Mindless parking warden droogery in a quake-hit city

I posted last week about the way central Wellington had quietened after the July earthquake.

The dis-assembled crane in Luke's Lane - filling the lane - with the teetering lift shaft and 30-ton slab atop visible behind, propped up by another crane. Funny, why haven't the parking wardens ticketed the crane?

The dis-assembled crane in Luke’s Lane – filling the lane – with the teetering lift shaft and 30-ton slab atop visible behind, near the boom of another crane. Click to enlarge.

I think it was largely because the two largest central city parking buildings had been shut down – and parking in the streets is a lottery in the face of the Wellington City Council’s parking enforcers –  whose mind set, to me, was summed up when they deployed a spy car whose occupants intimidated motorists and issued tickets to drivers for ‘parking offences’ while they were actually on the road, waiting to turn left.

An earthquake emergency, it seems, makes no difference. Here are photos I took on Monday of Luke’s Lane, where an external lift shaft adjacent to one of the parking buildings was left unsafe in the 6.5 magnitude July quake. The 6.6 magnitude shake of Friday 16 August finished the job; it was at high risk of collapse, urgent demolition indicated. One of the biggest mobile cranes in the country was brought up from the South Island – with the help of 10 flatbed trailers and prime-movers – to remove a 30-ton slab of concrete at the top of the collapsing shaft, as the first stage of the demolition process.

Meanwhile a security company was asked to keep the public out of the lane over the weekend. While they were doing it, the Council’s parking enforcers ticketed their vehicles.

Man, that crane is one big sucker.

Man, the boom alone fills the lane – now waiting for the rest of the crane to arrive.

The Council admitted that the incident was over the top, but you have to wonder about the corporate culture that cultivated this mind set in the first place.

What would happen if the guards weren’t there and the slab fell? You can imagine it crushing some passing pedestrian – and the corpse being found next day with infringement notice taped to the forehead for loitering in a legal roadway.

Reducto ad absurdium? Maybe.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013

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11 comments on “Mindless parking warden droogery in a quake-hit city

  1. mentisfugit says:

    Has anyone actually established what the lift shaft in question was for? It doesn’t “belong” to the building it’s attached to, from what I’ve read.
    As for why there should be a 30-ton slab of concrete perched atop it, that’s easy. It’s to keep the rain off, obviously.

    • Yeah, I never knew why it was there – structurally, it seems, an add-on to the parking building it was serving. Possibly something to do with the hotel? And slightly worrisome that a quake well below the ‘big one’ – well below, in fact, what most of these modern structures are supposed to be stressed for – damaged it to the point of near-collapse.

      • mentisfugit says:

        That will simply be because the lift shaft is never intended to stand on its own. Without a surrounding structure it is not merely pointless and useless, but vulnerable.

  2. ernestwhile says:

    It’s somewhat comforting to know that parking enforcement is the same on the other side of the world.

    I find it particularly aggravating in NYC that we call them the “Traffic Division”, yet they will not pursue or intervene against unsafe drivers, choosing instead to ticket parked cars, which cannot yell at them and hurt their feelings.

    • Yeah, they all seem to have much the same repute. The Wellington ones are known to be particularly bad against the usual NZ standards though. The irony ofthe lift shaft problem is that this lane is right by their main office. They didn’t have to go far to find targets. And when I looked today, the safety perimeter was blocking access to their door.

  3. KokkieH says:

    Don’t you think those parking wardens maybe work on commission? That would explain why they’re so eager to write tickets because I can’t believe anyone in law enforcement is that committed to their duty.

    • I think they have quotas – not sure. It’s driven from the top – the Wellington City Council has parking infringement revenues, proportionally, well in excess of any other New Zealand city. They issue around 250,000 tickets annually in the central city, which amounts to about one for every man, woman and child in the Wellington-Hutt area. Some of these tickets are fair cop, but innocent victims of warden zealousness have to negotiate the Summary Proceedings Act 1957 in order to exercise their rights to fair process of law – and it’s pretty daunting.

  4. I like the idea of blocking the City Council’s entrance. Perhaps dropping the slab in front of the door might motivate the Council to waive the tickets.

  5. With any luck it would have fallen on parking enforcement’s vehicle. While they had stepped out to ticket someone, because I don’t wish them bodily harm. Just an ironic dose of justice.

    • That’s exactly what happened to the ‘automatic-guilt’ camera car, metaphorically…the Council kept losing court cases brought by aggrieved and innocent motorists, all of whom could show they had been wrongfully accused, and they finally had to take it off the street. The weight of justice prevailed (yay!). As far as I can tell it hasn’t stopped the intolerant guilt-on-existence attitude of the Enforcers (boo!). Serious problems with corporate culture, methinks.

      I went down a day or two back to check out the demolition – impressive bit of heavy engineering, because they had to winkle this huge crane into a space barely big enough for the crane alone – then get the lift shaft lowered without banging the load into neighbouring buildings. The funny thing is, the lift shaft probably had a function once upon a time, but nobody seems to be able to remember when it was last used or what it was for..

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