On a Friday night when I was asleep (yes at 6 PM after a hard week) a “ranger” came and told my son to move his car from the “nature Strip”. I was busy with Umpiring cricket then playing all weekend so I was surprised on Monday to see a parking ticket on the car when I went to charge the battery so it could be moved. Here is what I wrote:
From: Sent: Tuesday, 19 February 2008 4:24 PM To: Subject: May I have an explanation please?
To whom it may concern,
I am trying to remain calm and considered in this.
Today, I took half a day off work to assist my son who is a university student to move the car he inherited when his grandfather died. Now, instead of doing that, I am writing this e-mail to try to find out what is happening here!
This car has been sitting on the gravel “nature strip”. As far as we can tell it is completely off the road and causes minimal disruption to anyone. It certainly causes much less disruption than the industrial sized trailers, 4WD vehicles etc that regularly park along the road (usually ON the road). Prior to my son’s car being there neighbours used to park a deliver van there.
On the evening of Friday 15 Feb, someone came to the door and spoke to my son. They said a complaint had been made by someone who could not be identified. That complaint led to a request that we move the car. No identifying information was given to my son and no document was left to explain what the issue was. The person was a “ranger” or something like that. My son remembers something being said about his car obstructing the driveway. Today, I found a parking infringement notice #103237486 0 in the windscreen dated 17 February at 11:39 AM. A time when both of us were out (with prior commitments). I found this quite ironically, when attempting to find a way to open the bonnet of the car so that we could charge the battery on the car.
Now, since my son has no license and there is no other place to park the car, there were three consequences. 1- we needed to find out what the problem was so we could correct it. 2 – We needed to start the car (which has not been started for many months) 3- we needed to find a good spot to put the car, with me driving it.
1. On Monday I called ACT Government via Canberra Connect to find out what status this “ranger” had and what we were required to do. I was told it might have been a city ranger. I was unable hold long enough to get onto the rangers at lunchtime. Today, I held on long enough and was told that they have no record of any ranger visiting out address and that they only deal with unregistered vehicles. I was informed that they only pursue unregistered vehicles
2. Given the uncertainty of the situation I decided to take this afternoon off to charge the battery of the car so it could be moved if necessary – only to be confronted with the parking infringement.
3. We considered what could be done. IT is possible that we can park the car in front of the house of a friend – thus transferring the problem to another location but complying with the law as I am now aware of it.
There are some highly dubious things that have happened here.
• Whoever came to the door did so late on a Friday and did not identify themselves in any material way. They left no documentation to say what we needed to do. Instead they left a vague message that there was a problem that “someone” had with the car being where it is and that we needed to shift it.
• Given that the vehicle is only likely to be obstructing my own driveway, it is hard to see how it is obstructing others.
• IT is fully registered and only parked in the same place that many other cars are parked (probably further off the road than others.
• Given that there is no other place to park a car except on the road (which would be legal but stupid to do), there surely would be some time given to us to find storage for the car or arrange for some alternative.
• If there was a matter of moving the car say 1 metre one way or another then it would be helpful to know who it is that needs to not be “obstructed”.
• Why the amazing haste to book the vehicle on Sunday morning after only speaking to someone on the Friday night?
• If this is how things are to be done then what stops a mass campaign of similar things to get all the other cars in the street booked for the same thing? Is it my civic duty to initiate that?
• If anyone had taken a moment to consider the situation, they could immediately recognize that… my son is unlicensed and cannot drive the car on his own, there are no other places for him to park the car except on the street and that this would be a bad option to take, that the slope on the short, curved drive way to the 1 car carport, would make a dangerous place to park a car and finally that for me to park my van in the same place would be worse all round.
• Would the learner plates on the car have given the parking officer a clue as to why the car is not driven regularly? Given that he is doing the right thing by NOT driving it and riding his bike to Uni, what kind of message is this giving to those who choose to avoid waste?
• If the traffic people wished to break from established tradition, surely there should be some scope for discussion about practicalities?
So, can you kindly explain what has happened and why the heavy handed approach? Why on earth was anyone so immensely keen to fine a 19 year old for having his car on a GRAVEL patch in front of his own home?
The response? – Nothing… until there was a summons for my son to defend the “charges” against him in court. This has gone to the ACT Ombudsman.