SAN ANTONIO – The streets in and out of the Westfield neighborhood may be open and un-gated, but its homeowners’ association recently claimed those streets were not open for parking.
In a July newsletter distributed to members of the Owners Association of Westfield, the HOA announced it would begin “strictly” enforcing vehicle and parking violations, including by towing vehicles off the city-owned streets in the neighborhood’s three enclaves off of Prue Road.
“Due to safety concerns and to abide by HOA bylaws and (Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions), parking in the street is prohibited and all vehicles parked in the street are subject to and will be towed away,” the newsletter states. “All vehicles must be parked in the driveway or garage. Visitor parking is allowed in the street for a limited time. Again, safety is priority with so many vehicles entering and exiting neighborhood units as well as the safety of pedestrians.”
Kevin Sloan told KSAT that he and his neighbors received the letters four or five weeks ago and were surprised to learn that the HOA would try to tow vehicles from public streets. Sloan said street parking had never been raised as an issue in the 24 years he has lived in the neighborhood.
“Everyone’s pissed,” he said. “Everyone’s angry.”
Board President-elect David Pfaff told KSAT on Tuesday that hadn’t been the goal. Instead, it had been about safety, such as ensuring emergency vehicles could get through the streets quickly.
“Because when it comes to an emergency situation, time is life,” he said.
But unlike a gated neighborhood with private roads, it does not appear Westfield’s HOA has the authority on that plan. In response to KSAT’s questions about the legality of its plan, the San Antonio City Attorney’s Office said the following in an emailed statement:
“The City does not have a role in the development or enforcement of HOA rules and is not familiar with the rules of the Westfield HOA. However, the streets are public right-of-ways of the City of San Antonio and parking is permitted. Parking regulations are governed by state law and city ordinances. Traffic and parking violations enforcement is the responsibility of the San Antonio Police Department and Code Compliance, which includes requests to tow. If anyone has parking issues, you may call 311 or Non- Emergency 210-207-SAPD (7273) to report traffic parking and/or moving violations.”
Pfaff told KSAT on Tuesday morning that the HOA was backing off from its plans and would not follow through with attempts to tow vehicles. He said there were issues with the streets being public and towing not being enforceable under the HOA’s rules.
However, Pfaff said the HOA board planned to present members with options for moving forward. That includes whether to try and privatize the streets, which could give the HOA more latitude in enforcing parking restrictions.
Despite what KSAT had heard, he said, some residents were concerned about street parking.
“We are only going to enforce what the residents want,” he said. “And that’s the best we can do.”