Pole Flap in CA HOA
Display of American Flag in Deed Restricted Communities
MURRIETA ---- A resident on the city's west side is appealing a decision made by his neighborhood's homeowners association, which ordered that he can't fly an American flag from a pole on his 1-acre estate.
When Rick Alkire moved into his new hillside home in Olive Hill Ranch seven months ago, he planned to erect a 30-foot flag pole to fly an heirloom American flag he inherited from a family member.
"I'm very patriotic," Alkire said. "I love this country and the flag is beautiful."
He said he is not looking to fly the flag constantly ---- only on special occasions.
But the Olive Hill Ranch Homeowners' Association, which approves architectural design in the small, gated community, told Alkire last month that his plans for the flag pole were denied.
"I feel like my civil rights are being violated by them telling me I can't fly it," Alkire said.
Patriotism runs deep in Alkire's family, many members of which he says are veterans of the armed forces ---- including his wife's grandfather, who fought and was wounded in World War I.
"When my wife's grandfather died, this flag was draped over his coffin," Alkire said Thursday afternoon, while holding the flag.
When Alkire heard he wouldn't be allowed to fly the flag, he appealed the architectural review committee's decision in a letter written to the homeowners association board of directors.
According to California's civil code, a homeowners association can impose "reasonable restrictions as to the time, place and manner of placement or display of the flag."
However, the code also states that "no restrictions solely to promote aesthetic consideration may be imposed."
In his appeal, Alkire asked board members to provide a list of reasons behind their decision if they vote to deny his request for a flag pole.
When the architectural review committee responded two weeks later, Alkire was told by them that they will need to meet with the association's board of directors to discuss the flag pole. No reason behind the denial of the flag pole was included in the letter.
Attempts were made to reach members of the Olive Hills Ranch Homeowners Association and architectural review committee, however employees with Equity Management, which oversees the association, would not release board member contact information Thursday.
Regardless of what the board decides, Alkire said he plans to stand his pole and fly his flag.
And it isn't just Alkire who thinks homeowners associations that restrict flags from being flown may be overstepping their boundaries.
"Being a homeowner association attorney, I understand the concerns of associations in relation to aesthetics, protection of building and grounds, and 'harmony' in appearance, however, this is a time, if there ever was one, to reassess and ease association rules on flying flags," wrote Beth Grimm, a Bay Area attorney specializing in homeowner association law, in a recent newsletter featured on her Web page.
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