Many association CC&Rs prohibit owners from parking on the streets within the community. But what if those streets are public streets? Can the association still regulate parking? The short answer is “yes.” When owners purchase property in a community association, they do so subject to the restrictions in the governing documents. In a sense, it’s a contractual relationship between the owner and the association. The owner is agreeing to do (or not do) certain things on their property or within the community. With that in mind, ownership of the streets (whether public or private) doesn’t matter. The owner agreed, via the CC&Rs, not to park in a certain place.
Keep in mind that state law may control an association’s authority to tow a vehicle from public streets. Nevertheless, in most communities the association may still levy fines against an owner for parking violations occurring on public streets.
Several court cases address this issue. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
1. Verna v. Links at Valleybrook, 852 A.2d 202 (NJ Super 2004)
The owner in the association owned a small business. Occasionally, he would park his work vehicle on the street in front of his townhome. The association’s CC&Rs contained the following language:
No trailers or commercial vehicles shall be permitted to remain on any Lot or street in The Links without the written consent of the Board....
The owner claimed that because the streets were public, the association had no authority to regulate parking on those streets. The court rejected the owner's position, stating that the regulation of parking through the CC&Rs is “a matter of contract” which may impose greater limits on an owner’s use of property than governmental restrictions.
2. Maryland Estates Homeowners’ Association v. Puckett, 936 SW2d 218 (Mo. App. E.D. 1996)
In this case an owner within the community conceded that the CC&Rs prohibited him from parking his vehicle in the driveway on his lot. However, he argued, the association could not prevent him from parking on the public street adjacent to his lot. The court held that the CC&Rs are “a contract to which each homeowner becomes a party when acquiring property in the subdivision.” The court ruled in favor of the association and granted an injunction prohibiting the owner from parking on the public streets within the community.
3. Sui v. Price (Cal. App. 2011)
While not directly dealing with parking on public streets, this California case answered the question of whether an association may tow a vehicle which is in violation of the CC&Rs. The owner in this case stored a disabled vehicle on his lot. The CC&Rs prohibited the parking or storing of disabled vehicles anywhere in the community. Further, the association had the authority to enforce rules “by appropriate means.” The owner argued that towing his vehicle was outside the scope of the association’s authority. The court responded by stating “One wonders — how else would the prohibition on parking disabled vehicles be enforced against a recalcitrant homeowner?” Ultimately, the association prevailed in the lawsuit.