Parking Up The Wrong Tree
It is no secret that parking in the Eastern Suburbs is an absolute cluster-fudge. Between beach visitors monopolising spaces and obnoxious house prices preventing most mere mortals from owning driveways, having a guaranteed parking spot is the stuff of dreams.
Imagine then that you’ve somehow scored yourself a regular spot. You’ve miraculously dodged the sweaty ball-ache of hiking (probably uphill) to your car every morning and have been spared the extra 30 minutes added to most people’s commute when they desperately try to remember where they were last forced to park their car. Savour this feeling. You are one of the chosen few, young Padawan.
Now imagine some cretin has parked in your beloved space. This inconsiderate peasant has defied social decency and befouled your parking haven, dragging you back down to earth with the rest of us poor unfortunate souls. That feeling of rage in your stomach, the utter disgust at the sheer injustice of it… that is what made John Haire finally snap.
After discovering (on his first day living in Bondi) that someone had parked in his space and buggered off to Thailand, John quickly learnt that having your own parking spot actually means jack-all. After complaining to the building manager, John was told it was impossible to have the vehicle towed away legally, even with his permission.
“I was astounded,” Mr Haire told The Beast. After subsequently discovering a vehicle blocking the entrance to his building one day, he decided to take matters into his own hands and start a petition.
“The police told me they were unable to move the car. All they could do was call the owner and maybe issue an infringement. They didn’t have the owner’s number on file and refused to send an officer to issue a fine as it wouldn’t allow me into my space anyway.”
John is not alone. The Bondi Local Loop Facebook page hosts plenty of complaints from disgruntled locals facing absurd issues at the hand of inconsiderate heathens. One post discusses the owner of a spot purposely blocking in an offending vehicle hoping to make them face up to their crime. The offending parker however (let’s call him Howard the Coward) simply ripped out a bollard from behind the space and left.
Of course, most civilised citizens would rather not sink to the level of Howard and his ilk but, as John told The Beast, “Unfortunately, the best advice I’ve seen is to illegally tamper with offending vehicles,” including using a trolley jack to move it to the middle of the road (at which point it can be legally towed), writing on the bonnet with nail polish remover or smearing faeces under the handle.
Thankfully, John’s petition doesn’t advocate acting upon these suggestions but rather highlights the “absolute madness that the police and the council are powerless to remove a car blocking access to or trespassing on someone’s property.”
As The Beast went to press, the petition had reached well over 100 signatures and had been forwarded by Gabrielle Upton to the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight.
We reached out to both Randwick and Waverley Councils. Waverley confirmed that while it is illegal to park across a driveway (for which a $257 fine can be issued), “Council has no power to tow offending vehicles.”
A Randwick spokesperson explained, “There may be some opportunity for slight modification to the provisions to allow police to have the vehicle towed away in ‘exceptional circumstances’ such as medical reasons (for the resident blocked in), but Council would have concerns about the introduction of a blanket provision.”
The (marginally) good news is that councils are permitted to enter into agreements with strata and community schemes to enforce parking restrictions on private land. A Waverley spokesperson told The Beast, “This allows Council to infringe illegally parked cars, not remove them, and is only the case for properties that have entered into a strata/community parking area agreement. Currently, no properties in the Waverley area have done so.”
In an ideal world, all drivers should be entrusted to behave like civilised humans but, as Member for Coogee Bruce Notley-Smith told The Beast, “It beggars belief just how unthinking and selfish some people can be. If I had my way, I’d have a vehicle causing an obstruction towed away immediately.”
So if you, like John, are plagued by this issue, you may wish to peruse his petition on change.org
(search ‘illegally parked cars’). Perhaps with enough signatures, these policies can be re-visited and a bit of parking decorum restored in the East.