Green Parking (Wall Demolition) Project

Date 2014-05-28 Category Housing Updater scaadmin
Last Update

Green Parking (Wall Demolition) Project as a Service to Citizens

Lack of standard model of green parking to relieve the serious parking problem in residential districts

Many of the residential districts that were developed in Seoul in the 2000s had serious parking problems, making it inevitable for residents to depend on public parking lots, which were very costly to construct. At that time around USD 1.74 million was required to build a public parking lot for just fifty vehicles, and the SMG had a USD 200 million budget for parking lot construction, which meant it could only build about 100 public parking lots with a total capacity of 5,000 vehicles.

However, at that time there was a shortage of over 400,000 parking spaces, and an average of 140,000 new vehicles were being registered each year. As such, a huge budget of USD 17.4 billion would have been required to build 400,000 parking spaces, and an additional USD 6.1 billion would have been needed to park additional 140,000 newly registered vehicles each year.

Obviously the public sector could not afford to build sufficient parking spaces, so studies were conducted focusing on finding alternative ways to solve the problem, such as parking mortgages, application of the benefit principle, analysis of parking demand/supply, and the sharing of private parking facilities for each city block. Also included among these ideas was the idea of tearing down dividing walls for the creation of parking spaces: It was thought that parking spaces could be created at a low cost if a subsidy was granted, but it remained nothing more than an idea as there was no standard model for tearing down the walls.

Rise in accidents due to illegal parking in residential districts

The parking problem in residential districts went beyond the level of mere inconvenience, posing a threat to the safety of residents. In particular, many cars were parked illegally throughout districts with a high concentration of housing for the aging population, making it difficult for fire trucks to navigate the streets at night. They also blocked pedestrian passages and often caused accidents involving children and senior citizens. The fact that the number 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 under 12 on side streets in residential districts clearly indicates the dangerous nature of streets in these residential areas.

Loss of life and property as fire truck access to residential areas is blocked by illegally parked cars

Although it is the vehicle owner's responsibility to obtain a parking space, houses generally do not have parking spaces yet residents buy cars without the proper means to park them. This forces them to illegally use the sides of streets as a parking lot at night; and as more and more cars occupied the side streets, it became extremely difficult for fire trucks to gain access to areas hit by fire, further deteriorating the conditions of residential areas. In fact, the situation became so bad that the terms ‘parking war’ and ‘parking hell’ emerged in 2001. Illegal parking was also creating conflicts among neighbors, and local communities were on the verge of breaking down as the traditional neighborly feeling was on the verge of dying.

The inability of fire trucks to gain access to areas affected by fire due to 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 six houses, while in 2001 a fire in a residential area in Hongje-dong, Seodaemun-gu killed six firefighters and injured three. Both cases involved residential areas with a shortage of parking spaces.

Mitigation of parking problem in residential areas with more residents participating in the wall demolition project

After the Green Parking Master Plan was announced as Mayoral Decree No. 507 on July 19, 2003, a newly formed project task force designed the “green parking standard model” to break down walls so as to enable the construction of parking spaces. A pilot project was executed with one test area in each municipality from the date of execution until May 2004.

The selected target areas were characterized by serious and widespread illegal parking problems due to the shortage of parking spaces and narrow road widths of less than 5.5 meters that made it difficult for vehicles to pass through if cars were parked on the roads. The SMG granted a subsidy to residents who agreed to tear down a gate or wall to install a parking space.

Although the SMG and municipal governments conducted an extensive PR campaign for the 'My Parking Space at My House’ program, the response among the residents of the targeted areas was not very favorable at the beginning. The SMG then prepared the Wall Demolition Project Execution Manual and explained the program to them by visiting each household. More and more residents gradually became aware of the program and events such as a photo exhibition of parking spaces built as a result of the program caught their attention. As a result, 41,752 parking spaces were created by breaking down the walls of 21,652 houses at a cost of USD 291 million over a period of eight years from 2004.

While it cost approximately USD 43,000 to create each parking space in the public parking lots in residential areas, the green parking program cost only USD 7,000 per parking space, and also helped to secure low cost parking spaces, thereby mitigating the parking problem in residential areas within a short period of time. Consequently, illegal parking on roads in residential areas started gradually disappearing and the streets have become safer for children, senior citizens and disabled persons.

SMG subsidy to improve the parking environment

To encourage more residents to participate in the green parking program, the SMG provides a subsidy of up to USD 15,000 (USD 7,000 for one space and an additional USD 8,000 for a second space). As more and more residents have broken down their walls to build parking spaces, the number of illegally parked cars has decreased and there are fewer conflicts among neighbors over parking spaces, making the environment of communities friendlier again. In addition, residents have created flower gardens and planted trees in spaces remaining after building the parking spaces and access paths, transforming their residential areas into greener and more comfortable spaces.

The SMG has also installed 826 CCTVs as well as fences with a maximum height of 50cm around the entrances, and has taken other measures such as installing security windows and security covers to alleviate rising concerns about crime and intrusion after the walls were torn down to create parking spaces. As a result, privacy is better protected and the communities have become more comfortable living spaces.

