Sam and Maria Farran simply wanted to express their political views by posting a yard sign for Barack Obama in 2008. Now, nearly five years later, homeowner's association in Alexandria, Va., is nearly bankrupt over legal fees between the Farrans and their neighborhood. The Washington Post reveals the homeowner's association felt the yard sign was too tall. Sam Farran, a government lawyer, took his fight to court. Judging by the numbers and statistics associated with the case, no one wins in this Obama lawn sign battle.
400,000: The number, in dollars, the community organization spent in order to wage the legal fight. To compensate, the neighborhood town square is for sale.
4: The number of inches too high the Obama placard was beyond the allowance of the Olde Belhaven Towne Owners Association. The Post said one email against the sign read, "This would lead to chaos. Our property values would be put at risk."
13: The number of years the Farrans have lived in their townhouse in Alexandria. The couple moved to the neighborhood in 1999.
900: The number of dollars the homeowners association decided to fine residents for each infraction of the neighborhood's guidelines following the sign fracas. The Farrans, incensed with the controversy, cut their Obama sign in half to comply with the regulations. Then the board of the association passed the $900 fine regulation, according to the Post.
3,500: The amount of annual fees, in dollars, homeowners paid to the association once the legal fight began. Annual fees were $650 before the sign debacle.
41,300: The amount of dollars awarded to the couple in legal fees by Virginia court. The Farrans argued the homeowners association went against its own rules by adopting fines and levies against the will of property owners, according to the Mount Vernon Gazette .
19: The number of the judicial circuit in Virginia in which the original legal case Samir R. Farran, et al. v. Olde Belhaven Town Owners Association was heard. The owners of the property claim they were denied an architectural permit to get a new roof and build a deck without an appeals process in place.
324,000: The number of homeowners associations in the United States as of 2012. The Post piece says one in five Americans live in a neighborhood with such an organization.
60,000: The number, in dollars, a former homeowners association board president put up to facilitate the sale of the square. The Farrans challenged the settlement plan Friday because they claim it partially relied on capital funds.
3/4: The number of acres the Olde Belhaven town square takes up amid the neighborhood's townhouses. The Post article reveals gatherings used to happen there all the time. Not so anymore. The legal fight destroyed the sense of community fostered in this once proud, friendly neighborhood.
William Browning is a research librarian specializing in U.S. politics.
- Politics & Government
- Barack Obama
- homeowners association