Signs of the times: Residents question homeowners association sign restrictions

By Megan Wehring

KYLE — A question of equality was raised in the Plum Creek neighborhood recently after some homeowners were forced to remove yard signs because they were considered political.

The Plum Creek homeowners association (HOA) abides by the Texas Election Code, which requires HOAs to allow homeowners to have political signs on their property up to 90 days before an election and up to 10 days after an election.

Emily Strobel, ambassador for the Austin Kindness Project, started selling signs to Plum Creek residents last year, yet the HOA did not start delivering notices for the signs to be removed until a couple weeks ago. Each sign reads: In this house, we believe Black lives matter, women’s rights are human rights, no human is illegal, science is real, love is love, kindness is everything.

Several Plum Creek homeowners do not agree that these signs spread a political message.

“We don’t view the signs that we would like to display in our yards as political in any way, shape or form,” Strobel said. “These are an outward statement of our values. They are simply a statement of how the people who put them in their yard feel about the world and these particular issues.”

Strobel added that the kindness signs have made visitors, even delivery drivers, feel welcome at her home.

“I have received notes on my door from UPS drivers thanking me for the welcoming sign,” Strobel said. “Sometimes they feel a little bit apprehensive entering onto someone else’s property because of instances that have happened on the news. Seeing a sign like that makes them feel welcome.”

Another homeowner, who wishes to remain anonymous, agreed that the signs are the opposite of political.

“This sign actually encompasses our very belief system as a family,” the homeowner said. “It’s not a political statement but it’s one of kindness, acceptance and unity. I think these are values we are proud of just as any household would be proud to show off their affiliation to a university or advertise their student’s high school pride.”

Only a select number of residents have been asked to remove their kindness signs, the homeowner explained.

“I know there are still a lot of houses in the neighborhood that still have the signs up,” she said. “Some people have not received notifications yet that they need to be taken down. I’m not sure what the situation might be. Maybe they just haven’t been contacted yet by the HOA but it just seems like there is a double standard in some instances.”

Michelle Winn was also asked to remove her sign from her yard yet she moved it to the front porch because she believes these kinds of displays help promote more diversity and inclusion.

“I truly believe that our purpose is to have real and honest conversations with neighbors and each other and to encourage diversity,” Winn said. “If we are only putting up what the HOA says is ok, we are not encouraging honest conversations and I think that causes more division than anything else.”

Strobel concluded that there is outward expression and individuality all throughout the neighborhood, she just wants the kindness signs to be a part of the group.
The Plum Creek HOA did not provide any comment to the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch.

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Megan Navarro (Wehring) graduated from Texas State University in May 2020 with a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication. In June 2020, she started a summer internship at the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch through the Dow Jones News Fund and Texas Press Association. She then earned her way to a reporter position later that summer and now, she serves as the editor of the newspaper. Working for a small publication, Navarro wears multiple hats. She has various responsibilities including managing a team of reporters, making editorial decisions, overseeing social media posts, fact checking, writing her own articles and more. Navarro has a heart for storytelling and she believes that journalists are equipped to share the stories that are important to the community.

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