Too Many Cars, Not Enough Parking: Finding a Neighborhood Solution
HOAs and COAs have long struggled with the issue of limited parking and strict parking policies. Especially as the average number of vehicles per household rises through the decades. Once, an allotment of two cars was enough for families but now, each child has a car, visiting relatives and caregivers must have a place to park, and perhaps one parking spot in the garage is already taken up by storage instead.
Homeowners get frustrated because the policies don't accommodate their lifestyles. HOA boards get frustrated because homeowners won't adapt their vehicle ownership to the style of the neighborhood. When both sides are butting heads, compromise is necessary. Of course, what that compromise looks like will vary for each neighborhood and condo building.
Let's explore a few potential solutions to the parking problem and how you might find a compromise with your residents that makes everyone happy. Or, at the very least, provides everyone with a little more breathing room.
1) Don't Make It About Fines
The single biggest obstacle to reaching an agreement between HOA management and members is fines. If it becomes a battle between strict policies and collecting fees, the homeowners are going to feel attacked and exploited. They will fee that the HOA is maintaining the rules just for revenue, which had better not be the only reason. Fining creates a battlefield where compromise cannot, will not be reached.
Instead, try brightly colored tickets that build into a fee like sandwich punchcards. This makes it about the parking violations, not the money, and opens the door to discussion instead of warfare.
2) Explain Your Policies
If there are very important reasons why parking rules are strictly the way they are, explain it to the homeowners. Share it at meetings and pass it around in a flyer for those who can't or don't make it to meetings. Be informative and friendly in your tone when explaining that they can't park on the street in case firetrucks and ambulances need that space, and your streets are too narrow. Be friendly in displaying the math, possibly with diagrams, as to why you must defend guest parking and limit overflow parking use.
Homeowners will start thinking about solutions instead of butting heads when you frame it as a neighborhood math problem rather than HOA vs residents.
3) Reconsider Strict Policies
Populations develop with the times, and so too should neighborhoods and condos. Is it really necessary to prevent homeowners from using their driveways for a second or third car? What about just for visitors and caregivers for an aging populace? What about visitors over the holidays, where can they safely park?
HOAs take responsibility when homeowners are forced to park far away from their homes or when aging homeowners can't get care because there are no policies that allow for daily caregiver parking. Also, what is considered 'upscale' is changing as well. Clean, well-kept cars in driveways is now standard. After all, most well-off homes now have two to four vehicles in the family now.
4) Provide Nearby Overflow Parking
Often, the answer that many homeowners and visitors are willing to accept, when they see the math charted out, is overflow parking. A nearby lot owned or created by the HOA (or more than one for large neighborhoods) can allow residents and/or guests to manage their excess vehicle needs without cluttering or clogging the streets. But don't ask your residents to walk long distances, which can be dangerous, and avoid the common folly of asking them to park in nearby public parking. You don't control that parking and it can be blocked off to residents outside of your control.
Condos have it harder because there often is not a spare lot nearby. You might consider partnering with a nearby garage or paid lot to get residents and guests discounts when they need overflow parking that the condo lot simply cannot provide.
The key is to avoid either side of the issue being unreasonable. It is unreasonable for HOAs to ban third vehicles, especially those of visitors and caretakers, or to force residents to park a long distance from their homes. It's also unreasonable for homeowners to assume they can have an infinite number of vehicles when parking spaces are limited and roadside clearance is necessary.
Frame everything reasonably and work toward a solution that addresses all the issues at hand. This is the best and only way to approach solving your association's limited parking issues. Contact us today for more HOA and COA management insights when tempers rise and good solutions are hard to find.