Car clamped in street

Move was legal, police say

Lisa Turner was enjoying a nice dinner at Casanova’s restaurant last Thursday night when she came out to find her car had been clamped.

It was 10pm and no one was around.

Ms Turner’s vehicle had been parked next to the curb just outside the Strathvale House building on North Church Street across from Rackam’s Pub on the George Town waterfront. The building has an inlet parking area in front of it so cars can pull up without blocking the street.

When she went into the restaurant around 7.45pm she believed there wouldn’t be a problem leaving the car there until she finished dinner.

‘At a quarter to 10 at night, I’m not taking someone’s spot,’ Ms Turner said.

However, unbeknownst to her, she was parking on private property and the attendant who clamped both her front and back wheel on the driver’s side of the car had every legal right to do so.

The incident highlights what is a little known fact about driving, and parking, in Cayman.

If your vehicle is left on private property its wheels can legally be clamped as long as the property owner and the person who clamped it meet certain conditions.

First, there has to be a plainly visible warning sign informing drivers that the area is private and their cars will be towed.

The release fee charged by the clamper must be reasonable and once paid, the vehicle must be released without delay. There also must be a way for the person whose car was clamped to contact the clamper.

Ms Turner said she was not aware of the signs outside the Strathvale House building but police later said that signage is there and is appropriate.

What police were unaware of at first is that the particular curb-side area of the street is zoned as private property and is not part of the public right-of-way.

The parking attendant who had clamped Ms Turner’s car arrived on the scene around 10.45pm Thursday and argued with Royal Cayman Islands Police officers that he did have the right to disable the vehicle. Officers told Ms Turner they would look into the matter the next day.

”You’re clamped because it’s private property,” Ms Turner quoted the attendant as saying. ‘That’s the only thing he said.’

She left her car there, clamped, and caught a ride home with a friend.

The next day Ms Turner said she received a call from a police inspector with the traffic division informing her that the Lands and Survey Department had zoned the parking area she left her car in as private property.

A police spokesperson confirmed that account and told the Caymanian Compass that it is legal in the Islands to clamp cars left in such a situation.

Ms Turner settled the fine and got her car back around 7pm Friday. She was clearly frustrated by the turn of events.

‘It was not immediately clear that this was a private area,’ she said. ‘These (parking attendants) work on commission…they’re making money.’