Its Brisbane, Not Baghdad…

Mark is agitating for an “international” Baghdad by the Bay award for the most boneheaded parking rules in a ‘non USA” locale.  He nominates Brisbane for this winner:

Seems that Westfield, arguably the worlds largest developer of shopping centers, has begun to charge for parking in its Chelmsford center in Brisbane, Australia. If memory serves, this simple action caused a major problem in the surrounding neighborhoods. Seems that people were using the free parking at the shopping center as long term parking for the nearby bus and rail stations.

When charging began, two things occurred almost immediately. First, Westfield found that they had plenty of parking for its customers, parking that had been in short supply, and the local neighborhoods were deluged with people looking for places to park for free while they used rapid transit to go into the central city.

So what is the problem?  All the city has to do was to set up a program of pay on street parking and the neighborhoods would be happy, Westfield would be happy, and if a park and ride facility was needed it could be funded by the folks using it. All is right with the world.

However the local government has decided that free parking is a natural right, like a walk about or shrimp on the barbie. They are looking for legal means to force Westfield to provide free parking on its own land, for its customers (and the rest of the people who want to park there and go elsewhere.)

The article I linked above is convoluted, but it seems that rules in Australia are similar to those here in the States and expost facto is in effect. Retroactive laws are illegal.  But, they can pass rules that will force other shopping centers to provide free parking, or at least those that are built in the future. Of course, its also possible that when Westfield sues the local government, the result could be that they would “top up” as one pol put it in the article their bank accounts with city money.

Gadzooks — The conventional wisdom is that “free” or subsidized parking is adding to urban sprawl, adding to congestion and pollution, and well, just about everything bad about cities. Don Shoup, call you office and dust off your Australian Visa.



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