A homeowner's association in Arizona is the news this weekend it couldn't be for less flattering reasons. The HOA told 82-year-old Donna Cordero that she can't keep her new American flag decoration because it doesn't fit the neighborhood's look.
Also she's a grandmother. And a great grandmother. And the widow of a veteran. And then the widow of another veteran. Both her deceased husbands are buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona, where one finds quite a few flags.
So why are they biting off this big fight to chew? Because of the kind of flag Cordero added to her property. USA Today explains.
Cordero lives in a retirement community in Peoria, Arizona, with nearly 4,000 houses in a multitude of colors, all of them brown. And an aversion to red, white and blue — at least, if it's painted on the curb.
The series of events that led to this conflict are outlined in detail by columnist Laurie Roberts here, along with photos. But to summarize: a firefighter on an emergency call to a neighbor asked Cordero why none of the homes had the numbers painted on the curb, and Cordero brought it up with the HOA, which told her that she would basically have to handle it herself because they had no one responsible for such things.
So when a company came through the neighborhood selling that very service, Cordero bought. In addition to numbers, the painters would include an accompanying decorative image, she chose the flag, and now here they are.
... During a routine patrol "to observe the aesthetic appearance of the properties and to ensure they are maintaining 'the look'," an HOA inspector noticed Cordero's flag.
In June, Cordero was notified: "picture on your curb numbers must be removed."
"I couldn't believe it," she told me recently. "I'm thinking, 'Are you joking?' Of all the things they pay attention to in this community, they're looking at my little flag? It absolutely upset me. My neighbors that I've talked to can't believe it either."
Representatives of the homeowners association told me it's not about the flag. It's about putting "decorative artwork" on the curb which is a distinct no-no. Says so right there in the covenants, conditions and restrictions.
The HOA insists that it's not about the flag per se, explaining that other residents in the neighborhood have traditional, flown flags that are within the HOA's guidelines. They maintained their position against objections, and most of the neighbors complied leaving, as USA Today described it, an ugly blotch of mismatched white paint where a flag used to be.
But Donna Cordero has not complied, and says she doesn't intend to.
"You've got to stand for something or you will fall for nothing and I'm not going to fall for nothing," she said. "This is my property and I just can't believe anybody would find that flag offensive."
In her column, Laurie Roberts ponders the HOAs motivations, and the implications of their insistence in painting over a small flag on a curb for the sake of appearances. Her conclusions are worth your time to read.
This post has been updated.