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HOMEOWNER'S FLAGPOLE CREATES FLAP.

Byline: DENNIS McCARTHY

Drive down Via Cellini in Porter Ranch and the first thing that catches your eye is how the homes, their colors and landscaping, blend together in one homogenous montage right out of ``Stepford Wives.''

Then you get to Becky Owens' place.

And there it is on her front lawn -- a shot of individuality and self-expression that brings a smile to your face.

A 15-foot-high flagpole with a 4-by-5-foot American flag blowing in the wind.

Beautiful sight, if you aren't a member of the Architectural Committee of the Renaissance at Porter Ranch Homeowners Association.

In a letter dated Aug. 2, Owens' request to keep the flagpole was turned down by the committee, and she was ordered to ``remove the flagpole from your yard at once.''

You know those flagpoles. Let one in and there goes the neighborhood.

To her credit, Owens said no, her flagpole was staying. She has requested a formal hearing with the committee, scheduled for the beginning of September.

``I usually try and not rock the boat with most issues, but this time my family and I had to make a stand,'' she said Monday.

``What's this world coming to when you can't fly the American flag in your own front yard? Our country was founded on certain basic principles, and we cannot allow those principles to be changed just because it offends someone or because it's not politically correct.''

Owens' 30-year-old son, Jeff BisCamp, put the flagpole up this year on his mom's first Fourth of July in her new home.

Originally, he was planning to install a flag bracket and pole on the front of her house, but the 1-inch wood trim on the home wasn't wide enough.

BisCamp and Owens said they went through the homeowner association rules and regulations and found nothing barring the installation of flagpoles.

``We had no idea it would be considered an architectural issue,'' Owens said.

But that's exactly what it is, said Sabrina Hart, a representative of Ross Morgan & Company in Sherman Oaks, the property management firm representing the gated-community homeowner association.

In a statement issued by the homeowner association's board, Hart said the board had the right ``to ensure that all additions of exterior changes adhere to the overall aesthetic of the community.

``The homeowner in question installed a large flagpole without approval from the Architectural Committee. The issue here is not the American flag, but with the flag pole itself.''

But the issue doesn't seem to bother the neighbors. You can see her flagpole clearly from the living room windows of neighbors Jonas Lee and Ravi Chapra, who live across the street.

``I think it's great,'' Chapra said Monday. ``People should be more patriotic and not afraid to show it. It doesn't bother me at all.''

A few houses down, Lee's own large American flag from July Fourth is still draped across the outside foyer of his home, although he's thinking about taking it down soon.

``It is different flying the American flag from a pole, but it doesn't bother me one bit,'' Lee said. ``It's certainly not an eyesore or obstruction, so why does the committee care?''

Another neighbor, Enrico Garcia, wrote on a neighbor impact statement required before the committee makes a decision that ``the flag pole is OK with me. Very patriotic!''

So, what's the big deal? Let Owens keep her flagpole and add something unique to Via Cellini.

``People taking a walk by my house in the early evening always stop and comment on it,'' Owens said. ``Not one person has told me it's wrong to be flying the American flag from a flagpole in my front yard.''

I'll let you know how her appeal before the Renaissance Architectural Committee goes. Meanwhile, if you want to weigh in on the issue pro or con, e-mail her at rebeccaannowens(at)msn.com.

dennis.mccarthy(at)dailynews.com

(818) 713-3749

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

Becky Owens and her son, Jeff BisCamp, 30, are fighting the Porter Ranch Homeowners Association, which claims the flag pole in front of her home in the gated community violates its rules.

Gus Ruelas/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 8, 2006
Words:688
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