Category Archives: Flags

Larry Murphree

Have you noticed how often the phrase, “it protects property values” is used to justify the most ridiculous behavior in homeowner associations? It is a one size fits all excuse or explanation for the bizarre, ludicrous, absurd, wacky and outrageous shenanigans by so called kommunity leaders. Over the years we have heard it all – unapproved garden hoses, too many rose bushes, a driveway that is three inches wider than approved, a pudgy pooch or a rogue bird feeder. The list is endless.

It will come as no surprise to you then that at The Tides Condominium at Sweetwater in Florida fully grown adults sat around one day and came up with “flowerpot rules”. When it comes to property values, you see, nothing is too insignificant for these selfless altruists who give so freely of their time and expertise to determine what you can put in your flowerpot. Kompliance with konformity in kondos is of utmost concern as you might have guessed, and violators are sought and penalized lest they devalue property.

Joining us On The Commons is Larry Murphree. Larry lives in Jacksonville, Florida where, by the largess of the kondo leaders, he is allowed to have a flowerpot but the tiny flag tucked in with his flowers is verboten. His flagrant disregard of the rules got him a letter from the kondo kommandos notifying him that there is an “unauthorized object” in his flowerpot. When Larry refused to remove the flag, passionately believing in his 1st Amendment rights as well as his right to have it there, he was fined $100 a day for protecting his rights. Florida law allows fines up to $1000 (bless their hearts) but through some very creative accounting, the kondo threatened to foreclose on Larry’s unit to collect $8000 they alleged he owed. Please join us to learn the details of this absurd situation, find out what the most recent law suit filed by the kondo sought and what the local realtors have to say about why buyers are not beating a path to this particular project’s gate. Also, check out Larry’s website at http://letmeflytheflag.com

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Billy Martin

Proponents of homeowner associations would have us believe that HOAs are “democracy up close and personal”.  They insist the owners have more control over the neighborhood than they otherwise would and being neighbors, the leadership would be of the kinder, gentler variety than the further removed, less personal municipal government could provide. They’ve got part of it right, anyway.  HOAs can be extremely  “up close and personal” and that is not a good thing.  As for democracy,  it is almost nonexistent in kontrolled kommunities around the country.  

Neighbors and community members can be a little too close for comfort when it comes to providing any kind of governance that is needed to run a development.  Personality clashes, personal feelings and long standing friendships/animosities are more than likely to interfere with any requirement for fair dealing.  This lack of neutrality and imbalance of power can make life inside the borders of associations a living hell.

Joining us On The Commons this week is Billy Martin.  Billy lives in a townhouse development in Houston, Texas where his first battle with the HOA was over a flag. The issue wasn’t whether or not he had the right to fly the flag but a dispute over the placement of the flag.  It went to court and Billy won.  The judge agreed that the flag was on private property and not HOA controlled property.  That, however, is not the end of the story.  What happened next is terrifying. (See News Story) We will talk to Billy and find out what he discovered when he came home from a trip and found his house had been vandalized.

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