A Shortage of Parking is a Common Issue in California HOAs and Condos.

A shortage of parking is a common issue in California HOAs and condos. In many cities and planning departments planners require 2 spaces or fewer per unit or home, especially in zero lot line communities. Since Californians love their cars, teens often get cars at 16 or 17 so they can ferry their siblings around, and there is as big a “storage” problem in this state as “parking problem”, this parking allocation often leads to problems. Add guests, especially guests who spend nights with residents, then things get downright frustrating. Creating spaces is not easy, commonly not even possible. Street parking often fills up unless regulated because of fire lanes or municipal or HOA restrictions. Here is a terrible scenario sent in by a reader that is created by an overly dense area:

“We have about 60 units with garages, and three open parking spaces which all are designated for guests of the owners/residents. Our property is built with a right-of-way to an adjacent HOA property with a parking garage, which is built under ours. On the other side of us on the street is another large HOA property. Residents of all three HOA properties use street parking as overflow and the street parking is usually completely filled after about 5 p.m. on any given day.

The problems are two-fold:
1. Owners and residents of our property sometimes park in guest spaces due to the shortage of street parking; and
2. Guests or residents of the adjacent properties occasionally will use our guest spots as overflow.

When we can identify a repeat offender and link them to a unit, we can fine the unit owner for abuse. However, we want to be a neighborly community and we generally hesitate to call for a tow, given that having your car towed is an awful expense and hassle.

My basic question is, what is the best way to enforce parking in our situation? We’ve thought about issuing guest permits so that a car without a permit is subject to tow, but then we have the burden of making sure we haven’t just wasted some money because someone forgets to place the permit. We’ve considered charging for parking, based on a car, but then the owners won’t provide their car information to the management company. Surely, we’re not treading on new ground – someone else must have had similar issues and thought through the laws and issues.

Can you shed any light?”

I can’t propose a specific solution without having access to the governing documents so I can see what they say about the open parking spaces. But I can say that unless you adopt a permit parking program of some kind to identify whether a parked car is entitled to be parked where it is, such as a placard or permit of some kind, you won’t get any closer to being able to enforce guest parking in the 3 parking spaces. Because there are so few you may have to adopt some kind of lottery for the permits, and limit the duration of the permit or pass so no one can abuse the opportunity.

It is great to be neighborly – but ignoring the people that are breaking the rules is not being neighborly to those who are following the rules and would like to see the board take responsibility.

You will need a good parking program and there are requirements an HOA or Condo association must meet in California before a tow. There is an Advanced Enforcement Primer – Parking and Towing, available on my website at www.californiacondoguru.com for $25 that would be helpful in setting policies geared to work in this scenario. [Note: Don’t try to use a credit card right now. The merchant provider is not communicating with the webstore provider. You will need to use Paypal or a check, or contact me if you want to purchase a PDF Primer to be sent to you.]

See also the blog on what to do about vans with writing on them in my other blog at www.condolawguru.com.