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Subject: Pick-up Truck bans & Parking Woes
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BradB1
(Illinois)

Posts:15


05/11/2006 8:15 AM  
Our community of 250 single-family homes has quite a few restrictions on parking & vehicles that has some homeowners up in arms. Our board just turned over from the developer, so as you may expect, the R&Rs have not been enforced to date. We have had a professional (ahem) management group throughout, but they did not send any notices or pass along the calls and complaints to the violators. Therefore, some people want to maintain the status quo. Others, who have been complaining the entire time, would like to know why nothing has been done and are holding this board responsible for the inaction of the property management group, despite the management group's lack of communication with the board about the complaints that they had received in the past.

The first topic is that our R&Rs state that there are to be no service vehicles or vehicles with advertisement parked in driveways for more than a temporary period. It defines this temporary period as 48 hours maximum. It does not clarify "48 hours...in a month/week/year, etc." However, we know that most of the wording for our R&Rs comes almost directly from the Village's ordinances which DOES clarify it as "48 hours in a 14 day period." We could go around and 'round about this issue, but the point is that the intent was to limit the visual impact of service vehicles parked in the driveways of the homes in our community. We are not having issue with people having service vehicles at their homes to work on projects; that is a total given that houses are going to require service and actually it is a good sign to an HOA because it means that people are at least maintaining their properties. Our problem are the homeowners that ARE the service people and who bring their work trucks/vans, etc. home and park them in the driveway. One particular vehicle that upsets residents is the plumber with the large, white van that has a 4'X 3' drawing of a man's head peeking out of a toilet, holding a plunger saying "We really get into our jobs!" Additionally, as I had posted in another topic, we have two lanscapers that operate their businesses from their homes and who park their large trucks with trailers and their Bobcats/dozers/diggers, etc. in their driveways and even across the sidewalks. They also store materials such as bricks, mulch, stone, etc. in their driveways occasionally for different local projects. When they are working in our subdivision on a neighbor's home, they dump mulch in the street and wheelbarrel it back and forth to the different properties that they are working on. Our streets are still being swept nightly, thankfully, because the builder is still doing construction on the last handful of homes, but when they are no longer doing this, these landscapers are going to be essentially polluting our roadways. They already leave chunks of rock and debris from their trucks. I also fear the pesticides and chemicals that they must be transporting on their trucks and storing in their homes to run into our water systems.

So we have these blatent violators and nuisances that have plenty of people upset and complaining. This should be a "no-brainer" to handle; just site them and fine them until they remove their trucks. But there is another piece that complicates things.

Our R&Rs also state two more conditions that make our situation hard to enforce, or at least make our enforcement very unpopular. The first one is the R&Rs require homeowners to first use the stalls in the garage for parking before using the driveway as a space. It also specifies not only shall there be no service trucks or advertisements, but no trucks or vans PERIOD in the driveways. Given these two statements, if you have a truck or a van, you have to park it in the garage. But we have a couple of situations that have made this a struggle:
What about the people who have three vehicles, two of them trucks, and only a two-car garage?
What about the people whose vehicles are too large to fit in their garages? (We have a board member with a 21' truck and a 20' garage.
Do mini-vans count?
What is considered a truck? Passenger licensed vehicles with a bed vs class B licensed trucks are a big topic.
Then of course, we have the people who use their garage as storage and do not park any of their vehicles inside it. Are they as liable, according to the rules, if they have only cars? Who is going to check the number of vehicles vs number of garage stalls to monitor compliance?
What about those who are just moving in? Do we give them an allowance of time in order to move their stuff into the house before holding them to the regulation?
Do we give an exemption to people who have mis-sized trucks? (In the board member's situation, he had this house built after he had purchased the truck, thinking that he would fit by the specs and drawings from the builder. When the house went up and he got in there, it did not fit. The builder is currently going bankrupt, so there is no recourse there about representation and there was a "engineering tolerance" waiver signed that released them from exact measurements anyway.)

We have 154 complaints from a single couple on this subject alone--validated with license plate numbers, descriptions, photos, and time-stamps in four hour increments on multiple days and they have no intention of ceasing until something is done. FYI--they live across the street from the plumber with the head-in-the-toilet van.

Anyone have similar issues? most of the HOAs in our Village have similar no-truck bans, so this is not something new or exclusive. The price range of the homes in our area lends it to be more restrictive, however because we have moderate priced models next to houses $300,000 more, we obviously have a disparity in the demographics that our represented in our HOA, and it seems that people on the polar opposites are screaming the loudest with the board being caught in the middle. Luckily, there is a good diversity in the representation on our board that mirrors the population. (However, that causes its own headaches as well--but that is another story.)

