By Andrew LePage -- Bee Staff Writer
it goodbye -- for now:
flag may again flourish
Courtesy of Sacramento Bee
Published May 15, 2002
A home association forces
the pole's removal, but a bill would allow its return
free-standing flagpoles, though welcomesthose
mounted directly to a home's front and rear outside walls.
|Theodore White said he knew he was violating
his homeowner association's rules when, following the Sept. 11 terrorist
attacks, he proudly erected a 14-foot flag- pole in the back yard of his
Sun City Roseville home.
White, a retiree and U.S. Navy veteran,
says he was overwhelmed with patriotism and wanted to see his U.S. flag
fly "a little higher and freer" than the one attached to the front of his
house, as permitted by the rules.
The Sun City Roseville Community Association,
which sets the rules for about 3,100 homes for those 55 and older, bans
|Mary Jeanne and Theodore White tried to get Sun City Roseville's homeowner
association to reverse the ban on free-standing flag poles, but they failed.
Rather than pay fines up to $500 a day, the Whites removed the pole on
Sacramento Bee/Leilani Hu
White and his wife, Mary Jeanne, were warned
last week that if they didn't take down their version of Old Glory in the
back yard, which fronts a golf course, by Friday they'd face potential
fines up to $500 a day.
The Whites caved, removing their free-standing
"I'm disillusioned and disgusted with their
decision," Theodore White, 69, said of the association's board of directors,
whom he lobbied to reverse the ban. "But other than that we like it here."
Starting next year, however, the Whites
could legally reinstall their flagpole to display the U.S. flag if state
Sen. Dick Monteith, R-Modesto, is successful this summer in winning approval
for his flag bill. It would prohibit homeowner associations -- in which
an estimated 7 million Californians dwell -- from restricting citizens'
ability to display the American flag. The law makes no mention of other
The only restriction now listed in Monteith's
bill applies to cases where the U.S. flag poses a threat to public health
or safety. An aide to the senator, who's running for U.S. Congress, said
Monteith will also consider amending his bill to include a formal definition
of what constitutes an American flag. That's to allay the concerns some
have about people going too far by, for example, painting their home to
resemble a U.S. flag -- a big no-no under many homeowner associations'
Monteith's staff says that since Sept.
11 the senator's office has received complaints from a handful of Californians
statewide who are angry about their association's threat or decision to
enforce rules restricting how, when or where they can display the U.S.
Monteith's bill would effectively amend
the 16-year-old Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act, the main
body of law that governs homeowner associations. The bill would also clarify
within a separate, 13-year-old existing state law -- one giving Californians
the right to fly the U.S. flag -- that this right cannot be superseded
by homeowner association rules.
Monteith wants to ensure that, "Just because
you join a homeowner association doesn't mean you surrender your right
to display loyalty and patriotism via the American flag," explained Andrew
House, Monteith's legislative director.
Under state law, a homeowner association
can't prevent someone from displaying the flag of the United States, said
Sandra Bonato, an attorney with the Executive Council of Homeowners, a
nonprofit organization representing homeowner associations and their members
statewide. However, she explained that state law also doesn't state that
an association is prohibited from reasonable regulation of how, when and
where the flag is displayed.
Her organization supports the Monteith
bill so long as the senator amends it to include a specific definition
of what constitutes a U.S. flag.
Bonato noted that homeowner association
board members often know their association rules inside and out but fail
to recognize all applicable state and federal laws. She said such board
members would benefit from having the Davis-Stirling Act amended to clearly
state the degree to which an association can, or cannot, regulate the flying
of the U.S. flag.