Green Parking (Wall Break-down) Project as a Service to Citizens
No standard model of green parking to relieve the serious parking problem in residential districts
Many residential districts developed in the 2000’s in Seoul that had serious parking problems had to depend on public parking lots, which were very costly to construct. At that time, it required around $1.74 million USD to build a public parking lot for 50 vehicles, but the city government had a $200 million USD budget for parking lot construction, which meant it could only build approximately 100 public parking lots that would accomodate 5,000 vehicles.
However, at that time there was a shortage of 400,000 parking spaces and 140,000 new vehicles were being registered each year. It needed a budget of $17.4 billion USD to build 400,000 parking spaces and an additional $6.1 billion USD annually to park the incoming 140,000 new vehicles.
Obviously, the public sector could not afford to obtain sufficient parking spaces through construction, and studies were done about various alternative ways to solve this problem such as parking mortgages, application of a benefit principle, parking demand/supply diagnosis, and sharing of private parking facilities for each block. Tearing down privacy walls and creating parking spaces was one of those ideas. It was thought that parking spaces could be created at a low cost if a subsidy was granted for creating the facility. However, it remained as just an idea because there was no standard model for tearing down these walls.
Increasing accidents from illegal parking in residential districts
The parking problem in the residential districts reached beyond the level of inconvenience to that of threatening the safety and lives of residents. In the case of districts concentrated with housing for the aging population, there were illegally parked cars scattered about all the streets, making it difficult for the fire trucks to enter at night. They also blocked the pedestrian passages and often created accidents involving children and senior citizens. The fact that the rate of pedestrians killed in traffic accidents in Korea is the highest among the OECD countries and that more than 78% of traffic accidents involve children younger than 12 years on side streets in the residential districts clearly indicate the vulnerability of the streets in these residential areas.
Loss of lives and property due to fire truck inaccessibility because of illegally parked cars in residential areas
Although it is the vehicle owner's responsibility to obtain a parking space, houses generally do not have parking spaces attached yet residents buy cars without the proper means to park them. That forces them to illegally use the edge of the streets as a parking lot at night, and as more and more cars occupy the side street, it is making it extremely difficult for fire trucks to be able to access necessary areas at the time of a fire, deteriorating residential conditions. The situation was so bad that the terms ‘parking war’ and ‘parking hell’ appeared in 2001. Illegal parking is also creating conflicts among neighbors, and the local community is on the verge of being broken down as the traditional warm feeling among the neighbors is being lost.
Inaccessibility of the fire trucks because of the illegally parked cars on the road is a particularly serious problem. In 1999, a fire in a residential area in Bongcheon 8-dong, Gwanak-gu burned down 6 houses. In 2001, a fire in a residential area in Hongje-dong, Seodaemun-gu killed 6 firefighters and injured 3. Both were cases where the residential areas had a shortage of parking spaces.
Mitigation of parking problem in residential areas by more residents participating in the wall break-down project
After the ‘Green Parking Master Plan' was announced on July 19, 2003 as the Mayoral Decree (No. 507), a project task force was formed and designed the ‘green parking standard model’ to break down walls to build parking spaces. A pilot project was executed with one test area in each municipality until May 2004.
The target areas were selected as those having the most prevalent illegal parking problems because of the shortage of parking spaces and having a road width of less than 5.5m that made it difficult for vehicles to pass through when the cars are parked on the road. The city government granted a subsidy to the residents who would tear down a gate or wall to install a parking space.
Although the city and municipal governments carried out an extensive PR campaign for the 'My Parking Space at My House’ program to the residents, the response was not very favorable in the beginning. The government then prepared the 'Wall Breakdown Project Execution Manual' and explained the program by visiting each household. Thus, more and more residents became aware the program, and events such as the photo exhibition of the parking spaces constructed as a result of the program caught the attention of the residents. As the result, 41,752 parking spaces were constructed by breaking down the walls of 21,652 houses at the cost of $291 million USD over the course of 8 years since 2004.
Considering that it cost approximately $43,000 USD per parking space in the public parking lots in residential areas, the green parking program cost only $7,000 USD per parking space. Furthermore, it helped to secure the low cost parking spaces to mitigate the parking problem in the residential areas within a short period of time.
