Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Problem Parking in your Community Association?

It really shouldn't come as a surprise that older multifamily communities in Florida (and elsewhere in the country) have serious parking problems these days since those communities were built decades ago when families used fewer cars.

Today, people move into these communities with three, four and sometimes five cars in tow. In condominiums and cooperatives, there is limited space in the parking garages and parking areas. In homeowners' associations, parking on the streets and in private garages (many of which are inaccessible due to the fact that they are used as storage units) can be just as problematic.

The proper management of parking spaces is necessarily tied to how parking spaces are classified in a community's governing documents. In some communities, one or more spaces may be appurtenances to the units, meaning they are conveyed via deed along with title to the unit and cannot be split apart from unit ownership. In other communities, all spaces are defined as common elements which are freely assignable by the board whereas in still other communities, parking spaces are limited common elements which means they are used exclusively by the owners to which they are assigned.

Boards dealing with parking problems often have to navigate amongst the following:

  • Requests for reassignment of parking spaces;
  • How to accommodate disabled parking requests;
  • Insufficient guest parking, particularly during holidays;
  • Initial Developer parking assignments which have been ignored or forgotten over many years; and
  • Owners swapping parking spaces without the authority to do so.
There are a variety of ways to handle parking space problems including possible amendments to your declaration and/or rules and regulations in order to update an antiquated system put in place decades ago.

Even brand-new communities can have persistent parking problems. Recently, a large part of the appeal of a shiny new building in Miami-Dade was its "automated parking garage". The Robotic Valet was intended to eliminate the need to fight over spaces, remove any concerns about security and generally make residents' lives easier. It all sounded wonderful but the room for mechanical and human operator error quickly became apparent with some owners waiting for hours for their cars to arrive. One of the areas which was overlooked was peak hours for vehicle retrieval requests. Another was the need to get robotic parking right if you build a garage with a reduced number of parking spaces!

I grew up in Chicago and one of the most iconic buildings downtown was the Marina Towers, mostly due to its unique open-air parking structure. As kids, we used to think about how cool it would be to live there and park a car there. Last summer when I visited my hometown, I passed the building and shuddered when I thought about what a potential mess their parking situation might be.

If your community is having parking problems or you just want to be proactive in this regard, please speak to your association attorney for some solutions.