Don't increase parking rates-A A +A
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
AT LAST, an upgrading of the parking ordinance of the city. Past years have seen the rise of lack of parking space within the expanding downtown area.
Lack of parking space is not a problem of the majority of our people since maybe only about 20 percent of the population can afford to have or ride private vehicles. The rest have to contend with the poor quality public service provided by our jeepneys. Most of our streets in the downtown area are four lane streets and almost all have both sides occupied by private cars, reducing the capacity of our roads immediately by half. We can therefore surmise that traffic congestion due to the reduced capacity of our downtown roads is primarily caused by the minority of our population -- those who own private cars!
So stop blaming jeepney drivers who load or unload their passengers in the middle of the road -- parked private vehicles are occupying the outer lanes where they can safely unload the passengers. Stop blaming pedestrians who walk on the streets rather on sidewalks because parked private cars and motorcycles plus sidewalk vendors are already occupying the narrow sidewalks of the city. Stop blaming double parked vehicles because parked vehicles of university students and store owners are occupying the on-street parking spaces for more than six hours per day and building owners like universities (notorious are Catholic universities who always expand their school and commercial space) who do not provide adequate parking slots for their students and clients.
There has to be a way to regulate parking in the downtown area.
In urban planning, parking fees are meant to discourage owners from bringing cars to the downtown area where space is a very expensive commodity. Try parking in Makati, Singapore, Hong Kong for the whole day and you will see almost a day’s worth of your salary as parking fee payment. In some cities abroad, parking fees depend on location, the busier the road the higher the fees.
Now let us zero in on the proposed increase of the parking fees of Davao City?.
Is there really a parking ordinance here in the city? As far as I know no parking fees were collected for the past many many years. I’ve been parking in the downtown area for so long and I have yet to be approached by a city parking attendant and issued an official parking ticket. I read that there are 143 city hall employees designated as parking attendances but doing work inside offices. So how do we know that this time the proposed parking ordinance will work?
First, has there been an updated parking study done?
Do we know the characteristics of car owners who park their cars? What type of vehicles park in the downtown area in certain hours? How average length of parking time in each street? How far is the car owner willing to park and walk to his/her intended destination? How many actual on-street parking slots are there in the downtown area? Lawyer Mans Carpio also raised the legal question if the city is allowed to collect fees on properties of the national government (many of our main streets in the downtown area are national roads)? How much is the willingness to pay of car owners? What were the lessons learned from the failed implementation of the previous parking ordinance?
These are just a few questions that need to be answered before we embark on a new parking scheme. Surely there must be a policy research that was done before we can implement this new parking scheme. Sorry but a mere study of the Treasurer’s Office on the financial side is not enough -- I suspect they also did the financial study of the failed parking fee scheme.
One of the flaws of the ordinance is its fixation as an income and job generation scheme. This deprives that city with its transportation objectives of easing the traffic in the downtown area. Income and job generation should only be a secondary goal rather than its primary. A primary goal is to influence people not to bring their cars to the downtown area if they will park it for more than three hours. With this we will free up road and parking spaces for those who really need it such as people who have quick but important transactions in the bank, hospital, or retail shops. The general public -- the commuters will have more roads space for them. One parking space may be used up to three to five times in a day instead of one or two.
Another is the system in parking ticket issuance? if this is going to be done by the public sector then good luck. I have yet to see a public enterprise that employs a lot of personnel that is efficient and profitable. Last time I talked with my Asean colleagues in transportation planning, many of their parking fee collection systems were joint ventures or partnerships with the private sector? The private sector will be the one to manage the on-street parking slots and hire or fire its own parking fee collectors while that LGU ensured that all violators are issued proper citation tickets. The private sector will pay the LGU for its “rental” of these on-street parking slots. The LGU is free from the administrative headache of providing jobs.
I propose that the city must first prove that it has a working parking fee collection system by using its existing personnel designated as parking attendants to implement the existing ordinance without the increase. If after six months, the present parking attendants are still collecting fees effectively and honestly, and the collection rate is efficient then maybe we can increase the parking fees and hire more parking attendants. If not then it is back to the drawing boards.
Before we embark on a new parking fee scheme, show me the money.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on October 17, 2013.