Any input/insight would be greatly appreciated. We meet for an "open forum" to discuss this tonight.
RogerB
(Colorado)

Posts:5067


05/11/2006 8:48 AM  
Brad, in which state is the HOA located? In Colorado HindmanSanchez had a seminar for Managing Agents last month on parking which I found informative. You did say "We have had a professional (ahem) management group throughout, but they did not send any notices or pass along the calls and complaints to the violators." If your Agreement with them requires enforcement of violations to restrictions then demand they do their job or they should be replaced. After all, one of the primary reasons for the existance of an HOA is Covenant Control to maintain property values. Requests by owners to enforce the rules should have high priority.

The MC should qualified to answer many of your questions and resolve most of your problems. Are they? Will they be at the meeting tonight and able to answer these questions? That would be my first approach.

A requirement of any R&R is: "is it reasonable?"
Here is an example on parking for a single family HOA:

Vehicles are in violation when parked in the street except for brief visits of a couple of hours. Vehicles shall be parked in the garage and only when the number of cars exceeds the number of parking bays in the garage is parking allowed in the driveway. Garage doors shall be closed when not in use. It is a violation for trailers, boats, motor homes or other type recreational vehicles to be parked in view except for temporary loading and unloading. Notwithstanding these rules, emergency vehicles which weigh less than 10,000 pounds and display an official emblem are not prohibited from parking in the street if they do not impede the safe and efficient use of streets.

Good luck at your meeting,
RogerB
BradB1
(Illinois)

Posts:15


05/11/2006 8:58 AM  
We are in Illinois. Our management company has not addressed the calls or complaints filed prior to the turnover, has argued with Board members when they have asked her to notify owners of some violations, in favor of the violators. She is talking with the main offender on a personal basis and letting him in on the discussions that are taking place between her and board members and giving him information on which he is basing a petition to remove the current board!

When the board gave notice to the property management group that their services were no longer going to be used by our HOA and gave 30 days notice--they responded that they would not be removed sooner than 90 days without cause. Upon consulting our attorney and the management group that we have in place to take over when they are done, we have been advised to just accept the 90 days as it would cost us more in legal fees and possible trouble and fines to try to prove cause (even though we have plenty.) Note: the property management group has a "representative" assigned to work with us, as well as several other HOAs in the area. The actual CPM has no dealings with us. He was the one present at the meeting whe the turnover happened, and was charming and all smiles. His overly-tanned secretary who is our "agent" was stone-faced and stayed in the background.

They were not notified of the meeeting, nor invited. We have copies of email correspondence with our "agent" for owners' review.
RogerB
(Colorado)

Posts:5067


05/11/2006 9:50 AM  
Brad, your experience with a MC is one of the reasons I am in the business and try to help others. Most Boards let the MC draft the contract and have little or no experience in what should be included.

You have reference two of the items on which I previously posted:
1. Require a 30 day termination without cause by either party.
2. Interview with the Agent who will be working with the Board, not just the MC sales person. (Also find out how often Agents turnover)
You can do a search to review to find my other suggestions before hiring the next MC.
BradB1
(Illinois)

Posts:15


05/11/2006 9:58 AM  
I agree that we are at an impasse as far as the "reasonability" of the wording in our covenant and by-laws regarding trucks and vans. I am in agreement with the example that you presented. Unfortunately, we are having to work with the covenants that we "inherited" from the developer that include more that what we would care to have to enforce, but are stuck with it because our R&Rs can only interpret, not contradict something directly stated in the covenants and by-laws. We have offered that the only way to get the trucks without writing allowed is to pass an ammendment to do so. Then we face the problem of how to word it such as not to include the problem vehicles that we definately do not want to allow--which are the lettered vehicles. Furthermore, we find difficulty in diferentiating between work truck/service truck and just a primary vehicle truck. Finally, our covenants & by-laws only alotted for three board members, and since one of our board members is the one who has the 21' truck and 20' garage, he has had to "recuse" himself from discussions & decisions pertaining to this whole issue--leaving only two board members to handle the entire issue (and the ensuing threats, etc.)
BradB1
(Illinois)

Posts:15


05/11/2006 10:09 AM  
Thank you for your suggestions on the hiring of the new property manager. We were "stuck" with this one--the next one is going to be all our own doing, whether good or bad! We have interviewed the new property manager and were quite impressed. Hvae to verify that she is, in fact, the one we will be dealing with on a day-to-day basis. If not, I will definately insist on meeting anyone who would be responsible for our business communications and operations. I have also taken note of the suggestion about the contract clause issue--in our rush to get out of our situation, we do not want to overlook the important basics. Thank you!
The current "agent" for the property manager actually used to work for the developer! Her twin sister was in the accounting department of the property management team and got her in with them and out of sales. Hmm...I wonder WHY she didn't fare well there!

