CLOTHESLINE WARS-Are They Over With the New California Law on Topic?

Clotheslines – Don’t Get in a Bind About Them – that was the title of the blog I did this past May. The gist of that blog was to explain what and why the issue of clotheslines is a big one in HOAs.

Now its time to tell you that HOAs cannot prevent owners from “natural drying” – the kind that is the alternative to using a gas or electric dryer. The law that was proposed to force HOAs to allow this has passed. It becomes effective January 1! But don’t expect the stock depending on the sale of clothespins to go up. Like all other “forced” legislative policy, many boards are well behind the curve because they either don’t know about it, or are in denial (don’t want to know about it).

With the introduction of AB 1448, to sell the idea, the legislators have summarily tied it into solar energy as a “thing”, a draw, a selling point. I told you all this in the prior blog. Here are some highlights of the Legislative Digest:

“This bill would prohibit governing documents or a rental agreement or lease from effectively prohibiting or restricting the installation or use of a solar energy system, including a clothesline.” The lawmakers (as reflected in the Senate Floor analysis that went with the bill to the Governor to be signed in September of 2015) said the law was needed because bans on clotheslines “prevent low-income families and energy-conscious persons from using a low-cost, low-technology energy conservation tool.”

The new law says:

“Civil Code Section 4750.10:  

(a) For purposes of this section, “clothesline” includes a cord, rope, or wire from which laundered items may be hung to dry or air. A balcony, railing, awning, or other part of a structure or building shall not qualify as a clothesline.

(b) For purposes of this section, “drying rack” means an apparatus from which laundered items may be hung to dry or air. A balcony, railing, awning, or other part of a structure or building shall not qualify as a drying rack.

(c) Any provision of a governing document, as defined in Section 4150, shall be void and unenforceable if it effectively prohibits or unreasonably restricts an owner’s ability to use a clothesline or drying rack in the owner’s backyard.

(d) (1) This section does not apply to provisions that impose reasonable restrictions on an owner’s backyard for the use of a clothesline or drying rack.

(2) For purposes of this section, “reasonable restrictions” are restrictions that do not significantly increase the cost of using a clothesline or drying rack.

(3) This section applies only to backyards that are designated for the exclusive use of the owner.

(e) Nothing in this section shall prohibit an association from establishing and enforcing reasonable rules governing clotheslines or drying racks.”

You would be there already if you had listened 3 years ago and again 7 months ago when I wrote:

“Here’s a thought. Why not survey your owners to see if they would approve clotheslines in defined areas not subject to view by everyone? If the members surprise you (does the majority want to allow use of clotheslines?), then you could take the next step and consult with a lawyer to see if you need a CC&R amendment and owner approval, or can just propose a rule, circulate it to the members, and approve it.

I’ll admit that I have written documents between this spring and when the new law was actually signed onto the books that prohibit clotheslines. Boards have wanted that for years and nothing changed over the course of the legislators pondering AB 1448.

If your CC&Rs or rules say no clotheslines are allowed it is time to take some action to change the rule, or adopt one that says the law controls here and the CC&R ban won’t be enforced. Otherwise a board may find itself on the wrong end of the straw. And definitely don’t be fining people for using clotheslines – unless of course they do something like tie a string across a balcony to hang out their clothes or towels. Expand on those rules you are going to put on the agenda as a topic and find a reasonable way to keep the clotheslines or drying racks in enclosed areas so the whole world doesn’t have to look at them.

Do it now! What are you waiting for? Get this on the January Agenda.  It may not seem pressing but I can guarantee you will forget all about it if you wait too long! I kinda did when writing docs this year.

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2 Responses to CLOTHESLINE WARS-Are They Over With the New California Law on Topic?
  1. jean salmon
    December 27, 2015 | 7:58 pm

    Beth – Thank you for your common sense approach to this issue. Being proactive is always best.

    One of my regrets in purchasing my condo home was discovering drying clothes outside was forbidden by the CC&R’s. I believe that the main objection is that because it makes FREE use of the sun, people think of it as ghetto behavior. Condo owners already may feel stigmatized for not being able to afford a single family home. Some apparently believe that seeing laundry drying outside affects their value as people. This may be encouraged by energy companies seeking to maximize their profits.

    I don’t find seeing someone’s outdoor laundry as personally objectionable. We choose what we look at – unfortunately there is no choice in what we hear or smell. I object to hearing loud music or arguments and smelling other’s tobacco smoke. How about encouraging a State bill to ban smoking in multi unit housing where its gases ALWAYS drift to others who would prefer not to breathe 2nd hand smoke. In addition, it is a proven health hazard, not true of clothing in the sun.

    Unfortunately the powerful tobacco industry has defeated prior attempts to legislate a ban, so far. . . Oh but I digress . . .

    • Beth Grimm
      January 25, 2016 | 1:02 am

      Thanks for your comments. I agree smoking should be banned in CID living where people share walls and close spaces. But I’m not in charge. I can only advise HOA boards or neighbors that want to find a way. .