From Yahoo sports - Pictures are on the website
Steven Paul, 28, is a Tampa Bay Lightning season ticket holder who's justifiably excited with his team in the Eastern Conference finals, eight wins away from the Stanley Cup.
Back in April, before the Lightning defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference playoffs, Paul decided he wanted to make his neighbors aware of his fervor for the team.
When the Lightning clinched a playoff spot, they gave fans a playoff preparation package that included a T-shirt, stickers and a sign made for display on one's front yard, like a political placard.
Paul placed his white "GO BOLTS" sign on his lawn on a Saturday.
Then the HOA told him to take it down. "No signs except those advertising security companies."
His HOA limits lawn signs to ones that provide free advertising for alert others that the house is protected by some kind of alarm system or security service.
"I was pissed. I was infuriated," recalled Paul, "and then I was like, 'OK, fine. If we can only have security signs, then I'll make it a security sign."
Which he did:
A few days later, his wife was at home when something caught her eye outside the house. It was a woman with a camera, taking a photo of the new sign, ostensibly for more HOA tattling.
After transforming his sign into "GO BOLTS SECURITY," he hasn't gotten a second notice — yet. The HOA told Paul they'll discuss the matter further at an upcoming meeting.
Then Paul decided to get really proactive. Inside the bag of Lightning swag was a large blue Tampa Bay flag. He checked the HOA bylaws about hanging flags on houses, and found no restrictions.
So up it went on his garage:
Outside of free speech concerns (especially with the exception for security companies), there's three lessons from what looks to me an otherwise minor issue in the grand scheme of things.
1. Know where you are buying and if it's subject to HOA bylaws. Most planned subdivisions, especially newer developments, have HOA requirements due to covenants created by the developers. Rural areas and non subdivisions often are not HOA.
2. If it is an HOA area, know the rules you'll be subject to, potential penalties, and the limits to their power. It usually includes fines, and sometimes even revoked deeds. READ THE AGREEMENT.
3. Know the procedures for new policies, the reps on the board, and how they are chosen. If they are nasty busybodies, try and toss them out. This is politics just like the city council or township government.
Politics is local, and it starts with your HOA, if you live under one.