ORCUTT, Calf. - An American flag now flies at the entrance to Old Town Orcutt thanks to the persistence of a local veteran.
On Thursday, a ceremony to raise the flag was held at the Old Town Orcutt Flag Pole, located at the intersection of Clark Ave. and Highway 135.
The 30-minute event was attended by members from American Legion Post 534, as well as several local dignitaries, including Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, who introduced the bill that led to the long-awaited approval to display the flag.
Cunningham authored the legislation after learning about the long-running efforts of Steve Lebard.
Beginning in 2011, the Vietnam War veteran has been attempting to create a veteran's memorial at the busy intersection.
However, blocking the project was a much-criticized Caltrans rule that banned the American flag at "gateway monuments."
Lebard's frustration with the rule gained national attention, including from former FOX News anchor Bill O'Reilly and Los Angeles Times.
After spending several years going through government red-tape, Lebard's dream picked up steam earlier this year when Cunningham proposed bill AB 866, which was dubbed "The Fix."
"What this bill allows for once and all, as a matter of California law, is that you can fly a U.S. or California flag at what's called a "gateway monument, a monument that usually marks the entrance to a city or town," Cunningham said.
The bill eventually passed unanimously in both the State Assembly and Senate. Gov. Jerry Brown later it signed into law.
"I feel great about finally getting this done," said Lebard. "It allows us to have the American flag at any gateway monument project throughout the whole state of California. To me that's very significant. To me that's even more significant to having a tribute to veteran's here because now it applies to anybody, any place in the state."
While speaking at the ceremony, Cunningham made sure to give credit to Lebard and said the day was a celebration and a culmination of perseverance.
"I have chills," said Cunningham. "I couldn't be happier for Steve. He fought for six years against the state bureaucracy essentially to try and make this happen. I'm a little surprised it took a legislative action to do this, but sometimes it does just to get clarity in the law. I'm very proud to be involved in it."