Published: Jul 20, 2008 10:07 AM
Modified: Jul 20, 2008 10:07 AM
Parking flap ain't pretty
The management of the Abbey Court condominiums is concerned with appearances, apparently, but its handling of the parking situation there has been ugly. The condo complex issues stickers for residents to put on their cars in order to park in the Abbey Court parking lot. Management last week began having cars without such stickers towed away. The complex says the lot has been too crowded with cars that don't belong to residents. So far, OK. A residential property manager has the right to limit parking to cars owned by the people who live there, especially if, as the management claims, parking by non-residents is overcrowding the lot. But Abbey Court has gone way beyond that. It doesn't just require that you be a resident in order to receive a sticker. It also requires that your car be free of any "conspicuous" body damage and that you show of proof of title, registration, state inspection and insurance. And if you live at Abbey Court and drive a commercial vehicle, as many construction-related workers do, you're out of luck; commercial vehicles don't get stickers, period.Last week the management began towing cars without stickers. Residents were outraged, and some tense scenes developed as some gathered to protest, to try to block tow trucks and to scramble to move their cars. Abbey Court's units are not the swanky upscale digs we tend to associate with the word "condominiums" around here. They are low-end rentals, occupied mostly by working-class Latino renters. For many such residents, who have their hands full just paying the bills and feeding the kids, coming up with hundreds of dollars for a new paint job or bodywork is not exactly tops on the priority list.According to several accounts, including those of Carrboro Police Chief Carolyn Hutchison and Alderman Jacquie Gist, Abbey Court has been denying stickers to residents whose cars show the ordinary signs of wear and tear you often find on older vehicles: minor dents, dings, scratches, worn paint and so on. "As you might imagine, Abbey Court residents may not have the means to drive a pristine vehicle, but many are paying their rent, and now are unable to get a permit to park in their own home parking lot," Hutchison wrote in an e-mail to Town Manager Steve Stewart. "Then, their vehicles are towed from the lot; they're responsible for the towing fees; and they have no car to get to work, etc. This is a bad situation."Got that right. There's little the police can do, but the Orange County Office of Human Rights and Relations is investigating.The Abbey Court management says it's not trying to be unfair to anyone; it's "just trying to enforce the rules." That doesn't wash. If Abbey Court wants to prevent non-residents from clogging up the parking lot, there are plenty of ways to do that. Imposing draconian rules that deny residents the right to park outside their own homes because their cars aren't in showroom shape, that's another thing altogether.
If you have a comment on today's editorial, please contact Dave Hart, associate editor, at 932-8744 or email@example.com.
2008 The Chapel Hill News