What Gets Sold From a Police Car?


Editorial Courtesy of The Ledger
Published June 18, 2005


Homeowners' associations help protect property values in a neighborhood by enforcing their own set of regulations and bylaws. But sometimes, common sense doesn't prevail.

Such is the case in the Carlton Ranches neighborhood in Davie, near Miami Beach. Kevin Millan is a Miami Beach police officer who parks his car in the driveway outside the home he shares with his wife, Regina.

The homeowners' association has threatened to sue him, citing a violation of a provision that bans commercial vehicles in the driveway of residents. Under Davie ordinances, the police car is a commercial vehicle, the association contends.

The association already assessed the owners in the 46-home subdivision $350 each for their share of the possible suit.

Susan Starkey, a Davie City Council member, wasn't so sure about the vehicle's commercial status.

After all, what's for sale? Traffic tickets?

True, it has lettering and markings on the outside -- just like a commercial vehicle. But that doesn't make it a commercial vehicle, any more than being red makes an apple a cherry.

Starkey sought an opinion from Attorney General Charlie Crist, who wrote back: "A marked police vehicle does not constitute a vehicle with reference to a commercial undertaking or enterprise."

Armed with Crist's opinion, which agreed with the opinion of Davie Town Attorney Monroe Kiar, the Town Council unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday saying public safety vehicles were not covered by the commercial-vehicle laws.

Crist, a big supporter of law enforcement who also is running for governor, even dropped by Thursday to hand deliver a copy of his opinion to the Millan household. Crist is also politically savvy and knows how to draw attention to a situation.

Not that Millan needs much more attention. The confrontation has already drawn significant statewide attention. Millan told The Miami Herald he's received supportive telephone calls and email from around the country.

The attorney and spokesman for the homeowners' association was on vacation this week, but had previously noted that a ruling by the city attorney saying a police car wasn't a commercial vehicle was "questionable" and an attempt to "carve out an exception for politically expedient purposes."

Crist disagreed, saying his ruling, as well as that of the town attorney, "is consistent with the law and also consistent with common sense."

If the association persists with its efforts to remove Millan's vehicle, homeowners should act as quickly as possible to find new board members whose thinking is "consistent with common sense."



South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board
Posted June 18 2005
Time to reconsider rule

It's time for Carlton Ranches Homeowners Association to rewrite its rules to make clear police cruisers are exempted from the designation of "commercial vehicle." The association has threatened to sue a Miami Beach police officer unless he keeps the cruiser in his garage.

On Wednesday, the Davie Town Council passed a resolution stating that police cars aren't considered commercial vehicles under its parking statutes, and now state Attorney General Charlie Crist has issued an opinion on the subject that takes the association to task.

It's important for homeowners associations to have rules that protect property values, but a restriction on police cars doesn't qualify as one of them.