A local San Diego case is making waves in the HOA world. In Jacquin v. North Shore Encinitas Owners' Association, inadequate on-street parking and a split in the community on how to address the issue came to a breaking point when one owner claimed that the Association's revised parking rules acted as an improper grant of exclusive use in violation of Civil Code Section 4600. Newly adopted rules allowed some owners the exclusive right to park on the common area street in front of their homes. Unfortunately, this rule only benefitted 22 out of 64 owners in the community because one side of the street was designated as a fire lane.
Specifically, the Association's new parking regulations did all of the following: (1) eliminated any requirement that any car be parked in a garage; (2) eliminated a requirement that residents obtain parking permits for parking within the community; (3) eliminated any limit on the number of cars that could be parked in the community; (4) allowed residents on the “non-fire lane” side of each street to park on the street immediately in front of their own driveways/garages; (5) eliminated any requirement that cars be parked in the direction of flow of traffic; and (6) instituted a system of warnings and other enforcement mechanisms to limit the circumstances in which a car would be towed for parking violations.
In rendering its decision, the Court found that both sides raised reasonable issues about the parking restrictions, noting: “The evidence in this case proves the point that reasonable people can have very different, well-reasoned views about how to address community problems.” However, the Court ultimately found that the rule was not an improper grant of exclusive use in violation of Civil Code Section 4600.
The Court pointed to a provision in the CC&Rs that authorized the board of directors to designate parking areas within the common area and indicated that the designated parking areas remained subject to other uses, including ingress, egress and recreational purposes. This language meant that the designation of curb parking implemented by the Board's adoption of new parking rules was not a grant of exclusive use and did not require approval by 67% of the members.
The Court also distinguished this case from the ruling in Harvey v. The Landing Homeowners Assn. (2008) 162 Cal.App.4th 809, saying:
“The board of directors' resolution in the Harvey case is quite different from the parking regulations at issue here. The resolution in the Harvey case specifically states that it is giving certain homeowners the “exclusive right to use” the subject attic spaces, whereas in this case, the parking regulations do not explicitly state that they are giving an exclusive right to use any common space to anyone, and the alleged ‘exclusive right to use' must be inferred from the alleged operative effect of the parking regulations.”
Further, the Board at North Shore Encinitas tailored the parking regulations to allow residents to use certain portions of the common area roadways for parking – a temporary, non-exclusive use. Thus, even though the rules permitted exclusive parking spaces, the court determined it was not a grant of an exclusive area but a parking regulation that could be changed. The regulations also followed the CC&Rs in that the spaces when not occupied by a vehicle were available for use by other residents for ingress and egress.
The takeaway is that associations have broad authority to create restrictions in the common area that do not arise to the level of a grant of exclusive use. Nevertheless, boards should be cognizant of Civil Code Section 4600 and the limits of their authority when allowing restricted use of common area to one or more resident. Taking care not to run afoul of Civil Code Section 4600 is critical to avoiding significant litigation.