by Tyler P. Berding, Esq.
Independence Day. The Fourth of July this year has greater significance to us than in any time in recent memory. Our way of life is under attack and we are at war. Our nation is fighting a frontline battle in several different countries and Americans are dying for the cause of freedom. At home, life will never be the same. Overnight the feeling of security that we took for granted is gone. The pictures of Ground Zero and the destruction of the World Trade Center are etched in our minds. The tragedy of 9-11 will be the defining event of the lives of a generation of children and young adults, just as the murder of John F Kennedy and Pearl Harbor were for the preceding generations.
The lives of these Americans passed through a time warp--they lived before, and after, major events involving unspeakable acts of violence. The juxtaposition of images of a world of innocence, overwhelmed by a world sculpted by hostile acts, brings wisdom and maturity like no other experience. For each of those generations, violent events and burning images marked their entry into adulthood. They came of age much like they were born, not slowly and quietly emerging, but shoved abruptly into the light of day.
Anyone passing through a cataclysmic event searches for images of stability and security. We want proof, even if it is merely symbolic, that we are not lost. And, we want proof that our society remains fundamentally strong. One of the most enduring of these images is our flag. Following September 11, as it was in previous periods of national crisis, the flag was flown with reverence and zeal. It was the best way we knew to express quiet support for our government, to demonstrate that pride in our nation was not diminished by the acts of these terrorists. We continue to show our patriotism in this way by displaying the American flag at our homes and businesses.
We should never allow politics, whether it be state, local, or even the politics of community associations, to interfere unnecessarily with our freedom to display our national symbol. While we must respect the property and certainly the beliefs of others, we can be zealous in our demonstration of support for our nation, especially during this Fourth of July. California law permits any owner to fly the American flag on the owner's separate interest or on exclusive use common area. Directors of common interest developments should be very tolerant of the feelings of their members toward displaying the flag and should be open to ways to use common area for this purpose as well.
We support the rights of homeowner association members to responsibly display flags and other symbols of national pride. The unique blend of community and individual rights that constitutes the modem community association may sometimes present challenges to freedom of expression. But with the exercise of a little imagination and some common sense, we can meet those challenges.
God bless America - fly that flag.
(Editor's Note: This essay was first published in 2006. It is equally relevant today.)
By Andrea O'Toole, Esq.
If an association removes the towing signs from the project 's entrances, can it legally remove vehicles that are parked in violation of the association's parking rules?
Yes, if the association issues and places on the vehicle a satisfactory notice of parking violation at least 96 hours before towing the vehicle, it has complied with the notice requirement of the statute. (Vehicle Code §22658) Of course, the association must also comply with all other requirements of the towing statute as well as its own internal rules and policies concerning the towing of vehicles.
What is an association's liability to a vehicle owner where the vehicle is improperly towed from the project?
An association that fails to comply with the notice and/or signage requirements can be liable to the vehicle owner for double the storage or towing charges. And, where the association does not follow the requirements for authorizing tows, it could be held civilly liable to the vehicle owner for up to four times the amount of the towing and storage charges. (Vehicle Code §22658)
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