They're impromptu car yards – pop-up car yards – and they're happening on grass verges at various strategic spots around town.
They're the work of private car sellers seeking maximum exposure for their vehicles, with little or no admin and no overheads. It has the advantage of a stream of potential buyers delivered by main roads, roundabouts, intersections and traffic lights.
Simply park your “for sale” vehicle up on the verge, like the one at the Oropi roundabout at the weekend, and wait for your captive audience to ring.
Wait for an offer with minimal effort, no worries.
There's only a couple of provisos. As long as the vehicle is road legal, registered, has a WOF and is parked further than 30 metres from an intersection or prohibited location, then it's legal to display your vehicle for sale.
“Yes, we have had complaints about cars for sale across the city,” a Tauranga City Council spokesperson told The Weekend Sun.
But it's currently not illegal to park a car-for-sale on a grass verge like the one at Oropi. Mostly, that is, because the council does have a schedule of places in the city where it is illegal. More on that in moment.
Pop-up car yards emerged as an issue after The Weekend Sun reported on a bunch of “free-loading freedom campers” who spent Anniversary Day weekend parked up on a grass verge in Poike Road, getting under neighbours' skin in the process.
“You should go down to the Oropi roundabout,” said one resident incensed by The Weekend Sun report. “There's a real story down there.”
Several private vehicle sellers can be seen parked up there each weekend as the roundabout delivers hundreds, perhaps thousands, of potential customers.
Instead of paying for an ad and waiting for the phone to ring, putting it online and waiting for the auction to run or hawking it around car yards and bickering with the sharks, they simply park up on council land, put up a sign with a price, mileage and phone number and wait for the punters.
“Is that legal?” asked our Poike Road resident. “Surely it's a distraction for drivers at a busy intersection? Surely it's dangerous?”
Maybe – but despite those concerns, the council says parking a car for sale on the grass verge by the Oropi roundabout is “currently not illegal.”
That wasn't the case for a Welcome Bay woman who parked her 1997 “for sale” Honda on the fringe of the Johnson Reserve for a couple of mornings.
“I had it for sale on Trade Me, but after seeing cars for sale on verges all over town I thought I would give it a try,” she explains.
“And it was promising. I had a couple of expressions of interest.” Then she was clobbered. She found an official looking note on the windscreen warning her to remove vehicle or be ticketed. She promptly moved it.
Further to those “prohibited areas” mentioned earlier - pursuant to clause 26.1 of the TCC traffic and parking bylaw 2012 - some Tauranga roads, about 30 of them, are “declared to be roads, or parts thereof, where vehicles may not be displayed for sale.”
For example the total length of Elizabeth Street, 15th Avenue, Fraser Street, Girven Road, Grey Street and Harington Street. Examples of the “parts thereof” roads are Cameron Road from the intersection of State Highway 29/Pyes Pa Road to Marsh Street including the CBD, and Devonport Road from 11th Avenue to the Strand.
It's advisable to refer to attachment eight of the traffic and parking bylaws for a schedule of areas where parking up a car for sale is banned.
Looking for a tidy white 1997 Honda Civic VTI-S with one careful lady owner? Have a look around the very unofficial Oropi roundabout car yard this weekend. You'll get $10 change from $4000, but there might be room to haggle.