Illegal Parking Across Resident’s Driveways in Willoughby

The FWPA has prepared an issues paper on the increasing issue of motor vehicles being illegally parked across resident’s  driveways, preventing resident’s from entering or leaving their properties. Kids are being put in danger as their parents are unable to pick them up due to being parked in, and other residents have been unable to attend planned events. This is a major issue around our shopping centres and sporting fields, where selfish people think that if they can’t get a park they can park where they like and inconvenience others.

This issue needs the law changed in favour of victims! FWPA have written to the Honourable Gladys Berejiklian and Willoughby Council about this issue and suggested a suite of potential solutions to resolve this issue.

Issues Paper: Driveways blocked by illegally parked vehicles

There are widespread and recurrent issues across the Willoughby LGA where residents are being prevented from entering or exiting their properties due to motor vehicles illegally parked blocking their driveways. This is also an issue that may affect businesses, employees and customers.

This issue needs a co-ordinated action by Council and legislative changes from the State Government to address it properly. Current State legislation requires updating as it is inadequate to deter this illegal conduct and protects perpetrators not the victims.

Background

On the local ‘Willoughby Living’ social media forum there were complaints about this issue from residents living near shops in High St Willoughby, Naremburn, Chatswood, Northbridge and there are also issues in Artarmon. This has also been a recurrent issue raised at Progress Associations. Residents have also raised issues around transport hubs and some sports facilities such as the netball parking near the Willoughby Leisure Centre, and the Shore School Ovals in Willoughby.

In some cases residents having their driveway access blocked by illegal parking has resulted in parents being late or unable to pick up their young children, which has placed them in danger, many residents have been inconvenienced and unable to leave their properties to go to their own planned events. The illegal parking is also often not for a few minutes whilst someone ducks into the shops but in some case is many hours or even days. One resident reported being parked in for the whole Easter holiday, and another reported that the bus driver of a bus for the local Ex-Serviceman’s club parked his car across their driveway to go off to drive his shift on the bus, and they just caught him as he was driving off and requested he move his car.

A significant population increase due to urban infill development, a lack of adequate parking around shopping, transport and sports centres in the Willoughby Community, lack of consequences, and  a rise in selfishness and lack of respect for others are all contributing factors to this growing problem.

Current Legislation

Under current legislation, affected residents and businesses have few rights and limited courses of action when they are parked in:

  • Pursuant to NSW Road Rule 198 it is illegal to park in a way that partially or completely blocks a driveway unless the driver is stopping briefly to drop off or pick up passengers, and a fine applies. Police and Council rangers can fine the offending drivers if they are available and in the vicinity in time;
  • Under section 16(5) of the NSW Impounding Act, Councils are able to have motor vehicles towed and impounded but the legislation requires them to give sufficient notice to the car owner to move the car (no less than 3 days written notice). There are limited powers to arrange for a motor vehicle to be impounded immediately but only if it is deemed to be blocking pedestrian or road traffic. Although section 16(5) of the Impounding Act of NSW provides that “A motor vehicle may be impounded immediately (without following the procedures in this section) if the vehicle is in a public place and the impounding officer is satisfied on reasonable grounds that its immediate removal is justified because it is causing an obstruction to traffic (vehicular or pedestrian) or is likely to be a danger to the public.” http://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/#/view/act/1993/31/part2/div4/sec16  However Council are not able to use this provision for immediate towing of vehicles parked across driveways.
  • Currently residents or businesses and others who have been affected by illegal parking have few options. Other than contacting police or the rangers to come and book the illegally parked vehicle, they would have to organise and pay themselves for any motor vehicle blocking their access to be moved or towed, which may be illegal for them to do, and they would also be liable for any damage caused (or claimed to be caused) in the process of doing so.

 Recommendations

  1. FWPA requests the State Government to update the current legislation such that :
  • the police and Council have the powers act immediately  on cases of  motor vehicles illegally blocking resident and business driveways to fine, tow and impound them;
  • modern technology can be used and anyone who has been illegally parked in by a motor vehicle obstructing a driveway is able to report to Councils and/or the police via sending photos via the internet or a specialist app for reporting things to authorities (such as the Snap Send Solve app);
  • Council and the Police have the power to be able to fine the driver/vehicle owner on the basis of the photos and arrange for towing/impounding without the need for a site visit (with appropriate protections against false and/or vexatious reports);
  • that towing and impounding is at the driver or registered vehicle owner’s cost;
  • that Council/the police are not liable for any accidental damage resulting from moving, towing or impounding the vehicle that was illegally parked; and
  • that any such vehicle is impounded until fines and towing cost are paid.
  1. FWPA requests that Willoughby City Council:
  • develops a fact sheet in consultation with Chatswood Police and local Progress Associations providing residents and businesses with information about their rights and available courses of action if they are parked in. This should be distributed to local residents, particularly those living in close proximity to retail, sports and transport hubs, and also be available on Council’s website;
  • monitors where the problem areas are and have regular ranger patrols at the times identified as when the main problems occur;
  • facilitates a web and app based reporting system where residents who have been parked in can send photos, to enable rangers to rapid respond where possible, facilitate fines for those who have parked illegally, and to enable ongoing monitoring of the issues in particular areas;
  • advocates to the State Government to have the law changed so that Councils and the police can arrange for any offending vehicles to be impounded, including those reported by photos and app, and that to recover the vehicles, the driver must pay a fine and the towing fee; and
  • enables residents in areas where there are ongoing issues to either request white lines be painted on the road outside their residences to mark driveways or to paint their own within strictly approved guidelines.

The advantages of these recommendations, if implemented:

  • they should provide a significant deterrent to illegal parking across driveways across NSW, benefitting residents and businesses;
  • they should save police and Council resources by facilitating fines without necessitating an onsite visit. It may also allow for additional efficiency gains going forward, for example, via establishing a central processing unit if electronically reported illegal parking issues takes off.

Those affected adversely by these proposals:

  • Those who illegally park across driveways who have their cars fined and impounded (or those who have lent their car to someone who has) will be required to pay fines, and in some circumstances, impounding fees.

Other related Issues

The issues of residents being able to park on verges outside their own properties if they are not blocking driveways, or across their own driveways, has also been raised, however both of these are separate issues in their own right, and have a number of complexities and safety issues in different circumstances, so have not been addressed specifically in this paper.

 Stephanie Croft

President, Federation of Willoughby Progress Associations

27 January 2017

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