City's parking rules relaxed
The parking concessions the council has offered motorists will be gratefully received, but it's not exactly a "love bomb", says a Palmerston North hairdresser.
Palmerston North City Council announced a raft of changes to the city's controversial parking system after months of angry complaints from the public.
Councillors held a workshop on the city's parking issues in private last night.
From today, the tolerance period will be extended from five to 10 minutes before the meter is activated and after it has expired.
Parking charges will also be reviewed, but the $40 fine for not activating will remain as it is set by central government.
Gabrielle Bundy-Cooke, who owns Spectra Hair, said an extra five minutes' grace to find meter money, or dash into the drycleaners was great.
"But when I make a mistake, I admit it, and I love-bomb people, give a customer a free haircut and shampoo and conditioner."
The parking equivalent would have been a grander gesture, like free parking for everyone the week before Christmas.
But she said she was pleased councillors were listening, and would consider a long list of suggestions for improvements next year.
Parking time limits will also be reviewed in the central business district after a survey of 150 retailers over the weekend found the system was seen to be too complicated, with not enough grace period and did not allow for time top-ups.
In an acknowledgement that visitors to the city might have problems with the meters, the council will reintroduce "parking pixies" to work on peak days in the fortnight leading up to Christmas.
Longer term, a working group of councillors and management representatives will be established to develop a parking management plan to investigate the viability of other changes proposed by the public.
The group will look at calls to reduce charges in lower-use areas, automatic receipting, clearer bay numbering and easier to read screens, limiting loss of service for credit and text transactions, and introduce pay-and-display facilities.
The council said the plan was to be completed in 2013.
The call to action followed an escalating level of complaints from businesses and the public, and demands to fix the perceived problems in time for Christmas shopping.
Last week Mayor Jono Naylor was ambushed when several business owners invited themselves to a meeting arranged with Verdict Cafe owner Carole Hawley, and vented their frustration at being on the receiving end of complaints from frustrated shoppers.
Spectra Hair owner Gabrielle Bundy-Cooke had helped launch a petition days before, saying public pressure was mounting and something had to be done.
The architect of the sensor parking scheme, Frogparking chief executive Don Sandbrook, lashed out at the council at the weekend, exasperated that the technology was being blamed for the way the council was using it. He said the information the system collected on parking patterns could be used in positive ways, to identify low-use areas and encourage people to use them by dropping the charges or extending time restrictions.
Mr Sandbrook said with an estimated 98 or 99 per cent of people getting away with parking offences before the sensors were introduced, it was clear many people did not even know they had broken the rules and were upset to get tickets now.
When the system was introduced late last year, the meters were promptly dismissed as too complicated for users, and new meters were installed.
The Manawatu Standard has fielded an increasing number of complaints from motorists, particularly about the $40 fine for what many complain is the "honest mistake" of entering and paying for the wrong bay number.