I was surprised to learn from Sara Stace (via twitter) that the Waverley council area in Australia has had zero parking minimums since 2018. Waverley is in Sydney's eastern suburbs.
I was even more surprised that I could find no evidence of controversy over this. How did Waverley manage that?
I interviewed Sara for the Reinventing Parking podcast to find out more. [Scroll to the end of this article to find out more about Sara Stace and her career.]
Spoiler - Two keys to Waverley's success in nixing the parking minimums seem to be:
- Before the decision, Waverley already had experience with parking minimums set to zero or at low levels (along with maximums) in certain parts of the area. Data on the results of this helped to reassure the councillors.
- The proposal for zero parking minimums across the whole council was also part of a broadly popular urban mobility strategy, the Waverley People, Movement and Places strategy, which is the council’s ambitious plan to prioritise walking, cycling, public transport and shared mobility.
Read more details below. Or check out the podcast episode.
Here are more details about my conversation with Sara Stace
I will summarise our discussion as well as adding some important details for reference.
Waverley Council is a small local government area in the inner east of Sydney's metropolitan area. It has only a little over 70,000 people and an area of just 9 square kilometres. Much of the urban fabric in Waverley was developed before 1930, predating mass car ownership.
Key places mentioned in the episode include the world-famous Bondi Beach in the east and Bondi Junction in the west. Bondi Junction is the intensely built-up area located 6 km southeast of central Sydney. It grew around the terminal station of the Eastern Suburbs rail line which opened in 1979.
|Waverley Council's parking provision zones map.|
We discussed some of the history of Waverley's parking mandates, leading up to the 2018 decision to set all parking minimums to zero.
This is a little more than we included in the podcast. It is mainly for reference, so please scroll to the next section if this is too much detail!
Prior to 2004, Waverley seems to have had conventional but not hugely excessive parking mandates, in the form of minimums.
In 2004, the parking mandates were lowered. Three parking zones were created and parking maximums were introduced. The parking provision rates were quite low for medium/high density residential uses in Parking Zone A which included Bondi Junction (1 Bedroom: 0.3 minimum, 0.6 maximum; 2 Bedroom: 0.4 min, 0.8 max; 3 Bedroom 0.8 min, 1.2 max).
In 2013, under the new 2012 Development Control Plan (DCP), there were now four parking provision zones (Bondi Junction and A, B and C). For the first time, most parking minimums in Bondi Junction and in Zone A were set to zero. There were still residential minimums in zones B and C but these areas now had zero parking minimums for other land-uses. And there were still parking maximums everywhere.
In January 2016 the parking provision zones were pared to just two zones. As a result, residential parking minimums were no longer zero (although they were at low levels) but non-residential parking minimums remained at zero everywhere. Sara suggested in the podcast that this backtracking on zero residential parking minimums was more or less inadvertent.
Zero Parking Minimums from 2018
Parking mandates were set to ZERO in November 2018 under Amendment 6 of DCP 2012. This set the parking minimums to zero across the whole municipality, as shown in the table below.
[By the way, it is not quite clear to me if the visitor parking provision below is a minimum requirement. If so, then these represent the last remnants of Waverley's parking minimums.]
|Waverley's current "parking provision rates" (parking requirements or parking standards). These are from section 8.8.2 of the Development Control Plan 2012 and have been like this since Amendment 6 which came into force in November 2018.|
Waverley's experience with low or zero minimums and low maximums was reassuring
Sara and her team mustered data to reassure councillors in the lead up to the 2018 decision to set zero minimums.
Using both census and vehicle registration data, they showed that between 1996 and 2016, vehicle ownership rates had not risen at all in the areas where low or zero parking provision rates had applied.
This was remarkable, given that there had been significant increases in car ownership across Sydney. Furthermore, the parts of Waverley where more conventional residential parking minimums had applied throughout this period actually saw faster increases in car ownership than Sydney as a whole.
Waverley has long experience with effective on-street parking management
Presumably, council was also reassured by a lack of on-street parking chaos in the areas with lower parking provision standards.
This reflects strong capacities in Waverley to manage on-street parking in both commercial and residential areas. For example, both Bondi Junction and Bondi Beach areas have long had several tiers of parking prices, tailored to the intensity of demand on each street.
Zero parking minimums arrived in a popular urban mobility strategy
Zero parking minimums actually arrived as part of a broadly popular urban mobility strategy, the Waverley People, Movement and Places strategy (pdf here), which is the council’s ambitious 2017 plan to prioritise walking, cycling, public transport and shared mobility.
Sara Stace played a leading role in this.
Within the strategy, the proposal for zero parking minimums across the whole council was just one of several parking-related changes. Together, these offered reassurance that parking problems could be kept to a minimum.
The parking reforms were also just a small part of a multi-pronged strategy, the Waverley People, Movement and Places strategy, which is the council’s ambitious plan to prioritise walking, cycling, public transport and shared mobility.
The council carried out an extensive process of gathering feedback on the draft strategy and the parking changes attracted relatively little attention.
Successfully passing parking reform as part of wider reforms that have wider appeal seems to be an emerging theme for parking reformers. Portland (Oregon) and Minneapolis in the USA have had similar experiences. In both cases, abolishing parking mandates came as part of successful housing reforms.
Implementing protected bicycle lanes as PILOTS helped ease fears (including parking fears)
At the end of our conversation, I asked Sara about parking-related lessons from her recent involvement with the rapid expansion of protected bicycle lanes across inner Sydney.
I speculated that the rapid roll out of the network might have helped (as in Seville in Spain).
But Sara's main point here was that quickly implementing temporary pilot versions of new protected bicycle lanes, especially as COVID "pop-up" bicycle lanes, was powerful in easing fears.
About Sara Stace
Sara Stace has been an award winning and much published “city shaper, strategic thinker and innovator” on cities, land use, and urban transport in many roles over a 24 year career so far.
She was formerly Manager for Strategic Transport at Waverley Council where she was a key force behind Waverley's People, Movement and Places strategy.
More recently Sara worked in the State Government of New South Wales where she was Associate Director for Walking and Cycling Strategy.
She recently started a new position as Director of Cities with the consulting firm WSP.
Parking Reform Network
By the way, I am increasingly integrating my parking efforts into the Parking Reform Network. So expect to hear more about and from PRN in future episodes. You should consider joining!
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