Auckland Council adopted new freedom camping bylaws that will come into effect from September 1.
Along with 13 new prohibited freedom camping areas, the bylaw also clarifies rules around the the definition of ‘certified self-contained vehicle’, a no return period of two weeks and maximum stay on Waiheke Island.
Under the bylaw council will also be able to fine freedom campers $200 for breaching the bylaws.
Previously council had to go through lengthy court proceedings to prosecute for bylaw breaches.
Regulatory committee chair Linda Cooper presented the The Freedom Camping in Vehicles Bylaw 2022 at the Governing Body meeting on June 23.
Cooper said work on freedom camping bylaws had been underway for the past six years.
“This will enable responsible freedom camping to take place in Auckland,” Cooper said.
Cooper said that the bylaws were not about the public disliking freedom campers on their street but providing clear rules to follow.
“As long as people are not breaking the rules but if they are causing an absolutely nuisance we do rely on the public. We know our public, they will ring up.”
Independent Māori Statutory Board member Glenn Wilcox has been involved with work on the bylaws for the past six years.
In the beginning, Wilcox said it was not a big issue for Auckland.
Since then issues like homelessness or fuel price rises have had strong impacts on the number of people living in cars, he said.
“This is a very dynamic issue and it might change in a couple years.”
Cr Greg Sayers was concerned that freedom campers could circulate in one area.
“There is potential for someone to own a vehicle 365 days a year to freedom camp in one localised area,” Sayers said.
The bylaws allow for a two night stay in at a freedom camping site which Sayers said he preferred a one night option instead.
Cr John Watson said freedom camping had been a big issue in the Albany ward.
“A number of these people turning up, they are not poor people. They are turning up with jet skis,” Watson said.
“People are becoming more brazen. Let us hope this will help to stop what is generally anti-social behaviour.”
Mayor Phil Goff said it was a balancing act between the freedoms of campers with the needs of locals.
“Councils that have been overly restrictive have had their bylaws overturned,” he said.
“We also need to have access to infringement fines rather that prosecution. That will be a big step forward.”
While the adoption of the bylaw was carried, Cr John Watson, Greg Sayers, Wayne Walker and Sharon Stewart voted against a recommendation that said the bylaw was the most appropriate and proportionate way of addressing freedom camping problems.