Item Coversheet
CC #: 1553
File #: 0102
Title:City Policy on Display of Flags

  Dion Louthan 916-774-5362

Meeting Date: 6/16/2021

Item #: 8.4.


Staff recommends the City Council consider the two proposed versions of a “City of Roseville Policy on Display of Flags” (“Flag Policy”) and either adopt a resolution approving one of the two proposed Flag Policies or provide staff with further direction.


At the May 6, 2021, City Council meeting, the City Council discussed and directed staff to bring forward a policy on display of flags at City of Roseville (“City”) owned properties for City Council’s consideration. The City Council requested two versions of the policy. Specifically, they requested a version that memorialized the past practice (“Policy 1”) and a version that would allow for display of a commemorative flag at City Council’s sole direction (“Policy 2”).


Flags and flagpoles owned or maintained by the City of Roseville are not intended to serve as a forum for free expression by the public, but rather are a non-public forum. The City has had a longstanding practice, but not a formal policy. A Flag Policy would outline an official policy for the display of any flag by the City and create an objective standard going forward.


Staff reviewed similar policies for the display of flags from several California cities. Many of the cities who adopted such policies are located in or adjacent to the Bay Area, however staff reviewed policies for cities around the State in order to have a broad sampling. The two proposed Flag Policy versions are based on policies from the cities of: Dublin, Elk Grove, Fountain Valley (Orange County), Pittsburg, San Pablo, San Ramon, South Lake Tahoe, Sunnyvale, and Tracy, and represent legally defensible and commonly accepted verbiage.


The term “commemorative flag” is the commonly used term to define any non-governmental flag (meaning not formally recognized nationally and congressionally as a governmental flag or associated with a local government). Additionally, neither Policy 1 nor Policy 2 apply to City-owned properties that are leased to third parties.


Policy 1- Memorializes Past Practice


Historically, the U.S. Flag, the California State Flag, and the City of Roseville Flag, or a combination thereof, have been displayed on the flagpoles at the Civic Center (both indoors and outdoors), as well as on other flagpoles located at other City owned properties, such as fire stations, the police department, parks, the corporation yard, and ball fields. This is consistent with both federal and state law (United States Code, Title 4, Ch. 1, et seq., and California Government Code sections 430 et seq.). Additionally, as part of the approved park design, the nationally and congressionally approved prisoner of war missing in action (“POW-MIA”) flag is displayed at Veteran’s Memorial Park-North and the Korean War Veteran’s Memorial at Maidu Regional Park. The past practice of the City has been to only display those legally required and governmentally recognized flags at City owned properties. Policy 1 memorializes this past practice.


Policy 2- Allows “Commemorative Flags”


The proposed Policy 2 mirrors Policy 1 for all City owned properties, except at the outdoor flagpole located at the Civic Center (the corner of S. Grant and Vernon Streets). At this location, City Council can elect to display a commemorative flag in the position of lowest honor to the U.S. Flag, California State Flag, and, if displayed, the City of Roseville flag (this lowest position is required by law). The policy complies with state and federal laws and is structured in a manner that treats commemorative flags as government speech.


The policy prohibits third-party requests for commemorative flag displays and only allows for the display of commemorative flags when the request is brought forth by a member of the City Council and a majority of the City Council members agree to place the discussion on the agenda. The decision to display the commemorative flag must then be authorized by a majority vote of the City Council at a duly noticed regular or special City Council meeting, as an expression of the City Council’s official sentiments.


Policy 2 also provides that any commemorative flag being considered must be consistent with the current City Council recognized goals and priorities and City strategic plan.  Consistent with Federal and State law, Policy 2 makes clear that the following are not allowed as commemorative flags and will not be considered by the City Council:


i.            Flags of a particular religious movement or creed, to avoid the appearance of City government endorsing religion or a particular religious movement or creed;


ii.            Flags of a political party, to avoid the appearance of City government endorsing a political party; and


iii.           Flags advocating a certain outcome in an election.


Policy 2 also makes clear that the City must obtain the commemorative flag itself.


Adoption of Policy 1 will have no fiscal impact, as only legally required and governmentally recognized flags will be flown, and the costs of such flags are already provided for in the approved budget.


Adoption of Policy 2 will have a minimal fiscal impact associated with the City obtaining any authorized commemorative flag. The costs are wholly dependent on the number of commemorative flags authorized by City Council and the costs for such flags, but given it is proposed at one location, it is anticipated to be very low.


The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) does not apply to activities that will not result in a direct or reasonably foreseeable indirect physical change in the environment, or is otherwise not considered a project as defined by CEQA Statute §21065 and CEQA State Guidelines §15060(c)(3) and §15378.


The consideration and adoption of either proposed Flag Policy meets the above criteria and is not subject to CEQA. No additional environmental review is required.



Goal B - Support community engagement and advocacy

Respectfully Submitted,

Dion Louthan, Assistant City Manager

Dominick Casey, City Manager 

Dominick Casey, City Manager

Resolution 21-283
Combined Display of Flag Policies Roseville