Update: City changes course to allow Hyde Park Market to hang flags from awning

Updated 3:20 p.m. Aug. 28

The city of Austin has given the OK to the Hyde Park Market to rehang state and national flags from its storefront awning, owner Tony Hooman said.

Hooman said the flags, which had been in place for five years, will be put back up Aug. 28 or 29.

The city gave Hyde Park Market a clearance letter on Aug. 28 permitting the flags, he said. He added that neighborhood support was crucial in getting the city to allow the flags that it had previously ruled as out of code.

"I couldn't have done this without [neighborhood supporters]," he said. "I don't know how to thank them."

Original story

A code violation has forced Hyde Park Market, Deli and Organic Grocery to remove about 20 international flags that have hung from the store's awning for the past five years.

An anonymous citizen's complaint about the flags on June 17 led the city of Austin to investigate whether the flags at the eclectic convenience store, which sells everything from craft beer and chocolates to tools and hardware, violated city code. An investigation found that the flags were out of compliance, "as the only sign on the property that has a permit is the Shell sign," according to city documents.

Hyde Park Market owner Tony Hooman said he disagrees with the city's claim that the flags should be classified as "signs." However, he took down the flags in August after the city threatened him with a $2,000 per day fine if he did not remove them.

"The city has so much to mess with, and I can't believe they spent the energy, time and tax dollars to come after me for this," Hooman said.

Hooman said he is meeting with an attorney over how to proceed with the issue. Also, an electronic petition is being circulated among Hyde Park and Hancock residents showing support for the flags.

"This is another example of Austin getting a little less weird," Hyde Park resident Tom Schneider said. "Soon enough, every store will be the same and there won't be anything special [about Austin]."

Meanwhile, Hooman is looking to add between 200–300 taps of beer and a beer garden at Hyde Park Market. Hooman has been meeting with local neighborhood groups about the expansion plan before filing paperwork with the city, he said.

"It's crucial that we are all in one boat and able to communicate so no one has feelings that they weren't involved," he said. "If it wasn't for [neighborhood residents], nothing would be here."