Time to eliminate a bad sign law

Roland Cole’s sign experience highlights the problems created by the Grand View Homeowner’s Association prohibition on political yard signs.

Cole, a candidate for Grand Junction City Council and a resident of Grand View, cannot even display support for his own candidacy with a political sign in his yard, at least according to the current interpretation of the Grand View rules.

So Cole has placed a campaign sign in the yard of a friend whose property is just outside the
boundaries of the Grand View subdivision. Cole, who told The Daily Sentinel he supports the Grand View rule, said his sign is just a foot over the border from Grand View.

Well, that ought to protect the Grand View residents from the emotional distress of viewing political signs.

However, if a bipartisan bill making its way through the Colorado Legislature becomes law,
Cole and other Grand View residents won’t have to resort to boundary politicking, and the so-called Grand View Six will presumably be freed — at least from potential fines for their political activities.

The Six are Grand View homeowners who ignored the subdivision’s prohibition on political signs last fall, and later were sued by the homeowner’s association for doing so.

But both sides say that lawsuit will be moot if legislation sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry of Grand Junction is approved. Senate Bill 249 is cosponsored by Sen. Morgan Carroll, an Aurora Democrat, and it would eliminate a discrepancy in the state law that allows some homeowners’ associations to ban political signs, but not others.

The current law may be unconstitutional because it establishes a financial barrier for political speech: If you live in a subdivision where you pay $300 or more in homeowner’s association dues, political advertising cannot be banned. But if you pay less than $300 — as the residents of Grand View do — then it’s OK for your homeowners’ association to prohibit you from placing political signs in your yard.

The ability to express our opinions on political issues is one of the most basic rights we Americans have. It should not be eliminated by the dictates of community aesthetics or the views of neighborhood potentates.

Here’s hoping SB 249 is approved by the Legislature and signed by the governor so that it eliminates the financial discrepancy in the law and puts an end to the unfortunate Grand View dispute.


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