This post features the ‘discussion’ on visitor car parking and Esakoff’s motion. Readers should focus on part (c)

Crs Esakoff/Okotel

That Council:

(a) Notes the report.

(b) Acknowledges that each multi-dwelling planning permit application contains a different set of circumstances. Therefore, the provision of onsite visitor car parking must be considered on the individual merits of the particular application being assessed.

(c) Request further investigation in to pathways, such as fast track assessment processes, that encourage and promote provision of adequate, accessible visitor car parking, especially in areas where parking demand is already high and in growth areas in general.

The MOTION was put and CARRIED unanimously.

ESAKOFF: said that by inserting the extra clause in the motion that she ‘hoped’ to ‘encourage’ an extra pathway for ‘adequate and accessible visitor car parking’ – in particular in those areas where there is already ‘high demand’ for parking. Thought this meant ‘predominantly’ Carnegie and to ‘a lesser extent’ Bentleigh. Stated that parking rates are ‘discretionary’ and she thought that this motion was a ‘tool’ or a ‘mechanism to reduce building costs’ .  Went on to say that if visitor car parking is provided at all then it ‘shouldn’t be in car stackers’ in basements, but ‘we’re seeing more and more of them’. Her aim was to ‘promote’ and ‘encourage applicants’ to work within the ‘pathway’ ‘similar to the way we offer the faster and more efficient’ fast tracks programs or ‘pre-certification process’ and this could be done ‘via a tick all the box system’ and these can then be ‘swiftly’ and ‘efficiently be processed through the planning department’. Would also cut ‘costs for developers’ such as ‘saving time’ and reducing ‘angst in neighbourhoods’ where these applications apply. In turn, this would ‘then prevent another delay at VCAT’. All of this would mean a ‘faster and more efficient process’ that would also have to adhere to other planning components. But she’ fear(ed)’ that ‘we are degrading our present liveable city’ into a ‘nightmare’ for people living near activity centres. Admitted that not all councillors would agree with her because they wanted to reduce cars in these areas and providing car parking doesn’t do this in their view. On this she said that this is likely to be ‘a very slow change’ and is something for future generations. So, ‘in the meantime we need to address the problem’. Activity centres have changed from ‘predominantly retail’ to now have many residential apartments, and restaurants and cafes that are ‘open to very late at night’  so ‘parking demands are long into the evening’. She thought that ‘they can only get worse and not better’. Her motion therefore was aimed at ‘attacking this from a planning perspective’ and to ‘provide adequate provision now’.

COMMENT

Please note how devoid of anything relating to residents is the above argument. How on earth the equivalent of a fast track system or similar will CHANGE the outcomes of more or less visitor parking remains a total mystery. Once again this council creates the illusion of concern for residents, but fails to attack the central problem – ie. not processes but making dramatic changes to the Planning Scheme, such as parking overlays, parking precinct plans, and creating sound schedules that become mandatory!  It’s also illuminating that all of Esakoff’s little speech basically focuses on benefits to developers. Please also note that Esakoff is in favour of a ‘tick the box’ approach, when this has consistently been condemned by Hyams, for one, and overall Glen Eira policy statements!

OKOTEL: claimed that Esakoff had ‘covered all the points’ on the issue. Thought that it was ‘essential that we investigate pathways’ for visitor car parking especially since ‘we see more and more applciations’ in activity centres for waivers.  ‘This is something that will continue to happen under our current policy’ so council needs to ‘pay attention now’ and if they don’t it will ‘possibly cause a lot of problems’ such as accidents from traffic and people ‘enjoying’ their ‘municipality’. 

COMMENT: Okotel has unwittingly undermined Esakoff with her statement ‘this is something that will continue to happen under our current policy’. Exactly! Implicit in this statement is the acknowledgement that the Planning Scheme is a dud and however much tinkering there is with ‘process’, unless the Scheme changes, then all will stay the same! 

SOUNNESS: started by saying that dwelling and ‘having a place to park’ cars are linked. Having somewhere to park is ‘common sense’. Said he recognised that there are ‘benefits’ and that it’s important to know whether there is an ‘excess’ of ‘demand over supply’. The advice that has come from Traffic Management to staff  know how things ‘operate’ in other municipalities so having ‘more information’ is good. 

PILLING: said that Esakoff was probably referring to someone like him when she spoke about opposite viewpoints. He thought that ‘by encouraging visitor car parking brings more cars’. Thought that having more cars in places like ‘Koornang Road’ and Murrumbeena Road only ‘exacerbates the problem’. Said that he would ‘vote in favour’ because ‘it’s always good to have more information’. 

HYAMS: thought that people would be driving cars and hoping ‘that they would find somewhere to park’. Believed that developers should provide car parking that ‘at the least is recommended by ResCode’ instead of ‘trying to shift’ this onto streets and wanted to see developers ‘abide’ by this.

ESAKOFF: thought that ‘demand for car parking’ is going to creep into ‘our Minimal Change’ areas. Said that driving around ‘there’s very few car parking spaces left on the street’. Didn’t know if this is a result of more teenagers with cars or people ‘not using their garages’. Streets ‘are full now’ and ‘we’re going to be in a great deal of trouble’ if the problem ‘isn’t addressed now’. Admitted that there are other councils who aren’t providing any visitor parking but ‘they are predominantly inner suburbs’ and ‘what goes on’ in these suburbs is ‘not clearly what Glen Eirians want’. Went on to say that mothers with prams need to be able to park close to ‘where they’re going’ and this also applies to ‘the elderly’ and ‘the disabled’. Stated that there are ‘many reasons’ why people use and need cars. Hoped that ‘we can do something with this new pathway’ and that ‘it is a success’. 

COMMENT 

1. On the one hand Esakoff talks as if this nebulous ‘pathway’ is already in existence. Sounness and Pilling want ‘more information’. Yet, there is absolutely nothing in the motion that directs when or how, any ‘investigation’ and its ensuing ‘information’ will be (a) reported back to councillors (b) reported back to Council and a vote taken! Nor is there any clear direction as to exactly what is to be investigated – are we talking ‘supply and demand’? Area versus number of residents? Street availability for parking to accompany each application? And then what?  

Conclusion? Another useless exercise in public relations reliant on vagueness and which still leaves plenty of room for backroom decision making. In the meantime, the central problem (ie Planning Scheme) remains untouched! Well done councillors!

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