East Lake, FL – A homeowner’s association (HOA) has told a Clearwater police officer to stop parking her marked police vehicle in her driveway or face fines for violating neighborhood rules.
"The first thought is, it a joke? Like this is the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard of,” attorney Dan Parri told ABC News.
Parri spoke on behalf of the Clearwater police officer and her husband, who is also a law enforcement officer, and said the couple is being threatened with hundreds of dollars in HOA violations if they continue parking her police SUV in their driveway.
He said that Clearwater police officers are given their police vehicles to take home because it saved on response times and deterred crime in the neighborhoods where police live, ABC News reported.
“Every place that I’ve ever lived, if I had a police cruiser parked next to me I felt safer,” Parri said.
But Holiday Isles Management, the HOA managing Cross Pointe in East Lake Woodlands, doesn’t agree, ABC News reported.
Florida law permits HOA’s to ban the parking of “commercial vehicles” from parking in driveways.
However, an opinion issued by then-Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist in 2005 determined that police cars were not considered commercial vehicles.
The HOA doesn’t think the opinion applies to them.
Holiday Isles Management said the officer’s police cruiser violated HOA rules because it was issued by a “government agency,” ABC news reported.
"They don’t have that vehicle for the purpose of profit,” Parri argued.
He said that however the HOA’s rule was written, it didn’t make sense to enforce it, ABC News reported.
"Maybe there are bad rules sometimes,” Parri said. “You don’t enforce those rules, you change those rules!”
He said that law enforcement officers face tragedy every day working for the community and they don’t need to deal with needless stress at home.
"We just hope that they can come home to their family and just live their lives but it’s like now they are being harassed by this association,” Parri told ABC News.
The Clearwater chief of police stood up for his officer and issued a statement on Tuesday.
“The actions of this association to changing the rules is disappointing to say the least,” Clearwater Police Chief Dan Slaughter said. “If you are going to change the rules on them, it seems logical to provide a grandfather clause that the association will honor. Not a grandfather clause they changed their mind on honoring.”
"The community has demanded officers be dedicated community servants and respond, day or night, to emergencies,” Chief Slaughter continued. “This officer and her spouse have served her community admirably. When Irma hit our community, they put their kids on a plane to relatives because they both had to work during the storm recovery.”
Both the police chief and Parri told ABC News that they planned to talk to local and state lawmakers to demand they pass a law prohibiting HOAs from going after first responder vehicles parked in driveways.