A couple who have been sleeping rough in Stanmore Bay Reserve for several months have been asked to move on by Auckland Council.
Residents noticed the couple sleeping in bush near the sports fields, then setting themselves up at a table, hanging up their washing to dry. On rainy days they move into the changing room in the toilet block.
Residents say they keep to themselves and do not appear to be littering.
Auckland Council is concerned in part because they are using a gas cooker in the bush. They say the situation is rare on the Hibiscus Coast.
A Council staff member who is monitoring the situation says that he believes they are American and consider cleaning the beach to be God’s work.
Last month Council began taking steps to address the situation.
Bylaws and Compliance Norwest team leader, Warwick Robertson, says Council’s approach to such incidents applies a graduated enforcement process, starting with voluntary compliance through advice and education.
“In cases where this cannot be achieved, formal bylaws notices may be issued, individuals may be trespassed, and, as a last resort, people found in breach of the bylaw may be prosecuted in the Auckland District Court,” Mr Robertson says.
He says Council staff have met with the couple to encourage them to get suitable accommodation. “They have been made aware that they cannot live under an awning in the reserve, and that if this does not change, we will assess the need to take further action. The couple are not threatening.”
Auckland Council currently follows legacy council camping bylaws that vary throughout the region. In this area, the former Rodney District Council bylaws apply. These state that people cannot erect any stall, booth, “tent, tree hut, swing or structure of any kind, or live in or use any building, tent, structure or vehicle in any public place without Council consent”.
These legacy bylaws will be replaced by a region-wide Freedom Camping bylaw, to be introduced early next year.
At the end of March, Council said that it is addressing homelessness in Auckland. In its Long Term Plan 2015-2025, $360,000 has been allocated for homeless initiatives each year over the next two years, broken down into $250,000 for provision of emergency housing and $110,000 to support other initiatives. A further $110,000 will go towards homeless initiatives in the third year.
This financial year Council has allocated just over $115,000 to Community Housing Aotearoa to help address the growing demand for emergency housing across the region.