HOA Parking: 5 Tips for Managing Your California Policy
As a California community association, how do you address HOA parking rule violations? How do you ensure that residents and visitors are aware of the rules while strengthening your reputation and keeping the peace in your community?
The truth is, whether you live in a master-planned community in Orange County or a single-family home association in Sacramento, one of the most common challenges for HOAs is managing and enforcing parking policy. For instance, here are several examples of parking challenges your association may face:
- Insufficient parking spaces
- Parking in a resident's assigned spot
- Restrictions with guest parking
- Overnight parking in a prohibited location
- Limited or restricted street parking
- RV and boat parking
- Handicapped parking
- Illegal parking in fire lanes
- Parking in landscaping
- Inoperable vehicles
- Vehicles leaking fluid in common areas
- Unregistered or expired license plates
To help minimize violations and misunderstandings about your community's parking policy, here are 5 important considerations and tips for your California HOA board:
HOA Parking Tip 1: Contact the proper jurisdiction for parking issues on public roads.
Always work with local authorities and jurisdictions before attempting to enforce parking policy on private or public roads. Generally, HOAs are authorized to restrict parking on private streets through their Declaration of Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs). When it comes to public street violations, it’s best to seek counsel from your attorney before making any decisions. To determine if your association can or cannot enforce the policy on public street, an HOA attorney must review your governing documents to see if the street is within the areas that your CC&Rs control (also known as “covered area” or “annexable territory”).
If the parking violation poses a threat to the health, safety or welfare of a resident, you can ask the city or county that has jurisdiction over the road to have the vehicle towed immediately.
HOA Parking Tip 2: Be familiar with California laws concerning HOAs and towing regulations.
When it comes to towing restrictions and laws, California HOA board members should understand and comply with the laws set in place. Even on private property, associations must abide by all stipulations when it comes to towing a vehicle.
As described in Davis-Stirling Towing Sign Requirements, "As provided for in Vehicle Code §22658(a)(1), associations may tow vehicles, without first issuing parking violations, if they install proper signage. Signage at the entrances of developments must meet the following requirements."
These signs should clearly outline the type of parking restriction, what will happen if a vehicle is in violation of the restriction, maximum cost to the violator, telephone number and address where the towed vehicle is located. The signs should also be clearly visible and readable from any point within the parking area and at each entrance.
HOA Parking Tip 3: Make sure your parking policy is reasonable and defined in your CC&Rs.
Since California have various parking laws in place specific to common interest developments (see California’s vehicle code here), it’s best to follow the law and ensure that parking rules are reasonable and clearly defined in your CC&Rs. If your rules and regulations are too vague, homeowners may be confused about what constitutes a violation. By the same token, unreasonable restrictions can be frustrating, and they'll cause more harm than good. Save yourself and your residents a lot of headaches by reviewing your parking policy with your association attorney and management company to ensure it is clear and reasonable.
What should your California association parking policy include? Here are a few recommendations:
- A list of what is and what isn't allowed, including parking, what is prohibited by law and rules specific to your association (e.g., guest parking regulations).
- A description of towing conditions, including the HOA's authorization to tow, notification procedures (see #2) and the owner's responsibility for all towing-related expenses.
- An explanation and reiteration of your HOA's right to enforce parking regulations and levy fines.
- Authorization for your HOA board to grant limited exceptions and waivers at its discretion.
If any of these elements are missing from your policy, you may need to update your rules and regulations. Additionally, you may need to update your policy if it is no longer compliant with current California law, if changes to your community require additional rules or if new parking issues have emerged.
HOA Parking Tip #4: Communicate consistently with homeowners about parking policies.
When homeowners are unsure about association parking rules, they may be looking to your board for guidance first. Rather than counting on homeowners to check the CC&Rs (and to inform their tenants and guests of the parking policy), share this information periodically with everyone in the community. Include a friendly article in your community newsletter highlighting the important (and common) rules and regulations. You can also send out reminder emails, post the policy on a community bulletin board, or include a discussion of the rules at a homeowners' meeting.
As with all association policies, the key is to communicate proactively. If parking is a challenge in your association, remember that sharing it openly and honestly will go a long way with residents—partner with your community manager and management company to ensure that you regularly share policies and changes. And remember, the best communications combine good news and announcements with rules and "less pleasant" news.
To learn more best practices on how to appropriately communicate new policies, read HOA Policy: Why Consistent Communication Is Key.
HOA Parking Tip #5: Always partner with your management company and attorney when managing parking policies.
When developing or modifying your parking policy, it's important to partner with your association attorney and a knowledgeable community management company with a local presence and familiarity with California laws. Your community manager will also take responsibility for enforcing your parking regulations and keeping your residents aware of the rules.
Regardless of which community you live in, parking is an ongoing issue that affects many people, including your family, friends and fellow neighbors. That is why having a good parking policy in place and communicating it with residents can reduce parking problems, keep your community safer for everyone, and strengthen your reputation. For more information on effectively managing your parking policy, contact FirstService Residential, California's leading community management company.