Colorado State Lawmakers Decide To Restrict Power Of Homeowners Associations Over Yard Signs And Flags – CBS Denver
DENVER (CBS4) – Homeowners associations would no longer dictate which signs and flags residents can display under a bill passed by the State House and initially approved by the Senate. James Genotte d’Arvada was among those who testified in favor of the bill.
“We just wanted to show people of color that some parts of this neighborhood might be a safe place,” he said of a Black Lives Matter sign he placed in his backyard.
Genotte says he had no idea his HOA had rules about signs.
“Definitely, a lot of signs I’ve seen around the neighborhood like ‘So-and-so’s lawn care’ or ‘Happy Springtime’. These do not appear to be deleted, ”he said.
He says the HOA told him only approved posters were allowed and ordered him to remove his sign or face a $ 50 fine.
“I was pretty grumpy about it. So out of frustration I spray painted this on the back of my truck and they tried to quote me for that too, ”he said.
The history of Genotte is hardly isolated. Denise Maes of the Colorado ACLU says she has received dozens of complaints over the past year.
“When you have these homeowners associations that actually regulate the speech based on content, I think, then we have a problem,” Maes said.
The bill, sponsored by Senator Robert Rodriguez and Representative Lisa Cutter, would allow HOAs to regulate the size, number and location of flags and signs, but not the content.
Senator Barb Kirkmeyer opposes the bill. She insists that the contracts are between the owners and their associations, not the government.
“When you bought your house, and it was in that HOA, you made the commitments,” Kirkmeyer explained.
But supporters say these pacts make it nearly impossible to change the rules. Maes admits the bill also allows for speech that some may not like.
“It can happen any day in a non-HOA neighborhood, maybe it probably does, and the skies haven’t fallen,” she said.
While the First Amendment says the government can’t limit speech, Genotte says his homeowners association shouldn’t be allowed to do so either.
“It’s a matter of freedom of speech, it’s like the foundation of our country,” said Genotte.
It is estimated that half of all Colorado homeowners live in neighborhoods with HOA. While most Republicans oppose the bill, some voted in favor saying it also relates to private property rights.