Personally, I would like to sit down with the actual CPM and discuss the situation and resolve to let us out of our contract given the circumstances, and we would not push the "cause" issue. He had stated that they had a 98% retention rate of associations turned over from boards. Probably because they were such a mess that they were too bogged down to have the opportunity to fire them! The worst part is their access and control of our finances--with it being required to be out of their banks and they issue the checks, our homeowners write their checks to them. It leaves us in a state of limbo and dependance. The final issue that made us decide to stay the 90 days is because our quarterly dues are currently billed and being collected by them--it would be a nightmare to try and track them down mid-cycle.

It is just disappointing that we are in this situation, especially at the turnover. Since property management is a certified position, do you know who the certifying body is? I am just wondering if in worst-case scenerio, we would have any recourse with them and this firm.
MikeS1


Posts:0


05/11/2006 10:42 AM  
We're in Virginia - I wish that our HOA docs enforced the primary use of the garage stall, but I can see that this is probably hard to enforce. When you have a mix of Garage and Non-Garage homes with open spaces loosely defined as visitor spaces, the excessive-compusive garage owner pack their garage full of phone books from 1979 and use the visitor spaces as their primary parking spaces.

Defining a commercial vehicle is difficult. You have the 4 door 3/4 Texas Ford Country Cadillac driven only on weekends and then you have the Plumber's Truck or the Landscaper's Truck. Our design guidelines established long ago right after the builder turned over the community, defined simply as follows.
1. Any vehicle deinded as commercial by Fairfax County Code. and 2. Any vehicle that has commercial signs or advertising or visible commercial service vehicles.
Now the county in which we live, defines 3/4 ton vehicls as commercial vehicles. Then a couple of years ago, the HOA passed another Parking resolution and it says that "Additionally, any vehicle with advertising, regardless of its carrying capacity, is considered a commercial vehicle and cannot be parked on open view in the community. Advertising is defined to include, but not be limited to, the display of a company and/or product name and telephone number and/or email address. Any vehicle with pipe racks or ladder racks or a combination thereof is also considered to be a commercial vehicle. Also... Regardless of whether trucks are licensed with automobile or truck tags, trucks deemed commercial in character (pursuant) to the relevant Fairfax County ordinances and the definitions set forth herein), are prohibited from parking on community roads, streets, courts, lanes and designated parking spaces.
So in the nutshell, they can park in their garage overnight where the comm. vehicle is not in plain view and it's fine to have service vehicles during the day, but they cannot park their own comm. vehicles in plain view.
I can't empathize with the plumbers here. The could have purchased a home in an older fee simple community, but they bought in a PUD with an HOA. Folks will spend lots of time researching their decision on which appliance or car to buy, but they won't take any time to read the HOA DOCS. I know that I don't wish to be looking at these trucks. They belong in the parking lot in a commercially zoned area where their business is located and not in an HOA.
It sounds like you need a good HOA attorney. Good luck.
HaroldS
(Arizona)

Posts:906


05/11/2006 12:51 PM  
Our homes all have three-car garages, but no restrictions on parking in the driveway. But I am always amazed at how many people will park three $30,000 vehicles in their driveway and fill their garages with Christmas decorations and other "stuff." One reason I bought here was because of the locked garages after having had my car stolen from a carport at my former home. I actually applaud when their vehicles are stolen or vandalized, but it doesn't seem to phase them one bit that they ought to clean out their garage and park those expensive vehicles in there instead.
However, the problem is most HOAs do not allow any outside storage buildings, so what are people supposed to do with their junk? It is unrealistic to deny outside storage but demand vehicles be placed in the garage.
As far as trucks and vans with advertising: We have that restriction too, but all you need to do is get on the ARC and give yourself an exemption, especially if you are also the president of the HOA board. There is always a way around every rule. The ARC has the power to waive the rules, and at least in our community, has the most power. Harold
BradB1
(Illinois)

