What would a national election cycle be without stories of how politics and homeowner’s associations do (or do not) mix? The latest in reactions to political lawn art from Katy, Texas:
Shannon Bennett and her husband painted the tribute to O’Rourke in an effort to keep people from stealing the their political lawn sign, the Star-Telegram reported Thursday.
Bennett said she and her husband were immediately confronted by the the president of the Chesterfield Community Association, who she said was “very hostile” over the sign.
This sounds, in many ways, like a typical HOA conflict. The homeowner does something that may not be explicitly prohibited or at least is more difficult to find in the association’s regulations and conflict ensues. Painting your lawn for a political candidate is an unusual step and it is not surprising that the HOA had concerns. Add a contentious political battle and this is a Grade A HOA dust-up.
But, more details in the story suggest this is more than just an election year battle:
Bennett told the paper that she felt like there is a double standard in the neighborhood, noting that she lives near a house with a sign that reads “I stand for the anthem, and kneel for the cross.” According to Bennett, the neighbor’s sign should not be allowed under the HOA rules because it is not a political sign.
Bennett said she was forced to remove a sign that reads “kindness is everything” due to the same guideline.
And from the HOA company:
“This is not a violation for them placing a political sign; it’s the type of signage that they’ve actually placed on their property being an extremely large painting on the actual grass of their front yard,” Jordan told the Houston Chronicle. “It is a landscaping and signage violation. It has nothing to do with it being a political signage. Any type of signage of that nature would be in violation.”
Now this is not just about an election for a senate seat; now this is about which rules are enforced, which messages are deemed political, and what forms these messages can take. And in a state known for its conservatism, these disputes could fester. Neighbors are pitted against neighbors all in a quest to maintain property values.
Tomorrow: do political signs affect property values and if they do, isn’t the right to political expression worth it?