As the result, illegal parking on the roads in residential areas is gradually disappearing and the streets are becoming safer for the children, senior citizens and disabled to walk on.
City government providing subsidy to improve parking environment
To encourage more residents to participate in the green parking program, the city government provides a subsidy of up to $15,000 USD ($7,000 for a space and an additional $8,000 for the second space). As more and more residents break down their walls to build parking spaces, there are fewer cars illegally parked on the street and less conflict among the neighbors to obtain the parking space, transforming the community back to the friendlier environment it used to be.
In addition, the residents created a flower garden and planted trees in the spaces remaining after building the parking space and moving path to change the residential areas into a greener and more comfortable space.
The government also installed 826 CCTVs as well as fences no taller than 50cm around the entrances and took other measures such as installing security windows and security covers to mitigate the worry of crime and intrusion by outsiders as the walls were torn down to create the parking spaces. As a result, privacy was more protected and the communities became more comfortable spaces to live.
Restoration of village community and creation of green rest areas
According to a survey of 500 residents having participated in the wall breakdown program, those satisfied with the program increased from 68% in 2007 to 86.6% in 2009. It indicated that the program helped instill positive feelings among the residents by resolving the parking problems and encouraging the residents to cooperate in the program to create a more friendly community.
To execute the green parking project, the ‘Residents Steering Committee’ was formed by the Green Mothers Association, School Operating Committee, village leaders, district representatives and residents in each municipality on July 1, 2004. The committee of around 10 members gathered public opinions on breaking down the walls, building the access paths, and creating the beautiful neighborhoods, and encouraged the residents to participate in the program, inspected the sites, and submitted any suggestions for improvement.
The green parking program that began in 2004 has now reached the establishment phase. By tearing down the walls, the residents were able to create not only parking spaces but also flower gardens and 109,913m of access roads to restore the village community and establish the green rest areas.
As the residents now realize that there must be parking spaces at their houses, more and more of them are participating in the wall break-down project and residents now have the confidence that they can have their own private parking space at their house.
Seoul City Government’s parking plan to resolve the parking problem in residential areas and policy suggestions by the Parking Planning Department to show the city government’s firm commitment
The green parking project is a proactive response to the call of the era in which the creativity and imagination are the competitiveness in the 21st century. The project that was initiated on July 1, 2004 by the creative and passionate civil servants on behalf of the residents began as a part of resident centered policy by the Parking Planning Department employees and quickly caught on.
The purpose of the project is to resolve the parking problem in the residential areas and prevent deterioration of residential conditions from the illegally parked vehicles in the alleys, and create a comfortable place for people to live. The project based on the residents' voluntary participation and cooperation creates private parking spaces and access roads with green space by breaking down the property walls.
Furthermore, the green parking project needed mentors who helped to restore their community spirit and sense of responsibility by having the vehicle owners build their own parking spaces. They included the Residents Steering Committee members and municipal government employees to provide support to the residents from design to construction.
They ensure that the project is not led by the government but executed by voluntary participation and cooperation of the residents. They help to build a consensus among the residents and guide them in each step of the planning, design, and construction so that the residents are the ones making the actual decisions of the project. This one-stop service played a key role in encouraging the active participation of the residents who do not have the initial expertise.
Although managing roads shorter that 20m is the responsibility of the municipalities, Seoul City Government decided to take on the role because the municipal governments do not have sufficient resources to solve the parking problem. As such, the Parking Planning Department of the Urban Transportation Division issued the policy of ‘Mass Transportation Enhancement’ on July 1, 2004 for driving 5 strategies of creating the parking spaces, role of the administration, and maintenance by the residents to mitigate the parking problem.
First, the parking space must be created by the beneficiaries.
The green parking project’s strategy is to create parking spaces by the residents at low cost by using the reserve space in the residential areas where it is difficult to secure the ground for building a public parking lot.
Each household participating in the program will receive a subsidy of up to $15,000 USD ($7,000 for a space and additional $8,000 for the second space) and the municipalities will also receive funds according to the performance. The city ordinance was also amended to specifically provide the declaratory statement of obligating the vehicle owner to try to obtain the parking space.
