On equity, affordability and fairness

At the Council meeting on 19th May 2020 Streets Alive Yarra asked two questions about the pricing of parking. The questions and and responses can be viewed at: 

Click on the image to go to the Council webpage, then go straight to Public Question Time by clicking under the video on Agenda Item 7. Source: City of Yarra.

Public Questions

Question 1: “When will Council apply Council’s adopted Pricing Policy 2019 to the provision of on-street parking services, including the pricing of parking permits and parking meters?”

Officer response was that there are “no immediate plans to overlay the policy to parking permits and meters”, and that “affordability and equity are also important considerations”.

Question 2: “If Council chooses not to apply Council’s adopted Pricing Policy 2019 to the provision of on-street parking services, will Council publish the revenue foregone in future annual budget documents, showing it as a subsidy or tax expenditure?”

Officer response was that “the questioner is making an assumption that parking charges would be increased under the application of the pricing policy, in any event we would not publish potentially hypothetical amounts foregone as subsidies or tax expenditure, we will continue to report all our financial outcomes in line with the normal accounting standards and VAGO requirements”. 

A Councillor asked a question of the Officer: “Have Officers ever done any sort of analysis on if we used a quote-unquote market price for our street parking, what that price would be?”

Officer response was “No, but we can take it on notice…but there’s a whole heap of other factors in it too, including fairness and affordability”

Our response

In this article, we ask if Council can define what they mean by the terms “affordability”, “equity” and “fairness”.

For example, do those terms mean “low cost access to car storage for drivers, irrespective of their income”, or do they mean “people who can’t drive or can’t afford to drive, such as children, young home buyers, people on low incomes, or seniors, can still access safe walking or cycling routes to school, work or shops”?

Note that access to safe walking and cycling routes for transport is a function of how much street space is allocated away from on-street parking, and how much revenue is raised from on-street parking.

Alternatively, does “equity” refer to the Austroads Guide to Traffic Management Part 11 on Parking, which states “Pay parking increases equity by charging users for their parking costs and by reducing the parking costs imposed on non-drivers.”?

Source: Austroads

Or, does “equity” refer to inter-generational equity, where we pass on a planet to the next generation that is no worse off (in terms of climate change) than when we received it from our parent’s generation? Note that Council’s provision of low-cost on-street parking acts to encourage carbon emissions from transport.

Or, does “equity” refer to the 2010 audit report from the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office, which concluded that councils had not accurately determined subsidy principles and levels, oversight of cost-efficiency was inadequate, and that deficiencies in reporting meant that senior management could not adequately assess the efficiency of their services and the extent to which they were subsidised?

Source: Victorian Auditor-General’s Office
Source: Victorian Auditor-General’s Office

Our ask

Streets Alive Yarra requests Council to:

References

Published on 28th May 2020