City Council members say homeowner’s associations shouldn’t be able to bypass Raleigh’s requirements for parking restrictions on city streets.
A council committee took up the issue Tuesday to settle a battle in the Southall neighborhood off New Hope Road. Earlier this year, the HOA there requested “no parking” signs along Birmingham Way following a vote by the association’s board.
But once the signs went up and the city’s parking enforcers arrived, some Southall residents were caught off guard. Many opposed the parking restriction, and 16 of 23 Birmingham Way residents signed a petition asking for a change.
“They felt that there was not proper notification,” city parking administrator Gordon Dash said. “They wanted the decision reversed. It seems to be a pretty much equal division between those who want it and those who don’t.”
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Raleigh’s rules, however, set a far higher bar for residents seeking parking restrictions. At least 75 percent of affected homeowners must sign a petition before the city steps in.
While that’s the policy, Dash said his department has been making exceptions for HOAs.
“They reported to us that there was a majority … and we’ve gone ahead and allowed that and there hasn’t been a problem,” he said.
The HOA’s covenants complicate the situation in Southall, because they were in place before the neighborhood was annexed into the city. Those rules ban on-street parking, but the city can’t legally enforce HOA covenants, leaving enforcement to civil action by the HOA board.
Councilman Wayne Maiorano said the city shouldn’t be involved unless it receives the required petition.
“You’ve got to unwind whatever happened and let them figure out what they’re going to do,” he said. “We need to put it back to where it was before we put our hands on it.”
The city has already stopped enforcing the parking restrictions, and the council committee voted to remove the signs. Proponents of the parking ban have said parked cars could make it hard for emergency vehicles to pass, but city officials determined that’s not the case.
“It’s a poor use of taxpayer money to put signs up and take them back down,” resident Kay Metzner said. “A small vocal minority that hadn’t read their mail were suddenly upset that they weren’t consulted.”
The parking debate has led to discord through the neighborhood. Metzner accused parking ban opponents of “coercion” in seeking signatures for their petition.
Brenda Engram said someone called the police as she went door to door with the petition.
After the confusion in Southall, Dash said the city won’t allow HOAs to request parking restrictions anymore. “We’re going to stick to the tried and true, proven method of a petition of 75 percent of residents,” he said.
The council committee agreed and will take a final vote Sept. 2.