By Grant Property Management / Published December 2020
Parking in South Florida neighborhoods and condominiums can be a nightmare. HOAs and condominium associations face complicated logistical questions as they try to design a functional parking system for their associations. This resource will cover the causes of parking problems in community associations and explain how to enforce some parking solutions.
Parking problems in associations are usually caused by limited space. Often the infrastructure simply cannot accommodate so many vehicles. There are not enough parking spaces for residents and their guests. Sometimes, there are not even enough parking spaces for the residents themselves.
Many South Florida housing divisions and condominiums were built in the 70s and 80s. During this time, the whole household typically shared one vehicle, so houses were adapted to incorporate space for just one vehicle. Fast forward to 2020, when every individual in the household may have his or her own vehicle. However, the structure and number of spaces available has not changed and is unlikely to change any time soon.
Inasmuch, many HOAs find themselves in a parking conundrum.
Insufficient parking spaces in the neighborhood result in the following problems:
Other parking problems surround the bylaws of the HOA. Some condominiums and neighborhoods have aesthetic or practical parking restrictions. This might include these limitations:
All of the above listed parking problems lead to more considerations. If there is no functional parking system in place, the parking problem will be exacerbated.
How will the HOA and board resolve the parking issues? And further, how will the board enforce any proposed solutions? The next section will cover some techniques to solve these parking issues in your neighborhood association.
The HOA board must develop a functional parking system that addresses the parking problems specific to your community. Each condominium or residential neighborhood has unique parking features and availability (or lack thereof). Depending on the type of residence and the physical property itself, you will adapt your system to meet your specific needs.
The most important step is to have a parking system in place at all. You will also have to ensure that owners and tenants know what that system is. Identifying the issues and developing a parking system is important, but keep in mind: You could develop a flawless parking system using all of our parking solutions for your community, but if the residents and owners do not know about it, it will not work.
All owners and tenants must be informed of the parking rules. This should happen upon application and approval to buy/live on property. It can be useful to have owners and residents sign documents stating that they have read, understand, and will follow the association’s parking system. (This may come in handy later if their vehicle gets towed, and they claim they did not know the rules.)
As your board and HOA design a parking system that meets the specific needs of the property, there are a few things to consider.
Start by identifying the parking issues your community faces. What are the limitations on available parking spaces? What constitutes a violation?
Think through some of the common challenges. Can residents or guests park on the lawn? What if a resident’s car is left overnight in a guest spot? What if a commercial vehicle is parked overnight on a driveway?
Once you have identified the issues and what is acceptable/not acceptable, you can assemble a parking system. Developing a functional parking system is imperative to solving the parking problems before they start.
Here are a few techniques and creative solutions to common parking problems at HOAs.
Assign residents specific parking spaces and assign separate parking spots for guests. Equally important is to define parking terms. Sometimes it can be helpful to ensure vehicle turnaround by imposing short-term parking limits.
Decals or transponders can be assigned to resident vehicles. This can help to limit the number of vehicles on site. Only a limited number of decals are assigned to each household. This way you can even out the distribution of parking in the neighborhood.
A decal acts as an identifying signal to board members or parking enforcement agents that the vehicle is approved to be on the property. Vehicles without the decal may be subject to booting, towing, or other enforcement methods. It is recommended that the decals be assigned by the HOA management company and directly applied to the vehicle on management premises.
To maintain a stringent policy for parking, the requirements to obtain a decal can be strict. Ask for registration, insurance, valid driver’s license, and rental agreements. This may deter residents from obtaining decals unjustly.
In many cases, the limited number of guest spaces poses a problem. Residents are usually already limited on parking spaces and tend to overtake guest parking spaces as a result. Since there are already limited parking spaces for guests, guests have nowhere to park.
There are two approaches to address this issue:
The HOA or management company can assign temporary guest parking spaces to authorized guests. Typically, this would include communicating with the board or management company about the anticipated guest and providing resident information and vehicle or driver information. The board or management company can provide a PDF via email to the resident to place in the guest’s vehicle. This will act like a decal, signaling approval to be parked on the property.
