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Board Service: Michael O’Brien on Practical Car-Parking Policies

Michael O’Brien, Board President at Skyview-on-the-Hudson in Riverdale, The Bronx. One in an occasional series of real-life stories by board members about serving on co-op and condo boards. in Board Operations

Skyview consists of three 20-story residences on 23 acres in the northwest corner of Riverdale. I have been a board member since June 2008 but have been president only since October 2010. I initially joined the board for a clear-cut reason: to make improvements to the property's basketball court for my three teenage sons. While I have not been able to get this done (yet), I have been able to work on other, larger projects such as a NYSERDA energy-reduction plan (online this June) and the parking situation.

The ability to solve the latter problem was a result of two big changes. First, we began subscribing to an online service that includes an electronic bulletin board. Second, we replaced our security-guard firm for the first time in 17 years.

Co-op Board, Bulletin Board

Temporary and guest parking quickly became a hot topic on the bulletin board. People complained that the temporary and guest spots were never available because people remained parked with impunity long after the limits (20 minutes for temporary and 12 hours for guests) had passed. There were even accounts of people parking in other people's monthly spots without repercussions.

To our surprise, the

overwhelming response

was to make them less strict.

Our online service includes a feature that allows us to conduct surveys. So, we asked our shareholders if we should make the policy stricter or more lenient. We expected that the consensus would be for stricter rules. To our surprise, the overwhelming response was to make them less strict.

So, we crafted an updated parking policy that would try to satisfy everyone. E-mail after e-mail went out among the 11 board members to arrive at just the right mix. I was really impressed with the way the board hung in there to propose, compromise and hash out every detail of the new plan.

Flexible Strictness

The result was a policy that established an actual time limit but with a stated grace period that provided the flexibility requested by most of the survey respondents. To appease the residents who wanted strict enforcement, we promised a swift and consistent response by the security guards to parking infractions. This would never have been possible with our old security firm, which had become complacent over the years. Our new firm stickered, booted and towed a good number of cars in the weeks after the new policy was implemented. Much credit is due our property manager, Jack Timlin of Midboro Management, and his staff.

The results have been uniformly positive. Parking areas are much more available and the co-op has made a little extra money from the boot fees.

The parking regulations are not the most complicated or expensive project undertaken at Skyview, but this was a great opportunity for the board to work together to improve the co-op. It didn't cost any money, and it boosted the board's confidence in both our security guards and our onsite staff. And it makes me welcome additional challenges of this nature, because I now know that the team at Skyview is up to the task of solving any problem.


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