Homeowners association boards are desperate little tyrannies in Florida. Usually composed of retirees with too much time and too much opinion on their hands, they spend their days as minor governmental bodies with extraordinary powers. They will restrict what you can do with your property, to the extent of dictating paint colors both outside and inside your home, and the extent and types of trees, plants and flowers you may decorate your yard with. Invariably the argument is that your individual action will adversely affect others’ “property values” in some mystic fashion only understood within their own aging, sclerotic minds.
Back in 1999 Florida veteran and homeowner put up a flagpole on his lawn and flew the flag, proudly. His homeowner association was of course outraged because if he had a flagpole possibly some other near-senile fool might not want to buy their homes from their children fifteen years from now.
In 1999, Jupiter resident George Andres had a problem displaying his flag in his front yard. The Indian Creek homeowners association had a bylaw prohibiting the display of a flagpole in the front lawn. Andres' protested by displaying the flag anyway, while the Indian Creek homeowners association went as far as foreclosing his home to cover legal fees after being in court at least twenty-eight times. Even after Governor Jeb Bush visited his home along with all of the local and national media, the homeowners association wasn't giving up without a fight. Andres said, "Well, first they said that it was going to cost more to cut the grass around the pole, which is kind of funny. And then they told me that the flagpole was going to take away from the value of the property. And I said, well, then we should be able to take away all the trees around here, because they're the same as the pole. And my pole is a portable pole. And the state government says I can do it."
George Andres won and was allowed to display his flag in his front lawn with the use of a flagpole.
During the last week of July 2006, President George Bush signed the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005, allowing residents to display the flag on their residential property despite any homeowners association rules.
This is most likely the only action Mr Bu$h ever took during his occupation of our Oval Office that did no harm to a poor or middle class American.
Fast forward to November, 2006:
Barry Silver took on a long shot when he agreed to represent a Jupiter man against a homeowners association in a tangled legal fight over a flagpole.
On Thursday, after five years of litigation, it paid off.
In a rare decision, a judge ordered the homeowners association to pay Silver twice his regular legal fees - a total of $126,225 - after he successfully argued the case against The Indian Creek Homeowners Association Phase 3B.
Originally, Silver agreed to represent George Andres, a 68-year-old veteran at odds with his neighborhood association over a flagpole he had put in his yard, for free. By the time he came on board, a judge had ruled against Andres, and he and his wife were ordered to pay about $30,000 in attorneys' fees.
An attorney for the association then filed a foreclosure lawsuit because Andres couldn't pay.
Silver got a temporary injunction that kept Andres' American flag flying and then won an appeal that reversed the rulings against Andres. As Silver made the case, he said, he saw a way to argue that the homeowners association should pick up the tab for his services.
"In Florida, homeowners associations are used to running roughshod over the rights of their clients. And the reason they can do that is once they decide to go after one of their own homeowners, it's virtually impossible for a homeowner to find an attorney to represent them," Silver said, explaining the crux of his argument.
Circuit Court Judge Edward Fine bought it, and as part of the decision awarded Silver twice his regular hourly fee, because of the risk involved in taking such a labor-intensive case without guarantee of payment.
About frickin time.