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Homeowners’ horror: a high-flying flag

Like many other Americans, Stan Fisher is flying the American flag this Memorial Day weekend. Unlike other Americans, however, Fisher is going to pay a price. His homeowners association at Trilogy in Nipomo plans to fine him because he is hoisting his salute to fallen Americans on a 25-foot pole in his backyard.

The association doesn’t like 25-foot flagpoles. They offend the association’s aesthetic sensibilities.

If they let Fisher keep his flagpole, why, the next thing you know, 25-foot flagpoles might spring up all over the place, like kudzu.

“If everyone put up a 25-foot flagpole, it would make the community look very strange,” Brooke Bennett, community association manager, told The Tribune.

I’m trying to picture it.

The horror ... the horror.

When I checked out Fisher’s flag last week, it did not seem sinister. It rippled quietly toward the rear of Fisher’s house. It even served as an aid to golfers at the adjacent course, who could eyeball it and see which way the wind was blowing.

Harmless or not, however, the association told Fisher to take it down, effective May 25. So he already has missed his deadline.

Fisher says he will take down his flagpole after the weekend, but not until then.

He says he has had more than a passing brush with patriotism during his long and varied career, including a stint working on the Apollo space program.

“I ought to have a right to put up my flagpole on my … property and be able to fly my American flag,” he said.

Say, isn’t Fisher’s right to fly a flag one of the things those Americans we honor this weekend gave their lives for?

And wouldn’t attempts to squelch that right be, uh … un-American?

Trilogy’s association does not see itself as infringing on Fisher’s freedoms, nor does it consider itself unpatriotic. According to its guidelines, Fisher can fly an American flag so long as it is attached to his house.

Of course, those house-hugging flags cannot be larger than 2 feet by 3 feet. Good form is important.

Fisher knows that he’ll have to take the pole down eventually, because he is facing one of the world’s most immoveable objects: a homeowners association. There is no more anti-democratic organization extant.

These are the people who tell you what shade of ochre to paint your trim, what you can and cannot put in your windows (not much), where to park your car and other things that ought to be none of their business.

A sampling: Trilogy forbids hanging your clothes outdoors if they are visible from the street and bans basketball backboards and play equipment, among other restrictions.

OK, I’m ranting. But these control freaks really push my Libertarian and American Individualism buttons; always have. The Soviet bureaucracy and its efforts to control everyone’s behavior had nothing on them.

I know, if you don’t like it, don’t join the association. Live someplace else. But as Barbara Fisher, Stan’s wife, says, by the time you read the fine print in the proposed rules and regulations, you’re probably already hooked. You may have sold your old house and arranged to make the move.

I need to make very clear here that Stan Fisher does not share my disdain for his or other homeowner associations.

“I’m very much for rules of conduct,” he says. “We have to have rules.”

“But if a rule is found to be ridiculous, there should be a way to change it,” he said.

He will find out after this weekend how far he can get with that perspective. Good luck to him.

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