Michael Mobbs watering his sustainable garden in his sustainable house

By Michael Mobbs

Why have one policy about something simple when you can have 140 or more and make it really complicated?

How many policies does it take to control the parking of car share cars in NSW?

One for each council, or over 140 policies.

Just to park a car.

I calculate that the time; cost and paper this policy mania produces is:

  • 140 different policies across NSW on the one subject
  • Over 50,000 pages of printing just to make one draft policy for the councils
  • Over 840 months or six years of policy making time to make the 141 policies
  • Over 50,000 printed pages to make the final form of the policies
  • Over $280,000 of council officers salaries to make the draft policies

An additional $500 per developer per development application to address the policy in one project per council per year or over 70,000 a year just to deal with it in 140 development proposals across the state.

These are conservative figures and probably underestimate the costs and time by 50 per cent.

In Pymble, Ku-ring-gai Council’s area, a developer wants to provide a car share space on the street outside a new units project and will pay for the trial of a car share car.

The council has no car share parking policy, won’t consider the developer’s voluntary, free proposal, and refuses to make a car share parking policy at all, ever.

The developer has provided all car parking on site as council required.

The developer wants to fund a trial of a car share car to enable council to lower car parking requirements generally over time for all of the council area. A true act of generosity, no strings attached.

The clear evidence is that car share markets reduce per capita car ownership over time as the users cease to use and, eventually in many cases, to own a car.

In 2005 Vancouver City reduced its car parking requirements because its mature, competitive car share market had brought about a per capita reduction in car ownership.

Despite its opposition to innovation, Ku-ring-gai Council’s vision statement claims it espouses:

“Ku-ring-gai to Global: Sustainability for a better tomorrow”

The dead hand on all of this is the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA), which has directed councils not to allow car share cars to be parked until the council first makes a car share parking policy that complies with RTA guidelines.

As Kurgingai’s red tape officer number 421 puts it:

“On street parking of Car Share vehicles has to be the subject of a Council policy – see RTA Technical Direction TDT2007/04 link www.rta.nsw.gov.au/trafficinformation/downloads/td07 04i. pdf”

What would I do?

If I was Premier I would Direct the RTA to withdraw its directive next week and replace it with this one line direction to all council:

To reduce the congestion in our cities, to make it easier to travel by car without owning a car, to cut travel costs, and to reduce per capita car ownership, all council policies about car share are to be withdrawn by 30 April 2009.

In addition, any person, business or agency may apply to any council in NSW to locate a car share car on any street with or without a reserved space for that car.

Councils will detail in their annual reports the amount of competition in the car share industry, trends in per capita car ownership and the impacts of car share on congestion, car transport costs, road maintenance and air pollution.

But that would be too easy, so it won’t happen.

Michael Mobbs is a sustainability coach who works with developers, governments and communities to design and obtain approvals for houses, units and subdivisions. He is based in the inner Sydney suburb of Chippendale, where in 1996 he pioneered the conversion of his inner city terrace into a sustainable house, which has now been disconnected to mains water and sewerage and is powered by solar energy.

*The Bathurst Burr – A burr under the saddle of government, red tape and sustainability police

NOTE:  Xanthium spinosum Linnaeus, originated in South America (probably Argentina), and has been declared a noxious weed in all States. Infestations occur  frequently along water courses. It is rarely grazed by livestock because of the long spines. The burrs are one of the most common contaminants of wool. The burrs attach to the coats of animals and to other fibrous material by their hooked spines. – from the Victorian Department of Primary Industries, Information Notes