On Monday February 12th 3 BeCA Management Committee Members attended the “Unlawful Vehicle Parking On Road Verges Workshop” held at Lake Kawana Community Centre. The workshop was attended by The Mayor, Councillors, State Government, Community Groups & Representatives, Development and Business groups and other external agencies and service providers.
There were 19 presentations of up to 20 minutes each including an opportunity for Questions. BeCA was the last of the 5 Community Groups to make a presentation and by that time the most relevant issues affecting local communities had already been covered. A group lead by Colin Manderson (Parking Politics Gone Mad Protest social media group) questioned each presenter and challenged many comments made whenever the opportunity arose. Colin attended BeCA’s February Management Committee Meeting where discussions occurred on a common understanding of issues. Both groups strongly supported the notion of permitting verge parking, especially on streets measuring 5.5m in width.
One point which must be understood is that Council did not approve any of the planning of Bellvista, Bells Reach and now Caloundra South. The original development was rejected by the then Caloundra Council. As a result the developer appealed to the State Government of the day who over ruled Council’s decision and permitted the development to go ahead under State Government guidelines. These guidelines approve that certain “Access Place” streets can be 5.5m wide. Sunshine Coast Council does not support 5.5m wide streets.
The current Harmony Development at Palmview is under Council regulations. A recent agreement there between Council and the developer has mandated a minimum street width of 7.5m in its soon to be commenced project.
A tour of Baringa indicates an apparent move away from narrow 5.5m streets by the developer possibly in response to concerns raised by some Bellvista and Bells Reach residents. Possibly the market has spoken and these narrower streets are no longer in favour. This change in thought will have a resultant increase in house block costs. It is always a fine balance for any developer to manage infra structure costs and to maintain a level of affordability.
Narrow 5.5m streets are legal under State Guidelines and are designed to have at least one car park on the roadway yet leave enough room for another vehicle to pass. It may be necessary for a car to ‘slalom’ its way down the street (depending on how cars are legally parked) at a reduced speed. To reduce the speed of vehicles in 5.5m wide streets is a deliberate ploy used by designers.
It was agreed the question of verge parking is a highly complicated issue. That it was safer for vehicles to park on the verge was not resolved. Greater width for vehicles to move down a narrow street would lead to vehicles moving at a greater speed. The line of sight issue was raised as a a car reversed from a driveway with verge parking to the left and to the right. However it was agreed there could be places where verge parking could be implemented and alleviate some of the parking issues for those residents.
Real Estate agents have a responsibility to inform potential buyers of possible parking issues if buying in a 5.5m street.
Many of our valuable services , water, telcos, energy suppliers etc have their lines and pipes under the verge. These can be easily damaged if heavy vehicles park on top of them. In some cases (eg Unity Water and sewerage leak) require 24/7 access to their pipes under a verge in case of an emergency.
There was a concession from Council to nominate areas where there is predominantly new home construction as “Construction Zones”. In these declared zones, verge parking by tradies and others involved with the construction industry could be permitted.
There was strong support for the moderation of ‘enforcement’ and that there be more discussion and education prior to an infringement notice being issued. This issue of the moderation of enforcement arose several times throughout the day following the spate of infringement notices issued prior to Christmas
Currently across the Sunshine coast there are “Regulated” and “Non Regulated” Parking areas. The city of Caloundra is a ‘regulated area’ where parking infringement officers regularly patrol and give out infringement notices to motorists who have parked in non-parking areas or have over stayed their time. Most residential areas are classed as Non Regulated areas. These are areas where parking infringement notices are only delivered if an ‘official’ complaint by a resident has been made.
According to Council after a complaint has been received, their next step is to discuss the situation with the vehicle owner, educate them on where they should be parking, and in this case issue a warning. Future occurrences of a similar infringement would result in an infringement notice and $94 fine being issued.
Council’s version of what occurred in our area just before Christmas was that council became aware of numerous parking infringements so 2700 notices and leaflets were distributed across the area to ‘educate’ the community. These notices set out what the parking laws do and don’t permit. Several weeks later, the area was visited by Infringement Officers who handed out of Infringement Notices where illegal parking occurred. A copy of this notice appears below.
This high handed practice drew strong condemnation from those at the Workshop and many made their feelings known.
You do not ‘own’ the land the verge or nature strip takes up, it is owned by Council. It is there to provide for services and their vehicles, footpaths, the delivery of mail and some emergency access to these services. The State Government creates the law regarding parking on verges and it is up to Council to enforce the law. However if a policeman ‘books’ you for parking on a verge, the fine is around $40. If a Council Infringement Officer books you for the same offence, the fine is $94.
The norm now in most new housing estates is for narrower streets and smaller house blocks. In the new Harmony Estate in Palmview, the most common block frontage will be 10 or 12 metres. More houses equal more people, equal more cars equal more parking issues. Current practice is for some home owners to use their garage for storage and possibly even another bedroom. Therefore more cars are not being parked in garages. Other high density areas see house sharing more common. 3 bedrooms mean three people can share a house. In most cases each of these people could have their own car.
More and more young couples are moving back in with mum and dad while they save for a house deposit. Usually 4 adults mean 4 cars to be parked and if the garage is being used for storage these 4 cars need to be parked on the street.
Council will take much away from the workshop. They were presented with many scenarios, many issues, many possible solutions and many viewpoints.
Council will sift through all the information and come up with what they feel is the most appropriate action for various areas.
BeCA felt that in 5.5m wide streets. residents should be permitted to park vehicles on the verge verge with two wheels on the roadway and two wheels on the verge.
There is no one correct solution for each situation, just the hope that developers will learn from the past and improve the lifestyle for others into the future with their planning of new estates.