Failure of latest effort to regulate HOA parking restrictions worries some homeowners
In the waning days of this year’s legislative session, lawmakers defeated a bill on HOA parking restrictions. It dealt with an issue many Arizonans think about – where to park your car at home. From Phoenix, KJZZ’s Mark Brodie files this report.
MARK VAN BOECKEL: We’re in a section where the North Heights ends -- so on one side of the street, it’s the North Heights, and on the other side, it’s just the regular town of Fountain Hills.
MARK BRODIE: Mark Van Boeckel lives in the North Heights neighborhood of Fountain Hills. And, he’s got a problem. His family has more cars than spots in the garage, and his homeowner’s association does not allow residents to park on the street or in the driveway. So, his son has to park a few blocks away, just outside the North Heights community.
VAN BOECKEL: We’re just talking about a spot to park a car, and nothing else.
BRODIE: Van Boeckel has lived in his house for about 15 years with his wife and two kids. He likes living here, but thinks the Covenant, Conditions and Restrictions, or CC&Rs, that govern his HOA should back off the on-street parking issue.
VAN BOECKEL: I do not believe public streets should have ever been on these documents at all, because they’re regulating things that were never theirs to regulate.
BRODIE: This was a big enough deal that Van Boeckel went to one of his state representatives for help. The resulting bill would have applied to HOAs that allowed parking for fewer than two usable, non-commercial vehicles in driveways. Those associations would no longer have been able to stop residents from parking on public streets.
BRIAN LINCKS: Street parking’s up there at least in the top five. I think it’s up there with the barking dogs, it’s up there with the trash cans.
BRODIE: Brian Lincks is the Vice President of City Property Management Company, which manages 296 HOA’s around Arizona. He’s also Chairman of the Board of the Arizona Association of Community Managers. He understands the argument that home buyers sign CC&R’s before they move in, and know the rules they’re signing up for. But, he also sees where people like Van Boeckel are coming from.
LINCKS: Being in the industry, I should say that, ‘well, that’s a contract, and they should abide by the contract.’ But going over here, putting my community manager hat on, it’s a problem, because the public street is just that. It’s public.
BRODIE: Lincks says it’s tough for management companies to enforce parking regulations on public streets, and thinks on-street parking restrictions should be left to communities with private roads. That’s exactly the case with Tom Stokes. He lives in the Pueblo at Andersen Springs HOA in Chandler - a gated community, with narrow roads.
TOM STOKES: It’s one of the reasons that we came here, is I like the look of a street with no cars on it.
BRODIE: Stokes’ HOA allows residents to park in their driveways, but they’re discouraged from parking in the street, and are not allowed to do so overnight. There are a few guest parking spots, but again, not overnight. Stokes says he’d prefer the association not allow driveway parking, and he doesn’t have to go far to offer his point of view. His wife, Debbie Aubrey, is the President of the HOA. She says on-street parking was a pretty big issue a few years ago.
DEBBIE AUBREY: We were running into problems where people were parking on the street overnight, and then somebody would come in, like the garbage truck would come in, and he couldn’t get to the garbage cans to dump the garbage. So, we were having some practical problems like that.
BRODIE: Aubrey says the board decided to clarify when and where people were and were not allowed to park. And, she says, now, most of the 84 homeowners in the community follow the rules, and ask for permission if they need a variance. Brian Lincks with City Property Management Company says that’s the way it’s supposed to work. He says CC&R’s need to be more realistic.
LINCKS: We need to start writing documents that say, ‘public streets, everybody can park on as they see fit, to the ordinances of the city and state,’ and we need to reserve the, you know, ‘we can’t park on the streets’ and all that to the communities that have private streets and maintain their own.’
BRODIE: That would be just fine with Mark Van Boeckel in Fountain Hills. In addition to working on a bill in the legislature, he and some of his neighbors, including Kathy Jakemer, are also working to amend their CC&Rs.
KATHY JAKEMER: All we were going to do is allow parking in the driveway, and all the restrictions as to what type of vehicle would be allowed changed not at all.
BRODIE: Jakemer says that would still mean no boats, RVs, or unusable vehicles in driveways. She’s hopeful enough of her neighbors will support the changes to be able to bring them to the HOA board. And, Mark Van Boeckel says he hopes the bill’s defeat at the capitol will strengthen the community’s resolve.
VAN BOECKEL: I would call it a setback, but we haven’t given up, that’s for certain. I have to continue to try, because it affects me on a personal level.
BRODIE: Van Boeckel says despite defeat at the state house, he and his neighbors will continue to go house to house in Fountain Hills to get signatures to change their CC&Rs.