At a time when paid beach parking across the Central Coast is being explored by Central Coast Council, shop owners at Ettalong Beach are pushing back and calling for free parking.
The issue of parking at Ettalong has been one that has troubled the area for years, with calls from residents and businesses to extend unpaid parking hours largely going unnoticed.
The proposed scheme will look at introducing visitor-based paid beach parking for the Coast’s foreshore areas through an Expressions of Interest process.
In their proposal, Council suggest funds from the scheme will be used to recoup money spent on infrastructure and services enjoyed by visitors to the Coast.
Areas to also be considered in the scheme include Ocean Beach, Killcare Beach, Patonga Beach and Brisbane Waters.
Currently in Ettalong, a combination of one-hour and two-hour on street parking is available, with two-hour angled parking also on option on Picnic Parade.
However, spaces are limited.
Owner of lifestyle shop ‘Goddess by the Sea’, Jane Cannon, said Council’s interest in introducing more paid parking at Ettalong would affect her business.
“They are using this to try and get out of debt – we are only a small business that has minimal parking, it’s not right,” Cannon said.
“This is not going to help any of us, especially us business owners.
“They just can’t keep putting developments in without any parking.”
Cannon said the lack of parking is a huge issue for both her and her customers on Ocean View Road.
“We do end up having to park miles away every day, and particularly when it comes to bringing stock in, I struggle to carry it all with the distance,” Cannon said.
“Even the delivery guys struggle to drop off stock because they have to park on the main road – there’s no loading bay.
“I definitely have noticed that the lack of long-stay parking has affected attracting customers to the store …it’s really been in the last two to three years that I’ve seen the difference.
The lack of a loading dock for local businesses was also a concern for Leanne Ausburn, owner of Skinners Fresh Seafood.
“It would really help with my deliveries,” Ausburn said.
Along the same strip, co-owner of Mediterranean Seafood and Chicken, Naleap Hout, is finding the same problems.
Hout said she would like to see increased hours for unpaid parking so customers can leisurely walk around shops and eat.
“Especially when it rains, we notice customers don’t come in as they would have to park a distance away and walk to the shop,” Hout said.
“The one-hour limit is not enough time for people to eat and shop.”
Brooke Sheehan, who works at All About Smiles dentistry on the corner of Picnic Parade, said she struggles to find a parking space for work.
“I struggle a lot, especially during lunch and in the school holidays, to find a park,” Sheehan said.
“It’s come to the point now that I struggle to go out for my lunch break as I worry that I won’t get a park when it’s time to come back to work … I sometimes drive around for 10 minutes.
“People who come into the dentist also worry about their appointments going over time, especially with the one-hour limit just outside our doors.
“It’s not uncommon to see the [parking] inspectors walking by.”
However, Council suggests that the parking limits are effective for visitors, workers and business owners.
“A mixture of one hour and two hour on-street parking … provides for a turn-over of vehicles to meet the needs of various shops and businesses,” a Council spokesperson said.
“Determining the best use of on-street parking opportunities available at Ettalong Beach to meet the needs of the various business stakeholders, residents and visitors to the area requires a balanced approach.”
The spokesperson also asked for shop owners to directly contact Council with any ideas on how parking can be improved to meet their needs.
Council Administrator, Dick Persson, said the current financial climate surrounding a potential increase to ratepayers forced Council to explore alternative revenue options.
“Council staff have scoped the administrative cost of establishing a beach parking system that provides protection to ratepayers; estimated a potential projected revenue stream and timeline for implementation; and determined potential foreshore areas to be considered for this scheme,” Persson said.
“The next step now is to determine willingness for an external supplier to partner with Council so we can progress the scheme at no cost to Council.”
The Council’s proposal into the paid beach parking scheme notes there are moderate demands for parking in proximity to The Esplanade, and that additional parking may be required to accommodate existing and future peak holiday demands.