FLYING "OLD GLORY" ?
Lawmakers hoping to void curbs on flags
By Howard Fischer
CAPITOL MEDIA SERVICES
PHOENIX - Some state lawmakers hope to parlay the new wave of patriotism into legislation to expand the rights of Arizona homeowners.
Sen. Scott Bundgaard, R-Glendale, is resurrecting a measure that would overrule the regulations of any homeowners association or deed restriction that limits or bars the flying of the American flag.
"A lot of people are showing their patriotism by flying their flag," said Bundgaard in the wake of the terrorist attacks.
"But there are some of us that are prevented from doing that," he continued. "And the rest of the public should know there are rules in homeowner associations that prevent other Americans from participating in this patriotic fervor."
He already has picked up support from fellow Sen. Sue Gerard, R-Phoenix, and Rep. Robert Blendu, R-Litchfield Park. Gerard said there is a need to get rid of all homeowner association rules that are "arbitrary."
But the lawmakers are likely to find the same sticking points now as they did two years ago when similar legislation was killed. Should they allow any limits at all on how tall the poles can be, how big the flags can be and whether restrictions apply to state flags, POW flags and even flags celebrating gay pride?
The fight traces its roots to Adolph "Doc" Wussow, who complained to lawmakers that the rules in his Scottsdale subdivision preclude free-standing flagpoles. Wussow said allowing him to attach a small pole to his house does not allow him to fly the 5-by-9-foot flag that was draped over the casket of his brother, Robert, who was killed in World War II while flying over Germany.
While the bill cleared a Senate committee in 1999, it ran into trouble elsewhere. Many lawmakers said it is up to homeowner groups to determine their own restrictions without legislative interference.
The problem with that, said Bundgaard, is that the procedures necessary to amend the rules of many homeowner associations are too cumbersome. He said it is far easier to simply change the law.
He conceded, though, many of his colleagues think there need to be some guidelines, lest a homeowner put up a 50-foot pole with an oversize flag that obstructs the views of neighbors.
"That's going to be part of our whole discussion of how far the rules go," said Gerard. She said a potential middle ground would be to align homeowner rules with local zoning. If a city allows flagpoles of a certain height in residential areas, then the rules could not be more stringent.
Bundgaard, however, takes a more absolutist view. "I personally don't think there should be a prohibition on flying the American flag in any manner, whatsoever," he said.