Scant warning

Caroline Voget, Constantia

A friend and I recently had coffee in the Green Bean Coffee Shop in Westlake Lifestyle Centre, next to Colcacchio and Ocean Basket.

The parking outside had all been taken, and we were directed to the basement parking by a parking attendant, where there were a few free parking bays. It is dark down there and we parked and enjoyed a cup of coffee but when we came back to the basement, one of our cars was wheel-clamped and a parking attendant told us we needed to pay him R500 to have it unclamped as we had apparently parked in a reserved space.

We asked how we were to know it was reserved as there was no marking on the floor or nothing we could see that warned us it was reserved. He pointed to a small, A4 sized paper notice pinned high up on the ceiling above the bays, hardly noticeable at all in the dimly lit basement – especially when one first drives in with eyes not adjusted to the dark.

R500 is a very high price to pay for not looking up onto the ceiling!

I am sure this is not entirely legal and even if such scant warning is legal, it is not fair. That little piece of paper so high up is not clearly visible, and there was no parking attendant down there at the time to warn us. There were two other people who had made a similar mistake in the half an hour that we were there, trying to work out how to get R500 together .

I am sure the person whose bay we inadvertently took was mildly annoyed (and luckily there were quite a few other bays without little papers stuck on the roof for them to park in) but for us the experience was like being tricked or conned and I will never come back to Westlake ever again. But I am sure that CapitalGro, the company that runs the Westlake Lifestyle, is rubbing its hands in glee.

In half an hour, they had tricked three people into paying
R1 500. Their takings at the end of the day must be phenomenal.

Clinton Bush, Capitalgro director responds: As owner and manager of Westlake Lifestyle Centre, thank you for allowing us the opportunity to publicly respond to this issue, in addition to our direct responses to Ms Voget on the day her complaint was received.

Since February this year all precincts and business parks in the greater Westlake area have experienced a significantly increased demand for parking, resulting in us being approached by 158 individuals / companies in the immediate vicinity, wishing to rent monthly parking bays from us.

This increased demand has significantly impacted on the parking at our centre. To highlight, our security personnel have had to deal with up to 20 errant parkers on a daily basis who blatantly attempt to park at our centre from 7am, and then abscond to their adjacent workplaces for the entire day.

It has been necessary to assess the overall situation from a property management perspective, in consultation with our tenants, and attempt to identify solutions that will work for all. The interventions introduced, which are beginning to yield positive results, include 45-minute timed parking bays, a three-hour maximum visitor stay, along with moving the bulk of our reserved tenant parking to the basement.

Despite the required signage being prominently displayed, a number of visitors to the centre are either, with due respect, oblivious to it, or choose to ignore the signage, which has resulted in wheels being clamped. Our security personnel are subjected to physical and verbal abuse, even after the duly posted warnings are pointed to the errant parkers.

With regard to Ms Voget’s complaints about the size of the overhead signage, we confirm that it is in line with signage displayed in other commercial properties around Cape Town. The sign is sized to suit a parking bay structure, which has limited head height and no back wall to display the sign, hence being fitted overhead. With regard to the natural and artificial lighting in the basement level parking, we respectfully disagree with Ms Voget.

Capitalgro is not in the business of tricking or conning visitors to our properties. We are dealing with a challenging situation in a professional manner, which will ultimately benefit the centre, its tenants and visitors. If visitors adhere to the clearly demarcated bays and follow the rules, all visitors will enjoy sufficient parking, which is turning over on a more regular basis.