Councillors, residents, MP say parking blitz gone too far
FURIOUS residents are ready to protest outside the Sunshine Coast Council chambers following a Christmas blitz across the Coast.
But it's not the jolly fat man with a sack full of presents visiting Coast residents.
Instead of a lump of coal, residents on the council's 'naughty list' are being slapped with parking fines left, right and centre. And the Coast is fighting back.
Council inspectors are targeting Coast suburbs in street-wide sweeps, taking down construction sites and are even booking people for parking in their own driveways.
Several residents have accused the council of "revenue raising".
Mayor Mark Jamieson defended the council and said residents were warned about the crackdown when parking fact sheets were sent out to 2700 homes on the Coast.
"At the same time, unlawfully parked vehicles in these areas had the fact sheet placed on the windscreen as a warning," he said.
But even councillors admit the issue had been taken too far.
Division three councillor Peter Cox said the parking issues were causing the council "severe reputation damage".
He said (the Sunshine Coast) council was leading the nation in many areas but believed the parking issue was "driving a wedge" through the community.
"I am concerned with the direction council is heading. I don't think it's right and I am very frustrated," Cr Cox said.
"Clearly there are a lot of residents using their garages for bedrooms, home offices or storage, which means they need to park on the street.
What do you think of the blitz?
This poll ended on 16 December 2017.
The council has gone too far
Bad parkers deserve to be fined
This wouldn't be an issue if there were more parks
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
"I've often said people should be educated and warned first and then enforcement. We need to be doing a more balanced approach. Council is being too proactive.
"Officers are only doing their job, but they should just be responding to complaints or safety concerns. Councillor Dickson shares my frustration and we think common sense needs to be applied."
Caloundra MP Mark McArdle pointed out the council's own legislation that read: "Council may issue warnings or fines where appropriate. Please provide as much information as possible and we will assess the effective solution."
He said this legislation was clearly at council's discretion to take whatever action they liked.
"In my opinion, the council has thrown that document out the window and are simply raising revenue," he said.
"The reality is that for a person to contest the ticket they will need to take council to court to have the matter determined by a Magistrate. The costs in time and/or money are prohibitive and if the person loses they also cop court fees on top of the fine.
"The costs in time and/or money are prohibitive and if the person loses they also cop court fees on top of the fine."
He said the council should "pull the fines" and "act within the spirit of what the legislation was intended to achieve".
"We live at a time when blocks of land are much smaller than 20 to 30 years ago, roads are narrower and driveways are also shorter," he said.
"Whatever you do, don't let your children leave their scooters on the driveway beyond the boundary line."
It has come to the point where residents like Maroochydore father Andre Mijnhout, Caloundra tradesman Luke Muller and Birtinya resident Reese Gerhard have taken matters into their own hands.
Mr Gerhard was fined for parking his car in his own driveway. The fine stated his car blocked access "to and from a driveway or other way of access to or from adjacent land".
A council spokesperson said it was State Government's law - but the council was legally required to enforce it.
However, Cr Jamieson said Mr Gerhard had the opportunity to park in his garage.
"If he is using that garage for other purposes, he should have looked for safe alternative carparking opportunities."
On Monday, tradesman Mr Muller posted a video to Facebook as he drove around an empty construction site at Stockland's Aura development.
He said several tradesmen left work early when a parking inspector showed up and began to fine workers for parking up on the gutter.
His argument was if workers parked on the side of the road other vehicles wouldn't fit through.
Cr Jamieson said council officers would be liaising with Aura developer Stockland regarding offsite parking if tradespeople cannot park on site.
"This is a common occurrence at all large construction sites and experienced tradespeople would be aware of this," he said.
In 2015-16 the council issued 31,033 parking infringement notices worth $1,751,394, and in 2016-17 40,886 residents were issued $2,426,512 in fines.