Friday, December 9, 2011

UNA Reverses Parking Decision - listens to community!

After a flurry of emails, conversations,a nd lobbying, the UNA Board of Directors has reversed their decision to impose a 24/7 ban on all parking in the Hawthorn Place neighbourhood.  Parking restrictions will be in place for the new term, but now it will be one that respects the many years of community consultation and involvement.  On street parking will be regulated during the weekday business hours and will finally stop the freeloader student/staff/faculty parking on our neighbourhood streets.  The changes to the parking plan can be found in a tersely worded statement emailed to the UNA parking working group December 8.

We all thank the UNA elected directors for listening and reconsidering their position!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hawthorn Place Parking Woes

Parking for residents at UBC continues to be an issue.  Of course, UBC likes to sell the public on the idea of a green city on the point.  Our inability to park our cars, to have family and friends over, to find a clear space in front of our homes during the day, is used by UBC to show what a great green residential community we are.  

Truth is there's mud lying under all that green.

Way back when Hawthorn Place was still a parking lot UBC made  a deal with the GRVD (now Metro Vancouver) to limit daily car trips on and off campus.  One of their ways to do that was to ensure that parking in new developments be limited to few cars then is typically the case.  This is of course a great green idea.  However, the housing designed for empty nesters and 1/0 car residents became filled with child raising families often with more than the expected numbers of cars.  Of course, this is very bad and not green.  Thing is, as is well documented housing is high in Vancouver and even relatively well paid UBC faculty will often find it hard to buy housing within a reasonable distance to UBC.  So, buy a smaller place, save some money, and raise one's family.  This has resulted in problems with parking as housing developments are undersized in terms of parking for child raising families and those of us who's partners work off campus.

After many years of complaints the UNA created a residents' committee to develop a consensus plan.  This plan was what the UNA would then present to UBC.  But something has gone awry in the process.   

After asking community members to donate time, energy, and ideas to come to a reasonable solution for our hawthorn Place parking woes, it would appear that an interim measure is being applied that features none of the community based ideas, but rather favours the market principles of Village Gate Homes.  It’s a lot to try and boil down, but the essential idea is that at next week’s UNA meeting a proposal is to come forward that will restrict parking throughout Hawthorn Place 24/7 with a few exceptions for those people who will buy a $65/month parking pass.  It seems like the motivating issue is that Village Gate Homes charges $65/month for parking and that anything that might upset Village Gate Homes parking revenues is not going to be allowed.

The UNA Directors Meeting package has not yet been posted to the UNA website so it’s hard to say exactly what the new policy will be.  But the message seems to be that UBC/UNA Directors-Staff/Ministry of Highways have worked out a deal that does not take into account the longstanding community process that had been in place. 

UBC admin staffer, Nancy Knight (also a UNA Director), assures the committee that she appreciates our work.  She also reminds us that market mechanisms are very important in all of this:   
"Village Gate Homes has ‘unbundled’ parking costs for its renters – allowing people who do not own a car to not have to rent a parking space as part of their monthly tenancy.  If parking becomes available cheaper, that is also guaranteed / reserved, it is reasonable to assume that rational economic actors may choose quickly to reserve a cheaper on street parking place."  
Thus, UNA parking polices have to be, at the minimum, kept in line with UBC's private housing supplier, VIllage Gate Homes.

It's a shame that despite all the initial good intentions that yet again we seem to be in that UBC situation in which a market mechanism takes precedence over a process of community consultation.