Signs for grads bring complaints

Education By David Snelling, Reporter Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Signs for grads bring complaints
Teresa Gonzalez wanted to congratulate high school graduates with a yard sign at her home in the Royal Oaks community.
But the homeowner’s association said such signs or banners violated the bylaws of the community and codes in the Town of Miami Lakes.
Royal Oaks’ management company began sending out warning letters.
“It’s disheartening that they don’t allow parents and neighbors to keep the signs up to congratulate students,” Gonzalez said.
During the COVID-19 virus outbreak and the social distancing restrictions that followed, “they won’t have the graduation experience they worked so hard for years to achieve,” she said.
Gonzalez, a restaurant manager on furlough during the pandemic, said she took down her sign because she couldn’t afford a fine that might have followed the letter.

Royal Oaks is a luxury residential development that straddles both sides of Northwest 82nd Avenue.
Homero Cruz, a Royal Oaks resident and president of the HOA, sought guidance on May 19 from the town council about the controversy.
“[There were] more complaints than people calling to [leave the signs] up,” Cruz told the council. “They said they did not want Royal Oaks to become another Hialeah in the near future.”
All the HOA was doing was enforcing the bylaws, Cruz said.
“We’re not doing anything other than going by the book and doing what we’re supposed to do,” Cruz said. “We sent out letters, people got offended, people started complaining on social media.”
But after the management company sent out a couple of letters, Cruz said he told them to halt the mailings.
“We’re waiting to see what the town is going to do before sending out [another] letter,” Cruz said.
Some Royal Oaks residents questioned the actions of the HOA and management company.
“[The HOA] didn’t show any compassion,” Mike Duman said. “With what’s going on in the world, people have lost their jobs, students won’t experience the traditional graduation, and this is all they asked for. How could they be so insensitive during these hard times?”
Duman said in early May, he honored his wife during Teacher
Appreciation Week by placing signs on their front lawn.
Four days later, he said he received a warning notice from the HOA.
“The notice said I had 15 days to comply or I would be fined,” said Duman. He took down the signs when the week ended.
Mater Lakes Academy Principal and Royal Oaks resident Rene Rovirosa said the HOA should support students’ achievements.
“I’m very upset they issued the notices in the first place,” Rovirosa said.
Rovirosa said during the first two weeks of June, he plans to put up several signs on his front lawn to congratulate his school’s seniors.
“Students deserve to be honored and I will keep my signs up as long as I can,” he said.
Rovirosa won’t have to worry about incurring fines at the beginning of the month, which can be $250 if the town cites a homeowner.
The council decided it was okay to celebrate students with banners and signs through June 15 and unanimously approved the temporary sign amnesty.
After that, the town will issue a courtesy notice, a warning and after a third visit by a town inspector, a fine for each violation.
The town hasn’t issued any warning notices or fines for signs that celebrate seniors during this graduation season, spokeswoman Clarisell De
Cardenas said.
Vice Mayor Nelson Rodriguez, whose daughter Megan is graduating from
Monsignor Edward Pace High School, said allowing such signs to stay up is the least the town could do for the students.
“The signs will not stay up forever, at least at my house,” said Rodriguez.
Mayor Manny Cid said celebrating a child’s accomplishments was among “the little things that make people happy. … This is a slam dunk.”
Cruz said he’d let Royal Oaks residents know that after June 15, bylaws would be enforced once again.

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