Wollongong's beaches should automatically be classed as full every Sunday, one Wollongong councillor says, as the city grapples with growing congestion and a lack of parking along its coastline.
In a debate over whether overhead electronic signage should be used to tell motorists when northern suburbs roads and beach car parks are full, Labor councillor Janice Kershaw indicated Sundays should be off limits for out of town visitors.
"I think that the signs should automatically on Sundays say all of our beaches are full," she said, to laughter from other councillors.
"Bellambi has over 100 nippers and every Sunday the car park is at capacity and they're parked down the streets and everywhere else.
"Every club in the Illawarra has nippers on Sunday morning. And the majority of people drive because they've got all the equipment and they stay a bit longer and enjoy their time at the beach."
"Every beach that's patrolled in this city is maxed out on Sunday. So I know everyone laughed, but on Sunday mornings up until about lunch time all of the beaches car parks are full. We've got no room at the inn for people from outside the city."
"Our residents can't use their own beach... we've got a huge issue that is just going to get worse and worse."
Councillors voted unanimously to approach Transport NSW and ask them if it is possible to use the signs to indicate traffic levels, travel times and parking availability this summer, which is expected to be busier than usual due to restricted travel opportunities.
This is particularly a problem in the northern suburbs, which become gridlocked with traffic or parked cars on weekends.
However, Greens councillor Mithra Cox said the council should avoid the "ugly tendency" of suggesting beaches were for locals only.
"I don't think that we're full, and I think that we can still be welcoming to visitors in our city," she said.
"There is an ugly tendency I have heard from some of our residents to want to make the beaches for the exclusive use of locals only and I think we need to be really careful not to fall into that trap.
"Our beaches are free for anybody to use, including people from Western Sydney. It is very hot if you live in western Sydney, people live there because they can't afford a house near the beach, and they have just as much right to come to the beach and have a swim on a Sunday as anybody else."
She suggested the council should examine its "car dependency" problem, noting there was plenty of space on beaches but that different ways of travelling were needed.
"Canberra has a system where they have buses to the snowfields for the day," she said, suggesting the council could run buses for people from Fairfield, Liverpool and Campbelltown to visit the beach in Wollongong for the day.
"There is plenty of room for people to swim - we need to find ways for people to get there."