Dubai's JLT residents enraged by Dh200 parking fine for guests

Signs around the towers were introduced in some clusters last September, warning visitors not to park their cars in common areas for longer than two hours or face a Dh200 fine.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Jan 10 2013,Parking Fines- Faisal Al Ansari and other  JLT residents are upset about visitors being charged Dh200 as a parking fine after the first 2 free hours of parking. This is a followup to our earlier stories about parking barriers installed and tenants slapped with a monthly parking fee of Dh8,000 for a parking slot or being denied entry.  Mike Young / The National

DUBAI // A decision by the developer of Jumeirah Lakes Towers to fine visitors who park for more than two hours has angered residents.

Tenants at the development, which has been the site of long-running roadworks and battles over air-conditioning fees, have spoken out against the new fine.

“I really loved my apartment. I was willing to buy it but I’ve changed my mind about JLT,” said Faisal Al Ansari, an Emirati pilot who has lived in the area for two years. “I will not even renew my lease.”

Mr Al Ansari said his friends had stopped visiting since the fines were introduced.

Signs around some areas of the towers were put in place last September, warning visitors not to park their cars in common areas for longer than two hours or face a Dh200 fine.

Security guards began enforcing the fines last month.

“In order to implement and manage short-term parking areas, overstays will result in a Dh200 fine,” said the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre, master developer of JLT.

“This level has been designed for visitors and will eventually be subject to a paid parking solution.”

Mr Al Ansari said there were a lot of angry tenants. “People are getting frustrated. Some tenants shout and scream at the guards,” he said. “I have parking under my building but when I have guests or family coming to visit, it’s a nightmare.

“I cannot watch an entire movie at home with friends or they can’t spend the night. We have to put the alarm on and go out every two hours to take the cars out and park again.”

One of Mr Al Ansari’s friends was recently fined Dh200 when they lost track of time while watching a film at his home.

“The security guards called the police when he refused to pay,” he said. “He explained to the police but they said they had no authority over the parking since those were building rules.

“Why harass people? This is just greed for money. My friends have stopped visiting and I feel bad about it. I hate this hassle.”

A spokeswoman for the developer said few complaints had been received. “There is ample parking for residents and visitors alike in JLT,” she said. “The rule currently applies to eight clusters, which have parking barriers activated to date. Others will follow in a phased manner.

“We listen to our members’ concerns and are working towards implementing a permanent paid parking solution.”

Shop owners won a two-hour extension after they objected to the fines this year. Visitors to salons or restaurants must have parking tickets stamped at the shop if their stay exceeds two hours.

Restaurant, beauty and hair salon owners said the extended four-hour limit worked, but clients felt pressured for time.

“Customers usually complete their facials or hair treatments within four hours,” said a salon owner who did not want to be identified. “But if things get delayed it’s awkward because they feel we are rushing.”

Joel Stevens, an architect, agreed the time limits were a strain. “We have day-long conferences so what do we tell our clients?

‘Sorry, we cannot accommodate you’?” Mr Stevens asked. “It’s a short-sighted plan and must change.”

The fines are not imposed by the Roads and Transport Authority so they do not affect drivers’ records or prevent them from re-registering their cars.

But the 61 towers at JLT are built on private land and subject to the developer’s regulations, which can be legally enforced.

Darran, a lawyer, who learnt of the fine last week when guests came over for dinner, called it “outrageous and entirely unjustifiable”. He said: “This is a residential building and we are entitled to have visitors over. Valet parking even at the Atlantis is Dh150. My guests left before their time was up.

"This is an arbitrary decision."