Reserved Parking Systems: Car Wars

Car Wars and parking in HOAs

It’s a war out there … Car ownership and land costs on the rise … street width and parking space on the decline. Where the two meet isn’t pretty and battles erupt: parking committees posting Day-Glo orange violation stickers on vehicles, roving tow trucks with instructions to hook and tow on sight and neighbors duking it out over parking spaces.

In an effort to resolve the problems, the board often enacts a reserved parking system. If your board has invoked such a plan, is it in compliance with the governing documents? In condominiums, each owner owns an undivided interest in the common area parking spaces. In a homeowners association, every owner has an easement to use the common area parking. So, all residents have the right to use any parking space, provided the space is vacant. By assigning parking spaces to a particular owner, the board may be illegally precluding residents from freely using available parking. Read the governing documents carefully. The board must have specific power to enact reserved parking in the common area.

car wars


Assuming that your HOA’s governing documents do give the board the authority to assign parking spaces, before embarking upon a reserved parking scheme for your community, there are a number of issues still to consider:

  • How many parking spaces will be assigned to each unit or lot? After these spaces are assigned, are there enough spaces left to designate as “Visitor Parking”?
  • Are the parking spaces situated so that each owner will have a reserved parking space close to the front door? What happens if there is only one space in front of two units or no spaces in front of a particular unit at all?
  • Do owners have the right to trade or sell reserved space?
  • What type of registration system will be implemented for tracking violators? And who will do the monitoring?
  • What is the policy for handicapped parking spaces?
  • How will the reserved parking system be enforced? Fining? Towing? Make sure your towing policy is in compliance with local ordinances.

Car wars are not conflicts easily won. Americans believe that parking is found among the Bill of Rights. Before getting too radical with a parking policy, consider the practicality of monitoring it and the conflicts that could arise from enforcement. It may be more painful than leaving things as they are.

Published in The Regenesis Report – September 2008