DiBy Cathy Ingalls, Albany Democrat-Herald | Posted: Friday, October 9, 2009 12:55 pm |
Jim Clausen said he has been threatened with eviction if he continues to fly his American flags while parking at the apartment complex. (Mark Ylen/Democrat-Herald) .
..Jim Clausen was shocked when the new on-site manager of the Oaks Apartments in Albany told him he could face eviction if he did not remove the American flags that fly from his Jeep and motorcycle in the parking lot.
Clausen learned on Wednesday that American flags and others such as Mexican flags and college team flags were no longer allowed on vehicles parked at the complex.
He was told the rule applies to flag decals as well.
Clausen learned about this when the manager told him as he was on his way to do his laundry. He said there was no meeting to announce the rule, nor have fliers been given to any tenants.
There is no specific language in the tenants' rental agreement about flags, but there is a clause that permits the owners to control what goes on in the apartments' common areas. Clausen was surprised to learn the manager was interpreting this to pertain to flags.
For now, he plans to leave the flags on his vehicles.
Barb Holcomb, the nonresident manager of the Oaks Apartments at 1440 Geary Circle S.E., owned by Stan Keller, said she wanted to implement the flag policy earlier but the previous on-site manager would not say anything to the tenants.
"I'm trying to avoid any conflict," Holcomb said. "I have a problem when tenants' rights to free speech come into contact with other tenants' rights of peaceful enjoyment. This policy is not a violation of anyone's civil rights.
"We're a diverse community here, and we've had previous problems with this sort of thing," she said.
Holcomb declined to say what types of problems those were.
Jann Carson, the associate director of the ACLU of Oregon, said that Clausen and other tenants' civil rights are not being violated with the anti-flag rule.
"It is my understanding in Oregon that an owner of private property can apply those types of restrictions," she said.
Clausen and another tenant, Justin Mitchell, called the Democrat-Herald on Wednesday to complain about the new rule.
When the paper contacted the owner, Keller, he said the policy pertained only to flags flying from any of the 188 units and not to vehicles.
Later, Holcomb clarified that Keller is responsible for maintenance of the building while she addresses issues relating to tenants.
Emily Cedarleaf, who operates the Multi-Family Housing Council of Oregon in Salem, draws up and screens generic contracts many apartment owners use for their tenants.
"I've never heard of anyone trying to regulate what's on a car in a parking lot," she said.