The issue of street parking in Stoneybrook isn’t expected to be officially discussed until the September 19 meeting of Gateway’s Board of Supervisors. We’ll have a number of articles with new information that week, but until then we do have one smaller bit of housekeeping to attend to.
The reason we’re not holding this article is because this is not news.
At the August 7 meeting of the Stoneybrook Advisory Committee, two former Stoneybrook HOA presidents were discussing the street parking situation in that community. Specifically that, in their opinion, it was not permitted because the Gateway District had a rule against it.
“You gotta remember this is a Gateway Services rule. They’re the ones that are enforcing this. They’re the ones that enforce the no parking,” said JT Thomas.
“We are acting as their agent,” said Joe Mikulka.
“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,” said Thomas.
Given all of the coverage we’ve given this topic over the past few years we were surprised to hear just now that Stoneybrook’s leaders believed there was a “Gateway Services rule” against parking. Surely, they could have mentioned it sooner than this?
Of course, there is no rule… because there can be no rule.
But nevertheless it seemed like we should at least look into it.
The Gateway Sun submitted a formal public records request with the Gateway Services CDD, who were compelled by Florida law to respond with whatever information they had, for a copy of their rule that banned parking in Stoneybrook. We also sent two requests to the Stoneybrook HOA, who had no obligation to respond to anything we sent them.
The GSCDD replied a few days later: they had no rule in their records that banned parking on Stoneybrook’s streets.
The Stoneybrook HOA, for their part, completely ignored us as expected. But we knew that the HOA couldn’t ignore a homeowner so we put up the bat signal asking for help. Someone quickly volunteered.
Just yesterday, the HOA responded with three documents.
The first was a memo from Gateway’s attorney Tony Pires citing good ol’ Florida Statute 316.1945 as his recommendation against street parking. For those who may be new to this debate, the use of that statute to justify the street parking ban was debunked so thoroughly by this publication two years ago that not even Pires dares to offer it any more. So it was a curious move by the HOA to put it forward.
As an interesting aside… within the document dump the GSCDD provided in the records request was a memo from a Lee County Deputy Attorney as well as a separate letter from an attorney in Cape Coral – with both attorneys absolutely roasting Pires for misleading the public about the application of FS 316.1945 within Stoneybrook.
The second document provided by the HOA was the also-debunked Tetra Tech memo. In this case, Tetra Tech incorrectly claimed that Lee County Ordinance 24-29 banned street parking on roads that are only 20 feet wide. So based on that ordinance, Tetra Tech recommended against street parking. As we’ve demonstrated probably about 5 times, Lee County Ordinanance 24-29 says no such thing. Neither does any other ordinance.
The third document was simply a letter from Bill Knight to Margaret Fineberg saying ‘look at the recommendation made in the second document’.
All three documents were based on vendor recommendations. Nothing more.
None of them quoted an established a rule, resolution or adopted policy of any kind.
Certainly nothing approved or authorized by Gateway’s Board of Supervisors. Nothing signed in to existence by Gateway’s chairman of that time.
The Stoneybrook HOA board is sophisticated enough to know that vendor recommendations do not automatically become rules for the community. And yet, that is all that exists and all that ever existed.
Worse, we’ve documented from A to Z how the recommendations from both Pires and Tetra Tech were just flat out wrong in the first place.
Also missing from the documents provided by the Gateway District and the HOA? A request from the GSCDD to the Stoneybrook HOA asking for their help to prevent people from parking on the district’s roads in Stoneybrook.
Gateway never asked Stoneybrook to enforce anything at all.
So why has the HOA board instructed their security vendor to harass people? Why has Mikulka used parking on district roads as an excuse not to renew renters’ leases? Why did the HOA pay the Lee County Sheriff’s Office to knock on residents’ doors late at night to ask people not to park on the streets?
There’s no paper trail that would demonstrate that the HOA is justified in taking any action against their residents on behalf of the GSCDD.
As we said in the outset: None of this is news.
But at least now we’ve asked both the GSCDD and the Stoneybrook HOA to provide the text of the “Gateway Services rule” that bans street parking in Stoneybrook. Both organizations have answered that request, failing to show that there’s a rule in place.
So, in short, there is no “Gateway Services rule” against street parking in Stoneybrook for the HOA to enforce. And even if there was, Gateway never asked the Stoneybrook HOA to enforce anything.