Flag Display Rule Sparks Controversy in Balboa Island

"I think it's a silly law," said Newport Beach City Manager Dave Kiff about the controversial flag rule.

Flags and tensions flew high this month on Balboa Island in Newport Beach, as residents pushed back on a city rule against flag displays.

Nancy Kelleher said her family strings up red, white and blue pennants on Topaz Avenue every summer from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

"My husband and son put them up, and people have complimented and (said) 'thank you for your spirit on Topaz (Avenue)' and it's been a part of the island for three years," Kelleher said.

Many residents in the area are in the habit of hanging up similar decorations. But this year -- in the week leading up to July 4th -- the winds changed.

"We got a letter from the city saying 'take them down,'" she said.

Newport Beach City Manager Dave Kiff confirmed the city sent a letter to homeowners on Topaz Avenue, requesting people remove the decorations because they are a code violation. The city had received a complaint about the displays.

The prohibitory law exists to prevent tall vehicles such as trash trucks or fire trucks from getting caught in the displays.

Nonetheless, Kiff said persistent flag-flyers won't be fined. Although the city requested that residents take their pennants down by Tuesday, as of Wednesday flag displays were still flying on Topaz Avenue.

"I'm not going to make them take them down," Kiff said. "I think it's a silly law."

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