Categorised | Columns

Car parking woes in SS20

BALANCING the needs of a residential community and a business entity in the same area is part of the work I do as a councillor. One such issue involves the illegal parking around the Damansara Specialist Hospital and the traffic nuisance it represents for the SS20 Damansara Kim residents.

There are no morals to this story, save those readers conclude for themselves.

A little background

Illegal parking is an issue in SS20 (© afazeel | Flickr)

The issue of illegal parking around Damansara Specialist Hospital has been a long-standing one since the hospital was first built. As the hospital expanded, so too did the number of customers and the number of visiting relatives, which in turn caused more traffic problems.

To address the acute shortage of parking space, the hospital proposed to build a three-storey car park on its premises. The residents living in the surrounding areas went up in arms at the project as the proposed building would be too near their homes and could potentially strip their right to privacy.

The project was then halted.

Solutions needed

When I was made a councillor in 2008, I was given the task of fixing the problem. After meeting some resident representatives, one of the proposals the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) decided to undertake was to create additional parking bays at the green area along Jalan SS20/10 just outside the Damansara Specialist Hospital.

A public hearing to get consent for the creation of additional parking lots was held for the residents and the hospital management, and to discuss any other related issues.

In the lead-up to the public hearing, some residents proposed that the hospital be allowed to build their multi-storey car park project. These residents lived away from the proposed car park site and thus, had no problem with it. In fact, they deemed it a good solution to resolve the issue of illegal parking in the area.

As such, during the public hearing, I enquired if the residents would be open to the idea of allowing the hospital to once more build the parking lot. Many residents were openly angry at the proposal and shouted at me, while the persons who had originally pushed for the idea kept extra quiet.

I took the insults and harsh words in stride, and told the assembled residents that I would have the minutes reflect their view that the hospital would not be allowed to build any extension to their parking lot. The minutes, I said, would also reflect that there was no objection for the proposed parking lots to be built at the MBPJ’s expense.

Two years later

Two years later, the greenery was cleared and the new parking bays built. But the illegal parking problem remained. I was recently invited to once again meet the hospital management and residents to discuss the problem. The residents proposed many ideas to help deal with the traffic issue, some feasible while others not so.

(© thienzieyung | Flickr)

(© thienzieyung | Flickr)

I had representatives from several MBPJ departments with me at this meeting who took note of the requests. But I also had to remind residents about the limited resources at my disposal in fulfilling their requests.

During that discussion, the hospital management once more approached the subject of a multi-storey car park. The management even presented some concept designs to solicit feedback from the residents.

I had not known beforehand that the hospital management would do this. Neither were their plans submitted to the MBPJ for consideration. As the proposal was unofficial, I saw nothing wrong with allowing the presentation. While some residents were clearly agitated, I reminded them that they were under no obligation to accept the plans and that the hospital was only seeking feedback.

As expected, no sooner had the hospital’s architect finished the presentation, the objections came and the idea once again was aborted.

The day after…

(© Dimitri Torterat | Wiki Commons)

(© Dimitri Torterat | Wiki Commons)

One day after concluding the meeting between the residents and the hospital, I received an e-mail from Petaling Jaya Utara Member of Parliament Tony Pua’s political secretary.

The political secretary wanted to know if there was any truth to an allegation by a Damansara Kim resident — who was not present at the meeting but had talked to those who attended — that I was conniving with the hospital management to force the car park project on the residents.

MBPJ councillor KW Mak would like to explain that the new parking bays outside the Damansara Specialist Hospital were made on a road reserve, and that it isn’t possible to build a multi-storey car park there. Contrary to the popular belief that road reserves are only meant for road widening purposes, which Jalan SS20/10 would most likely never need, a road reserve is also used for placement of utility pipes and lines that an area may need in future.

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8 Responses to “Car parking woes in SS20”

  1. KOK Yoon Lee says:

    How about an underground car park then? I know it will cost more…

  2. Ida Bakar says:

    These Damansara residents sounds like a bunch of NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard). If the worry is the privacy, then the side facing the residents can be walled off – as if visitors to the hospital are interested in their cossetted lives.

    • Actually I think it has to do with property value.

      Assuming that no decision has been made, the multi-storey carpark project should be scrapped. Not enough residents feel strongly about the problem of illegal parking to support the best solution available.

      • Lau Weng San says:

        Your comment and Ida Bakar’s one somehow reflect the true reason and attitude behind many PJ folk when dealing with development. The “Not In My Back Yard” mentality is quite prevalent in PJ even though most PJ folk are highly educated and earn high income.

  3. Patrick says:

    I imagine that you must ingest a lot of beer in your spare time.

    • KW Mak says:

      @ Patrick

      If you are referring to me, I will state that I don’t drink alcoholic beverages of any kind. If not, er… who are you referring to then?

  4. Hui SK says:

    There are no morals in my response to Car parking woes in SS20.

