Saturday, August 06, 2005

Article - Surfside councils face their own balancing act over parking

Parking meters are back in the news. This time at beachside suburbs such as Maroubra, Clovelly and Bronte.

It's no surprise that the general community feeling is that parking meters are not wanted.

This article is from the Sydney Morning Herald

Surfside councils face their own balancing act over parking, by Anne Davies and Jonathan Pearlman

It was the campervans full of backpackers parked for days, even weeks, along North Steyne that finally did it.

Manly Council has began issuing residents with parking stickers, the first step in a plan to install parking meters along the Queenscliff end of the ocean promenade.

But beachgoers such as Warwick Latter, 52, are not impressed. Mr Latter, who has surfed almost every day of his life at North Steyne, said the meters would spell "the end of beach culture". "When I was over in Malibu they had private beaches with security guards. This is how it starts," he said.

As Sydney's population swells, the councils responsible for beaches are grappling with a dilemma: how to balance residents' rights to park near their homes with the rights of Sydneysiders to use the city's greatest assets.

Manly's problem is at the extreme end.

"We have just 18,000 ratepayers and between 5 to 8 million visitors a year," a council spokesman, Chris Parsons, said.

Along the northern beaches, Pittwater and Warringah councils have installed pay and display parking and issued residents with free parking permits.

After a barrage of complaints about an $8 flat fee, Warringah changed to a fee of $2 an hour, or $12 a day.

In Pittwater, which stretches from Narrabeen Lake to Palm Beach, charges are higher at weekends, when beachgoers pay $5 for four hours or $9 for up to 24 hours, with the ticket valid at all beaches in the municipality.

The beach and reserve meters raise $665,000 a year, which pays for council lifeguards during the week, beach raking, building upkeep and other amenities, said Pittwater's director of urban and environmental assets, Chris Hunt.

However, at Balmoral, thanks to vigorous lobbying by residents, visitors can still park for two hours free - if they can find a spot. The residents were concerned that metered parking would drive visitors back into residential streets.

But the proliferation of meters may be putting added stress on beaches with no meters.

Maroubra and Malabar are among the last big beaches in Sydney without metres, and an influx of free parkers is causing traffic delays and parking havoc.

The Mayor of Randwick, Dominic Sullivan, said parking areas at Maroubra filled by 9am during summer.

"People from as far as Liverpool are discovering that these are the only beaches that don't have parking metres," he said.

"Last year it was complete havoc for parking. This year it will only get worse."

Sutherland Shire Council also offers free parking in its car parks and in nearby streets. Cronulla is the only beach in Sydney with rail access.

Sydney's most expensive beach parking at Bondi and Bronte costs up to $5 an hour and, along with meters in Bondi Junction, brings in about $4 million a year.

The Mayor of Waverley, Paul Pearce, said shopowners and residents supported the meters because they encouraged a turnover of visitors to beaches with cafes and shops and ensured visitors contributed to beach maintenance.

"We have a constant conflict between visitors and residents," he said. "There's a feeling that visitors make no contribution to the area. They leave rubbish around and we have to clean it up. Meters allow us to cover maintenance costs and provide services at the beach."


Media Man Australia - Maroubra Beach

Australian Sports Entertainment - Maroubra Beach


Maroubra Chamber of Commerce

Randwick City Council