GSCDD’s latest legal gaffe: Parking near mailboxes

Posted on August 16, 2019, 7:53 am
7 mins

Give him credit. And I’m not being sarcastic.

At yesterday’s Gateway District meeting, Supervisor Ed Tinkle tried at least three times to get an answer from Gateway’s lawyer to the simple and specific question as to whether the GSCDD could actually ban street parking in the Stoneybrook community.

Attorney Tony Pires did not directly answer the question. Instead, Pires’ go-to response was to advise that a CDD in Florida could tow vehicles that were “obstructing” traffic.

Indeed, there most likely are laws on the books that would allow any private or public entity from towing cars that are parked sideways or smack dab in the middle of their street or property. I highly doubt you would even need to make a new rule at the CDD level to deal with it.

But that’s not what Tinkle asked.

Tinkle asked: Could the GSCDD tow a car that was parked as any normal person would park a car.. on the side of the street, on the publicly-owned streets Stoneybrook?

Pires seemed to understand the question, but answering “No.” may not have been politically popular with Chairperson Margaret Fineberg. So Pires just dodged the question until Tinkle stopped asking.

During the meeting, Tinkle asked several other pointed questions and made multiple observations. Tinkle is clearly trying to find out what the GSCDD can and cannot do. To that end, Pires was given a set of questions from Tinkle that Pires needs to answer by the September 19, 2019 district meeting.

Toward the end of the discussion Fineberg invited Stoneybrook Advisory Committee president Joe Mikulka to address the board and Mikulka immediately took aim at several of the points Tinkle had made earlier.

Mikulka seemed to be throwing random darts at Tinkle, but Mikulka clearly had a plan. The dart that everyone felt landed in the bullseye yesterday was Mikulka’s explanation that under Florida law vehicles cannot part within 30 feet of mailboxes.

Mikulka even shared a story about how former HOA president Paul Kielmeyer once drove the entire community counting how many parking spots he could actually find under the 30-foot from the mailbox criteria. Mikula reported that Kielmeyer only found 12..

So the new narrative became that maybe someone could street park in Stoneybrook, but since you couldn’t do it within 30 feet of a mailbox that would rule out 99% of the community’s roads as parking spaces. Problem solved. Mikulka said that the 30 feet rule expired at 6pm, but by that time most of the potential issues are already over with.

Nearly everyone involved in the meeting was completely on board with the mailbox restriction. So much so that the district plans to direct Tetra Tech to generate an aerial map of Stoneybrook with red lines from each and every mailbox in the community.

That is, until they read this article.

Mikulka was likely referring to Florida Statute 316.1965.

FS 316.1965 says: Parking near rural mailbox during certain hours; penalties.—Whoever parks any vehicle within 30 feet of any rural mailbox upon any state highway in this state between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. shall be cited for a nonmoving violation, punishable as provided in chapter 318.

The problem, of course, is that Ivory Stone Loop is not a state highway so this law does not apply.

According to my many wide-ranging searches in Municode, there is no Lee County ordinance that echoes this particular state statute. I invite anyone from the GSCDD or SAC to contact me and show me which statute or ordindance they were referring to, if not FS 316.1965.

Until then we can add parking near mailboxes to the growing list of failed attempts to ban street parking.

Here’s the deal.

They’ve tried everything they can think of, but they cannot ban street parking in Stoneybrook at the CDD level because they’re public roads. And based on Pires “obstruction” deflection when he was directly asked the question in simple terms, they clearly know that.

The GSCDD and HOA should stop trying to claim invalid legal rights that are continuously debunked by this publication, which do nothing aside from creating constant argument and distrust. Instead, they should focus on the legal solution and start contacting the local representatives in the Legislature to change the law to allow a CDD to transfer ownership of roads to an HOA.

Yes it might take a year or two, but this has been going on for around 10 years. And when people know this is being handled through the proper channels I think it’ll be worth the wait.

Plus it will provide the 1500 or so residents of Stoneybrook the time and opportunity to craft their own HOA street parking policy based on the will of ALL the people – instead of the will of the 2 who sit on the CDD board and the 7 who sit on the HOA board.

And if Stoneybrook residents don’t like the direction the current HOA want to take (street parking ban), they can always change who sits on the HOA at the ballot box and elect board members who favor a more reasonable parking policy.

Unless and until a proper change in the law happens, you may park on Stoneybrook’s streets in accordance with Lee County ordinances 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

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

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