Let’s face it, there are millions of people out there worse off than us, right? But it sure don’t feel like it when you get a parking ticket.
Particularly out the front of your house in suburbia.
That’s what happened the other day in my area, en masse.
Without warning around lunchtime compliance officers swept through our patch and fined anyone who had their car parked in their drive or on their lawn.
A parking infringement frenzy.
Approximately 20 unsuspecting citizens at last count, some stung two or three times depending on their parking traits. And at $88 a pop, a nice earner.
The crime? ‘‘Blocking the path in a built-up area.’’
You’d nearly cop that if there was a ‘‘path’’ as such.
Trouble is, there are no footpaths in this particular section of suburbia. Just grass and driveways, maintained and parked on for years by suburbanites unaware there was a problem until the storm troopers arrived.
Which begs the question: what gives? Apart from us.
According to a council spokesman who took numerous animated calls following the event, a complaint had been filed. By whom and about what, we don’t know. You need to apply through Freedom of Information to find that out. But apparently, it was all the information the compliance officers needed to act. With a sledgehammer.
Turns out, by law the area from the borderline of a property to the roadside is regarded as ‘‘path’’.
I’d always regarded it as my lawn. Damn. And I’d been mowing it for the last eight years. Double damn. And apparently in a ‘‘built-up area’’ it’s illegal to ‘‘block’’ this path by parking in my driveway. Triple damn.
But what’s built-up about our piece of suburbia?
Mexico City is built up. Sure. Kevin Rudd as PM was built up. Yep. But our suburb? Give me a break.
The place backs onto a forest and has a council-endorsed duck migration trail running through it. It’s the very definition of ‘‘unbuilt up’’. Maybe the ducks filed the complaint. I don’t know.
Turns out, a loose definition of a ‘‘built-up area’’ is any place with street lights. So everyone got done for a loose definition of blocking the path they didn’t know existed in the area they didn’t realise was built up.
I’m not sure why, but I’m not ruling out pure narkery.
More accurately, they got done for blocking a minefield. Because that’s what our neighbourhood now becomes. What, for example, do we do when relatives come over?
Let them park out the front and get a ticket? Cranky old Uncle Fester? Sure. But what about rellies we like? Do we advise them to park far away and walk up?
No, according to council, we advise d them to park ‘‘all four tyres of the car’’, and indeed the car itself I suspect, on the narrow road out the front of our house. That’s not an offence.
However, parking within three metres of that car is.
Talk about a recipe for parking wars. First in, first not fined. And what about congestion. Can’t wait for garbage day.
Talk about opening Pandora’s Box.
Ironically, keeping our council-approved narrow streets clear was the reason we were parking in our drives in the first place.
Surely the compliance people could have issued a warning before nuking the joint.
The fact they didn’t makes you wonder why. I suppose unsuspecting suburbia is certainly infringement El Dorado. The brown bomber equivalent of clubbing seals.
Heavy-handedness was acknowledged by the council spokesman, but we still have to write to the Office of State Revenue and beg for mercy.
Can’t wait to see how that pans out.
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