A registered charity under investigation by Auckland Council has been ordered to stop charging motorists for parking in Parnell or risk fines or prosecution.
But the Blind Foundation has hit back, saying it is not using the car park for commercial purposes and has therefore done nothing wrong.
The Weekend Herald revealed that the Blind Foundation had purchased an $8 million Parnell Rd property in 2017, then bulldozed the century-old house and turned the site into a car park.
The purchase and subsequent demolition has raised questions about whether a charity that received about $27m last year in donations should be involved in property development and whether more of its income should be spent on the blind.
The foundation owns nearly $100m of investment property, much of it in Parnell.
Blind Foundation spokeswoman Louise von Sierakowski told the Herald the $8m purchase - nearly twice the property's current CV - made commercial sense.
It consolidated ownership of the full block the foundation had owned for 130 years, adding value and enabling it to better maximise its wider property, including for blind services.
After being alerted to the car park, Auckland Council launched an investigation last month. Though the foundation sought necessary demolition permits, it had not applied for resource consent to operate a commercial car park, the council said.
A sign on the site says car parks can be leased. The Herald understands Blind Foundation parking is available for $55 a week.
Auckland Council compliance investigations team manager Kerri Ferguson said the council had now issued the property owner - Foundation Properties Ltd - with an abatement notice for allegedly operating an unconsented parking lot.
A council investigation found "visible signs advertising car parking for a fee".
"Consequently an abatement notice was delivered to the property owners last week.
"The abatement notice requires the property owner to stop charging members of the public to park their vehicles at the address. The owner now has until 1 November 2019 to comply and if the conditions aren't met an infringement notice may be issued."
The notice says the foundation could face daily infringement notices if it failed to comply or prosecution under the Resource Management Act.
Von Sierakowski previously told the Herald the site was not being used as a commercial car park so did not require council consent.
"The sign about leasing relates to other car parks around the broader precinct, and on reflection could be taken down if it is confusing.
"The site is being used by Auckland Council as temporary car parks until 19th August, due to seismic upgrading of the Jubilee Hall which has disrupted usual parking. It is also being used by some Blind Foundation staff."
The foundation declined to comment directly today. But its PR firm Pead PR issued a statement on behalf of Terra Firma property company, which manages the foundation-owned block.
"Members of the public are not being charged to park their vehicles at 537 Parnell Rd."
The statement did not say whether the foundation planned to contest the council notice.
Fergusson told the Herald compliance staff were not aware of parking arrangements related to Jubilee Hall, "however we will contact the property owners to discuss this further".
"If the property owners believe the abatement notice is unjustified they can lodge an appeal by contacting the compliance investigator whose details are on the notice."
The Blind Foundation provides a range of services to thousands of sight-impaired New Zealanders, including library services, guide dogs, braille, education and financial support.
It earned $41m last year - most of which came from the generosity of New Zealanders.
The abatement notice follows action by Auckland Council against Remuera real estate agent Mark Sumich last month.
Sumich tore down two neighbouring homes on Remuera Rd and replaced them with an 18-space commercial car park.
But he failed to obtain the necessary resource consent and was issued with an abatement notice.
Sumich has till October 11 to comply.