Fan’s 12th Man flag flies in face of homeowners association

SNOHOMISH — Dale Carlson doesn’t know if flying his 12th man flag helps the Seattle Seahawks win, but he doesn’t like to take any chances.

He raised it on Sunday and the team staged an astonishing, come-from-behind 23-20 overtime win against the Houston Texans.

Last season, he flew it every day while the Seahawks were in the playoffs, he said — until he was told that flying the flag without permission from his homeowners association was a violation of its rules.

“I had to remove it and took it down, and the following week they lost that game,” Carlson said, referring to Seattle’s playoff game in Atlanta in January.

On other days, Carlson, a 48-year-old commercial fisherman, has flown an American flag in front of his home between Snohomish and Mill Creek.

Now, he’s hired an attorney who not only says Carlson has legal protection for flying the American flag, but is encouraging him to fly his 12th Man flag on Seahawks game days. (The “12th Man” is Seahawk lingo for fans, after the 11 players on the field.)

The American flag is covered by the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005, said Carlson’s attorney, Eric Lindell of Seattle.

The law specifically precludes homeowners associations from restricting display of the flag, assuming it is done in accordance with flag decorum. He flies the American flag in support of armed forces, his attorney said.

“He absolutely has a legal right to fly the American flag,” Lindell said. “I’m going to represent this guy ‘til the end of whenever, and I’m going to do it for free.”

The Seahawks flag doesn’t have the same legal protection, he said, but “I can’t see what harm it would do to let a guy fly a flag for the local team on the day they play.”

Carlson said he’s been flying his American flag for the past few weeks, but not the Seahawks flag. The team’s season began Sept. 8 and the Seahawks won each of their first three games.

Carlson received a letter dated Sept. 20 from the Best Management Co. of Kirkland on behalf of the Larimer Crossing Homeowners Association, saying that it had been reported to the association that he had again been flying his 12th Man flag. That’s incorrect, Carlson said.

The management company representative listed on the letter did not return two phone calls from The Herald.

The association’s bylaws call for homeowners to receive permission before erecting any structures on the property that are visible from the street, according to the letter.

“You have not applied for, nor been granted proper approval, therefore you must immediately remove the flag,” the letter read.

The letter gave Carlson until Sept. 25 to remove the flag or face a possible fine.

Carlson contacted Lindell, and the attorney wrote a letter to the management company and the homeowners association dated Sept. 24. He wrote that his client will continue to fly the American flag as he wishes and will fly the 12th Man flag on game days.

His letter, in effect, serves as an application to the association to fly the 12th Man flag, Lindell said.

As of Monday, Carlson and his attorney both said they hadn’t heard back from any representatives of the association or management company.

Carlson flew his 12th Man flag on Sunday and took it down a couple of hours after the game, he said.

He mounts his flags on a collapsible pole, 21 feet tall, that he sticks into the ground in his front yard.

His next door neighbor, Michael Kinzer, said Carlson puts the flagpole on the property line in front of the two homes.

“I think he’s over the top. It’s a nuisance,” said Kinzer, who added that he hasn’t spoken to Carlson about the flags.

Kinzer stressed that he did not complain to the homeowners association and doesn’t know who might have done so.

He said he’d have no problem with the flags if Carlson were to mount the pole on the far side of his driveway, away from the property line.

“I’m a Seahawks fan, too,” Kinzer said.

Carlson said he’s been a Seahawks season ticket holder since 1991. Sunday’s game “was one for the ages, for sure,” he said.

“I go to all the home games and when I watch the away games I fly the flag because I want to feel like I’m there,” Carlson said.

“Everybody has their goofy superstitions.”

Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; sheets@heraldnet.com.

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