Today’s Editorial April 28: Clamping hits a nerve

Cabinet Minister Arden McLean said the practice of wheel clamping at commercial buildings has been an issue with him for quite some time, but since he was recently clamped while attending a meeting, the issue has become personal.

It turns out, he’s not alone.

Many other Grand Cayman residents are upset with the practice, thinking it a mere money-making scheme.

There are several issues involved.

First, there’s the issue of why visitors of a building would park in a space designated for someone else. In some cases, it could be the visitors don’t want to walk far, but in other cases it’s simply because there is no other parking available.

Visitor parking at some commercial buildings is limited to just a handful of spaces because the developers have allocated the other spots to tenants.

Certainly tenants expect to have ample parking spaces for their employees, but shouldn’t the clients and customers of those tenants also have access to ample parking?

At one commercial building in George Town, the security guard on site suggests visitors park – illegally – on the side of a secondary road.

The problem is that when developers use the maximum building space allowed by the Development and Planning Law, and create the minimum parking requirements called for by that law, there simply is not enough parking for that building in many cases.

Mr. McLean maintains that developers are only allowed to designate parking spaces created in excess of those required by the Development and Planning Law, but that law doesn’t address the space designation issue.

The other core issue of clamping is whether it’s even legal to do it. Case law in the UK seems to indicate that appropriate warning signage which offers a clear indication of the risk involved in parking a car in a space where it can be clamped is required. In Cayman, some buildings have good warning signage, and others do not.

Cayman’s Legal Department is expected to give an opinion on the subject in the near future.

There’s also the point of the fine for removing the clamp. Fines at some buildings are now charging $75, or triple what the RCIP charges for illegal parking. That is excessive in the eyes of many people.

Developers might think they’re keeping their tenants happy by hiring parking management services to clamp cars, but those tenants aren’t going to stay happy if their irate clients start taking their business elsewhere because they were clamped while visiting those tenants.

Parking is a real problem in Cayman, but perhaps this clamping binge isn’t the way to address that problem.

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