Should you be fined for parking on the nature strip, even if you’re doing it to avoid problems for other people using the road?
That’s the question facing Palmerston resident Kris Pattiselanno, who was handed a council warning notice for parking on the verge in front of his house.
He shares the house with family members in a narrow cul-de-sac and each of them drive their own car.
The warning notice means he now takes the cars inside.
But the problem, he said, was that other people had begun to park their cars on the narrow street.
“You put another six cars at the end of the court and no-one with a boat trailer, a work trailer, a garbage truck, an ambulance can get in,” he told ABC Radio Darwin‘s Adam Steer.
“You’ve got to do more than a three-point turn to turn around.”
According to listeners, the problem isn’t unusual.
“Our street is a shocker, especially the idiots on the bottom corner just lately.” — Wendy
“We’ve got big issues on our nature strip area. Gone beyond a joke now … it’s become a safety issue.” — Angela
“I will always park on the nature strip in front of my house … there’s no footpath. They don’t mow it or maintain it in any way, why would they care? Another revenue stream?” — Lenny
But the council said residents could be putting themselves up for an infringement notice if they continued to park there.
City of Darwin says it takes a semi-flexible approach to infringements on busy suburban streets. (ABC Radio Darwin: Jesse Thompson)
‘It’s in the road rules’
City of Palmerston chief executive Luccio Cercarelli denied his team had been cracking down on verge parking in Mr Pattiselanno’s street.
Instead, he said they had been acting on a complaint.
“We act, generally, on complaint or by observation where we believe that pedestrian movement is hindered or there’s damage being caused to the assets or that it’s an unsafe situation,” he said.
“I understand that we didn’t issue fines; we issued warning notices to cars in this particular cul-de-sac.”
One listener said they believed exceptions were in place to accommodate their own suburb’s narrow streets.
“We have lived in Bakewell for over 20 years and were told there were exemptions in place due to roads not being wide enough.” — Nicky
Another said they believed it came down to the road rules.
“Yes, it is a road rule that you cannot park on the nature strip. Generally, I don’t believe it’s heavily enforced and is dealt with on a complaint basis,” James said.
“A cul-de-sac should be able to allow a service vehicle [garbage truck] to make a manoeuvre safely.”
Mr Cercarelli agreed: “It’s an Australian road rule; it’s not a council rule.”
“We do have a by-law that supplements it, but it is an Australian road rule that falls under the Traffic Act.”
According to the Australian Road Rules, a driver “must not stop on a bicycle path, footpath, shared path or dividing strip, or a nature strip adjacent to a length of road in a built-up area”, unless they are permitted to by parking controls or the local jurisdiction.
City of Darwin has previously said it tried to take a “semi-flexible approach” to enforcing parking regulations, particularly in narrow suburban streets.
How frequently those rules are enforced is another question.
“It’s always a fine balance between the needs of vehicles and parking, and balancing the other uses such as pedestrians and people walking through the streets and achieving landscaping and the like,” Mr Cercarelli said.
“The problem is that the nature strip is there for a number of uses, not just for parking vehicles.”