Waiheke residents say they are frustrated over the time Auckland Transport is taking to deal with abandoned cars left at the side of roads and verges on the island.
“I first rang the council a month ago and then I rang again this week on Monday,” says Elspeth Spence, who has lived on Esslin Road with husband John for 25 years. A white Subaru station wagon with no license plates has occupied the grass outside their home and that of their neighbour since July.
The Spences say they are angry at how long the car has been left unattended by the council, and are clear about what they believe should be done with the vehicle.
“The first time the council person said she would put a note on the parking warden’s desk and leave it with him. When I rang last week she told me that she’d done that, but she assured me it took time. She basically said it couldn’t be moved until they could find the owner, but they’ve taken the number plates off. They’ve taken the wheels off as well.”
“It’s got to be gone! There must be some way they can just dump it in the council yard until they find out more about it.”
Elsewhere on the island, an abandoned Kia has been on the edge of Burrell Road for at least six months. It is dug into the verge side where surfacing work has been completed. Residents report that a council sign, which has now worn away, appeared on the car some months ago stating it would be removed by the end of September.
In total, the Council’s transport CCO has 18 cars currently due for processing across Waiheke.
An Auckland Transport spokesperson points to an average abandonment processing time of 90 days, but says cars left in “remote areas” can “add to the time for removal.” They add that the council’s reasons for leaving cars on roadsides, especially on Waiheke, are financial.
“Storage costs are… carried by Auckland Transport, these costs are $20 per day per vehicle. Most of these, if the vehicle is in sound, safe condition, we will leave kerbside in an unrestricted area until we complete the process and remove the vehicle for dispersal. If we were to uplift all vehicles at the first instance, we could be faced with storage charges of upwards of $160,000 per month. This would not be a prudent use of ratepayers’ money.”
“At any given time we are dealing with approximately 280 cases of abandoned vehicles across Auckland. Disposing of vehicles on the island is also an added expense for us as we have to arrange for a flatbed truck to be transported from Auckland across to the island to bring it to the mainland.”
As far as finding the owner goes, AT are also required by law to take ‘practical steps to identify the owner of the vehicle by reference to chassis numbers or other numbers appearing on the vehicle’ and hold the car for ten days following its removal while advertising in local media.
With local board representatives unable to change AT regulations and have a hand in the issue, Elspeth hopes the council can clear its processing backlog soon.
“It’s an eyesore. They even have problems mowing the grass. We all look after our gardens and kerbs; this completely goes against that.” • Richard Jones