By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
NY state agency rules condo association not guilty of racial discrimination.
But did the human rights agency miss the point?
Last fall, a New York condominium association made international news when its developer/manager threatened to fine parents for allowing their child to ride his tricycle on the sidewalks outside of their home.
South Shore Villas in West Babylon has rules against noise and other disturbances, and that apparently includes the sound of children playing.
So the condo association threatened to impose a $150 fine upon Robert and Angelica Parker, the parents of a 4-year old Liam. The Parkers would be fined each time their son makes noise while playing outdoors in the common areas.
Unhappy about the threat, the Parkers filed a complaint with the Division of Human Rights. They alleged racial discrimination against Liam and his mother, both of whom are Latino.
South Shore denies discrimination
Kelly Dellafranca, the manager of South Shore Villas, has always insisted that the condo association is just enforcing its bylaws.
Officially the HOA tells the NY Post that its no playing rules are a matter of safety. They cite their concern that a child could be injured or killed by a car, increasing insurance rates for all condo owners.
But the Parkers say their son and his friends normally play on the sidewalks and green lawn areas in the community, not in the parking lots.
Division of Human Rights decision
IAC has received a copy of the Division’s perplexing decision in favor of the condo association.
To summarize, following its investigation, the Human Rights agency concluded that the condo association is not guilty of racial discrimination.
According to the agency’s ruling, South Shore Villas enforces its “no playing” rule consistently against parents of all children, regardless of their race.
Click here to read the decision: Parker v South Shore Villas
However, according to updated reports, this may not be the end of the story.
Did the Division of Human Rights miss the point?
For one thing, the Parkers say there’s no rule against children playing in the condo association’s bylaws.
That’s an important factor. But, in terms of Human Rights, doesn’t that miss the point?
What’s most puzzling about this case is that there was no investigation into whether or not the rules at South Shore Villas discriminate against residents based upon familial status.
IAC wonders, why not?
What is discrimination on the basis of familial status?
HUD’s guidelines specifically list examples of familial status discrimination by housing providers, to include “Imposing overly restrictive rules about children’s use of the common areas (e.g., pools, hallways, open spaces).”
Common areas typically include sidewalks and green lawns in a condominium community.
Doesn’t it seem obvious, even to a non-attorney?
Perhaps the rules at South Shore Villas aren’t fair to parents with young children.
How can a family with children equitably enjoy their home if their kiddos have nowhere to play and occasionally use their outdoor voices?
The rules at South Shore Villas appear to outlaw children playing. That seems terribly unreasonable to reasonable people.
Despite the Division’s ruling, public opinion isn’t exactly supportive of the condo association.
Maybe that’s why the South Shore Villa’s HOA attorney, Michael Jude Jannuzzi, is working on a solution. Jannuzzi is reportedly working with the condo board to designate a safe playing zone for children in South Shore Villas.
Hopefully, for the sake of Liam Parker and his young friends, the condo association will work out a fair, reasonable, and peaceful resolution. ♦
In case you missed it, here’s the previous IAC post:
Family files human rights complaint over condo HOA rule against child’s play
State agency rules against LI couple who let son play outside
By Jorge Fitz-Gibbon, New York Post
February 26, 2020 | 2:37pm
State rules against Long Island couple who claimed discrimination after condo association threatened to fine them $150 for letting their four-year-old son PLAY outside
By KEITH GRIFFITH FOR DAILYMAIL.COM, Daily Mail
PUBLISHED: 16:55 EST, 26 February 2020 | UPDATED: 16:58 EST, 26 February 2020