Private estate residents say unfair to introduce paid parking outside their houses, but others say roads are public spaces

Cars parked on both sides of the two-lane road outside landed homes in a private estate in Sembawang can make navigating the area almost impossible at busy times.
Cars parked on both sides of the two-lane road outside landed homes in a private estate in Sembawang can make navigating the area almost impossible at busy times.ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI

Residents say it is not fair, but others say the roads outside their houses are public spaces

Pay to park outside their landed homes? Not fair, said most of the residents who spoke to The Sunday Times.

The issue over whether landed home owners should pay for parking their cars on public streets outside their houses has come up again after it was announced last month that public car park rates were set to rise from December.

Short-term parking fees will go up from $1 to $1.20 an hour outside the restricted zone (RZ) in the city area.

Within the RZ, it will cost double that - at $2.40 an hour, up from $2. Season parking rates will go up too, from $65 to $90 a month now for a first car, to $80 to $110 - with HDB households owning more than one car being charged more.

Readers have written in asking if paid parking should also be introduced in landed estates, arguing that this group of residents are more likely to own multiple cars. Others wrote to say this "smacks of a culture of envy".

A PRICE FOR SPACE

They park on the road and the road is a public space. If we consider parking as a commodity, then it must come with a price.

NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE TRANSPORT RESEARCHER LEE DER HORNG, on people in private estates who park on the road outside their houses.

WHAT RESIDENTS SAY

The Sunday Times visited three private housing estates last week - Simpang Bedok, Upper Thomson and Sembawang. There were cars parked along the roads, making it difficult for traffic to pass in certain areas at each place.

Dustbins and flower pots were placed outside homes to ensure no one else could park there.

Residents said they parked along the road because it was more convenient. Most were against the idea of paying for the space.

Mr Kobu Kotaraju, global head of procurement at an energy company, owns one car, which he parks outside his home near Sembawang Shopping Centre.

The 50-year-old argued that HDB housing is already subsidised for those who live there. But this is not the case for private property owners.

Mr Sebastian H, who owns three cars which he parks inside his Upper Thomson home, said he was frustrated with non-residents who park outside his home, but he did not think charging for parking was the solution.

"I think when there are facilities, then it makes sense to pay for parking but there are no parking facilities here," said the banker, who is in his 40s.

Along Jalan Pari Burong in Simpang Bedok, residents said that many visitors to the HDB estate nearby choose to park at the private estate because it was free.

At busy times, there are cars parked on both sides of the two-lane road, making navigating the area almost impossible, said one resident, who wanted to be known as Mrs Tan.

"If they draw parking lots here, I'd pay (for season parking) if it'll stop others from parking here," said the 48-year-old housewife.

WHAT THE AUTHORITIES SAY

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said a balance needed to be struck between meeting parking needs and ensuring smooth traffic flow in private estates.

"There is no one-size-fits-all solution. The LTA adopts a consultative approach by working with the Neighbourhood Committee, grassroots leaders and resident groups," said a spokesman, adding that this included whether or not to provide for paid parking at estates.

When asked, the LTA did not provide an example where paid parking was implemented after a consensus from private estate residents.

The URA said it provides paid parking at private estates only when these are near commercial businesses such as food outlets or sports facilities. It added that its policies were not static and it was open to reviewing them in areas where parking demand needs to be managed.

Both the HDB and URA said the increase to public car park rates was to recover costs of running car parks - which have increased 40 per cent since 2002, the last time fees were raised.

Experts believe the hike also signals Singapore's push towards a car-lite society, and to send a consistent message, private property residents should have to pay for parking too.

National University of Singapore transport researcher Lee Der Horng said: "They park on the road and the road is a public space. If we consider parking as a commodity, then it must come with a price."

Japan does this by making on-street parking mostly illegal, said SIM University senior lecturer Park Byung Joon. Drivers also have to prove that they have a parking space at their homes when they register a car, he added. "It will mean that there will be no overnight parking on these small streets," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 17, 2016, with the headline 'Introduce paid parking to private estates?'. Print Edition | Subscribe