When our HOA was in its infancy and the street was mostly undeveloped, parking was not a problem. Most of the residents were young working couples and if they had children, those kids were years away from being old enough to drive.
But inevitably, people mature, and children go to high school and need their own cars. This is where recreational vehicles entered the picture. Suddenly, families had four cars and varieties of watercraft, motorhomes, and campers.
Backing out of a driveway was becoming a hazard. Big vehicles parked on the street blocked the view of a car leaving a driveway—and you couldn’t see children, parents, or pets dodging in and out between these motorized behemoths.
Our HOA bylaws don’t address parking. Recreational vehicles weren’t so common 30 years ago when the bylaws were written. Many older HOA’s don’t have parking regulations, either. What’s the solution?
Know Your City’s Codes
In our city, San Antonio, if you own an RV, a trailer, or a boat that measures longer than 24 feet, you may get a big fine if you leave it parked in the street. Albert Mora, San Antonio’s Parking Enforcement Training officer, provided these guidelines from the city’s codes:
- Don’t park an oversized vehicle in front of a residence, except for the time actually necessary to load or unload passengers, freight, or merchandise.
- Oversized vehicles should not be parked in the restricted area (15 ft. from the curb/street to the back of the vehicle). If a trailer is attached to the vehicle, the 15 ft. should be measured from the back end of the trailer.
- Cars and oversized vehicles should not be parked on the unimproved areas of the front and side yard. This means not on dirt, grass, or other plants.
- An oversized vehicle, other than one that is also defined as a truck-tractor, road-tractor, semi-trailer, trailer, or commercial motor vehicle with three (3) or more axles, may be parked within the restricted parking area for such time as is actually necessary for trip preparation. Trip preparation time shall be limited to a maximum of forty-eight (48) hours prior to use and twenty-four (24) after use, twice within any calendar month.
- An oversized vehicle of any type may be parked in the restricted parking area at any time if it bears a special handicapped parking permit (decal) issued by the handicapped access officer of the City of San Antonio.
As food for thought, a 2021 Ford F450 Crew Cab is about 22 feet long. If you add grille guards to the front and back, that truck may be oversized.
COVID-19 Parking Woes
Remember the happy feeling of seeing your child graduate and move out? With COVID-19 and social trends, many of them are returning to the nest, bringing their cars and families with them. Data from the monthly Current Population Survey (CPS) show that the share of the population aged 18-29 living in their parents’ homes stood at 43 percent in October 2020.
As a result, cars stack up on the street. Neighbors are placed in the uncomfortable position of complaining about the parking situation. Nobody wants to load more woe on a down-on-their-luck neighbor but darn it, you need to park in front of your house!
On a public street, there’s not much an HOA can do, if the homeowner agreements don’t specify parking rules. Many older neighborhood HOAs don’t have parking restrictions because 30+ years ago, a three-car family was unusual—and garages stored cars back then, not detritus.
Can parking guidelines be revised? This topic has been revisited many times on Internet forums. The answer is yes, with caveats. Most forum participants who have been through the process say it is a hassle and that the process created more neighborhood strife than positive results.
Parking problems have ebbed and flowed in our little HOA. The biggest problem was while all the neighborhood kids were in high school and had their own cars. Homeowners negotiated with neighbors about spreading out parking—sometimes the kids had to park down the street. The situation didn’t last more than four years, though. They did graduate and leave home. When they come back to visit, we forewarn the neighbors and come up with temporary solutions. Single neighbors occasionally share their driveways.
We have friends who are sports car enthusiasts. They have three different collector car models, and they live in a neighborhood with an HOA that requires all cars to be parked inside the garage. This couple wasn’t about to sacrifice the cars they’d worked so hard to purchase. The solution?
A garage lift.
Four-post lifts are the sturdiest and can most easily and safely provide an additional parking space, but they are usually the most expensive. Anyone considering this option must ensure that their garage floor can support the weight of the lift and the third vehicle. The garage ceiling height is another consideration; not all garages are able to contain two stacked cars.
If the specifications and your budget are compatible, install two lifts. It may be a little inconvenient to park in the evening and leave in the morning, but it certainly will solve the space problem.
We’d all like to have our cars, trucks, and RVs at home, but sometimes that just isn’t an option. We have a motorhome that we store off-site. Because of the street configuration and the zero-lot line format, we can’t even load in from the front of our house. Everything goes into the car and then we drive to the storage depot and unload.
Awkward and unwieldy? Definitely. Costly? A bit. But offsite storage has an advantage that street parking doesn’t offer—it’s secure. We lock our RV into an enclosed storage unit located in a gated storage area. This saves us from the worry of mice gnawing into the hoses of our RV; these critters would be free to chew away if the motorhome was parked outside our home! And we’ve met a new community of people storing their RVs and sports cars, so we have another circle of acquaintances.
Related Article: Parking Policies in your HOA
You can’t solve all your parking problems on your own, but now you know where to start, and most importantly, what questions to ask. All the best resolving your persistent parking problems and here’s to safer and parked car free association roads. Old problems, new solutions. Nothing is certain but change!
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