The dispute between Littleton residents Kara and Ben Wilkoff and their homeowners' association over the Black Lives Matter flag they've flown outside their house for months has moved to the next level.
The Kensington Ridge/Cobblestone Village HOA, which denied the Wilkoffs the right to display the flag, has now decided they can do so until at least 10:30 a.m. on February 27, when a Zoom meeting with the board of directors has been scheduled to address the controversy. Meanwhile, the Wilkoffs are on the verge of launching a website that will document the situation in ways that are intended to benefit anyone waging a similar battle in Littleton and beyond.
According to Kara Wilkoff, "I truly believe that bringing attention to what is going on in our neighborhood will help to serve neighborhoods throughout Colorado and hopefully throughout the country."
One element of the website will be a timeline of their own flag-related events. The Wilkoffs put up the BLM flag after purchasing it in August and experienced no pushback from the HOA until December 24, when they received a so-called courtesy notice informing them that the flag violated its rules and had to come down. (The letter was dated December 7 and postmarked on December 18.) In response, Kara collected signatures from twelve neighbors who supported their right to keep the flag in place, and emailed the form to Professional Community Management Services, or PCMS, the company that manages the HOA on behalf of its board, on January 3 — the same date a second offense warning arrived.
Just over a month later, on February 6, the couple got a note from PCMS community manager James Fletcher informing them that their appeal of the original decision had been denied and the flag needed to be removed — after which Kara went public with their story on Facebook and through multiple media outlets.
Neither Fletcher nor the boardmembers he represents responded to Westword's initial inquiries about the flag. But late last week, the board offered the following statement: "Our property management company is working with the homeowners to find solutions that meet the legal and social demands of this problem. We make every effort to apply our homeowners covenants consistently and impartially. Those covenants allow for signs only for sale and during elections. Now that the elections are over, we are working with the volunteer board and other homeowners to find a mutually agreeable outcome. We have notified all homeowners with signs on display of the sign restrictions, whether the message is sports or issue related. While we work toward agreement and possible updates to our covenants, we have suspended enforcement on the Wilkoffs' sign. We are confident that we can best resolve this or any disagreements by encouraging neighbors to dialogue directly with other neighbors."
This wasn't the only communication over the matter. On February 14, "Ben and I spent almost two hours on a phone call with one of the board of directors from our HOA," Kara reports. "It was truly incredible. It was an open dialogue. We discussed many things that have happened since we went public with our story. The boardmember was kind, gracious, open, honest and truly wanting to work together to find solutions. And we were also kind, gracious, open, honest and wanting to work together. It was collaborative. It was intense. It was vulnerable. It was exciting. It was hopeful. I’m not sure why this isn’t where we could start from, but I’m so grateful to know that this is where we are now, at least with this one boardmember. We made a plan to work on parallel paths for next steps. And although he thinks it will be a long process, we all agree that there is a lot of change to come that will better our community."
Despite the positive nature of this conversation, the Wilkoffs aren't taking anything for granted — and so they're creating their website, which they hope will go live in the coming days.
In the meantime, Kara stresses that in sharing their story, "It was important to me to make sure that we didn’t villainize a community or HOA. That our quest to fly our BLM flag is one that is much bigger than us and our HOA. This is still of utmost importance to us."
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