In three days it’s July 4th. Our country’s birthday USA flags will be flying everywhere, even in our community associations and even if the Board in that association says take it down. Why then are there fights ever year on the news about Boards attempting to force owners to take the flag down?
The Freedom to Display The American Flag Act of 2005 states:
A condominium association, cooperative association, or residential real estate management association may not adopt or enforce any policy, or enter into any agreement, that would restrict or prevent a member of the association from displaying the flag of the United States on residential property within the association with respect to which such member has a separate ownership interest or a right to exclusive possession or use.
This federal law allows the association to make reasonable restrictions. Florida codified its own law and states:
Any unit owner may display one portable, removable United States flag in a respectful way and, on Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day, may display in a respectful way portable, removable official flags, not larger than 41/2 feet by 6 feet, that represent the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard, regardless of any declaration rules or requirements dealing with flags or decorations.
For homeowner associations:
Any homeowner may display one portable, removable United States flag or official flag of the State of Florida in a respectful manner, and one portable, removable official flag, in a respectful manner, not larger than 41/2 feet by 6 feet, which represents the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard, or a POW-MIA flag, regardless of any covenants, restrictions, bylaws, rules, or requirements of the association.
(b) Any homeowner may erect a freestanding flagpole no more than 20 feet high on any portion of the homeowner’s real property, regardless of any covenants, restrictions, bylaws, rules, or requirements of the association, if the flagpole does not obstruct sightlines at intersections and is not erected within or upon an easement. The homeowner may further display in a respectful manner from that flagpole, regardless of any covenants, restrictions, bylaws, rules, or requirements of the association, one official United States flag, not larger than 41/2 feet by 6 feet, and may additionally display one official flag of the State of Florida or the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard, or a POW-MIA flag. Such additional flag must be equal in size to or smaller than the United States flag. The flagpole and display are subject to all building codes, zoning setbacks, and other applicable governmental regulations, including, but not limited to, noise and lighting ordinances in the county or municipality in which the flagpole is erected and all setback and locational criteria contained in the governing documents.
I go to so many of your meetings. Some of them are in Board rooms and some of them are in large auditoriums. For the ones that are held in auditoriums I almost always see the American Flag displayed. Not only that……. so many of you start your Board meetings with the pledge of allegiance, even though there is no requirement that you have to. I for one, love seeing it and hearing it.
Florida law only requires the American Flag to be displayed in a publicly supported auditorium and provides as follows:
Florida Statute 256.111: Each publicly supported and controlled auditorium within a separate building shall display daily the flag of the United States upon a suitable flagstaff upon the grounds of the auditorium except when the weather does not permit such display, and each publicly supported and controlled auditorium within a part of a building shall display daily the flag of the United States inside of the auditorium whenever the auditorium is open.
(2) It is the duty of the person responsible for the administration of such auditorium to provide a suitable flag and cause it to be displayed in the manner provided in subsection (1). If any person willfully causes the flag to fail to be so displayed, except for the cleaning, repair, or replacement of such flag, such person is guilty of a noncriminal violation, punishable as provided in s. 775.083.
In case you’re wondering, Florida also still mandates that the school day starts with the pledge of allegiance.
Florida Statute 1003.44 states: (1) Each district school board may adopt rules to require, in all of the schools of the district, programs of a patriotic nature to encourage greater respect for the government of the United States and its national anthem and flag, subject always to other existing pertinent laws of the United States or of the state. When the national anthem is played, students and all civilians shall stand at attention, men removing the headdress, except when such headdress is worn for religious purposes. The pledge of allegiance to the flag, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” shall be rendered by students standing with the right hand over the heart. The pledge of allegiance to the flag shall be recited at the beginning of the day in each public elementary, middle, and high school in the state. Each student shall be informed by a written notice published in the student handbook or a similar publication pursuant to s. 1006.07(2) that the student has the right not to participate in reciting the pledge. Upon written request by his or her parent, the student must be excused from reciting the pledge, including standing and placing the right hand over his or her heart. When the pledge is given, unexcused students must show full respect to the flag by standing at attention, men removing the headdress, except when such headdress is worn for religious purposes,
So, Florida law doesn’t require a flag to be displayed at your private board meetings at your association. It only requires the flag at public meetings. Florida law only requires students to say the pledge of allegiance, not unit owners and Board members who attend a Board meeting in your community. But you’re doing it anyway. It’s on your agendas and meeting notices. So many of you are displaying the flag on your homes? Tell us all what makes you do it and how you feel when you look at our flag.