ERIE, Colo. (CBS4) – Homeowners in the Erie Village subdivision say they are appalled and outraged that their management company ordered them to immediately remove their social activism yard signs or face financial penalties.
“It was pretty selective,” said homeowner Kristi Short who has a sign supporting unity in her front yard.
She and an estimated 30 other homeowners received letters from their management company in early September saying there had been an inspection and her sign had to be removed by Sept. 20 or she would face fines.
“So to have the only thing picked on about my home being a tiny unity sign seems outrageous to me. I was pretty shocked. I thought ‘Really? This is what we’re going after? That’s so sad and disappointing,'” said Short.
She told CBS4 that many neighbors have front yard signs offering congratulations to graduates, signs for security companies and other signs, but the only homeowners who received warning letters were those who had Black Lives Matter and other unity signs on display.
“I feel so many people are feeling disenfranchised,” said Short. “They’re feeling marginalized, they’re not feeling important, and I want people to know that in our home that they’re welcome.”
Laura Pionek has lived in the HOA neighborhood for about two and a half years and also got a letter from the management company telling her to remove her social justice sign.
“It was really surprising and quite a bit upsetting,” she said. “I felt attacked and I wanted to know right away why this was happening.”
Gary Gianetti, President of the Erie Village HOA, told CBS4 he was “astonished” at what happened and blamed the HOA’s management company.
“I think the management or inspector, whoever it was, should have looked at things more comprehensively. I don’t know what they were thinking. As a result of them not doing that, we asked for a change because they didn’t do their job properly.”
He said while there are covenants that do prohibit signs that are non-political and outside of election season, “The management company may not have written enough violations so people feel like they were individualized.”
Homeowners said there have been much more serious issues like sidewalks in disrepair and overgrown yards, which made the sign enforcement action more questionable.
After the blowback from homeowners, the HOA put a moratorium on fines and enforcement actions until Dec. 1. By then, the HOA board hopes to have proposed new rules and regulations regarding yard signs.
Gianetti told CBS4, “We’re going to move forward, whether that means getting a new management company or a new manager, that’s what we’re going to do.”
The Erie Village flap is similar to what occurred recently in Denver’s Lowry neighborhood, which is also governed by an HOA. Homeowners there pushed back after they were told they could no longer display their social justice yard signs.
Within days of media reports on the dustup, the HOA altered its rules to allow two yard signs per home.