LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Over the past year, everyone has had to make changes and even concessions because of the pandemic. Some people are wondering why their homeowners associations aren't doing the same when it comes to parking violations and towing.
Aide Hernandez has a message for her homeowners association.
"Be more empathetic in the situation. Realize that every family is not the same. We have so many different neighbors in our community that we don't know their circumstances and they're over here trying to get cars towed."
Her family has been hit from all angles.
"It's very frustrating because we don't know if we're gonna walk out and cars are missing--did they get stolen? No, it's your HOA!"
Seven adults live together in the North Las Vegas home Aide's parents own in the Geyser Peak community.
Some were laid off and others forced to work from home, meaning more cars parking at the house at the same time.
"And when they do their rounds through the neighborhood, they give us a warning sticker. They put it on the cars. We wake up in the morning and it's... We just parked in front of our house!"
Over the summer, the whole Hernandez family came down with COVID. Three of them had to be hospitalized.
"We were playing musical chairs with the cars at a time when all 6-7 cars had to be in the home. We were told we couldn't leave the house and then on top of that trying to get a parking pass."
Parking passes would have enabled two of the family's cars to park on the street, which typically isn't allowed under association rules.
A March 2020 email from management company CAMCO asks for all cars belonging to residents to be listed on a guest parking pass form. It says passes will be mailed during the pandemic.
"We've been promised a parking pass since April. We've been emailing back and forth: "Yeah we're sending it, we're sending it... Oh, it was sent, it was sent, it's probably in the mail... It got lost in the mail, we're gonna re-send it... One of the managers quit..."
Then, on Dec. 14, "The truck finally got towed while my dad was taking it out to go get his coffee to go to work for his graveyard shift at the casino. And we had to run down the street to go chase it so he could go to work."
That cost them a $150 drop fee.
"To (the towing company) it's not a car. It's dollars and cents," said North Las Vegas City Councilman Richard Cherchio, who Aide reached out to for help.
"When I heard (what happened to them), with the pandemic, that was a little bit over the top, to say the least," Cherchio said.
Cherchio told Aide that towing was supposed to be paused in Geyser Peak, as it had been in other local HOAs, calling that "just a matter of respect."
Geyser Peak President Richard Cavaco wouldn't go on camera. He says they're only towing cars parked in red zones for now and that the towing of Mr. Hernadez's truck was the result of a miscommunication with towing company Code Blue.
"We're obligated to follow rules and regulations but there are times that we have to--not only as HOA boards but also as the management company--just use a little common sense," Councilman Cherchio said.
He was finally able to get the Hernandez family a temporary parking pass, but it's only good for two weeks.
"Do you think a two-week pass is a solution?" asked 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears.
"No," Cherchio answered. "Absolutely not. Unless somebody can guarantee me and guarantee you that the pandemic will be over in two weeks. And that's not going to happen."
He also helped Mr. Hernandez get his $150 back, although that took nearly two months.
"There is no sense in what went on over there," Cherchio said. "And I'm hoping it was more isolated than widespread."
It wasn't isolated.
13 Investigates learned it happened again across town in Summerlin at the Carlisle HOA, which also uses Code Blue towing.
Bonnie Hefferman, a school teacher and single mother with three kids, got a great deal on a used SUV near the end of 2020.
On January 14, she found a bright green sticker on her window for a registration violation.
Nevada law states, "A resident of the complex's vehicle may only be towed if registration has been expired for 60 days or more..."
In Bonnie's case, "It (was) barely even two weeks late!"
It cost her $314 to get her car back from Code Blue.
"I feel like I was wrongfully towed. There's no reason you should come in like you're being predators and come in and be looking for a car that's registration has expired just to try to make a buck," Bonnie said of her experience. "We're all in a situation and it's a very known situation."
Level Property Management oversees the Carlisle community. They did not return multiple calls for comment.
Code Blue Towing General Manager Brett Miller would not go on camera. Over the phone, he said they would have worked with Bonnie but he claimed she never called them.
Her cell phone records prove she did call the same day her car was stickered.
"And they said we can put you on a 'Do not tow' list. And then it was a couple of days later, I came out and my car was gone!" Bonnie said. "At first, I thought it was stolen!"
When confronted with Bonnie's call log, Code Blue said there must have been a miscommunication but the company still felt the tow was valid.
Bonnie recently moved out of Carlisle to get away from the HOA.
Aide's family is looking to do the same.
"Different part of Vegas. No HOA. This is horrible."
Bonnie's tow is now under investigation by the Nevada Transportation Authority.
Over the last four years, NTA has investigated 21 complaints against Code Blue towing, resulting in two citations. Code Blue gave refunds in two other cases.