Residents whose cars have been trapped inside a garage for days due to a construction blunder say they still have no idea when they can access their vehicles again, with those locked out clocking up hundreds of dollars worth of fines from being forced to park on the street.
Over 120 motorists in Melbourne have been told they can't access their cars, that are parked in a residential St Kilda garage, in the city's southeast. The infuriating situation occurred after contractors conducting routine maintenance cut through the concrete on the carpark ramp earlier this week, rendering it unsuitable to drive on.
Residents fume as cars trapped
Now, three days after the stuff-up, people say they still don't know when they'll be able to use the facility again, and those that do have access to their cars have been forced to resort to street parking — a choice that's proven costly for many.
When seeking temporary parking permits, council knocked affected residents back.
One woman claimed her partner even had to cancel jobs.
"My partner's car is inside, he actually runs a small business, so he's actually had to cancel a few jobs this week, because he just can't get his equipment around," resident Kaitlyn told A Current Affair.
Hundreds already attracted in fines
Another said he'd totalled $120 in parking fines, on top of the $45 already paid for street parking.
"They just keep on coming around and giving more fines," resident Sach said, adding he's forced to move his car every few hours in an attempt to avoid a fine.
One woman who is new to the area said people are confused and frustrated.
"As you can see it's 8 o'clock in the morning, we're all coming downstairs to check if we have parking fines overnight," Maria Ktori, who also attracted a $96 fine said. "We're not sure how that even happened why they were there cutting on a driveway.
"I went to City of Port Phillip yesterday to pick up a temporary permit, they wouldn't give us one. We have no idea when this is going to end."
According to council, there are already "more permits issued than available parking bays", so despite "feeling for the residents of the Fitzroy Street apartment building", they won't be stepping in to intervene or issuing temporary permits.
Council weighs in
Port Phillip City Council Mayor Heather Cunsolo said those fined can lodge an appeal, but stopped short of waiving them on the spot. "We can't simply waive them, that's part of the state government regulations on how we're allowed to address these, but this situation can be taken into consideration," she said.
"The owners corporation needs to take into consideration people have been displaced by this situation and pay for it."
Port Phillip Council said in a statement the body corporate needs to take ownership of the issue.
"Ultimately this issue is for the building's body corporate, which hired the contractor, to resolve," a spokesperson said.
"As we understand the stress being experienced by residents, however, we want to do everything possible to assist at this difficult time. Unfortunately, issuing temporary parking permits to the affected residents would only cause further problems and be unfair to eligible residents who have paid for permits.
"Demand for parking in this area will be even more sought after this weekend due to several events attracting visitors to Fitzroy Street. This means even if residents receive temporary parking permits, they might not find a spot or could be taking a spot from a resident with a paid permit.
"This is why we have reached each out to the body corporate to help them contact nearby commercial off-street parking operations to quickly arrange alternate parking for their residents."
The spokesperson added the unique situation will be "taken into account" should people contest fines.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.