D.F. from Orange County, Florida writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I have read all of your answers to questions about handicapped parking on privately-owned condo property but have not come across our issue. We have 154 units spread over 15 acres. Most units are one-story. This was a “car-free” community when built in the 1970s. A private road now meanders through the community. There are three parking lots. Two are inside the community and the 3rd is adjacent. There are only 154 parking spaces total. Owners are required to have stickers on their cars to park in the lots between 6 PM and 6 AM. One sticker per owner. No assigned parking, except…
Years ago, the board began assigning handicapped spots to those who requested them. This has gotten out of hand. The most central lot (Lot C), has 55 spaces and 22 are now assigned to owners with “disabilities.” We have 4 new requests for assigned HC spots. When/where will it end? I think the solution is to limit the number of HC spots in Lot C and to immediately “unassign” all HC spots. I think this is reasonable. If we keep assigning HC spots the non-HC owners will eventually revolt. Any advice?
Mister Condo replies:
D.F., that is an interesting scenario. I am not an attorney nor do I offer any legal advice in this column. You might want to speak with the association’s attorney before taking any action as you do have to comply with the FHA requirements that may include ADA requirements depending on how your HOA is set up. For instance, are there any public amenities on your 15 acres – restaurant, club house, pool, golf, tennis, etc. that are open to the public or available to rent by non-owners? You need to know if all of your parking is privately held before you start making policies. I can tell you that taking back previously assigned handicapped spaces is not going to go over well with homeowners who now occupy the spaces. Provided you are within your rights to do so, I think the best idea would be to take a hard look at the make-up of your community and determine what would be a reasonable policy for handicapped parking for both the HOA and the homeowners. 15 acres is a lot of land. Perhaps there is even an option to add an additional parking lot or two to handle the excess parking needs. If you do go down the path of recalling previously assigned handicapped parking spaces, I would be ready for a fight. Handicapped unit owners are not looking for a fight with the HOA but they will likely bring one if they lose a “right” as they see it. I am not saying that you should ignore the parking expectations of non-handicapped owners when you make your decision. Just make sure you have thought of all available solutions and get a legal opinion before you proceed. All the best!