Yarra’s parking crunch

Yarra’s on-street parking is full, and it’s only going to get worse. Unless policies are changed, the City of Yarra is facing a parking crunch.

Parking is full

Yarra has a population of ~ 90,000 people who own ~ 40,000 cars and purchase ~ 30,000 on-street parking permits from Council. This is one car for every ~ 2.2 people, or one on-street parking permit for every ~ 3 people. Yarra’s streets do not have any room to add more on-street parking. Most days, most parking bays are full by 6 pm. People who need to arrive home late, such as nurses on shift work, report having to park two streets away.

No parking for you! Image credit: Streets Alive Yarra

Residential population growth

Yarra’s residential population is expected to increase by ~ 60% by 2041.

Image credit: forecast.id

Population growth is enabled by the construction of medium density and high density accommodation, such as the redevelopment of the Nylex towers in Cremorne:

Image credit: Orbit

If the 60,000 new residents add vehicles at the same level as existing residents, then Yarra will face ~ 26,600 new cars and latent demand for ~ 20,000 new permits.

Business population growth

Yarra’s business or worker population is also growing. One suburb, Cremorne, has multiple office towers under construction that will bring 4,000 to 8,000 new workers, with SEEK alone hosting 1,800.

Image credit: Seek
Image credit: 510 Church Street

The office developments typically provide off-street parking for ~ 10% of their workers. Most new workers in Yarra ask the question:

Where can I find a park? 

Geometric crunch

Each car parking bay requires an area of ~ 14 m2. Simple geometry states that Yarra can fit 60% more residents or even 100% more workers, but not 60% more cars. This is a geometric crunch.

Class crunch

Existing property occupants can access three permits, while new entrants are limited to two (if the property changes hands) or zero (for a new build). As our population increases, residents will be gradually divided into two classes: the “have permits” and the “have nots”, with unequal access to public land, our streets. The “have nots” will eventually outnumber the “haves” and will join with workers and commuters to demand more equal access. As my previous article showed, Yarra is already subsidising parking by ~ $80 million per year. The “have nots” are subsidising the “haves”. As the population of “have nots” grows, they won’t be happy for the cross subsidy to continue. This is a class crunch.

Policies need to change

Yarra’s existing parking policies are already failing. Streets are full and residents with permits can’t find a parking bay on their street. Parking is already a volatile issue and the need for reform will only increase. My next article will describe a path forward, with new policies that can avoid a parking crunch.

Originally published on 9th December 2018 as an article on LinkedIn.