articles by barry A. Ross

Your Association Will Not Allow You To Put A UCLA Flag In Front Of Your Residence.


You are a UCLA alumni residing in a homeowners association. You have always been a devoted fan of UCLA and dedicated alumni. You place a UCLA flag on a pole in front of your residence. The association tells you that the flag must be removed because it violates the CC&R’s which prohibits any flag in the front of a residence.

Legal Analysis

This issue is governed by Civil Code section 1353.6. The statute states that non-commercial signs, posters, flags or banners may not be prohibited by an association unless required for the protection of public health or safety or where the display is contrary to law. Further, signs and posters may be no larger than 9 square feet and non-commercial flags or banners may be no larger than 15 square feet.

Assuming that your UCLA flag is less than 15 square feet, the association may not require you to remove it. The flag does not violate any public health or safety issue and it is not contrary to law.

The analysis changes with different types of signs and flags. For example, a United States flag may not be prohibited under any circumstances. Civil Code section 1353.5. A California state flag does not have the same level of protection. A California state flag would seem to be governed by Civil Code section 1353.6 regarding non-commercial signs.

For sale or lease real estate signs may not be completed prohibited, but may be restricted with reasonable regulations. Civil Code section 712 to 713. Such signs must be of reasonable size and dimension. Such signs may contain the owner or agent’s name, address and telephone number. The association may prohibit any such signage in the association’s common area and limit such signs to the member’s property. It is unclear whether the association can prohibit stringer boards attached to the signs such as an attachment that states “pool” or other features of the property. An association may require certain reasonable color requirements and uniformity for the signs. In a recent case entitled Fourth La Costa Condominium Association v. Seith (January 4, 2008), the California Court of Appeal upheld an association’s sign restriction which limited the for sale or for lease signs to one sign in the window of the property.

Political signs are in a completely different category. Political signs cannot be prohibited. City of Ladue v. Gilleo (1994) 512 U.S. 43, 129 L. Ed. 2d 36, 114 S. Ct. 2038 (an antiwar sign is protected by freedom of speech). However, the Ladue case concerned a city regulation. It did not involve an association regulation. Under the CC&R’s, the association can impose reasonable regulations on political signs, such as limiting the number, size and other features of the political signs provided the content is not restricted.