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UNRESTRICTED FLAG FLYING OK'D RECOMMENDATION A VICTORY FOR GAS STATION OWNER.

Byline: Helen Gao Staff Writer

GLENDALE - The Planning Commission voted unanimously Monday to lift all regulations governing the display of U.S. flags - a victory for a local businessman whose patriotic display got him into trouble with the city.

The commission will forward its recommendation to the City Council, which will make the final decision on changing Glendale's sign ordinance to exempt national and religious flags.

``I am ecstatic. I am flying on cloud nine again,'' said Kelly Khoury, the Shell gas station owner whose display sparked the controversy.

Last July, Khoury was warned by code enforcement officers to remove 17 of 20 flags at his station or risk being cited - a misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine or six months in jail. In 1986, he was also cited for the same violation and paid a $30 fine.

Khoury has said his flags are meant to show patriotism, not advertisement, as the city's officials interpreted them.

``It's something I love to do since I came to this country 26 years ago, something I cherish,'' said Khoury, who sported an American flag pin on his shirt during Monday's hearing.

Commissioners agreed that patriotism is not something that ought to be regulated.

``(The American flag) is more than just a banner. It's a symbol of everything we have,'' said Commissioner Nancy Burke.

The commission rejected two other proposals that would have restricted the number and size of flags that could be displayed.

After Khoury's plight was made public, e-mails and phone calls poured in from around the country to city officials.

John Buckley of Valencia, an Air Force veteran, was one of several supporters who accompanied Khoury to the meeting Monday.

``The American flag doesn't fall under the sign ordinance. It's not a sign. This isn't promoting a business. It's promoting the country,'' Buckley said.

Khoury said he spends about $1,500 each year to replace the flags at his Pacific Avenue business to keep them fresh and clean.

For the past 18 years, he has flown the same number of flags from July 4 through Labor Day. In 1992, he won a beautification award for the flag display and flowers at his business.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 13, 2001
Words:362
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