Parking meters’ time is up

Vocal parking meter opponents at the Tuesday 14 March City of Greater Dandenong council meeting.

By Casey Neill

Springvale’s unpopular parking meters have officially got the boot.
But traders and shoppers are warned that time restrictions on CBD parking will remain in place and enforceable.
Councillor Sean O’Reilly tried unsuccessfully to move a compromise at the Tuesday 14 March City of Greater Dandenong council meeting.
“Rather than an unsophisticated junking of several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of parking meters, here’s a more sophisticated solution,” he said.
He suggested immediately dropping parking meter rates to 50 cents per hour and increasing trader engagement.
Cr O’Reilly said removing the meters would take Springvale to a dead end.
A council officers’ report to the 27 February meeting recommended keeping the meters and said they had improved parking and traffic since their introduction in November 2015.
But Cr Youhorn Chea instead successfully moved to unconditionally abolish the pay and display parking fee system following complaints from residents and businesses.
Cr O’Reilly filed a motion to rescind the decision, so councillors again debated the issue on 14 March.
But they stuck by the February result, seven votes to four, and Cr O’Reilly’s compromise didn’t get a look in.
A packed gallery applauded the councillors who spoke against the meters and booed those who supported their retention.
“I don’t want to go back to 2015, I don’t want to go back to the issues of parking turnover, of cars going around and around the activity centre of Springvale,” Cr Matthew Kirwan said.
He said the population had increased so the problem would now be worse.
“And they’ll continue to get worse,” he said.
After the meeting, Cr Kirwan said that emotion and vested interests won over logic and the broader public interest.
He said that adjusting parking meters to only operate during peak times would have made more sense.
“People will still get fined except now it will be for overstaying time limits and not able to be blamed on parking meters,” he said.
Cr Youhorn Chea, the meters’ biggest opponent, told the meeting that small businesses had suffered.
“You need to listen to the small business people and to the residents as well,” he said.
He said parking was free in neighbouring shopping precincts, like Glen Waverley and Clayton.
“People go shopping there instead,” he said.
Cr Roz Blades said: “Huge amounts of people worked long and hard to make Springvale what it is today.
“If people continue to stay away from Springvale, the customers will not return,” she said.
City planning, design and amenity director Jody Bosman said the ticket machines would need to be switched off, decommissioned and stored.
“It will take a few days,” he said.
“Time restrictions are still applicable and are still enforceable.”
Cr Chea’s motion to remove the meters also included a low-cost parking permit system in the Number Eight car park in Balmoral Avenue, a new access ramp to the car park and new way-finding signage.
Also adopted was a marketing plan on parking access and availability, a look at digital real-time information signage and online information, an accelerated roll-out of Safe-City CCTV, and ongoing reviews and reporting on parking management in consultation with traders and residents.

Opponents welcome Springvale parking meter decision.



  1. The major issue here is that the Council has watched Springvale boom, watched the increase in car traffic, but has not taken action to expand the parking area available for the people who want to come to Springvale and spend their money. Other Cities have been proactive, and this Council needs to take a look at their solutions. Someone also needs to explain how “hundreds of thousands” of ratepayers dollars have gone down the tubes for the cost of the parking meters which were rejected. Were they bought before the Council decision was made?

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    • You know they built the number 8 car park right? Whilst it’s not the best designed car park it is still functional and cheap. Furthermore, you understand the concept of finite space do you not? How does one expand parking areas when there is only a finite amount of road space to do so? If you have a radical new design please inform the council on behalf of us all.

      The “hundreds of thousands” of dollars has only been wasted now because of spineless Councillors bending to the demands of SABA. The Councillors originally agreed, voted majority in favour, to install the meters. This was because parking in springvale was 99% occupied during the major peak shopping times. Parking meters are considered justified once parking occupancy exceeds 85%. The issue now, in conjunction with rate capping, is how does council afford the proposed springvale upgrades that have been talked about? The money collected by parking meters was slated for springvale upgrades i.e. lighting, streetscape, parking alterations etc. So you tell me, was $1.30 an hour for parking not justified considering the future benefits it would have afforded the locals?

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      • It doesn’t take a genius to understand that the number 8 car park was too little, too late. The Council in past years has sold land which could have been set aside for parking, and it has not bought land to boost parking areas. For example the old Springvale Council depot was a large land area which could have been used as an offset to buy land closer to the business area. Finite space is something in someone’s mind. US President Kennedy said “Some men see things as they are and ask, “Why?”; I see things that never were and ask “Why not?” Shopkeepers and their staff are not helping matters by parking in spaces which would otherwise attract customers.
        Time limits are just as frustrating to customers as parking meters; it’s not the dollars it’s the nuisance factor.
        The concept of reefing money off customers, mostly ratepayers, to pay for infrastructure to benefit retailers is offensive to customers and most likely responsible for the big reaction against the Council decisions. Consider this: McDonalds throughout the world pays for its own car parking spaces, and supplies them free, and that is partly responsible for their very high daily turnover. Take a look at Chadstone, and you can see the relationship of free, undercover, parking to the huge turnover which has resulted in the biggest retail centre in the southern hemisphere. Now take a look at the Dandenong CBD where this cynical “move the customers along” policy started. If you have the courage, walk down Lonsdale Street and through the hub and see the shadow of the shopping centre we used to have in the 1970’s before thousands walked away to more user friendly centres.
        The number one lesson for shopkeepers is that you have to have an edge; you can’t drive customers to come to you; you have to get them to want to come. When you do that, the flow will start, and it will build to the point where retailers’ rates will pay for the infrastructure.