    Background

    The hospital was built in 1995 amid protests and meetings with MPPJ by residents assisted by the ADUN, Dr Oon Hong Geok, and MP of PJ Utara, Vincent Lim, at that time. Certain very specific documented conditions were laid out in the MPPJ approval of the private hospital. It included approval for two levels of basement- and ground-level car parking areas behind the main hospital building, in addition to the ground-level parking area in front of the hospital, as shown in Mr Mak’s photo.

    The hospital was constructed on lots allocated for bungalows shown in the development plan when residents purchased their units in 1976-1978. The hospital is surrounded by houses on three sides and a road reserve on the fourth. These two levels of parking directly face the front of about 30 double-storey houses, and are located beside two bungalow lots.

    Essentially, the issue is that this private hospital is located inside a residential area, and it is to limit its activities based on the approved infrastructure.

    In 2004, the Damansara Specialist Hospital applied to the MPPJ to extend the two-level car park by another four storeys. The MPPJ officially informed the “owners of the neighbouring lands of their rights to object the application”, according to the Town and Country Planning Act 1976. All these owners submitted their objections.

    We residents, however, were not totally uncompromising. With the help of the then Member of Parliament, YB Chew Mei Fun, and the SS20 RT chairperson, Eileen Thong, we met with MPPJ and Damansara Specialist Hospital management to come up with the proposal to create the additional parking bays on the road reserve land along Jalan SS20/10, as described by Mr Mak. This approval was documented officially by MPPJ to the parties involved, and was also announced by the then MPPJ Datuk Bandar, Datuk Ahmad Termizi Puteh, in October 2004. (One reference is the Malay Mail newspaper on 15 Oct 2004 – http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-10399906.html)

    Between the approval in 2004 and 2008, the residents – and surely the hospital – followed up with MPPJ on the progress of the construction of the car park. The feedback we received was that the design was in progress and that funding was being obtained.

    When the Pakatan Rakyat government took over the administration of the state and appointed the MBPJ councillors, the residents approached MPs Tony Pua and Dr Cheah Wing Yin to discuss the lack of progress since 2004. Both MPs provided their support and aid through their assistants.

    Solutions needed

    In 2008, Damansara Specialist Hospital, perhaps due to the long four-year wait for the open-air car park, submitted a development plan to the MBPJ to construct a ramp to the roof of the car park and use it as another level for parking. This eventually led to the public hearing.

    At the 21 Jan 2009 public hearing mentioned by Mr Mak, the 16 residents and Damansara Specialist Hospital representatives were asked to vote by secret ballot if they were in favour of the construction of the open-air car park on the road reserve land along Jalan SS20/10. The vote was carried. The residents also submitted a list of 80 signatures from SS20 residents who agreed with the construction of this car park that has more than 100 bays. It has thus reaffirmed again that the residents supported providing more space for parking solely for the hospital. The construction of the ramp was rejected.

    Two years late:

    The open-air car park was operational in early 2010. The residents are appreciative of the support and work done by MP assistant Mr Billy Wong, Mr Mak, and the MBPJ departments.

    As Mr Mak said, we did not receive an agenda prior to the meeting called by the Damansara Specialist Hospital on 5 Aug 2010. We were told that it was a meeting on “haphazard parking and security”. Eventually, some reps from our SS20 security committees turned up with our RT chairperson.

    After the meeting, the residents met to discuss the issue and were totally disturbed and upset that the Damansara Specialist Hospital is again trying to construct the multi-storey car park and possibly put in more buildings.

    We are glad that you have said in your conclusion that “…and the idea once again was aborted”. We do not want to spend our time again writing letters, replying to notices and holding and attending meetings on this issue.

    The month after:

    We just came to know of your write up on TNG and have summarised our response above. We limit our response to try and summarise for any reader an overall picture of what is all this fuss about.

    Let me repeat that essentially, the issue is that this private hospital is located inside a residential area and it is to limit it activities based on the approved infrastructure. This is well documented by MPPJ/MBPJ official correspondence throughout the years. The “owners of the neighbouring land” have extended themselves to speak out for additional public car park spaces to assist the hospital. We will certainly hope that the hospital management will find their own ways to solve whatever problems they have, including parking, and not continue to try and impose on the residents.

    To those of you who have commented on “not in my back yard” mentality, let me tell you that the 30 houses directly facing the car park are all two-storey link houses which are at level with the existing car park. The car park and the houses are separated by only a 20ft-wide public road. It is so near that the noise from car and motorcycle movement can be heard. The hospital does not have its own perimeter road. Increasing the car park to six stories as proposed by the hospital means the houses will have a building of more than 60ft right in front of them.

    In conclusion, we wish to once again say thank you for the assistance of all parties mentioned above for working towards and successfully constructing the open-air car park. To us, this case is CLOSED.

    • Jimmy Wong says:

      Well written Hui. It certainly reflect the true scenario and the feelings of the affected residents.

      To Ida Bakar and Lau Weng San,

      I got a feeling that you are one of those not affected. Perhaps you should put yourself in the shoes of those who are affected before making comments that make yourself look stupid. Privacy is one issue but no one likes living and facing a huge building. Perhaps you may not mind, but that’s your own preference. I hope some commercial building gets built in front of your house.


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