You can't park here, mayor tells entrepreneur
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, parkingmadeeasy.com.au 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 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."
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