City of Melville’s verge ban drives residents mad

Clinton Cheng (in mirror), and Kirit and Kalpana Naik.
Clinton Cheng (in mirror), and Kirit and Kalpana Naik.

A GROUP of Mt Pleasant residents forbidden from parking on their own verges have accused the City of Melville of going to extraordinary lengths to justify a flawed decision.

Ten Reynolds Road homes are affected by the ban, which came into effect in November last year after one resident complained that a car regularly parked on Kirit Naik’s verge obstructed their line of sight, making it dangerous to reverse out of their driveway.

The nine other affected households all oppose the blanket restrictions, which were imposed without any consultation and despite the fact a vehicle parked in the contentious spot is fully compliant with the Australian road standard for sight lines.

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Mr Naik only discovered his car was not in breach of official sight line regulations in February, at which point the City commissioned an independent report on the issue.

Using more stringent criteria, the $660 report recommended retaining the verge parking prohibition even though the new line of sight requirement barely crossed the outermost corner of where Mr Naik’s car used to be parked.

Adding to Mr Naik’s frustration is the fact he has repeatedly expressed a willingness to park his car parallel rather than perpendicular to the road, an option first suggested by a City officer in September 2015.
“We received a letter notifying us of the City’s intent to impose verge parking restrictions in early September 2015, at which point I invited a City officer to my home to assess the situation,” Mr Naik said.

“He recommended parking my car parallel to the road between an existing verge tree and my property boundary, which I agreed to.”

Mr Naik notified the City of his intent to comply in writing but received no response and a later plea to officially mediate the compromise between the complainant and himself also went unanswered.

Instead, signs indicating the new restrictions were installed in November 2015 and Mr Naik and his neighbours have been trying unsuccessfully to appeal the decision since then.

“It appears the other properties affected have had these parking restrictions imposed to preserve an illusion of impartiality,” Mr Naik said.

“No sight line testing has occurred besides from the complainant’s driveway towards my house so I don’t see how a blanket ban can be justified.

“Where my house is concerned, a car parked in the verge spot is compliant with the relevant road standard but regardless I have agreed to park horizontally rather than vertically so I can’t understand why the City refuses to review these restrictions.

“Especially as the independent report agrees that my, car when parked parallel to the road, does not pose any sight line issue.”

WHAT THE CITY SAYS

MELVILLE chief executive Shayne Silcox ruled out reversing the parking restrictions under any circumstances.

He said a combination of parked vehicles along a vertically curved road alignment and horizontal bend created a safety issue by restricting visibility for motorists trying to exit their homes.

“Parking restrictions were applied following an assessment by both City officers and an independent consultant, who found that when a car is parked perpendicular to the road it blocks the sight distance for vehicles exiting adjacent properties,” Dr Silcox said.

“There is a constant 300m (approximate) curve radius and therefore sight line restrictions are similar for all properties, which means parking restrictions are needed along the full extent of that stretch of Reynolds Road.”

Although sight lines are acceptable under the relevant Australian road standard, Dr Silcox said they were not compliant with standards as assessed by City officers and as such the dispute was a safety issue with priority given to protecting the community.

Dr Silcox also refuted claims of an agreement between Mr Naik and a City officer to resolve the issue by parking his car parallel to the road.

“There was no agreement,” he said.

“When reviewing the restrictions due to the complaints, it was noted that while Mr Naik himself could agree to park parallel to the road there is no way to ensure his visitors or anyone else would do the same, and the safety issue of a lack of sight distance would still exist.”

WHAT AFFECTED RESIDENTS SAY

The complainant: The verge parking restrictions has greatly improved the safety of our own family, friends and visitors exiting our property. Any ongoing inconvenience in complying with these restrictions is secondary to the added safety of lives. The City’s action has vastly improved the situation but still requires the cooperation of all residents.

Clinton Cheng: This decision has just been dumped on us with no consultation at all. Like most people, occasionally I have visitors who need to park on the verge and they are no longer able to do so legally. Because of the total lack of communication I don’t really understand the safety rationale – if the City is really concerned about the safety of residents reversing out of their driveways why not install speed bumps or an island to reduce the speed of traffic?

Lynley McKernan: Before buying my property in the late 1990s these kind of verge parking restrictions were exactly the kind of thing I was looking to avoid – if I knew the City had any intention of doing this I would have built my house further back on the lot. My elderly parents, who are both frail, now have to park up to 200m away if they want to visit me. For the City to take such a hard line about safety when there has not been an accident caused by the supposed sight line issue seems bizarre.

TIMELINE OF EVENTS

September 7, 2015: With no prior consultation, affected residents receive letters advising of City of Melville proposal to restrict verge parking along a stretch of Reynolds Road as the result of a safety complaint from one resident. The complaint relates to a car that has been routinely parked in a verge parking spot at Kirit Naik’s house since 2009.

September 10, 2015: Six of the ten affected homeowners/residents sign a letter protesting the restrictions. They receive no response. Three of the remaining four homeowners/residents have since also protested the restrictions.

September 11, 2015: A City officer visits Mr Naik’s home and suggests he parks the contentious car parallel rather than perpendicular to the road, eliminating the sight line issue. Mr Naik agrees and writes to the City signaling his intent to comply but receives no response.

October 16, 2015: Affected residents receive letters advising of City of Melville decision to proceed with verge and road parking restrictions.

October 23, 2015: Mr Naik rings a City officer to question the outcome given he is now parking parallel to the road. He suggests the City officer visit his house to assess the new parking setup and facilitate a discussion with the original complainant. The City officer agrees but never follows through.

November, 2015: The City imposes the verge parking restrictions and signs are installed.

January, 2016: After returning from a holiday, Mr Naik contacts the City to question why verge parking restrictions were imposed given his prior conversations with City officers. The City’s only response is “safety.”

February, 2016: Mr Naik discovers the original complainant’s sight line is fully compliant with the relevant road standard (AS/NZS 2890.1:2004) even when his car is parked on the verge perpendicular to the road. The City subsequently commissions an independent safety review report that uses more stringent sight line criteria. Using the new criteria, Mr Naik’s verge-parked car only just impedes the required sight line. The report recommends upholding the restrictions.

May, 2016: A meeting between Mr Naik and Melville chief executive Shayne Silcox does nothing to resolve the situation. Dr Silcox recommends Mr Naik take any subsequent complaints to the ombudsman.