Why is it that Home Owner Associations’ board members in Gateway lose their minds when it comes to enforcing street parking?

Before we go any further, a point of order: Although many of you have probably read at least some of our coverage about the debacle in Stoneybrook where we sided 100% against the HOA, when it comes to Daniel’s Preserve things are different in one very important way. The Daniel’s Preserve HOA owns their community’s roads, thus empowering the elected HOA board to set rules and enforcement policies. In Stoneybrook, the roads are publicly owned and the HOA has no legal authority whatsoever to set or enforce rules (but they do it anyway – and making matters worse, a Stoneybrook HOA survey showed that 74% of residents in that community disagree with the Stoneybrook board’s policies in regards to street parking).

Moving on…

Like many communities in Gateway there is a Facebook group dedicated to Daniel’s Preserve. Earlier this month the topic in that group turned to street parking enforcement and one member commented: “Also, should we ask why did Reds towing get the contract? Did this go out for bid? Does the HOA get a kickback for each tow? Does Reds have a gate code?”

That statement prompted someone on the HOA board to pick up their phone and call the HOA’s lawyers, Pavese Law Firm, who crafted a cease-and-desist letter demanding the organizers of the Facebook group “immediately remove all defamatory postings regarding the Association”, with the above quoted comment deemed the “most critical” by Pavese.

As you might expect some residents of Daniel’s Preserve were stunned by the HOA board’s strong-arm tactics. One resident mentioned First Amendment freedoms, however the First Amendment only prevents the government from restricting your speech. An HOA board is not a government entity therefore the First Amendment technically does not apply here, but we obviously understand the point being made.

But let’s examine the “most critical” statement again: Also, should we ask why did Reds towing get the contract? Did this go out for bid? Does the HOA get a kickback for each tow? Does Reds have a gate code?

In response the HOA President, Pat Flynn, complained to the Facebook group that his board works for free to enforce the rules and that there’s no appreciation for their efforts.

In fact, Flynn said: we get called “Scum Trolls” Lick Packs to name a few and again “taking kickbacks”..?.

Please try to look past the irony that Flynn was complaining about being called a troll while literally trolling the Facebook group.

Moving on…

Added Flynn, “Would you like to be called these names? would you like to be accused of taking ‘Kick backs?”

But nobody accused Flynn or any board member of taking kickbacks. They asked if the HOA would “get a kickback” meaning if the resident paid $100 (or whatever amount) for the tow, would the HOA itself get a cut of those proceeds?

So where exactly is the defamation here?

The Facebook group’s main organizer stated, “we discussed the matter with our attorney and it was confirmed that these postings are non-defamatory in nature.”

Consider that if the HOA arranges for a vehicle to be towed … a fine against the homeowner could also be involved. Meaning while it’s not a direct “kickback” in the strict sense of the word, the HOA actually would also have a financial benefit from the infraction. Therefore is it really so outrageous for somebody to wonder aloud about financial benefits to the Association related to enforcement actions?

Here’s what probably happened…

There’s been a lot of chatter in Daniel’s Preserve recently centering around dissatisfaction from the residents about the HOA board.

Flynn and/or other members of the Daniel’s Preserve HOA board likely feel unappreciated and that their authority is being threatened. Thus one or more board members directed their Association’s lawyer to squash any potential rebellion by having their lawyer fire off a threatening letter which stated “Failing to comply with the above demand shall result in the Association pursuing its rights against you, including, but not limited to, seeking injunctive relief. The Association shall also seek to recover its attorney’s fees and costs incurred to obtain your compliance with this demand.”

It worked.

Someone associated with the Facebook group deleted all traces of the statement that caused the HOA board to contact their attorneys. One of the group’s organizers cited potential financial ramifications from the HOA.

The whole thing left some people in the Daniel’s Preserve Facebook group “speechless” and apologetic for not being more involved with the HOA.

But the HOA board’s intimidation won’t work on this publication. And we know just how to create additional billable hours for Pavese and would have no qualms doing so.

Frankly, now that we’re not covering the Gateway Services District any more … we could use the content.

So we ask the “Scum Trolls Lick Packs” at the Daniel’s Preserve HOA board the following questions: 1) Why did Reds towing get the contract? 2) Did this go out for bid? 3) Does the HOA get a kickback for each tow? 4) Does Reds have a gate code?

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

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