At the Dec. 9 meeting, more than 60 residents turned out to listen to the HOA board discuss a proposal to increase fines from the current $20 to $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense, and $250 for a third offense.
The issue stems from an ongoing problem with picking up and dropping off students at Tassajara Hills Elementary School. Each day, long lines of cars form all the way out onto Camino Tassajara and parents can be stuck in line for upwards of 20 minutes. So several Blackhawk parents have started parking just inside the East Gate on Blackhawk Drive near an area known by residents as "the grassy knoll."
Each day, dozens of students walk back through the East Gate and up to waiting parents. In response to complaints, the HOA is looking to make the fines untenable enough to stop the practice, which has caused a strong backlash from those parents.
Board members opened up the floor to discussion and it became obvious early on that there were factions both pro and con the fine increases. Those in favor shared their frustrations with the cars parking in driveways, lawns and landscaping being trampled, and children walking in the busy street.
Scott Rindner, who lives on Blackhawk Drive, complained of the number of vehicles infringing on his property. "People park in our driveways and make U-turns on our property. I think we all agree that that's pretty rude," he commented.
Rindner said that isn't the worst of it. He spoke of having to contact police when a child was not picked up after school but left out on the street. He also expressed his anger over an incident where his wife was struck by another parent. "My wife Lynette was taking a license plate down and a woman came up and hit her in the chest," he stated.
Lynette Rindner said she was upset over the damage done to their lawn and landscaping as well as numerous broken sprinkler heads. "We had a $4,000 water bill because of all the broken sprinkler heads." In addition she pointed to the danger of having children walking up the busy street, where there are no sidewalks. "Safety is pick up your children and put them in your car. That's safe."
Constance Smith, one of the group of parents opposed to increasing the fines, said she believes that the children are supervised and that safety is a concern for them. "We try to monitor the kids. And we try to keep them out of the roadway," she said. "I haven't seen anyone breaking sprinkler heads."
Smith contended that a main part of the push for these fines is coming from residents who live very near the East Gate and don't like the increased activity of the parents waiting at the Grassy Knoll. "I'm sorry your parcel is on a corner and you're bummed." She suggested that both sides take a fresh look at the problem and try to work together to resolve the issue.
Resident Steve Caria advocated finding middle ground as well. "We need the people to work together," he said. "When I was a kid I walked home from school and didn't need a police officer to monitor me."
He went on to say that he thinks the answer lies with the school district. "If you have to wait 45 minutes then you have to wait 45 minutes and that's a school district problem."
Members of the HOA board had been planning to issue a ruling on the fines that night but instead chose to hold off until their Jan. 13 meeting in order to give residents more time to work toward a resolution.
Community Manager Mark Goldberg said it was exciting to see such a big turnout and all of the opinions expressed.
"I think the board was pleasantly surprised at how much interest there was. Not just in talking about it, but in coming together to find a solution." He added, "I was glad to see there was passion on both sides and I felt they both expressed themselves well."