Collin McAllister almost received a rude welcome into this world.
Collin’s dad, James McAllister, nearly missed his birth on Oct. 5, 2011, all because of the Dublin Townhomes at Stetson Hills Community Association‘s zero-tolerance policy for parking violations.
The HOA board doesn’t like folks who park without a permit inside the complex near Powers and Dublin boulevards. Hates it, in fact. So much that the board hired Collins Towing to cruise the streets at night.
Anyone caught without a permit gets towed, no questions asked.
That policy hit the McAllister’s hard when Tiffany McAllister went into labor late on Oct. 5.
Before James, a civilian firefighter at Fort Carson, raced his wife to the hospital, he called friends to come babysit their three older children. The friends arrived around midnight.
At 7 a.m. the next morning, the friends called James, frantic that their car was gone. It was no longer parked in front of the McAllisters’ home. And the friends needed to get to a doctor’s appointment.
“I knew it had to be the HOA’s towing company,” James said.
With Tiffany deep in labor, James raced home to take his friends a car.
While he was there, James knocked on the door of Steve Bell, the four-year president of the Dublin Townhomes HOA board.
“I told his wife that Steve’s parking rule got my friends’ car towed and they needed their car back immediately,” James said. “It was an urgent matter.”
He drove back to the hospital to rejoin Tiffany.
But his phone rang again.
Again, he had to leave. His friends needed $232 cash to retrieve their car before the end of the day.
“I tried to explain to the tow company but there was no compassion,” James said.
Luckily, he was able to witness the birth of his son, Collin. But he was furious.
“I’m assuming he knew when the delivery time was due, he’d have to have a babysitter come over,” Bell said. “He should have given them a parking permit.
“We have signs on every entrance, parking is by permit only. James is a former board member. He was well aware of the rules.”
Ouch. That’s pretty harsh.
I’ve been through the chaos of childbirth a few times. I’ve made the midnight handoff of kids on a trip to the hospital. Glad I didn’t have to remember the HOA parking rules at the time!
Bell said he’d investigate, consult with his two board members and decide if “extenuating circumstances” exist to waive the tow fee.
“But I honestly can’t think of any extenuating circumstances,” Bell said.
Now, I’ll grant you that streets are narrow within the Dublin Townhomes complex. Like a lot of these communities, the developers wanted to squeeze as many units on the lot as possible so they made the streets and driveways ridiculously small.
But I don’t agree with a zero-tolerance policy. The only one who wins with that sort of policy is the towing company.
Just as I was teeing the HOA up to pound it into a sand trap, I got an email.
Bell had apologized to James and Tiffany and the HOA board was reimbursing the $232.
James is grateful but still upset: “They need to revise their parking policies.”
I agree, but credit Bell for his change of heart. Some HOAs would stand firm.