Should You Be Getting Advice for your HOA Neighbor or “Friend” / Commercial Vehicles

This next question is about commercial vehicles. A reader was asking on behalf of “a neighbor.”  What I will say about this is it is kind of like someone who is asking advice for themselves but once you put it on “a friend” instead because they don’t want to be seen asking for whatever reason. In the HOA context, I am consulting with an owner, and they want to address what’s happening with a neighbor, I asked them why not have the neighbor follow up on it if they want to. It’s not your job to advocate for the neighbor unless they have asked you to. I’d rather be giving my advice directly to the person who has the problem so that it gets properly translated, and I can get the information I need to find out whether the person really wants to make waves, or wants to be proactive, or wants to do some work, before I advise them of all of their options. If I give advice to somebody else on behalf of a neighbor or friend, I do not know how it will be translated to them. If I give it directly, there is no question as to how it will be translated to them.

I don’t want to shirk my responsibilities here, however, so I will give a simple answer to the question. The question is:

“My new neighbor has been told he cannot park his commercial van inside the property, yet there are 3 others that do park here. He feels he is being discriminated against and being singled out. I told him I would contact you to see what his options are.  Informed him he should get in contact with you before moving forward. Appreciate your feedback on this matter.”

I don’t have any facts indicating discrimination at this point. Some of the questions that would arise are whether any of the other persons’ vehicles are grandfathered for any reason. The way this might be justified is if a board has been lax in enforcing rules against commercial vehicles and then that border the next Board besides to “crackdown” which often is the case when things start to go downhill fast, there might be a reason some of the vehicles were grandfathered until the residents left for the vehicles were sold or given to someone else. There might be a considerable difference between one person’s perceived commercial vehicle and others. For example, one might have simple signage and the other might have tool boxes or racks or even a great big cement mixer. There might be an issue about whether the vehicle will fit in a parking space or garage. Thus, I would hesitate to call anything discrimination until I knew all of the facts.  I certainly would suggest not stirring up trouble without having a full understanding of both sides of an issue.  Many HOA documents in California do prohibit commercial vehicles and many boards grapple with what kind of control they should implement given factors like a pickup truck is required to get commercial license plates – does that make it a commercial vehicle that must be prohibited? The answer is no. Some associations require any vehicles with signage to use magnetic signs that can be removed if the vehicle is parked out in the common area or driveways. Some allow signage but don’t allow racks. It varies according to the circumstances, facts, and problems.


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