Second, the residents must participate in the decision making throughout the entire process.
Resident participation is encouraged through the workshops, joint site inspection, joint site survey, public opinion poll, resident seminars and exhibitions. Resident participation occurs throughout the entire project execution. The key is that the project is led by the residents who make the actual decisions.
Third, organic cooperation of relevant agencies is essential.
Cooperation by the relevant agencies such as the police agency and fire department is needed at each step of the project planning, design, and construction. Seoul City Government requested that the traffic police and fire department officials attend the hearing for the residents during the design to hear the residents' opinions and help build consensus for the project.
Fourth, the project from construction to maintenance is executed according to the project manual. The whole construction process of breaking down the wall and building an access road was executed according to the design guidelines and construction specifications while the outdoor structures like native rocks, grass, trees and amenities were installed according to the project manual. Furthermore, the resident voluntary management system led by the Green Mothers Committee was set up to control illegal parking on the access road.
Fifth, evaluation and feedback are needed.
The key to post-project maintenance is for the residents to keep up the improved community environment. Therefore, the resident voluntary management system is established so that it is decided by the residents in the same way as the project itself.
The intermediate project evaluation is performed in the project report meeting, and the final evaluation is performed by outside experts and the private/public joint committee at the end of year. The feedback is provided to supplement any shortcomings.
Selection of project areas
To efficiently execute the green parking project, the project plan was generated first and the target areas of 5~30 households with serious parking problems were selected to create the household parking space beginning on July 1,
‘Residents Steering Committee’ to lead the project
To efficiently execute the green parking project, the ‘Residents Steering Committee’ was formed by the Green Mothers Association, School Operating Committee, village leaders, district representatives and residents from each municipality on July 1, 2004. The committee of around 10 members gathered public opinions on breaking down the wall, building an access path, and creating a beautiful neighborhood, and encouraged the residents to participate in the program. They also inspected the sites, and submitted the suggestions for improvement.
Formation of dedicated project organization
Task forces directed by the deputy chief of the municipal government were formed to discuss issues such as breaking down the wall, building the access road, and planting scenic trees while participating in planning and project execution so that the information could be shared throughout the project.
A committee consisting of the relevant agencies such as the police agency, fire department and utility company was also formed to discuss the project plan, design and construction. The traffic police and fire department officials were requested to attend the resident hearing to listen to resident opinions and cooperate in the project during the design phase.
Procedure of wall break-down and access road construction
The wall breakdown construction project is ordered by the end of January of each year and construction begins by March so that the entire process can be completed by the end of December.
The access road construction project is executed as an incentive after the parking spaces are obtained. The project is provided to areas in which more than 50% of the households participated.
CCTVs are installed in parallel to the wall breakdown to improve the security and efficiency of the parking space usage.
Difficulties in acquiring households to participate in the project
Although Seoul City Government obtained many new parking spaces in the project for 8 years from 2004, 1/5 of the target areas are located in New Town, Urban Redevelopment and Reconstruction districts in which the residents are reluctant to be involved in new development projects. Furthermore, the conventional thinking that a gate and wall protect families and conflict from the issues of crime, privacy violation and private property made it difficult to recruit households to participate in the green parking program.
The wall breakdown project is designed and constructed with full reflection of the household owner. However, it is work involving a private space, and there are often required changes requested from the household owner during the construction steps, and the resulting design changes often make it difficult to use the design documents and drawings.
Resolution of conflict through persuasion and education to create the village community
The message that the green parking project of breaking down the wall will create goodwill among the neighbors and enrich the local community was continuously relayed through the hearings and meetings. PR campaigns in the major daily newspapers, broadcasting programs, local press, Internet broadcasting and transportation broadcasting were also carried out while the civil officials visited households to introduce and promote the programs.
Those campaigns helped more residents show interest in the green parking program, and the active explanation and education from design to construction by the expert mentors gradually tore down the walls between the neighbors to build the parking spaces. As there were fewer cars parked illegally and the residential environment was improved, the conflicts among the neighbors for parking disappeared and the community became more kindhearted.