First–come–first–served guest parking is a simple approach to address limited guest parking. Guest vehicles (which do not have decals) are permitted to use the limited parking spaces as they arrive and until they leave (within the approved timeframes.)
This method requires less involvement from the board or management company but can be challenging if residents have frequent guests.
It can deter resident vehicles with decals from utilizing guest-only parking spaces.
Now that your HOA has identified parking issues, selected an association parking system, informed residents, and documented that residents have been informed, what happens next?
Someone still parks on the grass, double parks, breaks the rules…. How do you enforce the parking system? Like before, you can have a flawless association parking system, and even have residents informed, but if you do not enforce the rules, residents and guests may not abide by them.
Here are a few avenues of approach.
Post signs with clear indications for specific parking areas.
Make it very obvious which parking spots are dedicated to residents and which are dedicated to guests.
Ensure that “No Parking Zones” are well marked.
You can also include signs for resident and guest parking areas.
If your HOA or condo association will implement towing (see below), the community is legally required to post a sign with the tow company’s contact information.
Having vehicles towed from the property is often necessary. If vehicles illegally double park blocking other vehicles into spots, or vehicles are left in parking spots longer than the allotted time frame, towing can be a solution.
It is recommended that the HOA work with a licensed tow company as there can be legal ramifications and liability concerns involved in the towing process.
For the association’s own legal concern, it can be useful to have photographic documentation of the vehicle in violation before towing. Often vehicle owners will claim they were not parked in violation. A photograph can suffice as evidence. Documentation of the resident’s acknowledgment of the rules can also be useful.
Booting vehicles can be a more practical alternative to towing. Typically, this is perceived as less frustrating for vehicle owners since their car is not removed from the property.
Booting should also be done by a licensed booting company (often the same as the towing company.)
This approach is helpful when vehicles are not causing immediate disruption to traffic or parking flow but are still inappropriately parked. This way, vehicle owners can directly see the
violation. Unlike towing, the booted vehicle remains unmoved on the property. The vehicle owner cannot argue that he was not in violation of the parking regulations because the vehicle is exactly where he left it.
Aside from the board, no one is legally authorized to enforce parking regulations aside from an approved parking enforcement agent employed by the HOA through a parking enforcement company. These companies typically work together with the towing and booting companies.
The parking enforcement company is usually a type of company is hired by a condominium association or HOA to routinely drive through the neighborhood and check for vehicles parked in violation of the established regulations. This can happen on a recurring basis or as needed.
A parking enforcement agent is informed of the association rules and may take action to enforce said rules. Depending on the community parking guidelines, the agent may place warning stickers on vehicles or call the towing or booting company.
In some cases, properties can locate off-site parking lots or spaces and offer a regular shuttle service to and from the off-site parking location. This depends on the property and interest of the board and owners but can be a creative solution to limited HOA or condominium parking.
Valet parking can prove as a useful tool to alleviate limited parking. As with shuttle services to off-site locations, valet parking can divert the concentration of vehicles at the property to an off-site location.
Valet parking can also be useful on a property that has some but not plentiful parking. Up to twice as many cars can fit into a lot when valet services are used.
Although this may be obvious, it can be useful to suggest ridesharing options to the guests of residents. Services that pick up and drop off guests to and from their destination or to an alternate location where a vehicle is parked can alleviate limited parking problems for your HOA.
Many communities and properties in South Florida are faced with limited parking and its many resulting challenges. Above we explain the problems that result from limited parking at HOA or condo associations and outline a few general strategies to incorporate in your parking system that are effective. We also describe how to enforce the parking restrictions of the HOA.
Overall, a well-informed community of residents and a well-enforced system are paramount to solving parking problems before they start. It is a community effort.
FCAP would like to thank Grant Property Management for the contribution of this resource on parking in community associations.
Grant Property Management
Grant Property Management is a full-service association management firm servicing HOAs and condominiums located in Palm Beach and Broward County, Florida. Grant Property Management has provided customized management solutions in South Florida since 1991. For more information, visit www.grantmgmt.com.