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New bill could pose problems for East County homeowners associations

Florida House Bill 1203 goes into effect on July 1 and limits what HOAs can prohibit, such as work trucks in driveways.


A pickup truck is parked in a driveway in Stone Ridge. Currently, the truck can't park in a driveway overnight in the Country Club, but as of July 1, the HOA will no longer be allowed to prohibit it.
A pickup truck is parked in a driveway in Stone Ridge. Currently, the truck can't park in a driveway overnight in the Country Club, but as of July 1, the HOA will no longer be allowed to prohibit it.
Photo by Lesley Dwyer
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Michael Miller worries that the passage of House Bill 1203 could have “unintended consequences” in his Country Club neighborhood and the East County community as a whole. 

The bulk of the 44-page bill, signed into law on May 31 by Gov. Ron DeSantis, pertains to the administration of homeowners associations — education requirements for directors and how fees are imposed and records are kept.

Page 37 is where the bill starts to concern Miller. 

The bill states that homeowners associations “may not prohibit” property owners, tenants or guests from parking their work vehicles or personal vehicles, including pickup trucks, on the owner’s driveway or any other area where the owner has “a right to park as governed by state, county, and municipal regulations.”

Currently, homeowners in the Country Club are not allowed to park pickup trucks or work vehicles in their driveways overnight. That regulation was set and is enforced by the Country Club Edgewater Village Association.

“My thing with pickup trucks is that they’re luxury vehicles now,” Commissioner Ray Turner said. “When these CDDs and HOAs were formed in the beginning, these pickup trucks weren’t quite what they are today, so there’s going to have to be a little bit of flexibility because it’s not a work truck for people in a lot of cases.”   

Miller, who is a former CEVA board member and the current CDD5 assistant secretary, is not personally opposed to parking pickups on driveways either, but some people in his community are. He said CEVA receives occasional complaints in regards to parking pickup trucks, and that's how the bylaws had read. 

Miller has two bigger concerns with the bill — he said the language is too vague and it’s an example of the state chipping away at local governance. 

“Somebody obviously decided to go after parking ... what’s next?” Miller said. “Are they just going to start, one by one, wiping out HOA restrictions or the ability to have restrictions? Are we dismantling local government? Now, the state has all this authority that used to be local.” 

He also questioned how a bill that affects millions of homeowners across the state happened without more public participation and awareness of the issue. He said CEVA was caught off guard when a woman asked for a delay on a fine regarding her pickup truck. 

“The lady said there’s a new state law going into effect in July that will allow me to park a pickup truck (in her driveway), so I don’t think the HOA should be fining me now,” Miller said. “We’re looking around saying, ‘What?’ We have professional staff that are HOA certified. We have attorneys that presumably look out for pending legislation. I’ve talked to people in other communities, and it’s the same story — they absolutely never heard about this.”    

Since the state didn’t define what a personal vehicle is, Miller said it can be anything a homeowner says is his or her personal vehicle, from a monster truck to a converted school bus. 

As for work vehicles, the bill specifically allows for “official insignias” and “visible designations,” but excludes commercial motor vehicles, as defined by Florida Statute Section 320.01(25). The section defines commercial motor vehicles as having a gross vehicle weight of over 26,001 pounds. 

Essentially, the bill only precludes passenger buses, dump trucks and the like from parking in a driveway overnight. And “any other area” implies that a guest could arrive in an RV and park it on the lawn with the homeowner’s permission.

Miller said he hopes people wouldn’t abuse the vague language, but there’s certainly potential for it. 

If it were to be abused, there's not much Manatee County could immediately do about it. 

“We do not regulate parking on lawns,” Code Enforcement Chief Tom Wooten said. 

Plus, the county only has jurisdiction on publicly maintained county roads, and some HOA communities have private roads.   

“The covenants for these HOAs are to protect the values and the look and feel of those communities,” Turner said. “I don’t see how this bill would override it, but I do need to take a closer look. If it’s putting that at risk, then we’ll bring it to the attention of the legislature.” 

 

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Lesley Dwyer

Lesley Dwyer is a staff writer for East County and a graduate of the University of South Florida. After earning a bachelor’s degree in professional and technical writing, she freelanced for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Lesley has lived in the Sarasota area for over 25 years.

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