parks to sub-lease back to staff so they have a guaranteed park, and to ensure the University has the number of parks required by the agreement with the DCC, Mr Gray says.

The pressure on parking is so tight, and the temptation of people’s vacant individual parks so strong, one of parking staff’s main jobs is getting vehicles towed, leaving the owners to pay $120 to get their vehicle back.

Unpopular parks suddenly in favour

Until recently, some parking spaces were difficult to fill – near Anzac Avenue, and free parks behind Forsyth Barr Stadium, where a free minibus runs on a loop to-and-from the campus.

Staff had thought those parks were too far away but are now filling them because of the building projects.

New parks on the way

A total of 152 car parks are being created on the University-owned former Wickliffe Press site and will probably be completed about April.

Old warehouses on the property bounded by Clyde, Albany and Forth Streets are beyond their useful life so have been demolished to create the parks.

Cars parked outside Scott Shand house.

The prices staff pay

Prices staff pay have stayed lower than market rates, while traditionally rising in line with general salary adjustments. Current prices are $16 a week for an uncovered park and $21 for a covered space.

Some market rates are more than twice the staff price in high demand areas of Dunedin, including near the Dunedin School of Medicine and Faculty of Dentistry, Mr Gray says.

Next steps

As the next step in the review, Property Services staff will review and assess the options, and put forward recommendations to Chief Operating Officer Stephen Willis.