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FARIA BEACH : Couple Refuses to Take Down Flag

Faria Beach resident Colly Gruczelak vows that she and her husband will defy any attempt by their homeowners’ association to dismantle a 30-foot flagpole proudly displaying Old Glory outside their oceanfront home.

Day and night, the Gruczelaks fly a U.S. flag from the pole, which was installed in January on the ocean side of their $1-million seaside home along Pacific Coast Highway, five miles north of Ventura.

“We’re very patriotic. We feel everybody should want to honor the flag, especially in view of what our troops accomplished in the Persian Gulf,” Gruczelak said.

Yet some officials of the Faria Beach Homeowners Assn. say the couple has carried its patriotism too far.

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“The location and height are clearly in violation” of the community’s architectural guidelines to protect ocean views, association secretary Harrison E. Stroud said this month in a letter to the Gruczelaks. “Your spotlights are offensive in this regard.”

“We’re lighting the flag with one little 150-watt bulb,” said Norman Gruczelak, a semi-retired businessman. “It couldn’t possibly bother anybody.”

He maintained that a rule banning structures more than 12 feet tall does not apply to their part of the community of a few more than 100 houses. “Besides, our pole is so high the flag couldn’t possibly obstruct anybody’s view. It’s above the second-floor windows.”

Stroud did not return repeated phone calls.

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But an association director, Katherine Stone, who lives next door to the Gruczelaks, said she agreed that the pole should come down.

“The rules say you’re not supposed to have plants or anything else higher than three feet in a place where it can obstruct the view,” she said.

“Nobody objects to flying the flag,” she said. “I do it myself. But I don’t obstruct people’s view, and I don’t fly it at night.”

Stone said she was not one of the neighbors who complained to the association about the flagpole.

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Another neighbor, who asked not to be identified, said he believed that the homeowners’ board of directors are making an issue of the pole because they weren’t consulted before it was erected.

“I think their feelings were hurt,” he said. “I’ll bet there are eight or 10 flagpoles in the community that violate the rules, but the directors have never said a word about them.”

Stone said the homeowner group’s next meeting is scheduled for April. She said she did not know whether the Gruczelaks’ flagpole will be discussed.


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