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        • Which land have they sold that could’ve been used in inner Springvale? The sale of the depot has been used to fund a new Springvale library and uplift to the aging town hall.
          If they weren’t doing those works, where would you suggest they purchase more land to build car parks Springvale? If you hadn’t noticed there’s not a lot of free space in there.
          Finite space is not an abstract concept, it is reality. What, should we build double decker roads to accommodate more parking. Please list locations in Springvale where you honestly believe additional value can be added for parking.

          And now you don’t want parking restrictions either? Because then everyone would be able to get a park in Springvale……..
          You just don’t want to pay for anything.
          Your point about McDonald’s is of little relevance to this discussion. They are very often standalone locations where parking is easily created as part of their planning permissions. And Chadstone is a completely different kettle of fish compared to a local shopping district. Not in the same conversation at all. Unless you want to turn the whole of Springvale into a privately owned centre and let them buy up all surrounding residential areas.

          Wow, Dandenong 40 something years ago…..Another valid point. Move on mate, times change.

          If you hadn’t heard, rates where just capped. That limits any future take in for council and limits future infrastructure, they have to be able to recoup that lost revenue someone I.e. user pays system like car parking meters.

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          • I’ll leave you to do your own research on which areas have been sold by Council, and which areas might be available for purchase as parking areas.
            If it is true that the Council sold its depot to build a new library and uplift the hall, and that’s what Springvale ratepayers wanted then those ratepayers are not going to get a double dip of enhanced parking as well. However, judging from the reaction, I suspect the ratepayers were left in the dark, and that’s never a safe option for a Council.

            Whether I want parking restrictions or not is not an issue; you were asking me questions; I’ve pointed out the principles of marketing and given examples of how parking restrictions and costs turn customers away.

            If you don’t understand the restrictions of your finite space vision I’d suggest you do some study on cities which have broken the paradigms, like Tokyo, which has a population.the same as Australia’s, and Shanghai where they found space for major rail and road expansion.

            You’ve totally missed the point about not paying; it’s the nuisance factor that drives customers to shopping precincts outside Springvale. In fact the Council has been very successful at moving them on, and they didn’t stop; they’re spending money in other Cities.

            McDonalds methods of attracting customers are certainly relevant. The products they sell are as basic as many of the food facilities in Springvale, and the example could easily be followed in Springvale by building upwards.

            If you wish to ignore the 40 year decline in Dandenong retail, that’s up to you; I’d be looking very carefully at what happened and why to ensure that history doesn’t repeat itself.

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  2. The meters were bought after the council decision to implement.

    Alan is correct – now that car parking spaces will be used less efficiently, council will need to review future demand and availability. Hopefully the funding that will be required to come from other parts of council’s budget will have the same majority support of councillors as that to remove the meters.

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    • Park and display has gone from Springvale and now it is time
      to ditch this crap system entirely from the City of Dandenong. It has been
      ditched from many areas in the UK for the same reasons. It is a system loaded against the motorist who is always guilty of minor infringements unless he has ample time to prove his innocence, as in the case of failure to display a valid ticket, despite having paid for the time frame in which the alleged offence has occurred. Council has unethically collected thousands of dollars from motorists
      and has been happy to do so. Sean O’Reilly refers to efficiency! It is from
      councils view, because all the effort and work was loaded onto the motorist. Unless council wakes up and ditches this system Dandenong is now disadvantaged against Springvale as a retail hub. Springvale traders were much better organized and had their councillors onside to get rid of the system. The councillors representing the Dandenong area are not representing their traders interests, consequently retail is dying in Dandenong.

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      • Now people will still get fines for overstaying the alloted time, so what’s the difference?
        Under pay and display, council are actively recouping money to help pay for maintenance and future infrastructure. Now those funds have to be redirected away from other things. Moreover, paid parking has been shown, worldwide, to increase turnover rates in car parks and prevent the swapping of car parks between local traders. Today in Springvale, I saw exactly that happening.
        I know for a fact, that during some peak hours in Springvale 99% of car parks were occupied prior to installing meters. Now we have to go back to that? Great. I enjoyed being able to get a spot, even if I had to pay $1 for that premium.
        Not only that, there are pre-existing areas of paid parking in springy operated by private companies. These are also generally full in peak times. Why don’t traders complain about them? Because SABA would be the ones who have employed the private car park contractor and probably get kickbacks. But they can’t get that on-street, so they complain.

        Furthermore, Dandenong on-street car parks are operating well under pay and display. Maybe you should go and look during lunchtime, it’s often full but there’s still adequate turnover.
        Glen Waverley shouldn’t even be used as a comparison to springy either. Glen Waverley has cinemas, the Glen, greater night trading, and different food options other than asian. The only thing it has in common with springy is that during its peak trading, parking would be >95% occupied. Numerous times I’ve gone there I’ve left after 10 because I couldn’t find parking. Monash will soon have to look at paid parking to regulate turnover and prevent trader car park switching.

        Councillors like Roz blades don’t look at the information and make an informed decision, she made her decision based on fear of similar things happening in Noble Park, which is very unlikely to happen. Noble park operates at about 65-70% occupancy and has no demand for parking meters.

        Short sighted decision that will only make Springvale go backwards. I’ll enjoy watching it go to shit again.

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        • Lonsdale Street is a classic example of the effect of parking meters. Retail is terminal, junk traders and pay day lenders and nothing to attract everyday shoppers. The millions spent upgrading the streetscape has not arrested the decline. Have you ever heard of ” User Friendly’ ? Well it appliers to retail access, and meters are the complete reverse especially when operated by a council that treats the motorist as a never ending milking cow; now the cow has MASTITIS and you wonder why!

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