Posts:15


05/12/2006 6:55 AM  
We had our meeting last night and found that the people really had been bamboozled by the sales staff of the developer. One man, because he threw a fit and said he would not buy his house unless he was given assurance by them that he could have his non-lettered pick-up vehicle in his driveway (because of harassment and fines/liens imposed upon him in a neighboring community--same town) had the builder rewrite the statement of the covenants regarding the no-truck rule to DISINCLUDE pickups, vans and mini-vans and then had the document titled "Amendment 2" and they both signed and notarized it. Obviously, he was the only one who had such document, but you can imagine what a stir it caused at the meeting last night when he presented such document to the group! Of course, we held deciding on the entire "truck issue" for 30 days upon recommendation of our R&R committee member that is a lawyer, to investigate this document further and discuss its implications to the community as a whole.
One other gentleman presented that he was pressued into buying a 3 car garae model as opposed to a 2 car one that was more affordable for him, because the sales person told him he couldn't have sheds and he could just use the extra stall as the storage space--despite there being a specific code in our by-laws stating that you must use all garage spaces first before parking in the driveway. We are working with him on this, but have a little less sympathy than the man with the certified document. but this goes to show how much incorrect and deceiving information was disseminated by the builder and their sales staff. (Which, by the way, the person who is working as our property manager originally started out on the sales staff for the developer...conflict of interest?)
HaroldS
(Arizona)

Posts:906


05/12/2006 1:00 PM  
Brad - you are so right. The time to get exemptions from the CC&Rs is when the builder is still controlling the HOA. Especially if the builder is hungry. We had roller shades installed on all side and back windows and doors because I told the builder we wouldn't buy without them. (I tried to get him to incorporate the boxes inside the walls as they do in Germany, but he had no concept of how to do that.) You better believe I have his written approval in our safe deposit box, because I've been told many times since by the now owner controlled ARC (same person controlling it for 8 years)that they would never have allowed them. TS.
But beware of verbal promises from the sales staff. We were verbally told there was a utility alley easement behind the south fence of our development that would be a buffer and never be built upon. Not true as those owners who bought those lots now share that fence with homes of another builder's HOA directly behind them. GET IT IN WRITING. Harold
CalvinC
(Florida)

Posts:20


05/15/2006 2:58 AM  
Is there a way to enforce rules in a HOA taht are governed by city law? For instance can we say in a non gated community that there shall be no parking on the road and across sidewalks even if the city says it's okay to?
RogerB
(Colorado)

Posts:5067


05/15/2006 7:46 AM  
Calvin, yes an HOA can pass Rules on not parking on the street and across sidewalks. Usually the city will only provide restrictions, but if they actually say it is okay that would override HOA rules. Also, there may be problems legally with enforcing the no parking when the streets are public and the right to enforce restrictions was not preserved on the plat when the streets were dedicated.

I prefer restricting street parking because:
1) a safety problem- children darting into the street from behind cars and car valdalism; and
2) an appearance problem which lowers property values.
HaroldS
(Arizona)

Posts:906


05/15/2006 9:50 AM  
Roger - Do you have specific Colorado law guiding your above answer?
Regulation of city streets by HOAs has always been a big bone of contention. Our city attorney has a form letter they send out because they get so many people questioning an HOAs right to restrict parking on city streets.
"Your question of whether a homeowners' association (HOA) can restrict vehicles parking on city streets is a commonly asked question. The City of Glendale has authority to enforce violations of state law and local violations contained in our Glendale City Code. The City of Glendale, however, is not authorized to enforce any HOA's CC&Rs. Enforcement of CC&Rs is a private civil matter between the HOA and the homeowner, as an agreement between homeowners."
I also have an email opinion from one of your CAI Esquires stating: "In general, even if the "city" streets are maintained by the city, the CCR's can regulate the use of the streets."
Harold
JulieS
(Georgia)

Posts:412


05/15/2006 10:21 AM  
Regardng the commercial vehicle and parking in the garage issue...we had the same thing. We amended our covenants to allow parking in the driveway due to excessive vehicles and garages that are too small. This can be done with the required vote of the association.

As for commerical vehicles, this is an issue that no one can rein in. Our docs state that commercial vehicles shall not be parked on the property. The problem we have is defining a commercial vehicle. We don't have too much of a problem with it but the obvious ones that do show up get a letter.

Keeping people from parking in the street...we have been told my our attorney that we cannot do anything about anyone parking in the street since they are public roads (Georgia). If we have an issue with a long-term street parking, we look at where they are parked. If it poses a safety problem, like parking in a curve, too close to the intersection or fire hydrant, we call the police and have them deal with it.

Hopefully the commercial vehicle owner doesn't decide to park in the street when he gets a letter!
CalvinC
(Florida)

Posts:20


05/15/2006 10:55 AM  
The problem we have is homes with 2 car garages with 3 cars using their driveway and parking over the sidewalk. Parking on the sidewalk is against county ordinance but the people just say "then we'll park in the street". We have to decide which is worse for the community.
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