Gateway Sun

Most communities in Gateway allow their residents and guests to park on the streets until a certain time each day (or night).

But not in Stoneybrook.

There’s no street parking allowed there at all.

Like, ever.

So every few years a group a residents in Stoneybrook decides the struggle is real and they set out to change the rules about street parking in their community. In fact some HOA election platforms in Stoneybrook have been based entirely on the promise of securing street parking for the residents.

But there’s two problems.

One, most of the roads in Stoneybrook are approximately three feet too narrow to allow street parking according to Lee County code. Roads have to be a certain width to allow unfettered access to emergency vehicles. If you have a car parked in the street it takes away too much of the available roadway that might be needed by a fire truck, ambulance, etc.

And two, Stoneybrook’s roads aren’t owned by the HOA. They’re owned by the Gateway Services Community Development District. So the HOA can’t go making up parking rules on streets it doesn’t own.

To their credit, the current group of Stoneybrook street-parking crusaders have figured out there’s no point nagging their HOA about this. They’ve decided to go straight to the source and I’ve heard they’re planning on crashing the next GSCDD meeting.

Allow me to speak directly to the Stoneybrook street-parking enthusiasts…

As the lone analyst of the GSCDD, I would like to introduce you to your five member Board of Supervisors who will ultimately decide on your street parking issue:

Supervisor Ed Tinkle. A retired civil engineer. The Gateway Sun will win a Pulitzer Prize for journalism before Tinkle ever votes against a section of Lee County code. Especially one that’s based purely on public safety.

Vice-Chairman Bill Guy. This man has earned scorn from much of the entire Pelican Preserve community, where Guy lives, in order to side with City of Fort Myers regulations over the wishes of his own neighbors regarding a different road issue having to do with painted chevrons and golf carts. Supervisor Guy stood tall when another former Supervisor from Pelican Preserve (GARY NEUBAUER) wouldn’t.. and Guy did it all by the book. Guy no doubt pays for it with endless glances and whispers because he followed the rules. If you think Guy is going to be intimidated by a few dozen of you showing up at a district meeting and becoming obnoxious over a street parking issue in Stoneybrook … you’re bleeping nuts.

Chairman Margaret Fineberg. A Stoneybrook resident – who, I am told – has a history of not supporting street parking. After watching Fineberg for over two years worth of district meetings I can tell you it’s MOST LIKELY because she understands the liability issues that would be created for all Gateway residents by granting street parking in Stoneybrook. More on that later.

Supervisor Doug Banks. Also a Stoneybrook resident. Banks is a community leader and when push comes to shove he prefers to accommodate whenever possible. But he’s also a policy and procedures wonk, as anyone who regularly watches GSCDD meetings will attest. In my opinion he will examine and immediately understand the failed 2009 and 2012 attempts to implement street parking in Stoneybrook, and he will be the best person in Gateway to calmly explain why it cannot be allowed. And after listening to him, you will agree with him.

Supervisor Kathleen Flaherty. Yet another Stoneybrook resident on the GSCDD board, whose husband George currently sits on the Stoneybrook HOA board. While Kathleen Flaherty may march to the beat of her own drum there’s no question she does her homework. She’s equally likely to support street parking just to annoy Fineberg as she is to rail against street parking after she researches why it’s been disallowed all these years.

The best case scenario is a 4-1 vote against street parking in Stoneybrook from the GSCDD board. But the more likely scenario is a 5-0 vote against it.

Because what you’re asking the Supervisors to do is to tell the residents of Royal Greens and Waterford Village that in the event of a worst case scenario in Stoneybrook (someone is struck by a car near a parked car on the street, or an emergency vehicle’s path is blocked) that all Gateway residents should accept that liability risk and share the legal costs. Which is what would happen if the district was sued, because the GSCDD owns the roads.

You’re asking the board to impose liability for street parking in Stoneybrook on to the residents of Cypress Cay and Silverlakes.

They’re just not going to do that.

I don’t know what else to tell you.

One course of action might be to try and have ownership of Stoneybrook’s roads transferred to the HOA.

Ah ha! Great idea, right?

The GSCDD loves giving away roads, so they might go for it. And in theory … if the HOA owns the roads then the HOA could decide the street parking issue!

But while your HOA would own the roads, guess what they would not own…

An insurance policy.

Nobody is going to give you insurance for a parking situation that violates Lee County code. It’s the same problem the GSCDD would face if they gave their blessing for street parking. No insurance company would cover a serious accident.

And you have to have insurance.

Look, nobody from the HOA or GSCDD is trying to stop Stoneybrook residents from parking on the street just because they can. Or just to have a rule. Or to show you they’re in charge.

Hell, half the HOA board members probably want to be able to park on the streets themselves. There’s no power trip involved here.

The simple fact of the matter is that neither Stoneybrook or Gateway would be insured if they willingly allowed street parking on streets that are known to be too narrow. They have to have policies and some form of enforcement against street parking.

And I know that has a lot of people in Stoneybrook extremely upset.

(#FirstWorldProblems.)

So, this being the United States of America, if you want to confront your elected GSCDD officials next week, go for it.

I promise you, though, you’ll be wasting your time.

About Jeff Kuntz

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Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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