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Jurassic Parking: Is Free Parking a Thing of the Past?

By Siriol Dafydd on March 26, 2019 in News

Time’s up mate, by Mickey Finn.

When it comes to parking, the Eastern Suburbs is a dog-eat-dog nightmare. It’s almost impossible to find decent parking within reasonable walking distance of just about anything that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Between residents, businesses and visitors, it’s a carnivorous shit-show of vicious beasts waiting to pounce at any opportunity to score that elusive spot. And as velociraptors (yummy mummies in Audis) prowl the busy streets ready to bite your arm off for a free space, one can but pray for a metaphoric Chris Pratt to come to the rescue in the form of affordable short-stay parking.

And it looks like things have just gotten a little bit worse in Coogee. Customers making small purchases at Coogee Bay Village in return for free parking must now spend upwards of $10 for the privilege.

The car park, run by private company CarePark, recently implemented a new system that requires shoppers to spend over $10 at participating stores for one hour of free parking and over $30 at Woolworths for two hours. Otherwise the regular fees apply, which are $4 for up to one hour, $9, $13 and $16 for up to two, three and four hours respectively, and $23 for anything over four hours.

This comes as a mighty blow to local residents who regularly use the car park for daily errands and now face the option of forking out $4 for parking in order to purchase a litre of milk, or bumping up their shopping bill with unnecessary purchases from Woollies in order to park for free.

And what about the other local businesses in the Village? If shoppers can score free parking by getting their milk, bread, meat and everything else at Woollies, why would they bother supporting their local butcher situated in the same shopping centre? What is great for Woollies could seriously damage the local business economy, which is already struggling thanks to extortionate rent prices.

One Coogee resident who uses this car park for daily errands told The Beast that the new rules are ridiculous and unfair on locals simply wanting to stock up their pantries.

“If some people are abusing the two hours free parking by buying a stick of gum then at least give locals 20-30 minutes comped parking for unmetered shopping balances,” she said. “We don’t need two hours comped. It’s not Westfield.”

At time of printing, The Beast was still waiting for answers from CarePark as to when and why this rule was implemented, whether it’s a set-up they share with Woollies in other locations, and if it applies to any other stores in the precinct.

Meanwhile, a glimmer of hope shines a few suburbs north where Waverley Council is implementing 15-minute drop-in zones to allow free parking for quick trips. Council anticipates that 19 of these will be available by the end of March in Bondi Beach (Hall Street, Curlewis Street, Campbell Parade), Bondi Junction (Oxford Street, Spring Street, Bronte Road) and Charing Cross (Bronte Road). Another eight locations will be presented to the Waverley Traffic Committee by the end of March and, if approved, will be installed in May.

Waverley Mayor John Wakefield told The Beast that these changes are “in response to overwhelming public feedback about a package of proposals we put to the community last year”.

He added that council has resolved to introduce further significant changes to parking at Bondi Beach including switching off parking meters in certain areas after 7pm.