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Source: U.S. Newswire
Date: July 24, 2006
Byline: Frank Rathbun

National Flag Law Mirrors Community Associations Institute Public Policy

To: National Desk, Real Estate Reporter

Contact: Frank Rathbun of Community Associations Institute, 703-797-6261

ALEXANDRIA, Va., July 24 /U.S. Newswire/ — Community Associations Institute (CAI) today applauded the enactment of legislation that gives residents in community associations the right to fly the American flag. While many homeowner associations already allow the display of American flags, some restrict the practice to prevent the proliferation of flags, banners and emblems.

First introduced in January 2005, the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005 (H.R. 42) was signed by President Bush today and is effective immediately.

Sponsored in the House of Representatives by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), the legislation is based largely on CAI's own public policy on the display of the American flag in community associations. That long-standing policy recommends the "elimination of community association restrictions that prohibit the display of a reasonably sized, removable American flag from a resident's exclusive use or limited common element areas, so long as the flag is displayed in accordance with the Federal Flag Code...."

At the same time — and consistent with provisions in H.R. 42 — CAI believes that community associations, and not state laws, are best suited to determine the appropriate size, placement and installation of flags and flagpoles.

"I'm gratified the President signed this important measure," said Bartlett, who drafted H.R. 42 after reviewing state statutes and public policy guidelines developed by CAI. "This is a reasonable and thoughtful approach that gives residents the right to fly our colors, even as it gives community associations the right to establish appropriate limitations on the size and locations of flags displayed in their communities. This is a perfect compromise between the rights of individuals and the important obligations of community association leaders."

"Displaying the American flag is the patriotic right of all Americans and H.R. 42 helps protect it," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) after the Senate passed the measure July 17 by unanimous consent. "This legislation strikes the appropriate balance between reasonable community regulations and an essential American liberty."

According to CAI, more than 57 million Americans live in an estimated 286,000 homeowner and condominium associations, up from just two million residents in 10,000 communities in 1970.

Flags — and flag poles — have become an occasional source of conflict when residents want to fly flags or install flagpoles in violation of established community association guidelines. Such restrictions, as well as others pertaining to architectural guidelines and lawn-care standards, are designed to preserve the appearance of communities and protect property values.

These occasional conflicts notwithstanding, recent national research conducted by Zogby International indicates that more than 7 in 10 Americans who live in homeowner and condominium associations are pleased with their communities, with just 10 percent expressing some level of dissatisfaction. Zogby found that 78 percent believe community association rules "protect and enhance" property values. Only 1 percent said rules harm property values, while about 20 percent see no difference. The research was conducted by the Foundation for Community Association Research.

"We commend Mr. Bartlett and his colleagues for taking a logical and balanced approach to what can be a contentious issue," said CAI Chief Executive Officer Thomas M. Skiba. "This legislation codifies the right of residents to fly the flag, but also affirms the right of community associations to establish fair and reasonable limitations on how the flag is displayed."

CAI is a national membership association that provides information, tools and resources to homeowners and professionals who govern and manage homeowner and condominium associations. CAI members include community managers, volunteer homeowner leaders and businesses and professionals who support common-interest communities. CAI member services include conferences and seminars, education courses, public policy and media advocacy, periodicals, books, professional service directories and professional designations.

CAI's public policies can be assessed at caionline.org/govt/position.cfm.

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