Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel
Published June 5, 2005
spending an afternoon on Hysteria Lane, also known as Carlton Drive, I
remember why I've vowed never to live anywhere with a homeowners association.
Some people in the Carlton Ranches community in Davie obviously have way too
much time on their hands and their noses too high in the air. This causes them
to worry about the silliest things.
Like whether it's OK to have a police car parked in a driveway.
"I just scratch my head and say, `Is this for real?'" said Cathy
Bucci, a real estate agent who has lived in the gated community for three
"We have a very peculiar association," said Giovanni Hernandez, an
airline pilot who likes having his next-door neighbor's police car outside.
"They say they're worried about the community lowering its standards, but
the guy who used to be the association president is headed to federal
That would be Jeff Barnhill, a former sports-apparel businessman convicted of
bank fraud for his role in a $170 million scheme to defraud Espirito Santo
Bank, but that's another story.
This story is about class friction, homeowner rights and restrictions,
pettiness, ugliness, common courtesy and common sense.
"It's gotten personal," said Kevin Millan, a Miami Beach traffic
homicide investigator whose take-home cruiser sparked this battle. He said at
the last homeowners meeting, someone told his wife that his son would be
ostracized growing up if the family stayed here. Millan's son is 6 months old.
"It's not personal, this is about enforcing rules and the bylaws as we
understand them," said homeowners association vice president Mike Jones.
"I have nothing against police officers. My grandfather was a police
The situation has driven a wedge through this remote, 46-home development on
the southern end of SW 136th Street, where homes sell for $500,000 to
$800,000. Neighbors are pitted against neighbors. Friendships have been
And now it's gotten to the point -- with lawyers, media attention and
potential court battles -- where everyone is being a little hardheaded and
Millan says he has the right to park the police car in his driveway, because
the restriction against "commercial vehicles" in the bylaws doesn't
apply to public safety vehicles, a position backed by the Davie commission.
Some association board members wonder why Millan can't just put the cruiser in
his three-car garage, where the third bay is being used for storage. He says
the third bay is too cramped for the Crown Victoria, but he admits that it has
become mainly a battle of principle.
It's a battle that has cost him $6,000 in legal fees, not to mention the $350
special assessment he had to pay the association to fund the fight against
Only in America.
If it was a Roto-Rooter truck, I could see the association making a big stink.
But a police car?
Actually, two police cars. Besides Millan's, there's an Opa-locka cruiser
parked in the driveway of Jeff Faulkner farther down Carlton Lane.
Me, I see a police car across the street from my Dania Beach home every night,
and it makes me feel great.
My neighbor is a Miramar police sergeant, and I'm grateful his car is there to
scare off potential troublemakers.
But here, some people see a police car and say, "There goes the
They try to sound serious when they say potential buyers get scared off
looking at $750,000 houses when they see a couple of police cars sitting in
Jones said he heard one potential buyer say the police cruisers make it look
like "a working-class neighborhood."
Oh, the humanity.
Millan and his wife, Regina, an immigration attorney and former Miami-Dade
prosecutor, moved into their 3,300-square-foot house last July.
Faulkner, a former NFL player, has lived here since the subdivision was built
a decade ago. He received a take-home car last August.
"Nobody's going to tell me where I can and can't park my car," said
He parked his cruiser in his garage when he needed association approval for a
pool, but now keeps it outside in a show of solidarity with Millan.
"I think we've lost all perspective," Cathy Bucci said. "I just
found out one of my relatives has breast cancer. We've got Iraq, we've got
terrorism, and here we are, in these beautiful homes, all worked up about a
police car. Personally, I don't know how somebody could find a vehicle
offensive, especially when it's someone who risks their lives for us in their
job. It's just sad."