To replace the wall, the government installed 826 CCTVs as well as fences no taller than 50cm around the entrances, and took other measures such as installing security windows and security covers to protect privacy, and the communities became more comfortable spaces to live.
The city government grants a subsidy of up to $15,000 USD ($7,000 for a space and additional $8,000 for the second space) through matching funds with the municipality.
The human resources for the project came from the cooperation of the Residents Steering Committee, administrative agencies, NGO and citizens through an efficient work share.
As the technical resources, the manual covering the construction and maintenance as well as the design guidelines and construction specifications for wall breakdown and access road provided the measures to install the outdoor structures like the native rocks, grass, trees and amenities.
Financial aspect – securing stable resources
Compared to building a public parking lot, the wall break-down project allows building of the parking spaces more quickly at much less of a cost. Seoul City Government provides the financial support through a matching fund with the municipal governments and plans to expand the budget in the future.
Environmental aspect – Low carbon, green growth
To improve the village environment, the reserve spaces excluding the parking space and access path were turned into green areas. Flower gardens were constructed and trees were planted using the funds from the subsidy and at the household owner’s own cost to contribute the low carbon, green growth by reducing carbon dioxide emission.
Policy aspect – Sustainable project
Although the green parking program helped to secure many parking spaces in a short period, there were still some problems. 1/5 of the target areas are located in New Town, Urban Redevelopment and Reconstruction districts in which the residents are reluctant to be involved in new development projects. Furthermore, the residents were reluctant to get involved when the construction work such as moving of steps or building an embankment were costly.
In consideration of that, the guideline was revised so that the financial support was more segmented so that difficult construction projects would be granted a higher subsidy. The policy was also changed to be more sustainable by qualifying even the areas planned for redevelopment if the plan was not certain.
Worldwide benchmarking – Benchmarking by other municipalities and coverage by ‘Earth Agora’ program of NHK
As the high walls between houses cut off human relationships with each other and the parking problem creates conflict among the neighbors in urban areas, Seoul’s wall breakdown project resolves the serious parking problem and restores the friendly atmosphere in the community. As such, it has been established as the outstanding project benchmarked by other municipal governments in Korea and internationally.
It has been included as a site visit and benchmarking for government officials from countries such as Russia and Indonesia. Other Korean municipalities including Yeongju, Andong, Incheon, Cheongju, Daegu and Suwon have also benchmarked the project and are carrying out their own programs. NHK of Japan featured the green parking program as one of the cases of “an attempt to improve communication with other people in different corners of the world” in its ‘Earth Agora” program twice in 2011~2012.
Green parking – Mitigation of parking difficulties in residential areas and creating a local friendly community spirit
The green parking program is a project of tearing down the residential dividing walls to create parking spaces and participation by the residents is essential for its success. With the help of active resident participation, 41,752 parking spaces were constructed to mitigate the parking problem over the course of 8 years since 2004. As a result, the households gained their own parking space, and the villages were turned into a friendly community as the conflicts among the neighbors were greatly reduced.
Effectiveness of private/public/NGO cooperation – establishment of governance infrastructure
Seoul City has been operating the ‘Green Parking Advisory Committee’ to evaluate the green parking policy and provide feedback for the past 8 years. The committee is formed of education and NGO experts in the transportation and landscape fields. Their role is to build the local governance of cooperative leadership, mutual trust, checks and balances, and arbitration. They provide the information, advice, and technical support. They also request the improvement of the project problems, play the intermediary role between the administration and residents, develop the programs, organize the residents, or hold neighborhood festivals and events while carrying out the program with the residents.
The Resident Steering Committee in each municipality is formed by the Green Mothers Association members, School Operating Committee members, village leaders, district representatives and residents. It gathers the public opinions, promotes the project (wall breakdown, access road, and creating beautiful alleys), encourages resident participation, inspects the sites, and submits the improvement opportunities. As a self managed organization, it manages the village after the project and helps to provide order.
The city and municipal government officials provide the support to ensure that the project is executed through systematic and organic cooperation.
As such, the local private/public/NGO governance contributed greatly to obtaining the parking spaces by tearing down the wall and improving the resident awareness that the households need a private parking space. It showed that active cooperation and participation was the key factor to mitigating the parking problem in the residential areas.
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