Restoration of the “village community” and creation of green rest areas

According to a survey of 500 residents who participated in the wall demolition program, the number of respondents who were satisfied with the program increased from 68% in 2007 to 86.6% in 2009. This indicates that the program helped instill positive feelings among residents by resolving parking problems and encouraging them to cooperate in the program in order to create a friendlier community.

To execute the green parking project, a ‘Residents Steering Committee’ was formed in each municipality by members of the Green Mothers Association and the School Operating Committee, village leaders, district representatives and residents on July 1, 2004. Each committee was composed of around ten members and gathered opinions on breaking down the walls, building access paths, and creating beautiful neighborhoods, and encouraged residents to participate in the program, inspected the sites, and submitted suggestions for improvements.

The green parking program launched in 2004 has now reached the establishment phase. By tearing down walls, residents were able to create not only parking spaces but also flower gardens and 109,913 meters of access roads, thus helping them to restore the village community and establish green rest areas. As many residents now realize that they must have their own parking spaces at their houses, more and more of them are participating in the wall demolition project, and many are now confident that they can have their own private parking space at their house.

The SMG’s parking plan to resolve the parking problem in residential areas and policy suggestions by the Parking Planning Department to demonstrate the SMG’s firm commitment

The green parking project is a proactive response to the call of the era in which creativity and imagination are the competitiveness of the 21st century. The project, initiated on July 1, 2004 by creative and passionate civil servants on behalf of residents, began as a part of the resident-centered policy of the Parking Planning Department and quickly caught on.

The project aimed to resolve the parking problem in residential areas and prevent the deterioration of residential conditions caused by illegally parked vehicles in alleys, and to create a comfortable living environment. Based on residents' voluntary participation and cooperation, the project consisted in creating private parking spaces and access roads with green spaces by breaking down the walls of properties.

Furthermore, the green parking project needed mentors to help restore the community spirit and a sense of responsibility by encouraging vehicle owners to build their own parking spaces. They included members of the Residents Steering Committee and municipal government employees who provided support for residents from design to construction.

They ensured that the project was not led by the SMG but by the voluntary participation and cooperation of the residents. They helped to build a consensus among the residents and guide them in each step of planning, design, and construction so that they were the ones making the actual decisions for the project. This one-stop service played a key role in encouraging the active participation of residents who lacked the initial expertise.

Although managing roads shorter that 20m is the responsibility of the municipalities, the SMG decided to take on the role because the municipalities do not have the 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 to drive forward five strategies for creating parking spaces, the role of the administration, and maintenance by residents to mitigate the parking problem.

First, parking spaces have to be created by the beneficiaries.

The green parking project’s strategy is to have the residents themselves create parking spaces at low cost by using reserve spaces in residential areas where it is difficult to secure land for building a public parking lot.
Each household participating in the program will receive a subsidy of up to USD 15,000 (USD 7,000 for one space and an additional USD 8,000 for a second space), and the municipalities will also receive funds according to their performance. The city ordinance was also amended to specifically provide a declaratory statement obligating vehicle owners to attempt to obtain their own parking spaces.

Second, residents must participate in decision making throughout the entire process.

Resident participation is encouraged through workshops, joint site inspections, joint site surveys, public opinion polls, and resident seminars and exhibitions, and is required throughout the entire project execution. The key to the project is that it is led by residents who make the actual decisions.

Third, organic cooperation among relevant agencies is essential.

Cooperation by the relevant agencies, such as the police agency and the fire department, is needed at each step of project planning, design, and construction. The SMG requested traffic police and fire department officials to attend hearings during the design phase in order to listen to the residents' opinions and help build up a consensus for the project.

Fourth, the project from construction to maintenance is executed according to the project manual. The entire process of breaking down walls and building access roads was executed according to the design guidelines and construction specifications, while outdoor structures like natural 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 access roads.
Fifth, evaluation and feedback are needed.

The key to post-project maintenance is for residents to maintain the community environment once it has been improved. Therefore, the resident voluntary management system has been established so that residents can make decisions in the same way as the project itself. An intermediate project evaluation is performed at the project report meeting, and the final evaluation is performed by outside experts and the private/public joint committee at the end of year. 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 target areas consisting of 5~30 households with serious parking problems were selected to create household parking spaces 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, the School Operating Committee, village leaders, district representatives and residents from each municipality on July 1, 2004. The committee of around ten members gathered public opinions on demolishing walls, building access paths, and creating a beautiful neighborhood, and encouraged residents to participate in the program. They also inspected the sites and submitted suggestions for improvements.

Formation of dedicated project organization

Task forces directed by the deputy chief of the municipal government were formed to discuss such issues as demolishing walls, building access roads, and planting trees while participating in planning and project execution so that information could be shared throughout the project. A committee consisting of the relevant agencies —including the police agency, fire department and utility companies—as also formed to discuss planning, design and construction. Traffic police and fire department officials were requested to attend a hearing to listen to the residents’ opinions and cooperate in the project during the design phase.

