A Sydney council has vowed to protect locals-only parking along the streets of a ritzy seaside suburb — an area known for having one of the most prime harbour views — despite copping heated backlash from visitors.
Camp Cove Beach, at Watsons Bay, is located adjacent to Sydney Harbour National Park and has long been a sought-after destination for both tourists and locals alike. With people travelling from all over to visit, Woollahra Council says it's forced some residents out of the suburb when trying to park, despite many having their own off-street car spaces.
The streets, that attract huge volumes of tourists in the summer months in particular, are lined with “no parking – permit holders excepted” signage, meaning that all 70 of the estimated available spots are only available for residents.
'Unique' area with congested traffic conditions
Despite legal advice warning the council that it may be unlawful to impose such restrictions on public land, officials remain adamant that they will do "everything in our power to listen to the residents and deliver on their needs".
“This area is very unique. There is no other area within Woollahra that has to deal with the challenges that it deals with. It’s one way in, one way out," Mayor Susan Wynne said, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. According to the publication, the area's current parking laws have been in place since 1975.
After a jam-packed meeting on Monday night to discuss the issue, locals voted to seek further legal advice to "protect" the streets, keeping them exclusive.
Locals back exclusive access
One Watsons Bay resident, fed-up with the traffic, has described trying to find a park in the area on busy days as a major "struggle".
“Having lived in the area for 20 years, the parking struggle has become really difficult as the beach became super popular in the last few years," the local woman told Yahoo News Australia.
"We often find ourselves circling endlessly trying to find a parking spot anywhere near our house."
While the idea has been welcomed by the vast majority of those living in the area, others have been vocal about their opposition. Online, many have criticised the move, accusing Woollahra Council of gatekeeping the popular spot ahead of what's expected to be an especially busy summer period with above-average temperatures.
Visitors hit back
The ongoing closure of nearby Shark Beach and Nielsen Park, where the seawall is being rebuilt, is also expected to exacerbate traffic levels, as swimmers flock to alternative spots. Some online had suggested a system be put in place as seen at other popular NSW beaches, where visitors are afforded timed parking — normally around two hours — with locals allowed permanent access.
"Yes, we’d all like 24-hour, 7-day a week parking — but it's not right! Timed parking is fair for all," a furious woman wrote on Facebook. "Why can’t these idiots finish Shark Beach immediately," a man said.
"Almost nothing is being done each week I go there. Not a difficult job at all. Further, why smash it up in the first place with beautiful antiques and stone blocks now gone missing."
"Ahh, Sydney and their bloody parking," said a man, while another pointed to additional public transport to combat the issue. "The locals should push for more frequent public transport during the warmer months. Encouraging people to get there by bus would be a better outcome for all," a man said.
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