Display of American Flag in Deed Restricted Communities

Flying the flag gets a waiver
New law says homeowner groups can't restrict the displaying of the Stars and Stripes. 
Published July 16, 2002
The Orange County Register 
The American flag stirred in the wind with special significance Monday outside Bob Atherton's Huntington Beach home.

Atherton, a retired history teacher, was among the homeowners who helped bring about a law that bars homeowners associations from fining residents for displaying the Stars and Stripes. 

The bill, authored by state Sen. Dick Monteith, R-Modesto, was signed by Gov. Gray Davis on Monday in Los Angeles. It was prompted by residents spurred by post-Sept. 11 patriotism who were told they couldn't fly the American
flag because of homeowners association regulations.

A HOMEOWNERS association told Huntington Beach resident Bob Atherton, 63, that he couldn't fly an American flag outside his home in the 'common area' of his condominium complex. Atherton fought the ruling.

"We should all be able to fly the American flag," said Atherton, 63, who wrote to Monteith after the Beachwalk Homeowners' Association asked him Feb. 1 to remove the flag attached to a lamppost beside his curbside mailbox or pay a $50 fine.

Atherton put up his flag Sept. 11. The association allows homeowners to display flags on flagpoles attached to their garages but prohibits flying them in common areas such as where mailboxes are, outside the homeowners' front yards.

"You could put four planters in the common areas near your home, but you couldn't display the American flag," he said.

Al Hatton, association president, said the problem wasn't with displaying the flag. The problem was that Atherton's flag was attached to a lamppost in the common area, or "the area outside a homeowner's fence line." 

Specifically, the law refers to the flag of the United States made of " fabric, cloth, or paper displayed from a staff or pole or in a window, and does not mean a depiction of the flag of the United States made of lights, paint, roofing, siding, paving materials, flora, balloons, or any other similar building, landscaping, or decorative component."

According to Monteith, Atherton can fly his flag next to his mailbox in the common area "as long as it doesn't create a safety or health hazard."

The law also requires associations to pay a homeowner's legal bills if the matter is taken to court. The law affects the more than 6 million residents who live in about 35,000 homeowners associations in California, said Guy Puccio, a lobbyist in Sacramento for the Executive Council of Homeowners.

In many neighborhoods, the legislation may not make much difference

Since Sept. 11, boards have been reluctant to enforce restrictions on flying the flag, said Sany Huseby, principal at CHW Property Management in Mission Viejo. CHW helps run communities headed by homeowners associations.

"It just hasn't been appropriate," Huseby said. "Most boards wouldn't want to get into a situation where they are fining someone for flying the American flag."

In one instance, a homeowner erected a flag on his front lawn in violation of association rules. Board members declined to take any action, Huseby said.

To Huseby, the legislation is a relief.

"It will take away any of the gray area," she said.

But Karen Conlon, president of the California Association of Community Managers in Irvine, a statewide trade group for association managers, said the law still gives associations some flexibility. The law, Conlon pointed out, allows restrictions to protect public safety.

"For example, you don't want a flag that blocks a right of way," Conlon said. 

Davis Signs Flag Bill
Law Bans HOAs From Prohibiting Flag Flying
Posted July 15, 2002

LOS ANGELES -- Gov. Gray Davis Monday signed a bill that bans condominium and resident associations from prohibiting the appropriate flying of the American flag. 

Davis said the greatest freedom for Americans is to fly their flag anytime they please. 

"As long as I'm governor, no homeowners' association will block display of the flag," he said. 

The Democratic governor signed the bill sponsored by Republican state Sen. Dick Monteith of Modesto. The measure was approved unanimously in both houses of the Legislature. 

It was prompted by scattered instances of people being asked to take down flags displaying patriotism following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. 

Davis signed the bill at the Cabrini Villas condo complex north of downtown Los Angeles. 

New California law prevents neighborhood bans on U.S. flag 

Posted July 12, 2002
Article Courtesy of The Nando Times

LOS ANGELES  - Californians who live in condominiums can feel free to fly American flags under a new law that was prompted by scattered reports of homeowner associations asking residents to take down flags or remove flagpoles. 

"That's the last thing that should happen in America after the events of Sept. 11," Gov. Gray Davis said Monday at a bill-signing ceremony held at a condo complex where about two dozen flags were on display. 

Between 6 million and 9 million Californians live in areas with some kind of community association regulations, said Guy Puccio, a lobbyist for the Executive Council of Homeowners, which has 1,450 California homeowner associations as members. 

The bill prevents bans on flag display in a resident's "exclusive use" area such as a window or balcony. Puccio said permission would be required to put up a flagpole or other patriotic display in a "common area" for all residents. 

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