Gateway’s worst HOA president is at it again

Posted on March 24, 2019, 11:45 am
13 mins

It’s been awhile since multiple people contacted me on the same day asking how they can remove an HOA board member from their position.

Good news, I told them. If they’ve served 25% of their term they can actually be removed rather easily as long as someone is willing to put in the leg work and go door-to-door with recall ballots.

“Why?” I asked.

“What’s going on?”

The HOA board in Daniel’s Preserve is flexing their muscles again trying to assert control over the residents lives. This time over street parking.

For history and context, since the beginning days of the community street parking has been allowed in Daniel’s Preserve with certain exceptions. But now the HOA board, led by its president, wants to implement an all-out ban by suddenly claiming there are safety problems with the way the roads were built.

Bad news, I told them. The Daniel’s Preserve HOA owns the roads so the HOA board can implement whatever street parking policy they’d like in that community. I mean don’t get me wrong … I feel you … but the fact is the board is within their rights here.

Immediately the question was asked: What about Stoneybrook? I read all your articles about that.

Apples and oranges for two reasons, I explained.

One, Stoneybrook’s roads are not owned by the HOA there. They’re publicly owned by the Gateway Services District and therefore the HOA has no authority over the streets in Stoneybrook.

And two, a majority of Gateway’s Board of Supervisors (who oversee Stoneybrook’s roads) want no part in attempting to have the CDD implement a street parking ban.

Funny, though… As it turns out, the Daniel’s Preserve HOA board was already on our radar. The Gateway Sun has been working on a story about a homeowner in that community who’s been involved in a decade-long legal fight with the HOA over what began as a minor issue. While that homeowner has declined to comment for our upcoming story, everything is laid out in a lawsuit and counterclaim – and not to mention the HOA board have been openly gloating about the case and trying to shame this homeowner in the eyes of the community.

So I became intrigued. In digging around a little bit on the parking issue, I was advised that the HOA board president (whom I’m choosing not to name because I feel he enjoys the attention) may be looking to redeem himself with a ‘win’ after his embarrassing loss last year while trying to implement anti-renter rules for the community. It’s almost as if he looked for something he could do to punish the community for defying him and came up with this street parking ban.

I presume the HOA president won’t admit that, though.

He can’t just look the residents in the eye and say “I happen to like this rule, and I am going to make you live under it because it’s my personal preference.”

Instead… in a move that is hardly original… he’s pretending that other people are responsible instead of him so he’s not perceived as the bad guy (except nobody’s fooled). Like many other HOA leaders before him, he’s using the homeowner’s money to pay the association’s attorney to make the case on his behalf.

And what did the HOA’s attorney come up with?

Daniel’s Preserves roads – which to my knowledge have not contributed to a single accident despite MILLIONS (literally) of car trips over the years – are suddenly unsafe to park on.

SO NO MORE PARKING FOR ANYONE. Because safety first!

It’s all about safety! Safety! Safety! Safety!

Welllllllllllll….. tee hee, says the attorney, I suppose we could make a few exceptions, right?

“We recognize that there will be instances in which street parking is unavoidable. For example, a resident’s air conditioner could go out in the middle of August and the HVAC vendor’s service vehicle may not fit in the resident’s driveway. Such extreme circumstances would justify the Board to turn a blind eye and permit the service vehicle to park in the road for a limited amount of time.”

Turn a blind eye? To safety?

Look. Either there’s a safety issue or there isn’t.

There really shouldn’t be any “turning a blind eye” to safety for any reason.

If you want to say no parking is allowed “for safety reasons” then no parking means NO PARKING.

But of course their safety claims are rather dubious, and notable for their suddenness. After all these years did the attorney suddenly wake up to the fact that the roads were unsafe? Since the law firm in question represents many HOAs of communities whose streets are the same width as Daniel’s Preserve, does the law firm not have a duty to inform those associations about their hazardous roads? Have they provided those notices?

The attorney writes: Under Sec. 163.3202 (2), Lee County is required to adopt and maintain minimum land development regulations which enforce their planning goals, including regulations which “ensure safe and convenient onsite traffic flow, considering needed vehicle parking.”

Okay, so one question. Why haven’t they sued Lee County then?

I mean are we living in a world where Lee County has allowed community after community to be built without “safe and convenient” roads, according to the attorney. How has the county allowed all these communities to be permitted in such a fashion that it’s unsafe to park on the streets?

Lee County knows, or ought to know, that people will need lawns mowed or air conditioning repaired. And yet nearly all residential the roads in Gateway (and the ones I checked in Lehigh Acres) are the same unsafe and inconvenient width?

Of course not. But if Daniel’s Preserve feels so strongly that their roads were built and permitted in an unsafe manner they should sue the county and the developer. But they won’t, because .. and excuse my French .. they’re talking out of their ass and they know it.

This has nothing to do with safety, and everything to do with control over the residents.

The attorney also wrote: If the Association adopts an amendment which permits on-street parking, the Association would breach its duty of reasonable care to mitigate the foreseeable risks listed above and any others.

And immediately added: Further, because the Association and its residents are now on notice that the roads were rationally and intentionally designed based in part on the understanding that street parking would be prohibited, the Association may face greater risk of liability in the form of punitive damages.

But then as their attorney they’re also telling the board to “turn a blind eye” to the supposed massive safety issue for vendors and open themselves up to liability? What kind of legal advice is that? Are they from the legal firm of Have Your Cake & Eat It Too, Esquire?

I mean … are the attorney and board not aware that a lawn truck with a trailer and/or Comcast vans are larger than most vehicles used by every day citizens? Is the board not aware that by turning a blind eye to a LARGER than normal vehicle they create a LARGER obstruction of visibility that they’re in fact INCREASING the safety issue and liability? GASP!

The whole thing is nonsensical.

What happens in communities all over is that the HOA board contacts the association’s attorney and says “Hey I need to justify something that people in the community don’t want. Can you put a letter together?”

So the attorney obliges and cites a few cases and a few Florida statutes and everyone is supposed to be dazzled and most people just accept it. The HOA leader gets their letter to waive around, and the law firm gets a few billable hours. Win win for them. Lose lose for the residents.

Circling back to the beginning of the article, however, the roads in Daniel’s Preserve are under the ownership of the HOA. So the HOA board can do whatever it wants with street parking rules.

Knowing the Daniel’s Preserve HOA board as well as I do, you will not talk sense in to them. There is no point even trying.

They will not be convinced with rational arguments or petitions. The president is a former government worker who in my opinion has a psychological need to have authority over people, and the HOA is how he’s satisfying that need.

Bottom line, again, is that there is no point trying to reason with him.

I have seen this over and over in community after community. The president is not going to suddenly wake up one day and say “You know what? I’ve been wrong all this time. I’m going to start listening to the residents.”

Daniel’s Preserve residents will need to force change either through the HOA election process or via recall. The problem is that most people don’t get engaged enough to even vote in HOA elections, let alone step up to fight their board.

But I promise them that the situation will not correct itself. The residents will have to do something, because in my opinion their current HOA president is the worst in Gateway. And I say that knowing who they all are and how they conduct themselves.

Whether he wins or loses on this parking thing, he will not stop there.There will always be something with him, and then something else, and something else.

He needs and wants to fight with you. He needs it in his life.

The question for Daniel’s Preserve residents is: do they need or want it in their lives?

 

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

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