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Lawmakers officially file bill that would ban HOA restrictions on police vehicles

Posted: 4:22 PM, Oct 16, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-16 18:11:17-04
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CLEARWATER, Fla — A battle between a Clearwater police officer and her homeowners association has lawmakers in Tallahassee officially filing legislation to put the issue to bed.

This comes after ABC Action News reported the story back in August.

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Holiday Isles Management is the company that manages the HOA. They tell us they can make recommendations and consult for the HOA, but they say final decisions lie with the HOA's board.

The HOA of Eastlake Woodlands sent the Clearwater police officer and her husband a letter that threatened them with violation costs if they didn't stop parking a marked police cruiser in their driveway.

The family told the HOA they were grandfathered in by a former board president but the HOA did not recognize that letter at first. After ABC Action News reported on the story twice, the HOA changed its tune and decided to honor the grandfather letter but told the family if they sell the house, they must inform the next owners of the HOA rules.

"My gut reaction was 'this can’t be real, this flies in the face of common sense,'” said Chris Sprowls, a House Rep. for District 65.

Sprowls even posted about it to Facebook and linked our article saying it’s time to clarify the law. Ed Hooper, State Senator in District 60, agreed.

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"Having that visible deterrent in plain sight — if I were someone who was looking to [commit a crime] that, it would certainly tell me like maybe stay out of this neighborhood,” Hooper said.

"It’s a waste of a lot of peoples time and it’s beyond silly." Dan Parri, a family friend of the officer involved. But he says it needs to be done because he doesn't want this to happen ever again.

Hooper and State Representative Chip LaMarca spoke in Tallahassee about HB 307 and its companion bill in the senate they filed for the 2020 legislative session Wednesday morning.

The officer and her family say they are excited about the bill and the, "potential for it to help all law enforcement throughout the state."

The Clearwater police chief, Dan Slaughter, says it's crucial officers get take-home cars because they need to be able to respond from anywhere at a moments notice.

"A car is not a perk," he said, "It's part of our emergency strategy." He found out about the issue back in August -- months later he's thankful to see lawmakers tackle the issue on a state level.

"Even in law-enforcement we have a rule that if you miss use laws and bills or authority then you lose it. And I think that’s what really happened here," he said.

Holiday Isle Management says it is looking forward to clarifying the law and released the following statement:

"We don’t necessarily bear the same opinion of situations that our boards do. We can lead them to water but we can't make them drink. Sometimes management is in an awkward position where we have to follow the directive of our board to help them enforce their governing documents. We may not always agree with the direction the board goes, but we must continue to work with them as clients. Holiday Isles does not make the decision on how the association laws and rules and regulations are applied to each individual homeowner or tenant. That is defined in the associations governing documents and is the decision of the board of directors on how and when the laws are to be implemented and enforced.”