Tensions over a new freedom camping bylaw look set to escalate with Auckland's Mayor and a City Councillor hashing out their disagreement in a series of open letters.
Late last month Rodney Ward councillor Greg Sayers wrote to Mayor Phil Goff requesting the freedom camping in vehicles bylaw, due to be voted on by councillors this month, be withdrawn and rewritten.
Today, Sayers has rejected a solution suggested by the Mayor earlier in the week which would see the bylaw passed in its current form with work on changes to begin straight away.
Sayers original letter outlined concern that local boards had been given no chance to update their recommendations on which streets and reserves freedom camping should be restricted or prohibited on after receiving feedback from their communities.
Perhaps more far-reaching, were the concerns shared by Sayers and a number of other councillors about the lack of any general rule to prohibit people living in vehicles on residential Auckland streets.
The current bylaw prohibits freedom camping on roadsides and in most of Auckland's public spaces but the proposed new bylaw would open up every residential street for freedom camping for any length of time.
Goff this week responded to the issues outlined in Sayers' open letter, largely in agreement with him.
However, the Mayor was keen to have some form of bylaw in place before summer - the most popular time of year for freedom camping.
In his letter, Goff said: "Provision can, and in my opinion, should have been made for a general rule to cover areas not included in the bylaw schedule or under other Acts. This would restrict freedom camping in other areas to self-contained vehicles for a maximum stay of two nights."
He noted that such a recommendation was made by council staff at a meeting in September but was voted against because of fears it could be used against homeless people rather than freedom campers.
While he believed most councillors would now agree to such a change, there would not be enough time to put such a large change out for public consultation and have it in place before summer.
Any extra areas suggested by local boards would also have to be consulted on and would face similar time constraints.
"This would be unlikely to happen before the end of the year and the Auckland region would be left without any enforceable bylaw restricting freedom camping over the summer season," Goff said.
Instead he suggested the council pass the bylaw later this month, which would see enforceable restrictions on about 400 sites across the city, and then begin the process of consulting the public on changes which would include a general rule and other restricted sites.
But, today Sayers replied to the Mayor saying that if a general rule and consideration of local board suggestions could not be included by the June 27 vote, the decision should be deferred.
"Aucklanders do not want the streets opened up become one giant freedom camping campground. Nor do they expect Auckland Council to strip our reserves of their current protections and suddenly allow freedom camping in them when there are more appropriate sites," he told the Herald.
He did not believe a general rule needed to go out for public submissions since it was already included in existing bylaws.
He also believed there was time to include further feedback from local boards.
However, he said it would be a "false urgency" to rush through the bylaw before summer rather than getting it right the first time.