Crazy drivers speed through communities endangering the lives of children and other residents. Tailgaters follow residents through the gates jeopardizing HOA security measures. Drivers ignore stop signs because, after all, it’s only the HOA stop sign. How long will it take for a reckless driver to hit someone and what does it take to control traffic on private roads? How do your members react when they are approached by one of the security guards?
The Board of Directors of the Lake Holiday community had a lot on its plate – with 1,500 acres and 2,000 home sites traffic safety is of utmost importance. The board established a security department and adopted rules requiring all owners to comply with security personnel directives. The board gave the security department the authority to issue citations to speeders and established fines for various classes of offenses. Security officers drive vehicles equipped with radar units, flashing lights, and audio/video recording devices. Security officers wear uniforms and badges (but are not permitted to carry firearms).
I bet the board at Lake Holiday didn’t plan to have to fight in court about a simple traffic stop and citation for speeding, but it did and the case wound up in the Supreme Court for the State of Illinois. Almost surprisingly, in what may become a trend, the top court in Illinois says the HOA can enforce its traffic regulations on its private streets. It is permitted to stop and temporarily detain members when there is probable cause or reasonable ground to believe a violation has been committed. The court found the HOA was authorized to create speed limits for its private streets and said:
We can discern no logic in allowing a private homeowners association to construct and maintain private roadways, but not allowing the association to implement and enforce traffic laws [or rules] on those roadways.
Are you inundated with complaints about traffic violations, but feel powerless to effect compliance? This ruling only applies in Illinois, but in Florida perhaps an answer lies with your County or City Police Department.
Florida Statutes, Sections 316.640(2)(a) and 316.640(3)(a) grant the Sheriff’s office and municipal police departments jurisdiction to enforce the traffic laws on all public streets throughout the County (for the Sheriff’s office) and throughout the city limits (for the municipal police department). In addition and of paramount importance to community associations, these statutes also grant the Sheriff’s office and municipal police departments jurisdiction to enforce the traffic laws on private or limited access roads, if there is a written agreement to do so between the community association and either the County or City.
Florida Statutes, Sections 316.006(2)(b) and 316.006(3)(b) govern the written agreements between either the County or City and a community association. The written agreement for traffic control jurisdiction over the private road or roads encompassed by such agreement must provide for reimbursement for the actual costs; for liability insurance and indemnification by Association. Other terms and conditions may be included as well. The law specifically allows the board of directors of a homeowners’ association to contract to have state traffic laws enforced by local law enforcement agencies on private roads that are controlled by the association with a majority vote.
Your community is not alone if it has problems enforcing traffic regulations. In a future post I will discuss how important it is to maintain safe operating conditions for streets and roadways within the community.