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You can't park here, mayor tells entrepreneur

Nedlands mayor Max Hipkins argues Daniel Battaglia's online business is 'legally questionable'.

Nedlands mayor Max Hipkins argues Daniel Battaglia's online business is 'legally questionable'.

A Sydney entrepreneur has attracted an unusual foe in a West Australian mayor who claims the website creator's online driveway rental market is destroying his city's verges.

Although they've never spoken, creator Daniel Battaglia has attracted the ire of City of Nedlands mayor Max Hipkins, who claims his website has been encouraging Nedlands residents to rent out not only their own driveways, but the verge parking outside their houses.

Mr Hipkins said he believes both practices are legally questionable and has sought advice to bring down the website, which he claims has cluttered up the residential streets of Nedlands, provoking letters of concern from locals.

Not in my town ... Nedlands mayor wants to stop residents renting council verges, driveways and garages for out of town ...

Not in my town ... Nedlands mayor wants to stop residents renting council verges, driveways and garages for out of town parkers.

But for Mr Battaglia the mayor's threats are not simply about parking.

They're not even just about his fledgling online business - for him the battle has become about "freedom".

Mr Battaglia couldn’t find a car park when trying to visit a friend in the Sydney suburb of Paddington early this year. When he saw countless empty driveways the seed for a Gumtree-style driveway rental website was planted.

The site was launched in February and is now used by more than 700 drivers across all major Australian cities.

Although Fairfax Media found one advertisement on the website for two verge car parks in Nedlands at a rate of $85 per month, Mr Battaglia said verge rental was not what his site was designed for and not a practice he encouraged.

Because verges in Nedlands are the property of the city, Mr Hipkins said profiting from their rental was "illegal".He went on to argue that people renting out private driveways would require local government planning approval, as they were effectively running businesses without permits.

But the mayor also told ABC Radio in Perth he would not allow such permits to be granted.

"We haven’t faced that application yet but I expect that we might start getting them…my personal view is that we should just knock back the applications," he said.

The mayor conceded there was a serious lack of parking in Nedlands, but said it was the WA government's fault and responsibility to fix – in tandem with the local University of Western Australia.

Mr Battaglia defended his website, saying it was simply an "online car parking market place where people can rent their own driveway and garage".

"I thought it’s a win-win because they can find parking everywhere and when they need it and homeowners can find a little extra money," he said.

"It might only be $50 or $70 a week but it will still help pay the grocery bills."

The Darlinghurst resident said he had not been approached directly by the City of Nedlands nor its mayor, rather he had been notified of the issue by a Perth journalist seeking his response to the mayor's complaints on ABC radio.

"I don't think people should be profiteering from council property either, but he's gone beyond that," Mr Battaglia said.

"He's just gone out and completely blasted the whole concept about garages and driveways.

"I've gotten so many emails from Perth residents telling me about parking problems in Subiaco and the CBD."

The City of Nedlands planning regulations, which fall under the WA Planning Act, do appear to require home businesses to seek planning approval from the city.

But whether renting a driveway out for $85 a month classifies as a "business" under the act would, be a matter for legal debate.

Mr Battaglia said although his business was still small it had attracted a lot of support from the community and he was confident he could find the resources needed to fight the City of Nedlands should its mayor move to shut his site down.

"I have had enormous support from the community in general and I've got a couple of lawyers I've approached that have helped me get the business off the ground," he said.

"Yes it's about parking, but it's about a lot more than that as well."

54 comments so far

  • Two issues; owners needs to declare earnings. Insurance will not cover any damage either. As much as I have sympathy for Daniel, he really is naive (and his "customers" too) that it's as simple as to rent out your driveway. I think he's also more than a little opportunistic

    Date and time
    August 23, 2012, 8:56AM
    • Watcher - well of course they are all naive, this is Australia after all. How could anybody think they could simply lease out THEIR OWN driveway to someone else for a fee, without breaching some sort of petty rule, restriction, ordinance or unecessary red tape? Heaven forbid Aussie children being afforded any entrepreneurial freedom or being allowed to enjoy their own property without some interfering "official" sticking their nose into things. Pretty soon we're going to need to be issued with licences before getting out of bed in the morning in this pathetic country.

      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 1:04PM
    • Opportunities is what creates entrepreneurship, and that is exactly what Daniel is, a smart young individual who has seen a massive gap in a market and addressed it. All business is about being opportunistic, without it, there would be a distinct lack of success.

      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 1:14PM
    • I agree that it should be declared as income like any property rent, but opportunistic! You mean like many of the local councils that charges exorbitant fees to park on the side of an otherwise public road. On top of that, they increase the number of hours when they can charge you.

      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 2:28PM
    • And, why is this any different to people that live in an apartment in the city that comes with a car space that they don't need and choose to rent it out.

      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 2:33PM
  • The local council and government always love to get their nose and grubby hands on money they don't deserve. If the website solves a problem and is a win-win situation, I don't see why they should get involved.

    Date and time
    August 23, 2012, 9:04AM
    • Yep. It does seem like a win win doesn't it. Good for the home owner, good for the driver, good for the the local businesses, good for pedestrians.

      As long as the drivers are parking responsibly then it's great.

      I see too many people park in their driveway with their boot sticking out into the pavement. I really hope people start vandalising such cars.

      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 2:43PM
  • Of course the council would be opposed to this idea. They'd much rather be collecting parking fees and fine revenues for themselves.

    To suggest that one person letting another use their parking space for a nominal fee is running a "business" shows they're really clutching at straws.

    One Way
    Date and time
    August 23, 2012, 9:04AM
    • Not to mention they'll be missing out on a tidy revenue stream (Parking fines).

      G.L. Higginbottom
      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 1:11PM
  • The mayor is not the owner of the land and does not dictate what people can and cannot use their land for, his role is to be an administrator. Perhaps the issue needs to be put to a vote of residents.

    Date and time
    August 23, 2012, 9:05AM

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