by Valerie Verkamp
Residents at a Northland apartment complex believe their apartment complex is the Ebenezer Scrooge this holiday season, after the complex established a new regulation requiring tenants pay extra money to park near their doorway.
Some residents at Northland Passage, located east of the I-29 and 64th Street intersection in southern Platte County, say they recently arrived home seeking solitude from potentially the coldest and busiest time of the year only to discover a reserved parking sign forbidding tenants from pulling into an empty parking spot near their unit.
The signs warn tenants against parking in the reserved space, claiming vehicles will be towed.
Unsure if the results were immediate, tenants were forced to find another empty parking spot quite further from their unit.
Over a three day period beginning Dec. 4, Northland Passage installed 112 new reserved parking signs directly in front of roughly 22 apartment buildings. Tenants are now required to pay $25 extra a month for parking near their unit.
What had been accepted practice for years became a funding mechanism for Northland Passage. Adding up the potential gain from the new fee it is $2,800 a month or $33,600 a year.
Although it has become commonplace for apartment complexes to charge additional fees for covered parking and assigned garage parking, fees for parking in
close proximity to an apartment unit is a new one for 66-year-old Mike McCarty.
“My wife and I live on a fixed income and recently have been dealing with a variety of health issues. I was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer and my wife’s medication affects her mobility. It is frustrating that we now must park further away from our home, especially after receiving radiation treatments or coming home with a large amount of groceries.”
So far, it doesn’t appear any residents near McCarty’s apartment building have shelled out extra money for the restricted parking spot. Now, the restricted parking spots sit empty 24-7, he said.
What is even more unsettling, residents say, is that they did not receive advance warning about the new parking restriction. Instead, some were forced to inquire about the new regulation.
When McCarty addressed a front desk employee on Thursday, Dec. 7 about his wife’s condition and requested the fee be waived, he was told they must pay the $25 monthly fee to continue parking in front of their building or park elsewhere.
McCarty says he received a flier from the apartment complex days later. It’s a flier that he says attempted to justify the new policy--which McCarty sees as moneygrubbing--as a beneficial amenity.
The flier states, “Do you ever think to yourself, dang, all of the front row parking spaces are full again. Of course you have, everyone has! Whether it’s after a long day of work or when you have a trunk full of groceries to unload.”
The flier goes on to say tenants can pay $25 a month for reserved parking.
McCarty said he doesn’t consider paying for what used to be a free parking space an amenity.
“Among the assigned covered parking, garage parking, and wheelchair accessible parking spots it was hard enough to find a parking spot,” said McCarty. “But now with the 112 additional spaces blocked I have been forced to carry bags of groceries across the entire parking lot.”
He said in his passing conversations with other tenants, words like “pitiful” and “ridiculous” have been used to describe the new parking regulation.
“People’s first reaction has been negative,” said McCarty. “I don’t think anyone would classify a new fee for what was once complimentary parking as an amenity.”
When The Landmark reached out to Cody Ross, the apartment manager of Northland Passage, the newspaper was told the new fee is not in violation of any landlord-tenant contract.
“The purpose is for people to have a reserved space so they for sure have a prime location when they get home if they choose to pay for that. It is completely optional,” said Ross.
When The Landmark questioned Ross about seniors on a fixed income, she claimed she was never made aware of this situation.
“I personally have not,” said Ross. “If they spoke to someone in my office, I was not aware of it. It had not been brought to my attention.