Susan Taylor, a resident of Bend, Oregon who lives in what is termed an “exclusive neighborhood,” Awbrey Butte, has incensed her neighbors by hanging out her clothes to dry. Green living activists term outdoor clothes drying as making use of a solar device; the neighborhood association has termed it a blight.
It seems that what used to be a common sight–a clothesline strung behind the house, lined with drying clothes–is now considered an eyesore. A neighbor of Taylor’s, Joan Grundeman, stated, “This bombards the senses. It can’t possibly increase property values and make people think this is a nice neighborhood” (Wall Street Journal).
The codes and covenants of the Awbrey Butte community, established prior to Taylor moving in to the neighborhood, state that “clothes drying apparatus” must “be screened from view” (Wall Street Journal). How screening can be accomplished is not apparent, especially due to the fact that the erecting of fences is strongly discouraged. My guess would be that parking RVs on either side of the offending clothesline would be against at least one of the communities rules.
Taylor is working to get the rules of her community association changed; she is not alone in her fight. A New Hampshire-based advocacy group, called Project Laundry List supports not only Taylor’s efforts, but like-minded individuals throughout the country. Ten states have laws which limit a homeowner’s association from interfering with personal solar energy systems, but only Florida and Utah’s legislation address clotheslines specifically and identify the laundry lines as solar devices.
According to the Wall Street Journal there are 300,000 or so communities with associations in the United States, with about 60 million people living in them.
In the mean time, Taylor has been haggling with her subdivision’s association since 2007. It began almost as soon as she erected her clothesline–neighbors began calling and Taylor received notices from the home owner’s association asking her to cease and desist.
When Taylor continued to use her clothesline, she was threatened with fines from the association and even legal action. At one point the association, in keeping with the wording of the rule, requested that Taylor devise a plan to sufficiently screen her clothesline from view and to submit such a plan to the association for approval. Taylor fashioned fabric screens to obscure the view of the “eyesore,” but was told by the association that the screens also would not work as they did not blend with the home or natural surroundings (Wall Street Journal).
Taylor is fighting to change the rules of her neighborhood community, but it will require 51 percent of homeowners to agree to such a change before it can be enacted.
Source: Wall Street Journal