Parking is an all too common problem in HOA’s. There doesn’t seem to be enough parking for everyone. Perhaps guest parking is always full and residents are taking all the spots with extra cars. You suspect that some residents are renting illegally or have unauthorized tenants who bring extra cars with them. So how can you know who’s in your community and make parking fair for everyone? Here are six steps to setting up a successful parking program.
1. Create a plan
One of the first steps to improving parking is to have a plan. Take inventory of your current parking and outline the problems you are having. Are there too many vehicles? Not enough space? Is safety or outsiders parking in the community an issue?
Understand what your CC&R’s allows and what you need to enforce, or if any of your rules need to be updated. Seek legal counsel if needed to be sure you are following local laws.
Once you understand your parking problems, establish any rules or identify existing rules that aren’t being followed. Consider how many vehicles residents should have, where they are allowed to park, how much guest parking will be allowed, and what kind of enforcement you need.
2. Identify resident vehicles
One of the most important things you can do to help parking is identify and limit resident vehicles. Decals provide a quick way to see if a vehicle belongs to a resident or not. Decals with unique numbers or a QR code, like Smart Decals, allow them to be tracked in a database.
If you have a specified limit for resident vehicles per home, give residents the allowed number of decals to limit how many vehicles they can have parked. For example, if your rules state that each home can have two vehicles, give each home two decals. Any additional vehicles or special circumstances can be approved by the board. If every approved vehicle must have a decal, it will be easier to identify unauthorized vehicles.
Use different colors of decals for vehicles that must be parked in different areas like garages or driveways. With decals, you and your enforcement team will be able to identify residents who are parked in guest spaces.
3. Clarify your guest parking rules
Once you’ve decided on your guest parking rules, it’s important to properly communicate any changes to your residents. Send an email and a written notice explaining the rules and how they will be enforced. Make sure this aligns with any laws around giving proper notice of changes.
Clear signage is a great way to designate guest parking and helps visitors know exactly where they can park. Parking signs also help your enforcement partner know where the guest parking zones are.
Decide on a system for managing guest parking. We recommend using a digital guest registration system like our Virtual Attendant, which allows guests to register permits online 24/7 in compliance with your rules, right from their mobile device. This removes the headache of keeping track of paper permits and curbs resident abuse of guest parking. If you do use physical guest permits, make sure a limited number are distributed to residents and explain how and where they should be displayed.
4. Enforce your parking
A good parking plan doesn’t work unless you enforce it. Determine how many warnings will be given before taking action, and what the action will be. Create a process for how violations will be recorded, issued, and when you will involve your tow partner. It’s important to keep track of any violations or tows.
Take photos and document the incident so that you have evidence to back up any action taken. A software like Parking Boss can track any violations and create vehicle histories so you can identify repeat offenders.
If possible, issue a warning before towing or fining (unless for a safety reason such as a blocked driveway or fire lane). This gives the vehicle owner a chance to comply with your rules and can help avoid a legal battle. Make sure your enforcement or tow partner is aware of your rules and guest parking areas.
If you are enforcing parking yourself with volunteers or a parking committee, see our 8 Best Practices for Self-Enforcement. Have a plan for communication and always monitor safely, preferably in pairs.
5. Hire a tow or patrol partner if possible
When choosing between patrol or tow companies, ask for references or interview them.
What is the size of their operation? A smaller company may be able to deliver a more personalized service, but may struggle at a large community or have slow response times. What experience do they have conducting parking enforcement in communities like yours?
You’ll want to make sure their company is up to date with any insurance or licenses, are knowledgeable about towing laws, and indemnify your community against any laws they might break. Avoid predatory towing by requiring an authorized agent’s signature for any tows or impounds.
How are they going to report to you their enforcement efforts? A cheaper company may offer you hand written paper reports, or worse, none at all. A good report keeps their team accountable and lets you stay informed.
6. Use a management software to track parking data
A system that you own, or a software like Parking Boss, allows enforcement companies to come and go without interruption to your enforcement plan, protects your data, and maintains a level of consistency. If you leave it up to an enforcement partner to provide a parking system, then they can take that system and signage with them if they are terminated.
An ideal software would allow you to track resident vehicles and violations in a live database, easily manage guest parking, know who’s parked at your community, and works with your enforcement partner.
Talk to our Parking Boss experts today. We take the hassle out of parking and make it a fair amenity for residents and guests.