Colorado HOAs losing power to restrict speech on flags and signs

Coloradans will soon be able to fly flags or display signs outside their homes without restrictions on the content, even if they live in a neighborhood with a homeowners association.

Gov. Jared Polis signed HB21-1310 into law Friday — one of 19 that got his signature before the July Fourth holiday weekend.

It’ll take effect Sept. 7 unless voters petition to put a question on a ballot that would overturn the law, which says HOAs can restrict the size, number and location of signs and flags but not the content or the time of year they can be displayed.

The new law, which had broad bipartisan support in the legislature, comes after complaints and lawsuits by homeowners for what they believed was a restriction of their First Amendment rights, particularly following a heated election season when residents wanted to display Trump flags or support for movements like Black Lives Matter.

Lawmakers acknowledged that removing content restrictions may open the floodgates for signs and flags that may be considered offensive, but more important was the principle of allowing people to express their opinions.

Those who voted against the bill cited concerns about restricting the limits of homeowners associations, which they consider private. But groups like the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado consider HOAs quasi-governmental organizations.

Polis signed another homeowners’ bill Friday, HB21-1229, which increases record-keeping and disclosure requirements for HOAs. He also vetoed two bills (one regarding off-highway vehicles like ATVs and one about transportation money) and signed an executive order.

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