An Auckland Councillor is "frothing at the mouth" about sprinkler systems designed to deter people from congregating near CBD buildings at night.
The homeless and their advocates say they are designed to keep rough sleepers away by spraying them with water.
Newshub understands the drenching systems have been installed by at least three businesses and a school in the CBD, where about 177 people sleep rough, according to the 2016 Auckland City Street Count.
One of those businesses is private school ACG Senior College. A sign on its porch reads: "This area is now fitted with an automatic washing system 8pm to 6am. Please keep clear."
A council document tabled in September 2015 identifies a sprinkler system outside DataCentre next to Starbucks on Queen St, another system on Fort Lane, and a third outside a CBD carpark.
Auckland Councillor Dr Cathy Casey wants the systems removed.
"What they're actually doing here is putting in defensive architecture that says to the homeless, 'Get out and stay out.' It's not just the homeless, but you and me who want to get out of the rain and just happen to be passing."
She says calling the sprinkler an "automatic washing system" is misleading.
"Sorry, a 'washing'?! Where I come from, you wash with a mop. You don't drench from the ceiling! ... Come on, we are better than that."
In a statement to Newshub, ACG Senior College principal Tracey Dykstra said the system was installed more than five years ago as "a preventative and protective measure to ensure our private property stays clean and inviting for our students and the wider public, and so we can provide a safe and enjoyable learning environment for our students".
The school said it is in "ongoing communication with Auckland Council" about the issue.
Dr Casey says the problems the school and other businesses are experiencing are probably not caused by the homeless, yet it's the homeless who are being affected.
Many CBD businesses are worried about crime issues such as people doing drug deals and drunk men urinating, she said.
Dr Casey has raised the issue several times at Council meetings, with no solution forthcoming. Building owners lawfully occupy the space and have the right to eject or trespass people, the Council's chief operating officer advised her. The conclusion was that it would be unreasonable for the council to take enforcement action.
A man currently sleeping rough near the neighbouring Auckland Central Library told Newshub he believes the sprinklers are for keeping homeless people like him away.
Moira Lawler from homeless advocacy organisation Lifewise said she was disappointed in Senior College.
"Some of the people they want to prevent sleeping in their doorways are the same age as the young people inside their doorways. They could do so much more to have a really meaningful conversation around how they could be part of the solution."
The school said it recognised that there were "a lot of issues around vagrancy and homelessness in the city that are both sad and concerning".
Students have been raising money for Auckland City Mission this year, Ms Dykstra said.
"We hope their efforts may play a small role in alleviating the needs of those people sleeping on the streets."
Not all businesses are carving out a hostile environment for the homeless. Ms Lawler wanted to highlight the work of Auckland Central Library, which runs a book club and movie screenings for homeless. She applauded the service for "showing what's possible if you actually engage".