Stoneybrook HOA has mistakenly enforced a non-existent “Gateway rule” for a decade

Posted on August 19, 2019, 9:55 am
9 mins

During the August 7, 2019 meeting of the Stoneybrook Advisory Committee, former Stoneybrook HOA presidents Joe Mikulka and JT Thomas both made comments to suggest that the Gateway Services District was the entity that has a rule banning street parking in Stoneybrook.

Specifically, Thomas said, “When people say, you know, I got this fake ticket on my car tonight that’s worth the paper it was written on. The only thing it says on that paper because, this is when I was [HOA] president we wrote it this way: Per Gateway Services rules, no street parking.”

And Mikulka backed up Thomas, adding that the HOA were simply acting as the Gateway District’s “agents” in enforcing Gateway’s no parking rule.

But there is no such rule.

And we know there is no such rule because such a rule would have had to be passed by the Board of Supervisors at one of their meetings. If you follow the link below, it will take you to the area of the district’s website where all of the meeting minutes since 1986 have been posted:

We’ve read them all. Going all the way back to 1986.

They never passed a rule banning street parking.

So exactly which “Gateway Services rule” does the HOA believe they’re enforcing? And where is the document that created the rule?

In addition, the GSCDD never passed a rule allowing for the installation of the “NO STREET PARKING” signs that have been placed at each street entrance in Stoneybrook.

So how did the signs get there? To summarize our own April 15, 2017 article explaining the situation: Back in 2009, Supervisor Margaret Fineberg decided she wanted the street signs in order to make sure her wish that nobody parks on the street was adhered to. She told former District Manager Bill Knight what she wanted to do, and they came up with a plan. In order to justify the signs they turned to District Engineering firm Tetra Tech who wrote an August 6, 2009 memo in which they outline two reasons to justify the street parking ban.

Reason one, Tetra Tech found a recommendation from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials which said streets should be 34 feet wide in order to have street parking on both sides.

Problem one, the Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials just that – an association. It is not a government entity who can craft laws. Additionally, their recommendation is just that – recommendation. It is not binding or a law in any way. Lee County code requires roads be 20 feet wide. Having residential streets that are 34 feet wide would be absurd.

Reason two, Tetra Tech mistakenly cited Lee County Ordinance 24-29 and Tetra Tech incorrectly claimed the ordinance said, and this is a quote from the memo: no vehicle shall park on a street when parking would result in a travel way reduced to less than 20 feet.

Problem two, Lee County Ordinance 24-29 doesn’t say that at all. Read for yourself:

Problem three, the signs are not part of the Stoneybrook development order.

Despite the fact the signs were never approved and nor are they even valid, the signs were installed anyway in 2010. And since then, the Stoneybrook HOA board have taken it upon themselves to enforce the non-existent rule that created a phony street parking ban, all the while pointing to unauthorized signs as proof that the rule must be real.

While the street parking ban does not actually exist, what does exist is an opportunity for the Stoneybrook HOA and GSCDD to lobby the local representative in the Florida Legislature to get the ball rolling on passing a law that would allow a Community Deveopment District to transfer ownership of roads to an HOA.

Although we’ve written that several times, it hasn’t gotten any traction that we’ve heard of within the Stoneybrook HOA. We’ve asked a few people connected to the situation why that is and the unanimous consensus is they don’t want Stoneybrook homeowners to have to pay for the roads. One person said “the Stoneybrook HOA wants to have their cake and eat it too” meaning they want to control the roads, but don’t want to have to pay for them.

Could be.

But I also believe that the HOA board members want to keep the blame buffer. The HOA has gone out of their way to blame the GSCDD for absolutely everything when it comes to the HOA’s enforcement of the phantom street parking ban. This is despite the fact there is no street parking ban, and since there is no street parking ban the GSCDD has never asked the HOA to enforce anything. Yet to this day the HOA still blames the GSCDD for all of the HOA’s parking enforcement activities.

So what would happen if the HOA owned/controlled the roads? The HOA board would be able to set a parking policy and they would have to accept responsibility for the consequences of that policy.

The policy the current HOA board would pass would be to ticket or tow away any car parked on the street. (A policy that only 24% of Stoneybrook residents support.)

I believe creation of the street parking ban would be the tipping point. That would be what it would take for enough people to vote in the HOA elections, and the current board would be ousted. So it’s much easier from a political standpoint to blame the Gateway District rather than have the HOA board members accept responsibility.

So between the cost (assuming the people I’ve spoken with are correct) and the blame buffer, it’s in the HOA’s best interests for the GSCDD to own the roads, while allowing the HOA to set and enforce the parking policy. And that’s what they attempted to do on August 1 and August 15.

And had it gone through, when the HOA arranged for properly parked vehicles to be towed away from a publicly-owned streets… do you know who the HOA would blame? The GSCDD.

Circling back to the beginning of the article, we provided the link to all GSCDD Supervisor meeting minutes. We have gone through them, and Supervisor Ed Tinkle said he has as well.

There is no rule against street parking.

There is no authorization for the street parking signs.

So we don’t know what “Gateway rule” the HOA believes they are enforcing.

The matter is set to be brought up at the September 19, 2019 meeting of the GSCDD board. We hope this is our last article on this topic until then.

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

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