LOOPHOLES in Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry (KPKT) guidelines for guarded neighbourhoods are hampering Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s (DBKL) efforts in giving approval.
Guarded neighbourhoods are a growing trend in residential neighbourhoods with many residents associations making an effort to implement the scheme to increase their safety and security.
DBKL Urban Transportation Department director Dr Leong Siew Mun said KPKT’s guidelines were no longer suitable for current times and were bound to cause conflicts among the residents if followed strictly.
“There is no Act to allow the local authority to approve the scheme, so we have our own set of guidelines and issue administrative permission letters to the neighbourhoods instead,” he said.
He noted that KPKT only required at least 51% of residents in an area to give their consent before a neighbourhood could implement a gated and guarded community.
However DBKL has set their neighbourhood consent rating at 80%.
“KPKT’s requirement is very low and may cause the residents who disagree with the scheme to lodge a complaint.
DBKL, on the other hand, has set the bar higher so that we will not have to deal with objections from a big group. It is easier to talk to a small group.
“Plus, the residents who agree do not necessarily subscribe to the scheme but those who do, will have to offset the payment for the others. So, a bigger group will lessen the monthly fee amount,” he said.
Leong said KPKT also did not allow permanent fixtures such as boom gates but suggested the use of traffic cones instead.
“With cones, it only requires manual handling. Perimeter fencing is not allowed and the guarded scheme will fail if all the access points are not controlled.
“As the design must be approved by City Hall, we use our discretion where automatic guarded system and perimeter fencing are concerned. Of course, the application should also include support letters from the police, fire department and Alam Flora.
“People now want convenience and an automatic-gate system in a guarded neighbourhood is the way forward, “ he said.
He said DBKL had been challenged many times by the non-agreeing residents to bring the matter to court for approving a guarded scheme.
“We can only try to convince them to join the scheme because it is not compulsory. The paying residents cannot cause any inconvenience to non-subscribing residents because they too have the right to have access to their houses without obstruction.
“We try to settle the issue amicably but most complainants write letters to many agencies and then fail to turn up for meeting organised by us to solve the problem,” Leong said.
He said there were instances where residents applied to control access to certain roads.
“There were also instances where residents closed off roads to prevent those living in neighbouring apartments from parking near their houses. Such a scenario is ongoing in Bandar Tasik Selatan.
“DBKL will not approve such designs. As such, we ask those who have received their administrative letter of permit to display it at their guardhouse to inform everyone that it is legal,” he said.
He acknowledged that there were many guarded neighbourhoods without DBKL’s approval.
“DBKL has approved 47 guarded neighbourhood schemes and are processing 15 new applications.
“As long as there are no complainants, we let them be. As long as the guarded scheme was done on goodwill and everybody is happy, it is okay by us,” he said.
“Having said that, KPKT still needs to look into the guidelines and come up with practical guide on guarded scheme and a new law on the implementation,” he said.
While many residents associations are enthusiastic about implementing the guarded neighbourhood scheme, some find it difficult to get enough consent from residents and approval from the authorities.
Some claim that the process is too tedious and takes too long, which is why they choose to install the gated-and-guarded system before seeking approval in a desperate attempt to safeguard their neighbourhood.
An example of a residents association that understands the complications entailed in setting up a gated-and-guarded scheme is Taman Desa Aman’s committee.
Residents Association of Desa Aman (Rada) chairman Hassan Ghani Hamid said the association was formed in 2010 and got consent from 70% residents to install manual boom gates.
“The residents felt safer and many started parking their cars outside their house compound.
“Many also started renovating their houses because the house gates will be open for most of the day during renovations and will make them an easy target for robbers.
“We have guards manning the two access roads,” he added.
The scheme operated smoothly and Rada planned an upgrade to an automated system in 2013, proposed it at the annual general meeting and successfully installed in September last year.
Trouble started not long after.
“Although more than 80% agreed to the new security system, only 70% were paying for the security service.
“As such, we thought it was only fair to paying residents that they get access cards while the non-paying residents would have to press a button at the guardhouse to raise the barrier gate. This way, we had also hoped to encourage more residents to become members,” Hassan said.
The move did not go down well and the sensors were vandalised twice in January, causing RM13,000 in damages.
Coincidentally, Rada was de-registered in March for failing to update their activities to the Home Ministry via e-filing.
“Since Rada’s de-registration, the boom gates are always open. So far, two cars have been broken into and two houses burglarised. Residents are worried.
“Now we have no choice but to continue using the security services, although without a registered residents association, we cannot proceed with our guarded neighbourhood scheme application to DBKL,” he said.
Taman Seri Bintang A Residents Association in Kepong received approval from DBKL in July for its gated-and-guarded but things were not always smooth-sailing.
Association vice-chairman Dennis Loh said there was a lot of work involved and it took time, especially convincing the residents to sign their agreement.
“I started working on the application since March last year and only managed to get it completed now.
“We are currently going through the trial phase of three months. If all goes well, it will be approved fully,” he said.
Loh admitted that they too started the security system during the application process.
“It is very difficult to convince the residents to pay upfront without seeing the operations. The committee pooled money to start it up first.
“Despite that, only 70% of 160 houses are paying the fees but we cannot do anything about the non-paying ones because they are not compelled to.
“Some of the reasons given were no money and no confidence in our system, but they hold access cards too,” he said.
Bukit Bandaraya Residents Association chairman Datuk M. Ali, who successfully implemented the gated-and-guarded system at three streets, said the process had been smooth since a format was established in 2012.
“For example, I submitted an application for Jalan Kemaris in November 2008 and continually followed up but nothing came out of it. Perhaps it was because there was no standard operating procedure in place as it was a new concept then.
“DBKL called RAs for a meeting on the gated-and-guarded neighbourhood system in 2011. In August 2012, I submitted a fresh application for Jalan Kemaris, Jalan Rumpai and Jalan Mambu, and it was approved in a month,” he said.