Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Parking Issues Again in Front of the UNA Board

Parking issues were again in front of the UNA Board on March 12, 2013.  Again the solution proposed and implemented was one that targets residents as the problem.  The solution?  use financial instruments as a coercive force to limit and restrict resident parking.  Wonderful idea if residents are in fact the source of our parking woes.  But we are not the problem here.

The real issue of parking is how to regulates the parking that takes place outside of the current restricted hours.

Some directors and some UNA/UBC staff argue that we have a responsibility to reduce our use of cars.  That's a laudable goal if resident cars are the course of the world's problems.   They're not; at least not all of them. The university sells it's large scale development plans by claiming to reduce resident traffic on and off campus yet simultaneously increases the destination attractions of campus - the Thunderbird Fields developments and the commercialization and marketing of Westbrook Village as a regional destination (check their web page) - 

It's nice to be the lab rats in a living laboratory -sometimes. But there does comes a time when the animals in the lab have to stand up and say enough is enough.  It seems to me that we've come to that point in time and the university's use of residents as a laboratory has to change.

What I have seen over more than a decade of living in Hawthorn Place is that by and large parking is not a consistent problem or concern.  In the aggregate there is sufficient on-street and underground parking to accommodate all resident parking needs. The real and significant parking problems are all external to the resident community.

The parking problems can be thought of as  - (1) external to resident parking pressure and (2) problems that arise as a consequence of our attempts to regulate parking.

(1) external to resident parking pressure arises from two general sources – (a) regular users of the campus who do not currently live on campus (b) destination traffic (recurrent community sports use, recurrent use of commercial centres, special sports or entertainment events).  UBC has done a decent job regulating and controlling special event traffic issues.  The problems here arises from the recurrent users of areas like Thunderbird fields and the arena. Very likely modest changes to the restricted parking hours can deal with the recurrent weekend users of the fields.  One thing that athletics might do is to charge community user groups (kids soccer) a parking surcharge that would be paid to the UNA to assist with our parking regulation.  At the moment, allowing spill over parking into Hawthorn and/or Hampton (and now into the UHS parking lot) externalizes a cost and transfers it to our community.  This cost of parking regulation is rightly part of the costs of operation of the athletics fields.  Currently, though we are absorbing it and paying a per capita fee to Athletics to boot.

(2) Our own parking regulations create their own unintended consequences.  Some individuals are attempting to resell parking passes and thus capitalizing upon our system and contributing to undermining it.  This is a combination between a failure on our community’s part to inculcate a sense of social connection and a dominant cultural idea of our society that an individual has a right to profit from anything.  In combination it undermines the social well being to enhance an individual’s personal benefit.  But, that is what market capitalism is all about – self interest.

I tend to think, and the observations that I have made over more than a decade tend to suggest (which sometimes have involved detailed recording of vehicle license plates and parking frequency etc), that the serious problem for parking comes from the external parking pressure and that by in large there is sufficient surplus space to accommodate resident parking. Yet, all of our plans for parking have focused upon regulating residents and placing the costs and expenses onto residents.  This is a double taxation in several senses.  First, we are already paying taxes to BC and UBC.  Second we are having to pay a fee to the UNA.  Third, we are paying the parking costs for the commercial activities of UBC Athletics and the  Wesbrook Village (UBCPT) merchants.

We really need to find a way to attend to the actual cause of our parking problems, not target residents as the easiest way out.


Anonymous said...

This opinion is thoughtful. The parking problem is caused almost entirely by people using the playing fields and tennis. UBC promotes this, but does nothing to ease the parking load on the neighbourhood, an irresponsible lack of responsibility. Secondly, a small number of residents do sell, rent their visitor passes and UNA should devise a plan to monitor this and fine those involved. G. Rupert

Anonymous said...

I am glad you voted against this Charles. I strongly object to paying for a street parking decal or visitor permit. I agree wholeheartedly that it is not the residents who are creating parking problems in the neighbourhood but it is we are being penalized! I rarely park on the street and usually for a few minutes or half an hour at most and to be asked to pay $40 for the privilege is outrageous. I sincerely hope the UNA revisits this soon.
John D