An 82-year-old grandmother living in a retirement community in Arizona has been forced by the local homeowners association (HOA) to remove an American flag painted on the concrete at the end of her driveway. The HOA of Westbrook Village in Peoria, a suburb of Phoenix, explained that the flag, stenciled on the curb in red, white, and blue, along with Donna Cordero’s house number, violated the HOA’s restrictions on “decorative artwork” and demanded that Cordero and other homeowners remove the patriotic artwork.
Cordero, a grandmother, great grandmother, and widow of two U.S. military veterans, insisted that the flag was all about patriotism and love of country and initially refused to budge on removing it.
As reported by AZCentral.com, a Phoenix-area news source, “In February, Cordero struck up a conversation with a firefighter, called to her street by a neighbor’s medical emergency. The firefighter asked her why no one in the neighborhood had their house numbers painted on the curb. She called the Westbrook Village Homeowners Association and says she was told the HOA had no responsibility for painting addresses on the curb, that she would have to hire someone to do it.”
A local company offered to do the job for Cordero, painting the numbers and adding her choice of colorful artwork for $20. Naturally, Cordero chose the flag. “I thought, wouldn’t that be nice to let people know that the person who lives here still believes in the flag,” she told AZ Central.
The HOA didn’t see it that way, and when an HOA agent came around checking up on homeowners to make cure they were complying with all rules, he noticed Cordero’s flag and notified her that it had to be removed. “I couldn’t believe it,” she told AZ Central. “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.”
For what it’s worth, the HOA insisted that the violation had nothing to do with the flag — just that the painting on the curb violated the “decorative artwork” ban.
A few of Cordero’s neighbors who were also confronted by the association for having flags complied with the ordinance, “leaving an ugly blotch of mismatched white paint where a flag used to be,” reported AZ Central. Cordero initially said that she had no intention of caving in. “You’ve got to stand for something,” she told the news source. “This is my property and I just can’t believe anybody would find that flag offensive.”
Ultimately, however, the patriotic grandmother and widow bowed to the HOA bureaucrats and had her son cover over the tastefully simple flag painting, leaving an unsightly blotch of white paint in is place. “Never in my wildest dreams would I ever have thought it would be offensive to have this little six-inch flag on my curb,” Cordero told a local reporter. “If so, I never would have done it, because I am not a troublemaker or anything like that.”
For its part the Westbrook Village HOA responded to the conflict with an official statement saying that “all residents within Westbrook Village are encouraged to display the American flag on their property in a manner that is respectful and in accordance with the United States Flag Code.” It added, however, that HOA rules clearly “prohibit the display of any decoration on the curb. The primary purpose of this rule is to protect the safety of the residents by making the painted address numbers more visible to emergency personnel.”
At least one Westbrook Village resident has reportedly refused to comply with the questionable ordinance. Jim West also has a flag on his curb, and he told AZFamily.com that he has no plans to cover it, despite the HOA demands. West observed that displaying the American flag ought not to generate controversy. “I’m not going to do anything about it unless I’m forced, and I don’t know how they can force me other than take my home,” said West. “I think the HOA is insulting by itself without having to pull little tricks. That is stupid, in my opinion.”
AZFamily.com noted that “it is unclear what action the HOA might take against homeowners who don’t do anything and leave their flags on the curb.”
Image: Screenshot of a video by ABC