Demolition of walls and construction of access roads

Wall demolition construction projects are 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. Access road construction projects are executed as an incentive once parking spaces have been obtained. The project is available for areas where more than 50% of the households wish to participate. CCTVs are installed to compensate for the demolition of walls and improve the security and efficiency of parking space usage.

Difficulty of getting households to participate in the project

Although the SMG secured many new parking spaces in the project for eight years from 2004, one-fifth of the target areas are located in New Towns and Urban Redevelopment and Reconstruction districts in which residents are reluctant to get involved in new development projects. Furthermore, the conventional thinking that a gate and a wall will protect families from conflict and problems associated with 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 the full consideration of the household owner. However, this work involves private spaces, and necessary changes are often requested of the household owner during the construction phase, and the resulting design changes often make it difficult to use the design documents and drawings.

Resolution of conflicts through persuasion and education to create a village community

The message that the green parking project will create goodwill among neighbors and enrich the local community was continuously relayed through hearings and meetings. Public relations campaigns were conducted in major daily newspapers, broadcasting programs, the local press, Internet broadcasting and transportation broadcasting, while civil officials visited households to introduce and promote the programs.

Such campaigns helped promote interest among residents in the green parking program, and the active explanations and education on design and construction provided by expert mentors gradually broke down the barriers between neighbors and persuaded them to build parking spaces. As fewer cars were parked illegally and the residential environment was improved, conflicts between neighbors over parking disappeared and the community became more integrated.

To replace the demolished walls, the SMG installed 826 CCTVs as well as fences with a maximum height of 50cm around the entrances, and also installed security windows and security covers to protect privacy, transforming the communities as more comfortable living spaces.

The SMG grants a subsidy of up to USD 15,000 (USD 7,000 for one space and an additional USD 8,000 for a second space) by matching the funds of the municipality. The human resources involved in the project came from the Residents Steering Committee, administrative agencies, NGOs and citizens, with the focus on cooperation and efficient sharing of work.

As technical resources, the manual on construction and maintenance as well as the design guidelines and construction specifications for wall demolition and the construction of access roads provided measures for installing outdoor structures such as natural rocks, grass, trees and various amenities.

Financial aspect – securing stable resources

Compared to building a public parking lot, the wall break-down project enables the rapid construction of parking spaces at a much lower cost. The SMG provides 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, reserve spaces—excluding parking spaces and access paths—were turned into green areas. Flower gardens were created and trees were planted with funds from the subsidy and at the household owners’ own expense to contribute to the low carbon, green growth initiative and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Policy aspect – a sustainable project

Although the green parking program helped to secure many parking spaces in a short period of time, there were still some problems. Around one-fifth of the target areas are located in New Towns and Urban Redevelopment and Reconstruction districts whose residents are reluctant to get involved in new development projects. Furthermore, residents were reluctant to get involved when construction work, such as moving steps or building an embankment, were costly.

In consideration of the above, the guideline was revised so that the financial support was more segmented so as to ensure that difficult construction projects would be granted a higher subsidy. The policy was also changed to be more sustainable by qualifying even 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 inhibit human contact and the parking problem creates conflict between neighbors in urban areas, Seoul’s wall breakdown project resolves the serious parking problem and restores a friendly atmosphere in the community. As such, it has been established as an outstanding project benchmarked both by other municipal governments in Korea and internationally.

It has been included as a site visit and benchmarking program for government officials from such diverse countries 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 creation of a friendly community spirit

The green parking program is a project in which residential dividing walls are demolished in order to create parking spaces, and which requires the participation of local residents to guarantee its success. With the help of active resident participation, 41,752 parking spaces were constructed to mitigate the parking problem over eight years from 2004. As a result, many households gained their own parking space, and the villages were turned into friendlier communities as conflicts between neighbors were greatly reduced.

Effectiveness of private/public/NGO cooperation – establishment of governance infrastructure

The SMG has been operating the Green Parking Advisory Committee to evaluate the green parking policy and provide feedback for the past eight years. The role of the committee, which is composed of education and NGO experts in the fields of transportation and landscaping, is to build local governance based on cooperative leadership, mutual trust, checks and balances, and arbitration, and to provide information, advice and technical support. The committee members also request improvements of project problems, play an intermediary role between the administration and residents, develop programs, organize the residents, and hold neighborhood festivals and events while carrying out the program with the residents.

Meanwhile, a Resident Steering Committee has been formed in each municipality by members of the Green Mothers Association and the School Operating Committee, village leaders, district representatives and residents. It gathers the opinions of the public, promotes various projects (i.e. demolition of walls, construction of access roads, creation of beautiful alleyways, etc.), encourages resident participation, inspects the sites, and submits suggestions for improvement. As a self-managed organization, it also manages the village community after the project and helps to provide order. The SMG and municipal government officials provide support to ensure that each project is executed through systematic and organic cooperation.

As such, local private/public/NGO governance has contributed greatly to obtaining parking spaces by demolishing walls and raising residents’ awareness that households need a private parking space. It has shown that active cooperation and participation is the key factor in mitigating the parking problem in residential areas.

Department / Contact

  • International Relations Division  /  82-2-2133-5264  /  international@seoul.go.kr