'Flag Man' turns personal battle into public advocacy
Courtesy of The Jupiter Courier
George Andres, known as
"Jupiter's Flag Man," is using his near six-year battle with the
Indian Creek Homeowners Association to help others who are having problems with
homeowners, condo and trailer park associations.
This week, Andres, 68, and his wife Anna learned that the
4th District Court of Appeal had ruled the Indian Creek Homeowners Association
can't foreclose on his home to recover $20,000 in legal fees for their battle
over the U.S. flag and flag pole he erected in his front yard.
"This battle has taught me that perseverance against
homeowners associations who act like tyrants is the way to go," the former
Marine said from his home in the Indian Creek subdivision, which now sports a
20-foot high flagpole and an American flag.
"Because of this experience, I'm now part of Cyber
Citizens for Florida Justice, and I've been helping other people who have had
problems with homeowners associations," said Andres. "We've gone to
Tallahassee to get state laws changed, and last year we had the governor set up
a task force to look into this situation with homeowners and condo associations.
"The state is finally taking the builders and the
homeowners associations to task. Under one of the new laws, the homeowners
association can't foreclose on you or put liens on your house for violating the
"We intend to keep moving on in the state to help
people with these associations," he said.
Andres problems began in 1999 when he erected a 13-foot
pole and put an American flag on it. According to Andres, he had received
permission for the pole and flag when he had been a member of the homeowners
association board from 1989 to 1998. However, a new board came in and told
Andres he could only put up an American flag on his home, not in his yard.
"I told them, 'show me where there is an article in
the bylaws prohibiting the flag being flown on a pole,'" he said.
The issue transcended Jupiter and became a cause
celebre that reached national proportions and even brought support from Gov.
Jeb Bush. In 2002, the Florida legislature passed a bill allowing a person to
fly a removable American flag in respectful manner, regardless of homeowners
association laws. Bush even went so far as to present Andres with an American
flag that had flown over the state capitol building on Flag Day.
Andres said that as the controversy wound its way through
the courts that the Indian Creek Homeowners Association finally said it didn't
care any more about the flagpole, but it did want to recover the legal fees.
"I guess they realized that they had made a mistake
when they did what they did with the flag," he said, "and then they
tried to become the good guy and say they just wanted money for their lawyer.
But now they've lost.
"They can appeal within 10 days, but the appeal will
cost them a lot of money."
Attorneys for the homeowner's association declined
Andres said that he has a temporary injunction against the
homeowners association to keep flying his flag. Now, he said, he'll have his
attorney get a permanent injunction.
Andres isn't the only one relieved to hear the news from
the appeals court.
"It's a big load off my wife's back," he said,
"when you are finally free of the garbage that's been going on for almost
For more on Cyber Citizens for Florida Justice go www.ccfj.net/
here to see copy of the Court opinion!