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Sydney start-up in bizarre car parking fight with WA mayor

Friday, 24 August 2012 | By Michelle Hammond

The creator of an online car parking marketplace has vowed to fight for the survival of his seven-month-old website, amid calls from a WA mayor for the site to be brought down.


ParkingMadeEasy.com.au, launched in February by Sydney entrepreneur Daniel Battaglia, enables people to rent out unused driveways, garages and parking spaces.


Battaglia became inspired to launch the site after struggling to find a car park in Sydney.


“I used to love having a car and the freedom it gave me – going to Bondi to enjoy the beach, visiting mates in Paddington and having somewhere to park my car long term in Darlinghurst,” Battaglia says on his website.


“But in the past couple of years, a few things have changed. Parking is now really hard to find and it’s usually pretty expensive too – plus there is that constant worry of getting a parking fine.”


“After being so frustrated and fed up with parking restrictions in Sydney, I decided to do something about it.”


“ParkingMadeEasy.com.au is an online car parking marketplace where people can rent unused driveways, garages and parking spaces.”


“The website connects people who have an unused driveway or garage with drivers who need parking… The website features an online availability calendar, PayPal payments and reviews.”


ParkingMadeEasy is used by more than 700 drivers across all major Australian cities.


But Max Hipkins, mayor of the City of Nedlands in Perth, is seeking advice to bring down the website, over concerns about the legalities of verge rental.


Because verges in Nedlands are the property of the city, Hipkins said profiting from their rental is “illegal”.


He went on to argue that people renting out private driveways would require local government planning approval, as they were effectively running businesses without permits.


But he also told ABC Radio in Perth he would not allow such permits to be granted.


Battaglia told StartupSmart he is prepared to fight any action brought against him or his business.


“I’ll fight it. I’ve been in touch with one lawyer and he’s said, ‘Let’s go – whenever you’re ready’,” Battaglia says.


“I’ve been working on this since February. There’s been a lot of sweat and a few drops of blood as well.”


“This is the only thing I do – I don’t take days off. This is my baby and there’s a lot more to it than the website as well.”


Battaglia says he has doubts about the true motive behind Hipkins’ actions.


He says: “He’s come up with a bunch of reasons [as to why he wants the site brought down]… He doesn’t want truck marks on the lawn, it’s illegal, etc. But I think he’s skirting around the issue.”


Battaglia says he never anticipated any hostility towards his business.


“The way I see it, it’s a win-win for home owners and drivers. UCLA has done a study on cruising for parking, and found people spend up to 30 minutes looking for parking,” he says.


“The benefits of reserving a parking space ahead of time include reducing carbon emissions.”